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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Assault Weapons in America
Aired January 9, 2013 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Americans dead in gun violence since Newtown. Now is Washington finally getting the message?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: Every once and a while there's something in the wake of the conscience of the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Over four million of you have now heard my explosive interview with Alex Jones.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX JONES, HOST, "THE ALEX JONES SHOW", INFOWARS.COM: 1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Tonight the return of the gun advocate. He pushed me to say this to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: You're an unbelievably stupid man, aren't you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Plus families of the Aurora movie theater victims on seeing the accused killer in court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That guy is evil. But there's no way that guy is crazy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: And Arianna Huffington on what has to happen to stop the killing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: The American public is now just going to put up with more delays.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
Good evening. You're looking live at the White House where Vice President Joe Biden says his boss is considering taking executive action to deal without waiting for Congress.
Tonight, I will reiterate once again exactly where I stand on guns. I'm in favor of a nationwide ban on military-style semiautomatic assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. I want to close the absurd gun show loopholes that require private dealers from now on to run background checks on buyers at gun shows.
And I'd like to see President Obama increase federal funding for mental health treatment, all American who need it. It would go a long way toward at least trying to stop the deadly toll of gun violence in America. But tonight I'm talking to a man who doesn't agree. Things got pretty heated the last time he was here. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY PRATT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA: It seem to me that you're morally obtuse. You seem to prefer being a victim to being able to prevail over the criminal element. And I don't know why you want to be the criminal's friend.
MORGAN: What a ridiculous argument.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Larry Pratt is the executive director of Gun Owners of America. I've invited him back in the hope we can have a more meaningful discussion tonight about guns in America.
Mr. Pratt, welcome back to you.
PRATT: And thank you for having me.
MORGAN: Why did you agree to come back?
PRATT: Well, I thought maybe we could help you sell some more newspapers.
MORGAN: More newspapers?
PRATT: Increase your viewership.
MORGAN: Right. We're television channel. You're aware of that?
PRATT: I'm sorry, yes, of course.
MORGAN: If you're at the meeting with the Vice President Biden tomorrow, with the NRA and Wal-Mart and others, what would you be saying? PRATT: That the discussion has not been going anywhere that we can tell in a productive way. We are not talking about making it so people can defend themselves precisely in these gun-free zones that have been the scene of all of our mass murders for the last 20 years. Hopefully, at some point, we're going to come to the realization that repeating the same policy year after year, getting the same deadly results, is only going to get us the same deadly results the next time.
MORGAN: Right, so your solution if you were there in that meeting would be to arm every school, every church, every hospital, everywhere that members of the public can be?
PRATT: You certainly would want to encourage people who are qualified to carry concealed firearm to be able to do so in a school zone. Right now that is illegal in all but a couple of our states and some of our institutions of higher learning. But by and large it's prohibited. That needs to stop because we have been using those as magnets where all of our mass murders have been occurring in these gun free zones.
It just seems that we have a fixation with the idea that no defense is a good defense and that's not a good idea.
MORGAN: Here's my issue with this gun free zone claim that you keep making. You're not the only that makes it, is that, unless I'm wrong, these mass shooters pretty well know they're going to die. I mean, they go to kill a lot of people and then they know at some stage they're going to die because all mass shooters -- pretty much all of them -- get killed.
PRATT: And frequently they kill themselves.
MORGAN: Right. So why on earth would the fact that it's a gun free zone make any difference to them?
PRATT: They're looking for -- it would seem in their sick minds to see if they can out-do the Virginia Tech slaughter, or some other thing that might be in their perverted minds. So why should we give them a neon sign that says well, see if you can do better than the last guy over here?
MORGAN: But you know there were armed people at Virginia Tech. You know there was an armed sheriff at Columbine.
PRATT: He fled.
MORGAN: You know -- well, and you know that at Fort Hood, one of the most heavily guarded military bases in the world, 13 people were killed and 29 wounded.
PRATT: And it was a gun free zone. There were no guns on base unless you were an MP.
MORGAN: Right. But it remains one of the most heavily guarded military bases in the world. But my point --
PRATT: A lot of good that did.
MORGAN: Right. My point to you, Mr. Pratt, is that even where you have a mass of well trained people and a mass of firearms you can still have massacres, you'd accept that?
PRATT: Especially if you're telling the potential victim you can't be armed. You have to wait for the Calvary to get here five, 10 or in the case of Newtown 20 minutes later. I find that unconscionable.
MORGAN: Do you know how many mass shootings have been in America in the last 30 years? And by mass shootings I mean the FBI definition of four people or more on the same place.
