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President Barack Obama Vacations in Hawaii for Holidays; Discussion on Gun Laws
Aired December 22, 2012 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Don Lemon.
The stories you are talking about in just a moment. But first, let's get you up to speed on some of the day's headlines.
The last of the victims of the Connecticut mass shooting had been laid to rest. Funerals for three little girls were held today, but as families say their final good-byes, the debate over gun control is really just heating up. Much more on that conversation in just a moment here on CNN.
The fiscal cliff, well, just ten days away with no deal in sight. President Obama, House speaker John Boehner, are literally thousands of miles apart. Boehner is back in Ohio. President Obama and family are in his native Hawaii. He is planning to return to Washington after Christmas.
A weekend of violence, explosions and death in Syria. At least five people killed in Damascus today when a powerful car bomb blew up in this residential neighborhood. It tore through apartment buildings and filled the streets with debris. More than 140 people reportedly died in attacks across Syria today, most of them in Damascus and its suburbs.
New Delhi, India, riot police blasted protesters with high-pressure water hoses trying to break up massive angry riots against the government. People are furious after a woman who was reportedly gang- raped and beaten on a moving city bus last weekend. Protesters demanding changes to India's laws regarding rape saying women are not safe in New Delhi and other cities in India.
A former U.S. marine who spent more than four months at a Mexican prison is free today and heading home to Florida. John Hammer locked up in August on weapons charges. His family says he was physically abused in custody, threatened, chained to a bed, and never saw a judge. U.S. lawmakers and diplomats got involved on Hammer's behalf and convinced Mexican authorities to release him.
Here's what we're also working on for you tonight --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: More guns? The NRA's school massacre prevention plan. You laugh, but some say it's a good idea. Really?
And ponder this. Would the Connecticut school shooting response be different if the gunman wasn't white?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seventy percent of these mass shootings have been white men.
LEMON: We talk to the man who says it's time to think about profiling white guys.
And, we're here! No rapture. No giant asteroid. Was it all an apocalyptic lie? We asked a family who's prepared for the end for decades.
Plus, we talked to the woman fired for being too pretty.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They believed it was the best interests for everybody. Our side of it, we disagree.
LEMON: I don't know about you, but I'm calling off, too handsome for work tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: We'll talk more than in just a moment.
But first, a very serious subject. This hour we take a tough look at the gun control debate and how much mental health may play a role, and if we can identify the next shooter before he takes a shot.
But first, we'd like to take a moment. A reminder of what is at stake here. Today marked the final three funerals of the victims of the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting. We've already buried six educators and 17 children, people stolen from their friends, from their family, from all of us.
This is Ana Grace Marquez, Marquez-Greene who loved to count and sing, Josephine Grace Gay, who just celebrated her seventh birthday, and Emilie Alice Parker, who was bright, creative and very loving.
So let's have a conversation. It will probably make you angry. Now that, being angry is not a bad thing. It means this matters to you. Gun control, in fact, that phrase alone may enrage some people. How about gun rights?
This is one of those topics that we should all be riled up about on both sides of this argument. It means that you're invested if you get riled up. And listen, we need to be. We need to be riled up and passionate about this. But while not everyone will agree, no one that one plan, no one plan of action, that everyone agrees, we don't want a repeat of what happened in Newtown, Connecticut or Milwaukee, Wisconsin or Aurora, Colorado. And those are just three from this past year. There are others since January, and, of course, many before that.
So what? We just brace for the next one, the next time? Where will that be? Will it be Minneapolis? New Orleans, will it be your city? Sure, we're angry, we're hurt, we're frustrated, but I think most of us believe what the president said at the memorial for the teachers and babies as the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut t.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can't tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws, can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can't be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So tonight, we want to do better. Let's look for better. And let's start with two men who know all about guns. Lou Palumbo is a former police officer and he is the director of New York based security firm. And here with me in studio is Tom Deets, a former Atlanta area police officer. He now owns a gun shop and a shooting range.
And I'm looking to both of you guys, you both have a strong and unique perspective here. So what kind of deal, what kind of deal will be acceptable to people who balk at gun control or limiting rights?
