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Gun Debate Heats Up Sunday Shows; Nine Days to Reach a Deal; Crowds Flock to Gun Shows; Letters Pour into Newtown; Longest Christmas Season in the World; Inspiring Sports Comebacks

Aired December 23, 2012 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: : Hello. Top of the hour. I'm Don Lemon, and here's the word. We're not going to budge. That's the message from the National Rifle Association, the NRA, making it clear today its opposition to any new gun laws in the wake of the Connecticut shooting.

On NBC's "Meet the Press" the group's CEO stood by remarks he made at an event on Friday in which he argued for armed guards in school.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAPIERRE: If it's crazy to call for putting police and armed security in our school to protect our children, then call me crazy. I'll tell you what the American people, I think the American people think it's crazy not to do it. It's the one thing that would keep people safe, and the NRA is going to try to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: But Democratic Senator Charles Schumer wasn't buying the single solution approach.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: We have to look at a holistic solution. We cannot just make the new normal one of these mass shootings every month, and that seems to be what's happening. So we should try all kinds of different things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: It was a debate at the center of all the Sunday morning talk shows with both sides making their case.

CNN's Barbara Starr following the story for us from Washington.

Barbara, hello to you. So, what's the case that the NRA is making right now?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, you know, Wayne LaPierre, he's the chief executive officer. He is the public face of the National Rifle Association, going on NBC's "Meet the Press" this morning, he made the point again and again that he made back on Friday at that press conference. That his organization will oppose legislation at adding new restrictions to the sale of weapons or the sale of those high capacity ammunition magazines, and he had a lot to say again about who he thinks is to blame.

Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAPIERRE: Look, I know there's a media machine in this country that wants to blame guns every time something happens. I know there's an anti-Second Amendment industry in this town. I know there are political elites that for 20 years always try to say it's because Americans own guns.

I'm telling you what I think will make people safe. And what every mom and dad will make them feel better when they drop their kid off at school in January is if we have a police officer in that school, a good guy, that if some horrible monster tries to do something, they'll be there to protect them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: So nine days after the Newtown attack, the NRA is just firm on its position that school guards are the way to go, and as you pointed out, don, many people speaking out in Washington do not agree. They believe there are other efforts that should be looked at, other solutions, other options. Have a listen to Senator Joe Lieberman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: I found the statements by the NRA over the last couple of days to be really disheartening because the statements seem to not reflect any understanding about the slaughter of children that happened in Newtown, Connecticut. Here's what bothered me. That they were -- that the NRA spokespeople have been willing to deal with every possible cause of gun violence except guns.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: Now, look, you know, this whole discussion, as you know, Don, about, you know, putting guards on school property, this is not new. School districts across the country have grappled with security questions for years. They've looked at it. Some of them have engaged in this type of protection.

But even the advocates of more gun laws, those opposed to the NRA position, offer this very point. They point out that there was an armed security officer at Columbine High School because in 1999 on the day of that massacre, and there was a terrible result, of course, for the children at that school.

So they are making the case very strongly that controlling gun violence requires that package of solutions well beyond the schoolhouse door -- Don.

LEMON: Barbara, I think an overwhelming majority of people who have been listening to Wayne LaPierre and the NRA's stance lately at the -- it wasn't a press conference. It was a statement they gave on Friday and what he has been saying today. They find the NRA to be tone deaf and think that some of the solutions they're offering are the solution about arming people in schools is just ridiculous. Friday's remarks, though, I mean, again, tone deaf, the worst P.R. campaign that most people have ever seen.

Do you think that that hurt their case?

STARR: You know, it's going to be a question here in Washington once Congress comes back in the New Year, as it always is: political clout. Will the NRA after all of this still have its traditional clout to stop any new gun legislation in Congress or are they so damaged now? Was tragically Newtown, the 9/11 moment for the issue of guns in America, this has resonated across the country for so many days now -- is the traditional clout, political clout, gone? Is there new clout on the part of those who want to see more legislation controlling the sale of guns of assault weapons, and those high-power ammo magazines -- Don.

LEMON: I would venture a guess that it's the latter, Barbara. Thank you, Barbara Starr.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence weighed in on the current debate. They released a statement from a father whose 8-year-old son was saved from bullets by a courageous teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary.