PRATT: I don't have a number for the last 30 years. We've looked at that at Gun Owners of America for the last 20 years --
MORGAN: I can tell you the answer, 62. Do you know of those 62 mass shootings how many times a civilian has actually taken out the shooter?
PRATT: It is probably not that many because we make it so hard for people to be able to defend themselves.
MORGAN: You -- I mean, hang on. You've got --
PRATT: But there are examples --
MORGAN: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You have -- you have in America 300 million guns in circulation. You wouldn't contest that. Ninety-nine laws have been passed since 2009 to make it easier for Americans to own guns, to carry them in public, harder for the government to track.
What I'm seeing here is a picture of ever more relaxed gun laws and a spike in mass shootings and in fact six of the 12 worst ever mass shootings in America have come in the last five years. And the reason society, for the last 30 --
PRATT: No, that's not correct.
MORGAN: Well, it is true. These are facts. These aren't things which are open to -- well, you can laugh. You always laugh when we talk about it. I don't find it remotely funny.
But the point is that there has been an escalation in the number of mass shootings in the last five or six years. And also the scale of them. The Aurora movie theater shooting was the single worst shooting in American history in terms of people hit by one shooter and the Sandy Hook shooting was the single worst school shooting in the history of America.
And yet every time these things happen, Mr. Pratt, you come out and you're very vocal and you are proud of what you say, and you basically say the same thing. If everybody had been armed somebody would have killed the shooter and prevented the massacres.
PRATT: You know, we're -- if you -- if we would be talking the way you want to talk, we're not going to talk about making it easy for people to defend themselves. We're not going to talk about the times when mass shootings did not become mass murders because there was somebody on the scene who was able to shoot back.
MORGAN: Right. But again, but again, again --
PRATT: Nor are -- nor are we talking --
MORGAN: Let me jump in. Let me jump in, though.
PRATT: Nor are we talking about the federal government --
MORGAN: This is why --
PRATT: -- sponsoring a program --
MORGAN: Right. Mr. Pratt.
PRATT: -- of putting guns in the hands of the Mexican cartel resulting in the death of now over 400 Mexicans and counting.
MORGAN: Mr. Pratt, let's say --
PRATT: And we're not even talking about Eric Holder and his Justice Department.
MORGAN: Mr. Pratt. Mr. Pratt.
PRATT: And their culpability and complicity to commit mass murder.
MORGAN: OK. Let's stay on the point I was trying to make which is -- Mr. Pratt. Mr. Pratt, let me stay on the point I was trying to make. In the last 30 years there have been 62 mass shootings. Not a single one has ever been thwarted by a civilian despite America being a heavily armed country. My point --
PRATT: That's a circular argument, sir, because --
MORGAN: It's not circular argument. It's the fact.
PRATT: It's thwarted. It doesn't rise to the level of being a mass shooting. It gets stopped in -- it gets nipped in the bud. So of course we're not going to have those and those grizzly statistics because a good guy with a gun was able to get there before the body count mounted.
MORGAN: General McChrystal, one of America's finest modern general, was on "ANDERSON COOPER" earlier. He's been doing the rounds for a new project that he has, a book. And he said he doesn't want his family anywhere near the assault weapons that I am particularly exercised about. We have a clip here from "MORNING JOE" to show you why he feels so strongly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, U.S. ARMY (RET.): I spent a career carrying typically an M-16 and then an M-4 carbine, and an M-4 carbine fires a 223 caliber round which is 5.56 millimeter at about 3,000 feet per second. When it hits a human body the effects are devastating. It's designed to do that. And that's what our soldiers ought to carry.
I personally don't think there's any need for that kind of weaponry on the streets and particularly around the schools in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Why do you know more about the impact and capability of the assault weapon than General McChrystal?
PRATT: While the general was busy defending the country much of the time outside of the country, understandably he may not have noticed the Korean merchants who used an -- not one, but many AR-15 rifles with large magazines to defend themselves --
MORGAN: When was that, Mr. Pratt?
PRATT: -- against the mobs -- during the Los Angeles riots.
MORGAN: When was that?
PRATT: That was some, what, 20 years ago. Those men --
MORGAN: Did you know how long ago that was, Mr. Pratt?
PRATT: We're able -- let me finish my point if you would.
MORGAN: You made this point last time. It was 1992.
PRATT: They were able to defend themselves.