First, the president said to Joe Biden just this week, you have until January, give us your best recommendations how to stop these mass shootings. This past week Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein told our Piers Morgan exactly what she wants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: This is the straw that breaks the camel's back. People have to respond. They have to understand that the rights for many to remain safe are more important than any right you may think you have to have a military-style assault weapon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. So you heard her. Sir Tom, you've been a top. You are not just a gun owner. You own a gun store. So this goes beyond that for you. What's your reaction to the senator's words?
TOM DEETS, OWNER, SHARP SHOOTER USA: Well, I don't think that the assault weapons ban or proposed assault weapon ban is going to solve or prevent crimes like this from happening.
LEMON: Why? Why not?
DEETS: Why's that? Because what -- what's going to happen is, people like these shooters in Aurora, Colorado, and Virginia Tech, here in Connecticut, these were mentally disturbed people, mentally unstable people, who slipped through the cracks. Whose family, whose mental health care professionals, didn't take the steps to have them, or petition the court to have them adjudicated so they couldn't possess and have a firearms. And it's not a question of the assault weapon itself or the AR rifle. The Virginia tech shooter had a semiautomatic pistol. We've got to try to identify these people before they commit these acts.
LEMON: So clearly, it is something that there are many things that need to be addressed. But, I'm not understanding why people make mental health and gun control binary issues. They're not binary issues. If someone sane or not sane did not have access to these weapons, we wouldn't have these shootings. We don't have the numbers for people who are mentally ill or unstable, no different in this countries or other countries, yet, with our gun laws, with have much more proliferation of guns and these incidents are at an all-time high in this country, are much higher in this country than other countries who watch the same videos that we do, the same sorts of images on television. They listen to the exact same music that we do but don't have these incidents of gun violence as we do.
So, it seems to me that the one constant here is the access to guns. So, or at least these assault weapons. So I -- most people, most Americans don't understand why there shouldn't be more controls on just these weapons, not taking peoples handguns out of their homes, or anything like that. No one's trying to take away anyone's second amendment rights. So -- then what gives here with that?
DEETS: Well, in America right now, there's about 155 million people who live in a home with at least one firearm. Last year in America, there were probably 12,000 murders. Less than 300 of those murders were committed buy long gun, rifles. So the bigger problem in America is firearms in the hands of the wrong people.
LEMON: OK. So -- listen --
DEETS: 99.9 percent. --
LEMON: You set less than 3 percent of those, you said.
DEETS: No, no, no. Out of 12,000 murders in America less than 300 were committed with long guns.
LEMON: Then the point is, if less than 300 are committed with long guns yet people are going into schools and churches and other places and using long guns to kill people in mass numbers, it would seem -- then people don't need long guns in their homes. You can't use a long gun in your home to protect your house. Can you?
DEETS: Yes, you can use a long gun to --
LEMON: If I have a long gun in my house it's going to glow the gas lines out.
DEETS: No, that's not true. No. You wouldn't want to use a long gun in an apartment building. Somebody who has a ranch has several acres of land, a long gun could be a very vital defensive firearm for them.
LEMON: Someone could, but can't a handgun be the same thing or a shotgun do the same thing? Something that doesn't fire off multiple rounds and kill masses of people at the same time?
DEETS: They all fire the same way. Every time you pull a trigger it fires one round. A pistol is the same way, a semiautomatic shotgun.
LEMON: Even with the magazines that can go 10, 20, 30 rounds at a time?
DEETS: No, they cannot. A semiautomatic rifle like at ar-15 traditionally has a 30-round magazine. When you pull the trig around hold it down it's only going to fire one round.
LEMON: But, why do you need 30 rounds? What do you need 30 rounds for, unless you want to kill a multiple number of people?
DEETS: Somebody that's using any weapon, assaulting people who are completely defenseless, it's horrible. But turn those tables around. Here in Atlanta last year when he a series of very violent home invasions in North Fulton county that targeted specific groups. Those home invaders came in multiple groups, three, four people all armed. The person on the other end, at the receiving end of that, if they have a firearm, they need additional rounds to be able to protect themselves.
You're absolutely right. When somebody crazed is going into an environment where absolutely nobody, nobody has a firearm, has no way of protecting themselves. It's horrible.