"Our hearts are heavy this holiday in Newtown. Nothing will bring our children back or ease the pain we all feel. But we can do something to make this nation safer. We can make this the nation we all want.

So today I want to speak specifically to all responsible gun owners and NRA members with the message to join us. Join us because you know in your heart that we are better than this."

Moving to the fiscal cliff. Teetering on the edge of the fiscal cliff now with nine days left to cut a deal, lawmakers are home for the holidays.

House Speaker John Boehner, his Plan B went bust.

Before leaving town, President Obama urged Congress to pass a mini- plan that would preserve middle class tax rates. The president is now in his native Hawaii for a quick Christmas break.

Brianna Keilar joins us now from Honolulu.

Hello, Brianna. As this fiscal cliff deadline gets closer, what do we think will happen as the holidays rolls out here?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's one sort of last ditch effort possibility here, Don, and that is when the Senate reconvenes on the 27th, it's possible that either they could try to pass something and sort of force it on the House or it's possible that they could take a bill that they've already passed back in July with the threshold of those tax hikes being at the $250,000 level and that they could kind of say to the House, OK, now the ball is in your court. You have to deal with this.

But it's still very much a possibility, Don, that this doesn't work out, that we go over the fiscal cliff. And that was reflected today on the Sunday shows from both Democrats and Republicans. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

REP. MICK MULVANEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Passing Plan B, the other night, would not have changed the outcome. We were going to go over the cliff before. We're going to go over the cliff now because it's what the president wants. You cannot negotiate with someone who does not want to negotiate.

LIEBERMAN: In the aftermath of the House Republicans rejecting Speaker Boehner's so-called Plan B, it's the first time I feel it's more likely we will go over the cliff than not, and that -- if we allow that to happen, it will be the most colossal consequential act of congressional irresponsibility in a long time, maybe ever in American history.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

KEILAR: Now, officially, Don, the president is expected to be here or is supposedly here in Hawaii through the New Year, but I think the expectation now at this point is that with Congress returning, President Obama is likely to go back to Washington to oversee things as perhaps they move or as perhaps the fiscal cliff comes nearer and the U.S. goes over it.

LEMON: Can we expect any other lobbyists, any other lawmakers, to step up to the plate and kick start negotiations? I mean, what about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell?

KEILAR: Well, the thing at this point -- and I'm told by sources -- is that there really are no negotiations going on between Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who is actually in Hawaii today for the funeral of Daniel Inouye and is on his way back to Washington. It would really come down to the Senate doing something.

The way Democrats see it, there's a possibility that Senator McConnell might allow this bill that I mentioned that already passed in July with the threshold for tax hikes being at the $250,000 level, that he might sort of allow Democrats to say OK, the House has to take this or if there is some sort of vote on another measure that while Mitch McConnell would be unlikely to personally support it, perhaps he might let some of his Republican senators do that.

Now, this is sort of thinking coming from Democrats. This is not something that Mitch McConnell at this point is planning to do, and it's very much unclear. The fact is, though, it doesn't just matter what the Senate does, Don. The House would have to pass something, and whatever were to come out of the Senate at this point would require not just Republican support. They made that clear.

Last week when they didn't support Speaker Boehner as Plan B, it would have required Democratic votes and that means it would come down to Speaker Boehner deciding whether or not he would allow some sort of measure to go to the floor, and that is especially uncertain.

LEMON: Brianna Keilar, thank you very much.

We heard Brianna mention Daniel Inouye -- hours ago, Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye was laid to rest.

He represented Hawaii in Congress for more than five decades, ever since Hawaii became a state in 1959. The 88-year-old senator was a war hero. He lost his arm in World War II. President Obama and the first lady attended today's funeral at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The president has said Inouye was his earliest political inspiration.

The civil war in Syria already tragic on a global, took a shocking turn for the worst today.

This is a small village in western Syria. More than 100 people were killed in a bombing here. Some say the death toll is higher. According to witnesses, Syrian military -- a Syrian military jet dropped three bombs on this town on the spot where scores of people were standing in line for bread.

A ban on protest defied in New Delhi, India. For a second straight day, riot police blasting protesters with high pressure water hoses. Demonstrators hit the streets after a woman was gang-raped on a moving city bus last weekend. They're defending the toughening of India's rape laws.