MORGAN: It was 20 years ago. There has never been anything like it before or after. The argument you're trying propagate --
PRATT: Indeed, after Katrina -- these kinds of firearms --
MORGAN: The argument you're trying to propagate --
PRATT: -- they were being used by the people around New Orleans to be able to defend themselves. And after hurricanes in Florida, it was people using these kinds of firearms that were able to defend themselves.
When you have one woman in a closet who is only able to deter an assailant who's found her and her kids with five shots that hit the guy's head and he still walks out of the house, she was out of bullets in her six-shot revolver. If there had been two assailants I don't think she would have done so well.
MORGAN: The last four mass shootings in the last five months have all involved the AR-15 style, military style assault rifle. Widely available as you know. Even in Connecticut which has supposedly quite tough gun control laws.
Why do you feel so strongly that civilians, despite what we just heard from a leading general, should still be able to have access to these killing machines?
PRATT: Well, because the general and his troops are not going to be there to protect the average American, the military nor the police after social order implodes, after a hurricane, after an earthquake, during riots. And his experience, and I very much appreciate his service to the country and the military. But he is not dealing with what civilians have to put up with in the vacuum of somebody being around to protect them.
We're on our own. And I don't want to deal with the two-shot Derringer or even that poor Georgia woman's six-shot revolver. I want a real gun to be able to check myself and my family. Because it's not just likely to be one roving bad guy, it's likely to be a gang of people. And this is not Marquis de Queensbury. This is the real world where we're going to need sufficient fire power to protect ourselves.
MORGAN: I think -- I think you have sufficient fire power, Mr. Pratt, because of course you have 300 million guns in circulation. That is why, and I want to read this statistics to you carefully because I heard you this morning talking to Alex Jones, who I had on early in the week and we'll play some more from him a bit later.
And you were talking about these figures from Britain and how apparently the gun control in Britain has been a fiasco and crime has been through the roof, et cetera, et cetera. So I actually dug out the official figures. These are the homicide figures from guns in England and Wales by comparison to the United States of America going back to 2003.
I'm going to read these quickly to you because I think they make a point on their own. 2003, gun murders in England and Wales, 68. In America, 11,920. In 2004, 73 England and Wales. In America 11,624. In 2005, 50 in England and Wales. In America 12,352. And so it goes on about the same levels in both countries --
PRATT: Now let's --
MORGAN: Let me finish. Here's my point. Every time I hear you say, that there is a safer country where you have more guns my brain takes me back to these figures because in Britain we brought in a -- as you know a handgun and assault weapon ban after what happened at Dunblane where a very similar number of schoolchildren were murdered with guns.
This is the result of what happens when you take a responsible action to respond to a massacre beyond any kind of comprehension. Why do you still persist in trying to persuade Americans that the complete opposite is true?
PRATT: Well, first of all, according to you investigature (ph) of the constabulary, the data that you're using for the murder rate in England is a sham. There is a monumental misreporting of what constitutes murder. If three people are murdered it's likely to be counted as one event.
MORGAN: What an absolute, absolute lie. That is --
PRATT: Well, that's what you say when you don't --
MORGAN: No, you see, Mr. Pratt.
PRATT: -- know what you're talking about.
MORGAN: No, Mr. Pratt. Let me tell you, it doesn't take very long.
PRATT: Then I was just looking at that 2,000 report and these are your own government's data.
MORGAN: To count 50 gun murders.
PRATT: These are your own government's data.
MORGAN: How long do you think it takes the police or pathologist to count 50 bodies a year.
PRATT: Go tell the Constabulary of Britain that they are lying. You asked them for an apology, why don't you.
MORGAN: So you are telling me that 50 murders a year, 50 -- these are simply invented statistics and in fact the figures in Britain for gun murders are many more times that, yes? That's what you're saying?
PRATT: That's exactly what your own Constabulary is saying. Actually I don't know that you included in your litany the Cumbria murders that occurred well after the gun ban in which 12 people were murdered.
MORGAN: Let's multiply this --
PRATT: I admit I have to look up where Cumbria is but it happens to be on the west coast of England.
MORGAN: Yes. Don't be patronizing. Fifty murders in 2005, 41 2009, 39 in 2011. You --
PRATT: No, you had 970. I don't know what you're talking about.
MORGAN: This is complete nonsense, Mr. Pratt.
PRATT: You're from another planet, Mr. Morgan.
MORGAN: You are stating --
PRATT: And that's why you're having trouble living in America.
MORGAN: Mr. Pratt, you are stating -- you are telling me on CNN we had how many gun murders last year?
PRATT: Nine hundred seventy and you have a violent crime rate that is the fourth highest in any country in the world.