LEMON: Listen, you're talking about a situation that happened that doesn't happen that often. And even when we're talking about school situations, that, you know, that happen -- when they do happen they become news and it's multiple people at a time, 10s. We saw this, 26 people at one time. And that's what people are trying to prevent. For you to say the someone --
DEETS: Don, I'm saying the same thing happened at Virginia tech. If that firearms --
LEMON: Stand by. Please, stop talking. A very good conversation. We need to continue. I will go to break when it's time to go to break. Go ahead.
DEETS: My point is, somebody who's intent on doing harm, whether they have a long gun, like an ar-15 or semiautomatic pistol, be it a Glock, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson MNT, those are all guns that are capable of hitting multiple targets, and when the people that -- that the shooter is shooting at have no way of defending themselves, it -- it doesn't matter which firearm they are using.
LEMON: It does matter what firearm they're using, especially in the wake of -- 20 kids, it does matter.
DEETS: Look what the Virginia tech did. He did it with a 0.9 millimeter pistol.
LEMON: That's fine. So, maybe talk about nine millimeter pistol as well.
DEETS: The common link between all of these is these were all people mentally unstable who had -- LEMON: That is not the common link between all of these people.
DEETS: It is.
LEMON: The common link between all of these people is that they had access to guns that should be only available in war zones.
LEMON: That they had -- if they didn't have guns, they wouldn't be able to shoot people.
DEETS: The shooter in Virginia tech did not have a so-called assault rifle.
LEMON: It was a gun.
DEETS: A pistol.
LEMON: The common link is a gun. No one is saying we shouldn't talk about mental health, but their common link is a gun. If someone who is just crazy, I have crazy people in my family. The thing they don't have access to is a gun.
DEETS: Correct. You're absolutely correct. And that's where those families and those mental health care professionals that treated these individuals failed this country. They failed this country by not taking the steps to petition the court to have these people mentally adjudicated defective, it's only through that, if they go to a store and try to buy a firearm --
LEMON: I understand. You're talking about mental health.
LEMON: So then, why aren't you as focused and passionate about looking at gun laws and gun rules in this country as you are about people with mental health? It seems that it's just one point. Most people are saying it should be a multi-prong approach, but for gun enthusiasts and for the NRA, the responsibility is never with the NRA, never with gun owners, never with the laws. It's always with video games, it is always with other things outside of that when people are not being kill bawd they're watching a video game. They're being killed because they have access to a gun.
DEETS: its encurment (ph) upon everybody in this c country whether a you are firearms owner or not to work together to identify people who shouldn't have firearms. We've got, as I mentioned, 155 million people in homes that have at least one firearm.
LEMON: I agree with you. Listen --
DEETS: We're talking about --
LEMON: We should be working with people, identifying people.
DEETS: We've got to.
LEMON: Who should not have access to guns but can do that and not look at gun laws and gun enthusiasts and people who are, the NRA members can't just say, we have to look at this and not look at that.
DEETS: OK. Let's say for example that the AR- 15 platform is banned. OK? It's banned. The next mentally disturbed individual who goes into an environment where it's a so-called gun-free zone, he can go in there, he or she, with a pistol, with a revolver?
LEMON: Why don't we start somewhere, then, and figure it out? Because -- because no -- no change, no rule, no nothing starts with an absolute --
DEETS: All you've done is eliminated one of the rifles. They're going to pick up another --
LEMON: It has to start somewhere. So why don't you see where it starts before you decide that it's going to -- it's going to go further?
Stand by. We're going to continue this conversation.
Lou Palumbo, are you there? I'm sorry. This is a great conversation. I am going to include you, but I think this is real television and we need to continue this conversation. Both gentlemen will be back on the other side of the break. Don't go anywhere.
LEMON: And we continue our conversation now. Completely - this is completely unscripted. Tom Deets is here. Lou Palumbo is in New York. Both of them are Former police officers, you own a gun shop, right, and Lou's going to weigh in a second.