Meanwhile, further north, a protest over the assault of another woman turned deadly. A video journalist was killed by police gunfire in protests there.

One of military's most senior Navy SEAL officers is dead in Afghanistan. Investigators believe he killed himself. This is the officer I'm talking about, Navy Commander Joe W. Price, 42 years old. A Pentagon official says there's no indication he was involved in any military-related investigations or controversies. The Navy has launched a full inquiry.

President Hugo Chavez is on the mend. That's according to Venezuela's vice president who gave an update on his boss's condition this weekend. Chavez has cancer and had surgery December 11th in Cuba. Vice President Nicolas Madura has been running things in Venezuela during Chavez's treatment. He describes Hugo Chavez as recovering and getting stronger every day.

A British newspaper is taking Lance Armstrong to court. "The Sunday Times" says they settled a libel case with Armstrong six years ago after they printed claims that he was doping. Well, as you know, Armstrong was stripped of all his title this is year. Why? Over doping. The British paper wants its settlement money back and about $1 million more.

Senator Ben Affleck? It has a ring to it, right? Well, the rumor mill has been turning this week, and this morning, the Hollywood actor was asked if he would run for a Massachusetts Senate seat if Senator John Kerry becomes secretary of state. Affleck didn't say no really.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR/ACTIVIST: Well, one never knows. I'm not one to get into conjecture. I do have a great fondness and admiration for the political process in this country. It's a big deal for me to come down here and be on your show that I've watched so much, but I'm not going to get into speculation about my political future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Affleck. Well, we call him Affleck. He lives in Massachusetts. But he spends time in Washington pushing for more U.S. involvement in the Congo, among other issues.

Coming up --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON (voice-over): Ponder this. With the Connecticut school shooting response be different if the gunman wasn't white?

DAVID SIROTA, SALON.COM: Seventy percent of these mass shootings has been white men.

LEMON: We talk to the man who says it's time to think about profiling white guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: OK. You saw that @DonLemonCNN. Go ahead and respond.

This has really gone viral on social media. Last night, we had a pretty intense conversation about gun roles and gun control in this country. One of the discussions has caused the social media firestorm.

Columnist David Sirota wrote an article pointing out that in many of the recent mass shootings, the gunman has been a white man or a teenager -- Columbine, Tucson, Aurora, and now in Newtown. Would our conversations be different if Adam Lanza had been black or Muslim? David Sirota says they would.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Are you saying we should start profiling white men? SIROTA: 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 we should 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 -- we'd be having a much less nuance, the much uglier conversations.

And I think that we need to ask the question right now. 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, this idea 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"?

SIROTA: "Salon."

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 or the shooters in either of these cases were either black, Muslim terrorists, and you mirrored that in your -- 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 --

LEMON: Yes.

SIROTA: -- that if it's not a white guy, that we remember we shouldn't ascribe to entire groups the actions -- the bad actions of individuals.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: David Sirota. If you want to read more, check out Sirota's article, "Time to profile white men?" It's on Salon.com.

Winter storms across the country creating havoc for travelers -- rough timing as millions of people hit the roads this week. We'll tell you who is in for a nasty weather, next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over the next 50 years, we need more food than the last 10,000 years combined, and it's just staggering to think, where is it all going to come from? We're already pushing the limits on land. We're already seeing food shortages in some parts of the world. So we need to really pick up the pace, I think, and really take it to the next level off shore and kind of open up new frontiers for farming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Holiday travel plans disrupted and holiday shopping made for complicated. Two days before Christmas and heavy snowfall and powerful winds have gripped several states. Mountains of California, up to five feet of snow expected there.

Heavy rain prompting flood warnings, closing highways in Napa, and back East, western New York, lake-effect snow blanketing areas around Cleveland and Buffalo and high winds are threatening to delay flights at busy airports in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

Some of the estimated 87 million Americans traveling these holidays have -- or this holiday have no doubt made it their Christmas destinations, made it to their Christmas destinations. Millions still traveling want to know what the weather has in store.

CNN Meteorologist Jennifer Delgado has the holiday forecast.