MORGAN: Mr. Pratt, you have just propagated an absolute lie. That --
PRATT: Well, then go tell the editors --
MORGAN: 2011 there were 39 gun murders in England and Wales.
PRATT: Go tell -- go tell the editors of "The Telegraph" who published just that information two days after our last interview.
MORGAN: Mr. Pratt, there were 39 gun murders in England and Wales in 2011.
PRATT: You're whistling past the graveyard.
MORGAN: Mr. Pratt -- no, what you're doing is deliberately lying, deliberately twisting it so that Americans watching this who may be tempted to buy in to your ludicrous fear game rush out tomorrow and buy more weapons and more ammunition because you know what, more guns, less gun crime, less gun murders.
It is a fallacy. It is based on lies. You just propagated another lie. You just said that a figure of 39, the official figures from the British Home Office, 39 gun murders in 2011 in England and Wales, you have added a north of that and then trebled it. It's outrageous.
PRATT: I'm sure you're going to feel so much better --
MORGAN: What you do is outrageous.
PRATT: You'll feel so much better being defenseless until you need a gun, and then it will be a little too late to buy your insurance policy.
MORGAN: Let's take a break, Mr. Pratt. Let's come back and talk more about this. Try and stick if you can to facts and not lies. That would be very helpful for the tenor of this debate.
MORGAN: Back now with Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America.
Let's play a clip from my interview with your friend, Alex Jones, from Monday night's show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: And I'm here to tell you, 1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms. It doesn't matter how many lemmings you get out there on the street begging for them to have their guns taken. We will not relinquish them. Do you understand? That's why you're going to fail and the establishment knows no matter how much propaganda, the Republic will rise again when you attempt to take our guns.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: What did you make of Mr. Jones' performance on the interview?
PRATT: Well, it seemed that you had improved your demeanor quite a bit from my own experience with you and I congratulate you for maintaining it during that whole interview.
MORGAN: He maintains that the main reason that Americans need to be heavily armed is because of a threat of a tyrannical regime coming from his own American government, your government, against the people. Do you believe that?
PRATT: That's what our founders believed. And that's what's important because that's why we have a Second Amendment. The Second Amendment, as all of our Bill of Rights, all of our 10 amendments, are designed to limit what the federal government can do. And that includes the Second Amendment, ensuring the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
MORGAN: Right. But as you know, the Second Amendment specifically applies to a well regulated militia.
PRATT: You're going to lose that argument increasingly. The courts are agreeing that individuals were to own their own military rifles so that if they were called to duty they would have that to bring with them. That was the Militia Act of 1796 which required all abled body men to own a military rifle so that they would have it at the ready were they called up.
MORGAN: How many guns do you want in America, Mr. Pratt?
PRATT: That's not for me to decide. That's for individual Americans to decide.
MORGAN: Do you think every American should have an AR-15?
PRATT: Every American should be able to get an AR-15. I understand. There are plenty of people that are not going to want that. There are probably people who would rather have a superior firearm. That's their choice.
MORGAN: What are you going to do if President Obama wins his battle and brings in new stricter gun control legislation?
PRATT: Well, he's not going to do it by legislative, in my opinion. What I'm concerned about and what I've been concerned about since even well before the elections is having seen the president rule by executive order where he has no authority in other areas I can see that he would just go ahead and the vice president has even hinted at an executive order that would accomplish some or all of their gun control agenda.
That, I think, changes the game and throws into question the legitimacy of the federal government. And I would advice Mr. Obama to consider what happened to George III when he was doing similar things against the American colonists.
MORGAN: You're likening President Obama to George III?
PRATT: Well, he -- President Obama hasn't banned the importation of ball and powder yet, which George III did, but that was one of the major contributory elements to our war-free independence. And George III, as you probably know, was so stressed by the loss of his famous favorite colony that he ended his days in a nuthouse, and I wouldn't wish that on anybody.
MORGAN: When I talk to you, Mr. Pratt, I always look for some sense of humanity from you in this debate. That you could react to something like the Sandy Hook massacre in the way that I did and many other people did. And I never see it from you. All I see is a very determined attempt to make sure the only outcome is that the gun manufacturers sell more guns and sell more ammunition as we saw in December, record gun sales, record ammunition sales.
PRATT: Sir, I would ask you, where is the humanity in telling people they must be disarmed, they must be victims, they must just sit there patiently and wait their turn for a bullet? Is that humanity?
MORGAN: Where' the humanity in doing nothing after these massacres?