This is - listen, audience. I'm going to tell you. This is completely unscripted. I will have to be honest with you. I'm not an expert on guns. I mean, I get all of the terminology right, may not, but this is a conversation America wants to have and needs to and have people who are not gun enthusiasts don't understand what's going on here, and some people who are.
There are many people who are upset with the NRA about that press conference yesterday, and they don't understand why there is no give from that side on looking at gun rights issue, and by saying that we should look at gun rights issues or gun laws is not saying that anyone wants to take a second amendment right today.
As I told you before the show, someone wants to have a handgun in their house or shotgun, whatever. That's fine. I grew up with people who did that.
LEMON: But -- we should be thinking about these weapons that can fire multiple shots, or that you can exchange a clip, as we said, or sustains a magazine, and can you go into a school and kill 20 children. Why can't we look that? Why can't we just investigate that?
DEETS: Well, like I said, all of these firearms whether a rifle or a handgun operate essentially the same way. They all have devastating results when they hit their targets. And I think one of the things we should consider is if you look back at what happened after 9/11, when 9/11 happened none of us in this country or around the world ever dreamed somebody would get in an aircraft full of people and fly those passengers into buildings. It was unthinkable. These tragedies are unthinkable. My point is if you look at, after that happened we had a national discussion about what we can do to make airline travel safer? We decided airport security need to be beefed up and created TSA.
LEMON: But aren't we saying the same thing then?
DEETS: This is point I wanted to make is that if we took the cockpit doors and reinforced them and then start add program where we looked at capable pilots.
LEMON: OK. I get your point. So what does this have to do with the gun issue?
DEETS: Well, my point is that we need to look at everything here and one of things we need to look at with the pilots, for example, they found capable, qualified pilots who could undergo and pass stringent federal law enforcement training. Let's not rule out the possibility of thinking about our schools and taking the same approach with a lot of administrators and teachers or ex-military.
LEMON: They should be armed, you're thinking?
DEETS: No. Not everybody. It would have to be people. Because you have children there, you got to have carefully screened individuals that would undergo law enforcement training.
LEMON: That's fine. Let's look at that. But why is the possibility off the table when looking at gun rights and the types of weapons that are available on a commercial market? Why is that off the table?
DEETS: I'm saying that -- s.
LEMON: That off the table for you?
DEETS: I'm saying that --
LEMON: Answer my question. Is that off the table for you?
DEETS: It's not going to change anything.
LEMON: So that means it's off the table? Then that's -- that's not fair.
DEETS: What I'm telling you --
LEMON: Hang on with all due respect. DEETS: OK.
LEMON: looking at gun rights laws and these assault weapons and changing the law, possibly changes the laws when it comes to that, that's off the tame for you?
DEETS: What I'm telling you --
LEMON: Simple answer. Yes or no.
DEETS: Here's my answer. Is it Congress initiated --
LEMON: Simple answer. Yes or no.
DEETS: I'm telling you --
LEMON: Yes or no.
DEETS: I can't answer yes or no.
LEMON: Why not?
DEETS: Because my answer is, if an assault weapons ban is put in place.
LEMON: Then you're saying, no.
DEETS: No, I'm not.
LEMON: That's not a fair argument. Not a fair --
DEETS: I'm saying sadly that what's going to happen is we're going to pass a law. We're going to eliminate --
LEMON: You don't know that until we try it. How do you know it unless you sit down --
DEETS: We tried it in 1994.
LEMON: It sounds like the fiscal cliff to me. That's what it sounds like. We can't do this and can't do that. You have to negotiate. No one's going to get everything they want.
LEMON: You have to be open to the possibility there may be something you need to change with these weapons and the law. That's only fair. You cannot just say, this is off the limit. We need to look at that but you can't touch what we have over here. That's ridiculous.
DEETS: We have tried it with the assault weapons ban's in 1994.
DEETS: It didn't change anything. LEMON: OK. I think -- I don't mean to cut you -- this is something I'm very passionate about. After a week of covering the story in Connecticut it's something I'm very passionate about, and --
DEETS: Can I say one more thing?
LEMON: Yes, before I bring in --
DEETS: OK. This is quick. One thing I'd like educators across this country to consider is, you know, educators want to expose children to the dangers they face in the world. We have sex education in the school. We talk about sexually transmitted diseases. We have drug and alcohol awareness, all of these things, but we also need to consider firearm fire arm safety education.