Hey, Jennifer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Don, it's hard to believe we're only two days away from Christmas, and everybody wants to know the forecast. And we started off on Christmas Eve, and guess what? We are going to be looking at some rain out there as well as some snow in those higher elevations up towards parts of the Ohio Valley and the East Coast.

We're really going to be watching the chance for severe storms setting up across parts of Texas, as well as for Louisiana.

Now, a storm system is going to be coming in out of the Four Corners, and this is going to mean, yes, a white Christmas for some areas. What areas are we talking about? For southern Missouri as well as for Arkansas, you can see some snow there. And down towards the South, we are talking about some rain and heavy rain at times.

Now, let's track this through the future for you. As we go later through the day, on Wednesday, after Christmas, we're talking the Ohio Valley looking at snow and windy conditions.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: All right. Jennifer, thank you.

Talk about unintended consequences. Gun sales are soaring, people are snatching up assault style rifles. Some gun vendors say President Obama's gun control talk is boosting gun sales.

But, first, the only way to save an endangered breed of cows is to serve them up. Dan Lothian explains in this week's "American Journey."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You are looking at one of the rarest, most endangered animals on the planet, the Randall Lineback cow. They are more endangered than polar bears, mountain gorillas, pandas, or tigers. It's estimated there are fewer than 500 of these cows left on the planet. Not in some far-flung corner of the world, but most right here on a bucolic farm in Northern Virginia.

Joe Henderson, a real estate executive and part-time farmer, is on a mission to save this historic breed of cattle from going extinct.

JOE HENDERSON, FARMER: I mean, you cannot look at these cows and tell me they're not beautiful, because they really are. And those little teeny babies --

LOTHIAN (on camera): They're cute.

HENDERSON: You got to -- they are more than cute. I mean, they are

LOTHIAN: What did you call them, the panda?

HENDERSON: They are the pandas of the cow world.

LOTHIAN (voice-over): But it's very expensive raising these bovine pandas.

HENDERSON: This animal, to survive, must find a job. I think we have found a job, and the job is --

CATHAL ARMSTRONG, CHEF: Is it kind of counter-intuitive that to rescue this breed, you have to consume them.

LOTHIAN: Cathal Armstrong is a top chef in Washington, D.C. His restaurant, Eve, has been serving the Randall Lineback for four years. A pleasure for the palette, and conservation is an extra side dish. Many diners would hardly recognize this organic, lean, grass-fed meat as beef. A far cry from the fatty, marbled steaks American diners crave, and more than three times the cost.

Meaning only exclusive chefs like Armstrong can get their hands on the delicate and difficult to prepare meat.

HENDERSON: This is never going to be in McDonald's, so this animal has got to go to higher-end use.

LOTHIAN (on camera): What's the most important thing, that you're saving a cow or you are creating this new eating experience?

HENDERSON: For me, the most important thing is you're saving an animal that would otherwise go extinct. I think it's a piece of nature and natural beauty that just needs to be kept going.

LOTHIAN (voice-over): Dan Lothian, CNN, Chapel Hill Farms, Virginia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Gun control is a hot topic for people on all sides of the ideological spectrum. Now, we're talking huge crowds right now. They are flocking to gun shows, snatching up assault-style rifles and high capacity magazines. One vendor says this happens every time the president goes on television.

Here's another one. A gun seller told the "San Francisco Chronicle", "Obama is the best gun salesman since Bill Clinton. Every time a liberal opens his mouth and says something stupid about guns, I sell a gazillion of them."

Let's bring in Ana Navarro in Miami and ESPN writer L.Z. Granderson from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Both are CNN contributors.

OK. It sounds kind of odd because the president hasn't done anything when it comes to gun control. So that's something we need to examine. It's all in our heads. What is that? Gun sales soaring -- is this an unintended consequence to President Obama's push for new ideas to reduce gun violence?

Go, Ana.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Don, this is what happens after these shooting incidents. It's become the repeated pattern. It's become the MO, where after such shooting incidents where, you know, like the nation is traumatized, and people are seeking and asking for reaction, you see a spike in gun sales. People want to retain their rights.

I don't think we blame the gun sales on Obama. I don't think we blame it on the NRA. I think we blame it on a human reaction.