PRATT: The humanity was being able to do nothing during the massacre. That was the lack of humanity. And that's what we're trying to rectify. And you know what, I know this will come as more lies from Larry Pratt. But it's entirely possible that the House of Representatives will approve a bill by Representative Steve Stockman to do away with the gun-free school zones.
MORGAN: And you'd be happy with that if every school suddenly have people running around with guns, right?
PRATT: You're a good guesser, yes, sir.
MORGAN: Where are they going to put them?
PRATT: Well, when people carry a concealed firearm one doesn't exactly know for sure and the element of surprise remains with the person carry and conceal, which means that somebody contemplating doing something horrible doesn't know which person or persons might be able to arrest him, to stop him, and that's why our jurisdictions that have easy access to conceal carry firearms enjoy lower murder rates than, say, the gun control Mecca of Chicago which does better than one murder a day.
MORGAN: Well, let me end it and just ask you one more question because I think people watching will be curious, you know, you're a very experienced man in your field. You've run your operation for a long time, people take you seriously. You're a leading member of the gun rights lobby. And people believe what you say. So I'm going to give you one more chance before we finish to say again how many gun murders you believed were in England and Wales in 2011?
PRATT: More important than the number of murders and it doesn't how a murder is committed, so I'm not going to really care about --
MORGAN: Well, can you repeat the number --
PRATT: -- how many were guns --
MORGAN: Can you repeat the number of gun murders that you said earlier?
PRATT: The data we have seen was 970.
MORGAN: OK. Well --
PRATT: That pales in significance compared to your violent crime rate overall.
MORGAN: Mr. Pratt. Mr. Pratt.
PRATT: With rapes, the muggings.
MORGAN: Mr. Pratt.
PRATT: The beatings.
MORGAN: Mr. Pratt, stop being sensational. Everyone watching can now get on the Internet, they can go on to Google, they can go to the Home Office site in England and Wales and they can check that figure for themselves, and when they see the accurate figure of gun murders in my country was 39 in 2011, and they see that the figure in their country was over is 11,000 --
PRATT: They'll remember that your own investigature of Constabulary said your data are sham.
MORGAN: OK. As I say, they can check it for themselves and they can make their own minds and about your credibility.
Mr. Pratt -- PRATT: Check out the sham data, my friend.
PRATT: That's great.
MORGAN: OK. You're no friend of mine. Thanks for joining me.
Next, two people who have been listening to Larry Pratt and who lost loved ones in Aurora join me.
MORGAN: In Colorado today, the preliminary hearing for accused Aurora shooter James Holmes ended with these chilling words from a prosecutor. Intended to kill them all. The judge will rule on Friday whether the case can proceed to trial.
Joining me now, Jessica Watts, whose cousin, Jonathan Blunk, was killed in that movie theater. Also Tom Teves, his son Alex also died in the attack. Welcome to you both.
Let me start, if I may, Jessica, just by asking you for your reaction to my interview there with Larry Pratt. It's not the first time I've interviewed him. I find my own blood boiling when I start to hear this whole more guns, less crime argument. What did you think?
JESSICA WATTS, COUSIN OF AURORA VICTIM JONATHAN BLUNK: I definitely think, Piers, that more guns are not the answer, because that puts that many more guns in the hands of people who have mental illness. And it becomes very much a fear factor for people, you know, nationwide.
MORGAN: Tom, you lost your son in an appalling massacre, the worst single shooting in the history of the United States. When you hear somebody like Larry Pratt being so adamant, the only way to ever deal with this is to plunge ever more guns into circulation, what is your reaction to that?
TOM TEVES, FATHER OF AURORA VICTIM ALEX TEVES: I struggle with it. A, I wonder what he would think if he was in my shoes. Two, I think about the scene. And we have a pretty good understanding of what the scene was like today that night. And only the people that were in there can really know. I think that we need to recognize that.
But he was -- there was smoke. People couldn't see. He had an automatic weapon. He had an automatic shotgun. He had two revolvers that didn't need to be reloaded. So if somebody had -- they are not going to walk in with an assault weapon.
So what are they going to do? Stand up in the fog and shoot at him. He had ballistic equipment. Everybody including him around that person who shot at him would be dead. If there were 10 people in there, and people started running around, you might have had 15 or 20 people shot from friendly fire.
I don't know that that's the answer. I think the answer is that assault weapons -- last time I checked, the word assault meant that it was a felony. I think these things are called the wrong thing anyway. I think they should be called murder weapons. They need to be taken off the streets.