DEETS: There are age-appropriate training materials that are available free. And something that needs to be considered.
LEMON: Solution, not have to be educated about guns because a madman comes into their school and shoots them.
DEETS: No. I'm talking about across the board. Everyone needs to be aware of this.
LEMON: Stand by. Sorry. Another break. This show is going where it's going to go. So, we're going to take another break and we will come back. I promise, Lou, and if you're, you know, if you want to stay, we'll have you as well. We'll be right back.
LEMON: OK. We're back, and, you know, this is how, and you said it, Tom, this is how the country comes together and figures out how to solve important issues. Get a wider shot - how resolve important issues is by sitting down and having these tough conversations. It doesn't mean that you and I are enemies or whatever. We may disagree but we're talking about it. We also ha criminologist Richard Moran on, we have who is joins us now? Lou Palumbo is a former police officer and director of New York-based company. And of course, you are still a police officer, right?
DEETS: On a part-time basis.
LEMON: On a part-time basis and own a gun store.
Listen. Just in the break, my friend who is in the military and he is also a pilot, says federal flight deck officers pay for their own limited training and have no authority to use their weapons outside the cockpit. So even on the plane they can't go back into --
DEETS: Correct. Their role, protect the aircraft and keep it from going down.
LEMON: All right, I just wanted to get that straight. So, listen, I'm not going to get all the terminology right. This I s- I'm not a gun enthusiast. This is just to have a conversation that America has been wanting to have. So, no judgment here. We're all trying to do what's right for our country and especially to honor the people who lost their lives in Connecticut and everyone who did that.
Lou Palumbo, you have been listening to this. You were in Newtown with me. What do you think?
LOU PALUMBO, FORMER NASSAU COUNTRY, NEW YORK POLICE OFFICER: Well, Don, I think as you indicated, the problem is very layered and what's required here is a very strong effort to compromise.
I think that Mr. Deets has an argument that has some merit, but I would say this to Tom. He knows as well as I do when we went into law enforcement at the vetting process for us to obtain a weapon was considerably, and is considerably, different than that of the average civilian. I know that Tom probably went through psychological screening the same way I did.
The other issue here, Don, is education. We're having a pattern now where people are failing to safeguard these weapons. That's an educational issue. It would have been nice if the NRA had come out and reminded their base of support of the importance in this particular area. I think maybe how we should approach this, institute a moratorium for a short period of time. Let things cool down. Let everybody kind depoliticize this topic and come at it intelligently.
The reality of the situation, Don, and I say this remorsefully is, I am not convinced that an assault rifle ban is going to curtail this activity. One of problems is, in their omnipotent wisdom, colt firearms industry in the midst '60s introduced this particular format of weapon to the United States general populist and it's been consumed since that point. So, you can only imagine how many of these are floating around already.
There are a lot of tan gentile issues here. He is right. There is a very, very strong problem with people who are mentally defective. Our responsibility is to make sure they don't get their hands on these weapons, and that is not a one step approach. Let's change the vetting process. Let's properly safeguard our weapons.
LEMON: Yes, and don't you think if you're going to -- if you're going to be fair and you want an honest discussion, all things have to be on the table, including the possibility of changing the rules when it comes to these types of weapons and who can get them, and if they're available commercially, at least you say, maybe there's a moratorium, but that has to be on the table, all of it.
PALUMBO: You know, Don, can I tell you something interesting, and I don't know if Tom will agree with this, but I will tell you. There isn't a law enforcement agent I've spoken to that isn't uncomfortable with the fact that these gun, in the circulation the way they are in our country. And a lot of it is driven by the fact of the people and their psyche who are acquiring them and why and the fact that they're not properly trained and the fact that they're not safeguarding -- LEMON: This is a good time to bring in Richard Moran. Did you hear what he said, Richard, he as a criminologist, in mental health, your history, you've been living the whole time. So the type of person, and the psyche of the type of person drawn to this sort of weapon, what do you make -- what's your assessment of what we've been talking about here?