LEMON: But --

NAVARRO: And I think what we need to see --

LEMON: But, Ana --

NAVARRO: -- is a comprehensive approach.

LEMON: Hang on. Hang on, hang on. Hang on, hang on. We don't blame it on that, but I think these gun people are being very candid when they say that. They wouldn't say it if it wasn't true. There was a gun show here in Georgia this weekend. People were lined up around the corner to buy guns after 20 kids -- I mean, what is -- what is that?

NAVARRO: The -- it's the unfortunate repetition of the same pattern over and over again. A terrible shooting that traumatizes the nation where then citizens ask for action, ask for changes. That, in turn, leads citizens, gun owners, to think that they're going to lose some rights and go out there and buy more guns, and you know what the saddest part of that is? That at the end we end up with no action and no changes and it repeats itself all over again.

LEMON: And more guns.

NAVARRO: And more guns and more shootings.

LEMON: And more shootings.

L.Z., I don't -- I don't get it. Because to change gun laws -- first of all, Ana is right. Nothing ever happens. But to change gun laws and to have people -- to take people's guns away, it's never going to happen.

Do you know how long that would take? And so people go out -- that's -- what is the rationalization? That is not rationale.

L.Z. GRANDERSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's completely irrational, and yet it's not just with school shootings. If you remember in Arizona after Representative Giffords was shot, the guns that were used in that attack spiked in Arizona, so, you know, I don't -- I don't know what this is except for one driving force, one driving reason. And that is Americans, simply we don't trust each other. We don't believe that we have each other's back in these situations and so we think that the only thing we can do is have our own back, and we see guns as a way of doing that.

Any discussion of trying to work towards peace is -- is dismissed as utopian. Not realistic. And people automatically start looking at ways in which they can protect themselves in a violent way. It's very, very sad. And especially as a father of a 16-year-old, I'm not as concerned, to tell you the truth, with the mass shootings as I am with the situations where we saw with Trayvon Martin. Where you have individuals with these guns who, again, don't trust. They feel empowered because of the guns and they make really, really bad decisions.

A bad decision left Trayvon Martin murdered. A bad decision led to the young man who was shot because the music was too loud at the gas station.

As a parent this scares me just as much if not more so than the mass shootings at schools. These guns and the lack of trust is what's really hurting America.

LEMON: Well, the NRA is doubling down on --

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: I think both things -- but I think both things are very scary, L.Z.

LEMON: Hang on, hang on, Ana. I got to get to another thing. The NRA is doubling down on this defiant message. No gun control. Put an armed guard in every school. So how is the NRA's stance, Ana, going to play out politically with Republicans? Are Republicans too scared to even think about defying the NRA?

NAVARRO: You know, Don, I don't think it's fair to just say with Republicans. It has been Democrats and Republicans who haven't done anything with gun control. Including our president who, four years ago was campaigning against people who wanted to cling to their guns and their religion, and now in November we saw him wanting to cling to the votes of the people who cling to their votes and their religion.

We saw shootings in the midst of this campaign, Don. We saw the Aurora shooting. We saw the Sikh temple shooting, happen smack in the middle of this campaign, and this issue not be discussed, not be debated, in what was a very long and testy, heated campaign. So I don't think it's true or right to say it's the Democrat or the Republican. I -- what we cannot have is a conversation where we're blaming each other, where the media is blaming the guns, where the gun industry is blaming the liberals, where the liberals are blaming the, you know, violent video games.

We have to have a comprehensive conversation, and it be a constructive conversation. Not one where people are trying to escape their responsibility and blame it on some other industry or some other faction.

LEMON: Well, Ana, I think in your --

GRANDERSON: You know I --

LEMON: In your response, I'll let you respond, L.Z., but I think in your response, there is a difference between Republican and Democratic lawmakers. I will agree with you that Republican and Democrats who are lawmakers are not doing anything when it comes to gun rules or gun legislation, but Republicans and Democrats who are citizens in this country and voters would like to see something different, the majority of them, when it comes to gun rules.

And on the side of people who don't want --

NAVARRO: And we're going to have to make it happen.

LEMON: Hang on. Let me finish. On the side of people who don't want any changes with gun rules, most of those people are Republicans and they are gun enthusiasts. Go ahead.