Actually, I think we should go a step farther, and say if you have one, you have to give them back. What happens is they will ban the assault weapons, but then they work the stats in their favor, because everybody's already bought them. It is almost like Y2K, where everybody bought new computers. And then you had the tech bubble burst because everybody bought what they were going to buy in the next three years ahead of time. That is going to blow up your stats. And you are giving them the fodder to argue, once you do it, if you don't get the guns off the street.
MORGAN: I think you have raised a very good point. In my view, you have to do what happened in Britain and Australia, which is after these outrages, they bring in a ban and they mean it. You know, you are not allowed to carry one or own one. And if you are found with one after this ban and you haven't handed it in or sold it back to the government in a buy back program, and you keep protection of this weapon, then you go to prison for a long time.
And that is the only way that you can actually enforce a ban.
Jessica, this is such an important debate to you and the families who suffered so grotesquely after these massacres, and to America, the very soul of America. When you hear this argument all the time that it all comes down to a right to bear arms under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, what do you think of that argument?
WATTS: Well, seeing as it is -- this will be my 4th time with gun violence, in just the short, you know, couple year period, it is -- I don't know how to put it. It is definitely, you know -- people need to understand what the different types of guns are. We don't need these semiautomatics that can shoot eight bullets a second.
MORGAN: Tom, final question for you. Have you heard yet any coherent argument why anybody needs this AR 15 assault weapon, particularly the type that have been used in Aurora and other mass shootings recently? And also a magazine that can hold 100 bullets? Have you heard any good argument?
TEVES: Absolutely not. Again, I think these things -- the only thing they are worth is to kill people. If people -- I think we need to be careful of the people who want to have weapons that can kill people, that are that uncomfortable with our police. Honestly, if I was a police officer, I would band together and say, look, you either take these weapons off the streets or we are not going to protect you anymore.
I think that would change a lot, you know, because those people -- you know, my son died, but those people are out there every day putting their lives on the line. And we need to support them. MORGAN: You raise another very good point. Tom Teves and Jessica Watts, thank you both very much.
TEVES: Thank you. Thank you.
MORGAN: When we come back, what is the truth about the Second Amendment and its original intent? And what can President Obama really do next? I'll ask my all-star panel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president is going to act with executive orders and executive action that can be taken. We haven't decided what that is yet. But we are compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and all of the rest of the cabinet members, as well as legislative action we believe is required.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Vice President Biden speaking out on the push for more gun control. He says President Obama may consider bypassing Congress and issuing executives orders. No matter what happens, chances are the outcome will end up in the Supreme Court.
With me now, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, Jon Meacham, author of "Thomas Jefferson, the Art of Power," and constitutional attorney Page Pate.
Let me start with you, if I may, Page Pate. Obviously a big day tomorrow with Joe Biden meeting with the NRA and Wal-Mart and others. In the end, this has to get through Congress, whatever they come up with. And then it also could be affected by executive orders from the president, and then ultimately I guess facing an overall sanction from the Supreme Court.
Where do you think this all washes up?
PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, that's a great question. There's been a lot of discussion about the politics of gun control, but not really much discussion about the constitutional challenge is almost inevitable. A lot of the restrictions that have been discussed will have difficulty getting past this Supreme Court.
Recently, just a couple of years ago, the Supreme Court has really emphasized that the lawful possession of fire arms, in those cases handguns, is something that our Constitution not just allows but protects. And it protects it in very clear language.
MORGAN: Jeffrey Toobin, it is a legal quagmire. There is no other word I can use for this. Because the Supreme Court in 2008, after -- as you said before this show, a very long time of the interpretation of the Second Amendment not applying to an individual. Suddenly said no, it does. And that is now being used very firmly by the gun lobby as their right to basically have any arms they like. JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, you have been talking a lot in recent weeks about how the conservative movement in this country has sort of deregulated fire arms in Congress and the executive branch. And that is true of the courts too. Gun ownership is now protected by the Second Amendment. That is true.
What guns are covered is unclear. The Heller Case is what you're talking about from 2008, is about handguns in the home. The question is what about larger weapons? What about outside the home? Now, Justice Scalia says that dangerous and unusual weapons can still be prohibited. What's a dangerous and unusual weapon?
MORGAN: I would argue an AR 15 that can unload 100 bullets in a minute is a dangerous weapon under that --
TOOBIN: And I think you'd probably win in the Supreme Court on that. But I don't think anyone can predict for sure.