RICHARD MORAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: Well, I think first of all, if you really do want to talk directly and honestly we ought to throw away that euphemism of the long rifle. You know, if you didn't know what you were talking about assault weapons, you might think we were talking about the American revolution and the shot heard around the world. So you have to watch, people in this debate are going to try to use all the euphemisms that they can so they don't have to talk about the weak points.
LEMON: And what's the weak point?
MORAN: Well, the weak point is to make an argument that why we need assault weapons among the public. And that can't be made. People don't need assault weapons. They're only good for one thing, killing a lot of people at one time.
Now, the NRA likes to say people -- guns don't kill people. People do. The truth is, people with assault weapons kill a lot of people.
LEMON: Kill people, yes.
MORAN: And it's -- it's really very simple mathematics. If you are limited the worse -- the guns that could do the worst damage, if you just limited those, then people's hearts wouldn't be changed. Their minds wouldn't be changed. They would still want to hurt other people, but they would be a lot less effective. In China they've had five school stabbings. The last one, a man stabbed 22 children. You know how many died?
MORAN: None. So -- imagine if he had an assault weapon. How many would he have killed? Certainly -- certainly much more than 22.
LEMON: Yes. So --
MORAN: That's simple math.
LEMON: Lou -- Lou, hold that thought. Hold that thought. We're going to go away and then come back, and I don't know where the show's going to go. Some of the things we had planned for you, the lighter thing, might not make it on the air. I'm going to warn you. This is an important conversation. We'll be right back after this break.
LEMON: We're back and talking about guns, gun law, gun rights. However you want to talk about it. This is something that has been on my heart for a week now after covering the story in Newtown, Connecticut, and watching the faces of the people who have lost loved ones there, and the torment they were going through, seeing tiny caskets this big in the back of hearses and mothers, in the next car behind them, just -- looking like they didn't want to live. And so this -- I thought that we need this conversation, and, you know, I'm not going to apologize for the passion I had at the beginning of the show, because I think that passion helped to create this moment, and it's something that we need to talk about right knew.
Richard Moran is here. Tom Deets is here. Lou Palumbo is here and they all have their each with their own area of expertise. Before we went to break, Lou Palumbo, your thought?
PALUMBO: I want to say two things, Don, and I want to have a very candid conversation with Mr. Deets, who I have respect for. He is an intelligent, well-spoken individual and knowledgeable. But, I think Tom understands the fact if you go to certain southern United States and even out west, transaction of these weapons takes place in parking lots with cash only. You can go into a gun show and walk out with a high-capacity automatic pistol or an assault rifle without even identifying yourself. This is a truth and reality. That's a problem.
There's another problem, Don, it has to do with the remissful (ph) approach of the government in the area of enforcement. I said earlier, this is a very layered problem, but I want to speak to what this other gentleman spoke to.
There's one issue, Don, that is unavoidable and problematic. I would speculate there are probably tens of millions of assault rifles, tens of millions of assault rifles already in circulation in this country. So that's partly why I'm concerned about starting a ban now. The horse is out of the stall, number one. Number two, I went by a firearms store today, and it's alarming to see what is going on. Even the store workers and the owners are concerned that they're alarmed as to what's going on. I don't think people understand what the by- product or fallout is of this discussion, which is why I think it would be good if we have a little moratorium right now so we can get cool some heads to prevail and a more intelligence, diplomatic, compromising approach to this problem.
LEMON: OK. And I told you last week that I have an ar-15. And the reason I have an ar-15 is during the Colorado theater shooting, I told you as well. I want to know what I'm talking about when it comes to how, you know -- what this person did, if he went in, how long it took him to get a gun, and ar-15.
I went gun store until Aurora, Colorado. It took me longer to get the identification that I need to buy that gun than did for me to buy the gun, and the ammunition. It took me 20 minutes. And that's what -- that was over nervous chatter what do I do? I don't know anything about this. What kind of case -- what kind of lock do I need? It probably would not have taken that long. It took me two hours to get a driver's license. Why should it take longer to get a gun, to get the identification you need to buy a gun than it does to get an actual gun?