NAVARRO: Listen.

GRANDERSON: I was going to say that --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Let Anna respond and I'll let you go, L.Z.

Go head, Ana. NAVARRO: This is -- look, Don, we have right now three different chambers of -- you know, three different areas of government. There's a lot that the executive branch can do. There's a lot of leadership that President Obama can provide that he has not provided on this issue. And yes, there's a lot of hearts and minds that have to change in Congress. A lot of them Republican. And also some Democrats.

And I think it's up to us as citizens if we want to see changes happen to take off the party label --

LEMON: Exactly.

NAVARRO: -- and to demand it of our elected officials and the people representing us. A lot of times politicians act because the citizens are demanding it.

LEMON: Right.

NAVARRO: And crying out for it.

LEMON: Yes.

NAVARRO: And that's what has to happen on this issue.

LEMON: I think you're right. This is not --

NAVARRO: We have to lead, and they will follow.

LEMON: This is not a Republican and Democrat issue. I always say that -- or Democratic issue. And it is because it's going to take all of -- all of us to do it, and we have to take the politics out of it.

L.Z., I'll give you the last word. Go ahead and go on as long as you want. I'm sorry I cut you off.

GRANDERSON: That's quite all right. I was just going to say that what Anna is describing really is a microcosm of what's wrong with Washington. There is this notion that the NRA is a defender of the Second Amendment when the fact is that our elected officials and the president is supposed to be defenders of the Second Amendment. There's defenders of the constitution. Not a lobbying group.

But it's the lobbyists who actually has our government by the throat. Not the voters. The lobbyists. You're seeing politicians make decisions based upon what they think the money is going to say from the lobbying groups. The NRA is one example, but once upon a time we were wrestling against cigarette companies and tobacco companies, trying to do the right thing and having politicians handcuffed from doing the right thing for the American people because of lobbying groups, because of money.

And so what we're experiencing right now is the same thing we're going to continue to experience until we get really serious about the way that we're being governed and who is actually governing us.

We can't sit here and allow the NRA to be the dictator of gun policy because they're a lobbying group, and that's what kind of carries like Ana is talking about that we need for the American people. Go back and look at the money trail. Look at what politicians are talking about gun rights and look how much money they have received from the NRA.

You show me one politician who's adamant about the Second Amendment that hasn't received a dime about the -- from the NRA, and I'll take back that statement, but I think you'll be really hard pressed to find one who is standing up and saying guns, guns, guns, guns, guns that is not being paid off by the NRA.

LEMON: OK. So, listen, I think also a start would be to look at the Second Amendment because the Second Amendment doesn't say what most people think it says about hunting or protecting your home. It's really about militias. And so if we go back and look at that and give the correct interpretation of the Second Amendment, maybe we can move on into a productive --

GRANDERSON: I don't know the British are coming.

LEMON: Yes. Or no one is coming to get your guns. All right. Thank you, guys. Appreciate it.

NAVARRO: We're not carrying muskets.

LEMON: Right. Thank you. Thank you. Absolutely.

NAVARRO: Thank you.

LEMON: And thousands of letters of support are pouring into Connecticut as people reach out to offer their prayers. We'll hear from one little girl who has a special message to send.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: There are a lot of heavy hearts in Newtown, a feeling sadness that just won't go away, but a bit of goodness has shown up in the form of cards and packages. Letters from children from their parents from all around the U.S. and around the world.

Here's CNN's Lisa Sylvester.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAREN CLARK-REDDON, MOTHER: That's a perfect B.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four-year-old Kaelyn takes her time working hard to get each word right.

KAELYN CLARK-MIDDLETON, FOUR YEARS OLD: I need help with the F.

CLARK-REDDON: OK. So start here.

SYLVESTER: She is writing a letter.

CLARK-MIDDLETON: Dear parents, I know that you are upset. SYLVESTER: A letter to the parents of the children killed in the Newtown shooting. She and her mother live in Buoy, Maryland. They have never been to Newtown. In fact, they've never been to the state of Connecticut, but they wanted to show the town that they care.

CLARK-REDDON: We're writing letters just to -- just to let them know that, you know, our hearts are with them. They're in our prayers.

CLARK-MIDDLETON: Because I want to make them cheer up.