MORGAN: Jon Meacham, an interesting point was raised by Christopher Kennedy Lawford who I interviewed the other night. He said this -- he was the perfect guy to ask. He said that the Second Amendment -- Thomas Jefferson about the Second Amendment, said it should be revisited every 20 years to see if it is still appropriate. Is that true or anything like that?
JON MEACHAM, AUTHOR, "THOMAS JEFFERSON, THE ART OF POWER": Well, Jefferson was actually coming back from Paris when the Bill of Rights was introduced and adopted by the House. What Jefferson did was corresponded with Madison, his good friend, about a Bill of Rights. He wanted one very much for the ratification of the Constitution. He mentioned freedom of religion, freedom of the press and freedom against standing armies.
He doesn't mention fire arms in those documents. He talks about protections against standing armies, which was the initial intent behind the right of individual Americans to own guns, partly because we thought, due respect, that a British standing army had led to corruption, and European military establishments were ultimately bad for the course of the republic.
The most important takeaway from what Thomas Jefferson, if we want to bring him into this, is he was a gun owner. He was a hunter. He believed in wandering the woods with a gun. But here is his central legacy to us in terms of constitutional thought, I believe. And Jeffrey can check me on this.
He once said that to ask a country to be governed by a Constitution that was passed in previous years is like asking a grown man to wear a child's coat, that without the living constitution idea, it became the most awful of Jeffersonian things, irrational.
MORGAN: Right, but here is the problem, then it comes down to the Supreme Court, Jeffrey, doesn't it? Because they are the ultimate arbiter, I guess, of revisiting the Constitution. And as we saw in 2008, actually, in my view, they have been dangerous in the way they have done this. TOOBIN: They have been what they have always been, which is political. They reflect the presidents who appoint them. George -- George W. Bush, by appointing John Roberts and Samuel Alito, replacing other less conservative justices, give gun owners more power. That's why elections matter. Presidential elections determine the future of the Supreme Court.
MORGAN: You see, I would ask this one question -- Bill Clinton raised it today. He suddenly blew up at a place he was speaking. He said, I grew up in this hunting culture. But this is nuts, he said. Why does anyone need a 30 round clip for a gun? And I would add, why does anyone need that kind of gun to start with? And if you start from that premise, why does any civilian need them, the answer is they don't.
MEACHAM: I grew up not far from where Bill Clinton did. I grew up hunting and I own guns. And I have absolutely no tolerance for the idea that these military style weapons should be loose in a civilian population.
MORGAN: Gentlemen, got to leave it there, but thank you all very much, indeed. It'll run below, I'm sure.
When we come back, she says that America may be at a tipping point on gun control. Arianna Huffington on what it may take to stop the killing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX JONES, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I'm here to tell you, 1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms.
JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": Holy (EXPLETIVE DELETED). We can't even begin to address 30,000 gun deaths that are actually, in reality, happening in this country every year, because a few of us must remain vigilant against the rise of imaginary Hitler.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Jon Stewart with take on Alex Jones tirade against me. It's the interview heard around the world. Everyone's talking about that and guns in America. Joining me now is Arianna Huffington, president and editor in chief of "The Huffington Post."
Arianna, where were you when you heard or saw the Alex Jones interview?
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Well actually, I was here. I was in Las Vegas. I was actually here for CES, where you find me right now, the Consumer Electronics Conference. And it was absolutely stunning. How stressful is all of this for you, Piers?
MORGAN: Well, not that stressful, because the president today has made it clear in an official statement that I am staying. I am going to remain in America. This has gone down very badly for Alex Jones and very well with my friends back in Britain. So I'm being deported, because the president respected the fact that I was operating under the First Amendment while I was talking about the Second. So freedom of expression won the day.
But there is a serious point to this, Arianna. You have been very vocal before about gun control. And we both work in a city that has pretty tight gun controls, been very successful with that tight gun control. What do you make of this persistent claim from the NRA and the gun rights lobbyists that more guns means a safer America?
HUFFINGTON: Well it is, of course, an insane claim. And what is different this time is that the American public is not just going to put up with more delays. You remember, after the shooting, the first thing that the White House press secretary said is that this is not the time to discuss changes in gun laws.
And basically the American public, in many ways, in social media, through what you and many others did in mainstream media, made the point that, no, we are not going to wait. And I think as a result, we're having progress. The president set up the task force under Joe Biden. Today we had the meeting that included Wal-Mart, which is incredibly promising. Wal-Mart is, after all, a company that caters to families. And families are the ones directly affected by our insane gun laws.
And also going back to 2008 actually Wal-Mart participated in the coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. So there's a precedent here.