DEETS: Well, the process has been streamlined through the operation center with the FBI. That database has done a very, very good job from finding and prohibiting people who are criminally prohibited from purchasing and owning a firearm. So that process is a matter of you completing the form 4473. The person who is the seller of the firearm, the FFL holder, the Federal firearms licensee, reviews the validity of that information, and either makes a phone call to the next operation center with is an acronym for national instinct, criminal background.
LEMON: To check it out.
LEMON: And I do have to be fair to you because you are very responsible when it comes to checking people out. You are more resourceful than most.
DEETS: Well, and I think the industry as a whole, the national shooting sports foundation has partnered with ATF and they conduct regional seminars all over the country to train firearms retailers to properly engage and visit with people.
DEETS: So that they understand whether or not it's a person --
LEMON: I get your point. Hang on. I still don't understand why it takes longer to get a driver's license than it does to actually, to get an assault weapon and the ammunition to go with it? I don't understand. And I don't know, you said the national shooting sports, I don't know what their expect record is. I know there's a national record sports -- in Newtown. I know that that is there.
But, I'm speaking simply for you, what I know about you and your organization, and how you check people out. I know you do a good job of it. I'm not sure about everyone else.
DEETS: All I was going to say about NFS is that they promote firearm safety, responsibility and the whole goal of working with ATF is to make sure that that everybody is on the same page and doing the right things to prevent prohibitive people from purchasing firearms.
LEMON: Hold that thought. Richard, Tom, Lou. Lou, I'll get you in. Richard as well when we come back. Don't go anywhere.
LEMON: All right. So we are back, and we have Richard Moran with us, we got Tom Deets and we have Lou Palumbo. Lou and Richard have been wanting to speak, you know, since we've been here.
Richard, do you want to respond to anything that you have heard listening to the conversation? Is there something else you want to add to it?
MORAN: Well, I think that that a lot of quibbling going on. I'd like to find out why as an individual have need high end, how can an individual use an assault weapon? That's all. I don't think that either one of them got close to that. The other thing is, the gun people are trying to push this off as mental illness. The truth is, his mother bought the gun, and there's no evidence that he was mentally ill prior to the shooting, and the shooting itself is not enough evidence of mental illness. Studies show that 75 percent of the mass murders are legally sane. And, therefore, this whole -- what it is, what you have is an attempt here is you have groups trying to grab the image of mental illness. You got other ones trying to deflect the image off with rifles. Let me talk about the statement that the NRA released.
I refer to that as crackpot pragmatism. They want to arm the teachers. Now, crackpot pragmatism is when you identify a real problem, school shooting. But you solve it in a way that makes the problem worse. To add guns to the school system is totally ridiculous. Just the accidents alone would kill more than 26 people a year. It's just nonsense. That these proposals -- there's no quick answer to this. You know, we can ban assault rifles.
I'm not saying that's going to -- that's the end of it. It won't be. There will be still more shooters and more assault rifles. We've got -- one of the speakers said we got tens of millions of them, but that's not right. We got tens of thousands of them at the max.
PALUMBO: That's not correct, sir. You are in error, sir. You are in error. There's approximately 300 million firearms in this country we're aware of.
MORAN: I'm talking about assault weapons. How many assault weapons?
PALUMBO: I heard what you said, sir. I heard what you said and I'm going to tell you I would guest maybe tens of millions.
LEMON: Hold your thought. We're going to continue the conversation outside of the break.
And also, there are some people, at least, and specially one person we know who says because of the type of person who continues to do these sorts of things, that we should start profiling white guys.
David Sirota joins us next.
LEMON: We're back talking about what should happen with gun laws.
Richard Moran is here, Tom Deets, Lou Palumbo, also David Sirota.
David, I got an interesting tweet that said all recent mass killings were committed by 18 to 25-year-old men primarily white, Virginia tech is the exception. Are you saying we should start profiling white men?
DAVID SIROTA, CONTRIBUTOR, SALON.COM: Well, I think we should ask the question, why is America, 30 percent white guys and 70 percent of the mass shootings in the last many decades have been at the hands of white guys? I'm not saying racially profile white guys. But I do think it's interesting to note that had the shooters, had 70 percent of mass shooters been, let's say, Arabs, or African-American men, I think the conversation right now would be a very different conversation where we'd be talking -- having a much less nuance, the much uglier conversations, and I think that we need to ask the question right now.