CHRISTINE DUGAS, USPS, NEWTOWN, CONNECTICUT: Right away we started seeing mail volume coming in -- that began with a few hundred. And now it's in the thousands per day we're receiving.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to start handing me the packages?

SYLVESTER: In the middle of all of the sorrow, the sadness, and the heartbreak is something else. Compassion. Letters, card, and boxes, pouring into Newtown.

DUGAS: I don't know if they like strangers, but I think they feel very connected to the tragedy here. But they're coming from as far away as Sicily, England, Australia, and every corner of this country. So they may not have personal knowledge of the families here, but they certainly share their pain.

SYLVESTER: Kaelyn knows only what her mother has told her, that a bad guy hurt and killed children, but she offers this message.

CLARK-MIDDLETON: Dear parents, I know that you are upset, but your children are now fine in heaven. Love, Kaelyn.

SYLVESTER: With her letters she is sending two pictures. Her vision of a rainbow.

Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Buoy, Maryland.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: The town has received thousands of letters. If would you like to send one of your own, mail it to "Messages of Condolence for Newtown," P.O. Box 3700, Newtown, Connecticut, 06470.

Despite a year of economic hardship, our country is giving away billions of dollars to help make the holiday season a bit more festive. We go beyond the headlines next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: If your Christmas is too often one of tacky decorations, overcooked Turkey and family feuds, you may be wondering why any one would want to lengthen this time of year but one country boasts the title of world's longest Christmas season.

CNN's Azadeh Ansari joins me now.

Azadeh, so what country are we talking about?

AZADEH ANSARI, CNN INTERNATIONAL DESK EDITOR: The South Asian island nation of -- drum roll please -- the Philippines.

LEMON: The Philippines. OK.

ANSARI: But it's no surprise, Don, because they're overwhelmingly -- the overwhelming majority are Christians, and about 80 percent are Catholic, and so you have a Christmas season that runs from September until January. I mean, they don't have to stop for Halloween or thanksgiving in between, but still, it's this holiday season that's filled with these lavish decorations and these beautifully lit trees, and these are some of the iReports that we've received throughout this period starting in September of the decorations that they've gone and they've had.

And there's these lantern that is they use that stems back generations because when there wasn't electricity, these lanterns made of paper and bamboo, they use these lanterns as a way to guide their paths to -- it's like a guiding light of worship more or less is what they use them for.

LEMON: Yes. I'm such a scrooge this year. I'm -- I'm just not -- I'm not feeling it. I'm not feeling it this year.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: This is a commercial. It's too commercial. Let me tell you, after -- I don't know. I mean I should probably put up a tree or do something. I mean, but after Newtown it was just like who cares about another -- I don't need an iPad or -- I don't need anything. It's just love. Right?

ANSARI: It really puts a lot of things in perspective.

LEMON: Yes.

ANSARI: And actually in the Philippines, I mean we talk about the lavish decorations, but the reality is that just this month millions of people are still displaced because of Typhoon Bopha that hit the country.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Yes, and even -- but even, you know, Europe has received -- I mean because of the hardships, Europeans have had their share of hardships, but yet they're still trying to do what they can do. And they're going to do something special for -- they are.

ANSARI: They -- well, they already have -- exactly. And so the jobless rate in Spain, Don, this year, topped 25 percent, so many people are still struggling. That being said, though, spirits will -- were lifted, and many people had a reason to line their pockets. The lottery, El Gordo, you've heard about this. It's the largest lottery in Spain, and it literally translates to the big fat one, El Gordo.

LEMON: Yes.

ANSARI: And Spain paid out $2.2 billion to thousands of winners, and you have young children who read out the numbers, which we saw on the video before.

LEMON: Yes.

ANSARI: And it's really -- it lifts a lot of spirits especially in a time where they've been hit with all this economic hardship.

LEMON: Maybe that would help.

(LAUGHTER)

I'll tell you --

ANSARI: It would help to win the lottery.

LEMON: I'll tell you what did help, though. I watched "Miracle on 34th Street" today and it always gets me, except I don't like the colorized version. I like the black and white. So yes. Don Scrooge. Sorry. Maybe when Santa comes I'll feel better.

Thank you.