MORGAN: The big problem, it seems, is that to get anything through Congress in terms of new gun legislation is going to be a very tough thing, because many of the Republican congressmen have made it pretty clear they're not for any kind of gun control, in extension to what's already there in existence. And the NRA exerts huge pressure on these congressmen and women, and basically threatened them, you know, we can get you out of office.
HUFFINGTON: When you have somebody like General Stanley McCrystal yesterday making it very clear that assault rifles, for example, have no place in the streets of America, that has a very deep impact, because this is not you or me or any kind of pundit who can be dismissed, or any parent who can be dismissed because they're being too emotional.
This is a former general. And it's getting a little harder for them to counter the growing momentum. I'm not saying it's not going to be a very, very tough fight. But there seems to be a kind of approaching tipping point.
MORGAN: I don't know if you saw Jon Stewart last night, but he gave a tub thumping 20-minute salvo against the gun rights lobbyists. Let's watch another clip here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEWART: An epidemic of gun violence -- oh, we can't. Our hands are tied. We can't do anything. We are a nation of over-reactors to everything. We have, step by step, child proofed this entire country. Twenty years ago, a guy threw a rock over an overpass and it hit a car windshield. Now every overpass in the country is like a habit trail. It's just got a giant thing.
Football stadiums have giant nets behind the goal posts so you don't get hit by the ball you're supposed to be watching.
We can't do anything about this?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I mean, he, I think, reflected the frustration of so many who want just these assault weapons off the streets, by pointing out the absurdity of the hypocritical position by the gun rights lobbyist, which is that I can't go to Wal-Mart and buy six packets of Sudafed or a (inaudible) or various types of French cheese because it's bad for my health. But I can buy an assault rifle, load it up with a hundred bullets in a magazine, and go and commit an outrage. That's legal.
HUFFINGTON: And it has nothing to do with the Second Amendment, because there as so many, including many conservatives have said, that it was never the intention of the Second Amendment. So there's something that happened also, Piers, when we're living in tough economic times that makes people irrational about security.
And that's also what we're facing at the moment. There's a lot of fear in this country. And a lot of it is fear of the future and fear of unemployment. And in moments like that, we often see that kind of desire to cling to something like guns as a way to guarantee some kind of safety in the future.
MORGAN: I couldn't agree more. Let's turn briefly to what you're doing in Vegas. You're down there at the big gadget extravaganza. And you've got a hot new app, I hear.
HUFFINGTON: Well, we are here, you know, for the Consumer Electronics Show. And there's a tremendous emphasis here this year, Piers, on digital health, on the desire among many consumers to take control of their own health. And "the Huffington Post" has launched here an app called GPS for the Soul, which basically, as a result of the medical technology in the app, gives you a reading of your stress level, your heart rate variability. And then you can create a guide that consists of all the things that help you course correct, and help you get back in sync, you know, pictures of your loved ones, your baby, your dog, music, prayers, poetry.
And then you can share guides with friends. And the idea behind it is to increase our awareness around our stress levels, because we now have incredible scientific evidence that stress is a real killer.
MORGAN: I wish I'd had that app on Monday night with Alex Jones, I must say, Arianna. (CROSS TALK)
HUFFINGTON: I thought of that.
MORGAN: Arianna, it's lovely to talk to you. Good luck down there. I was there last year. It's great fun down there actually. Very exciting. Enjoy yourself.
HUFFINGTON: It is. And great to talk to you, Piers. And thanks for your campaign.
MORGAN: I'm just going to keep going. Thanks very much, Arianna. I'll talk to you soon.
HUFFINGTON: Thank you.
MORGAN: And we'll be right back.
MORGAN: For anybody who missed this, I wanted to turn to the good news I got today from the White House. I'm not going to be deported. Well, not yet anyway. You undoubtedly know that radio host Alex Jones is the man behind the petition to kick me out of America for my views on gun control.
Well, today, the White House officially responded to that petition. Press Secretary Jay Carney said, and I quote, "let's not let arguments over the Constitution's Second Amendment violate the spirit of its first. President Obama believes the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. However, the Constitution not only guarantees an individual right to bear arms, but also enshrines a freedom of speech and the freedom of the press, fundamental principles that are essential to our democracy. Americans may disagree on matters of public policy and express those disagreement vigorously. But no one should be punished by the government simply because he or she expressed a view on the Second Amendment or any other matter of public concern."
So, America, I'm afraid the bad news for you is that I'm going to be sticking around. The good news, of course, is for those back in Britain who won't have to have me back.
That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.