And I think we need to be asking the question about why the composite is so similar? Why are 70 percent of these mass shootings at the hands of white men? Not to say they should be racially profiled but to ask the question, why is the composite so similar? Let's explore that? Let's ask that question because it's an important question in light of a political climate right now where there's a lot of what I've called the white victimization narrative out there. This idea white people are being kept down, that white people are being oppressed. Does this have anything to do with this? I think it's worth asking the question.
LEMON: You wrote an article, was it for "slate"?
LEMON: Salon. You wrote an article for salon.com and in the article, you said -- I've heard a number of people say, if the victim was a black male, he'd be a thug. If the victim was a Muslim, he would be a terrorist. I mean if the suspect, I mean, shooters in either of these cases were either black, Muslim terrorists, and you mirrored that in your article.
SIROTA: Yes. And I think it's good we're having a nuanced conversation about all sorts of things, mental illness, gun control, et cetera, et cetera. But I hope the next time something bad happens and unfortunately there be a next time, that if it's not a white guy, that we remember we shouldn't ascribe to entire groups the bad actions of individuals because we're not doing that now. And I'm not saying that we should. We should remember the reason we're not is because it's a form of white privilege.
LEMON: We'll be right back. Don't go anywhere.
LEMON: OK. We're back talking about profiling possibly white men in the demographic that usually does this. Richard Moran, wanted to say --
MORAN: Yes, if you gather up, if you try to make a profile, how many people are going to fit that profile, at least 500,000, maybe four or five million will fit that profile. Then what do you do? You cannot predict rare events. That is the problem. Because they're so statistically insignificant, there's no way of spotting them. It's that simple.
LEMON: OK. Lou Palumbo?
PALUMBO: Don, I think you should just have a general awareness of everyone in your space. And when you see off color, behavior, be guided accordingly.
LEMON: And I want David Sirota. Go ahead.
SIROTA: Well, my response is I think that everybody that just said was exactly right. But, I hope the next time when something happens and it's not a white man at the center of it that the same logic will extend to that person and those groups as well.
My point here is that we tend to individualize crime by whites, while ascribing to entire groups of people the actions of individuals, if those individuals are non-whites, that if these were all Arabs who had been doing these mass shootings, we would be having a conversation about what to doing with the Arab community. Right now we're not having a conversation about what to do with the white male community is we don't ask those questions. And I don't think racial profile is not a good idea. I don't think it is successful. But we should remember the double standard.
LEMON: Yes. Listen. I don't want things profiling. But, that's what profilers do, people who -- right? That's part of the -- the definition of being a profiler.
OK. Listen, I wanted to give you a chance to respond to everything. I know that you don't -- you're not an expert when it comes to profiling, but, on this particular issue, my question to you again is, everything has to be on the table. So the rules, when it comes to assault rifles, on the table for you or of the table, the possibility of looking at them and possibly changing them?
DEETS: I still don't think it's going to change anything.
LEMON: I'm not asking you that. I'm asking you --
DEETS: Everything's going to be on the table, obviously. Everything needs to be considered. My honest, humble belief is that that's not going to change what the problem is, and that's why I have that concern. OK? You know --
LEMON: And folks on the other side think they say my honest, humble belief is, unless we don't get some sort of something going or the rules changing about assault weapons, then it's going to get worse. So there are people who on the other side just as passionate as you.
DEETS: Even the president himself acknowledged that the bigger problem in America is handgun violence. If you look at the vast number of murders committed. Look at the city of Chicago, the city of Chicago.
LEMON: Well, the biggest problem here I think in the country is that we don't actually talk to each other like we do now, and everyone is saying, no. We didn't do this. We can't do this. Well, we don't know what we can do until we try it. And we don't know if it's going to change anything if we change our gun rules until we look at it and change it. And if it doesn't, and guess what, go back at it and we do something else. But, we all know that something needs to be done so that 20 children don't get mowed down and hunted down like al-Qaeda or the Taliban by assault weapons.
I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for watching. Have a great night.