ANSARI: You're welcome, Don. Thank you.

LEMON: Appreciate it.

A year ago he blew out his knee and his career was in jeopardy. Now he is chasing an NFL record in one of the year's most inspiring comebacks. A sports story you have to hear about next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Everybody loves a good comeback and we've got two great ones to talk about from the sports world.

Terrence Moore is here, sports contributor to CNN.com and a writer for MLB.com.

OK, let's start now. We're going to start with Adrian Peterson. Adrian Peterson, all right? Running back for the Minnesota Vikings. Making a run at the single season, rushing record, a great achievement, but what makes his season such an amazing comeback, Terence?

TERENCE MOORE, COLUMNIST, MLB.COM: This guy is absolutely insane, what he's doing, OK? Tomorrow, Don, marks the one-year anniversary of this guy severely busting up his left knee. OK? Three weeks after surgery, he was walking. Eight weeks after surgery he was sprinting. Now he's just amazing. You talk about the record, but more realistic than that, 100 yards rushing next week against the Green Bay Packers, this guy will become only the seventh rusher ever to run for more than 2,000 yards in a given season. That's a lot.

LEMON: With a busted knee.

MOORE: With a busted knee at 27. Could you do that?

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: I couldn't do it with two good -- with two good knees, some help, and another running back pushing me along with a go-cart, I so couldn't do that.

All right. Let's turn the page now and talk about head coach of the Indianapolis Colts diagnosed with leukemia a couple of months ago. He could be back on the sidelines next weekend. How amazing is that?

MOORE: Well, Chuck Pagano, but I'll tell you what's even more amazing than that. The Indianapolis Colts in general. Their basically just got rid of this -- the 2 1/2 last year, they had the great Peyton Manning goes to Denver. You've got a rookie quarterback in Andrew Luck. Then the third game of the season, you lose your -- your coach to leukemia and guess what?

LEMON: What?

MOORE: Today they are 10-5. They're in the playoffs. You've got Pagano coming back as their living gipper. I will not want to be the team playing them in the playoffs. They're so inspired.

LEMON: OK. Turn the page again. Talk about a name from the past. Susie Favor Hamilton who was a great American runner from the 1990s. A three-time U.S. Olympian, now 44 years old. She's admitted this week that she's worked as an escort in Las Vegas reportedly for $600 an hour. Your thoughts.

MOORE: Well, you know, Donna Summer died earlier this year, so this obviously is her tribute to Donna Summer. She works hard for the money. That's bad, but you know. But you can make --

(LAUGHTER)

You can make the case that Favor Hamilton is the most honest Olympian of all time. Even beyond the call girl thing. Back in the 2000 Olympics she purposely was tripped or fell down in the last lap she said because she said she knew she wasn't going to win gold. All right? So give her credit for that.

LEMON: OK.

MOORE: Here's one more thing, Don. This -- in addition to being a call girl, she's also a real estate agent back in (INAUDIBLE), Wisconsin.

LEMON: Yes.

MOORE: And she's a motivational speaker which means her fees probably just went up.

LEMON: She's multitalented. MOORE: That's exactly right.

LEMON: How much time do we have? I want to ask him something. We got enough time? We have 30 seconds.

MOORE: Go ahead, go for it.

LEMON: What's going on with Tim Tebow?

MOORE: Tim Tebow is becoming the guy that we thought he was. A guy who is not a quarterback. A guy who is a running back trying to play quarterback. A guy that just made a mistake on and a guy who should be in Jacksonville. He'll be in Jacksonville next year and probably do very well for Jacksonville at least as far as getting people -- fannies in the stands.

LEMON: You know, his start was just so -- you know, risen so quickly and then now it's like well, what's happening?

MOORE: It was one of these fluky type things. He was never a quarterback. He was one of these (INAUDIBLE) guys that was just great for a moment, his moment came and went in Denver, it may never come again. But like I said, in Jacksonville, his hometown, we'll probably do very well as far as the draw is concerned.

LEMON: Yes. I spent some time in New York and I was just like listening -- you know, obviously big news.

Thank you. Appreciate it, sir.

Tomorrow morning a former Marine will stand guard outside a Nashville school but he's not official security. He's just a dad doing what he can to protect his kids. His story is next.

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