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Newtown Shooting Renews Debate on Gun Control; Donald Trump Calls Out Bill Maher to Pay Him
Aired January 12, 2013 - 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 everyone. I'm Don Lemon. The stories you're talking about in just a moment. But first, let's get you up to speed on the day's headlines here real quickly here.
Clinics and hospital emergency rooms across the country this weekend are packed with people sick with the flu, rolling up their sleeves for a flu shot. The CDC director says we won't know more weeks if the flu season has peaked. But he adds that it is not too late get a vaccination, 47 states are reporting widespread flu activity right now.
The brother of ailing Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez says he is recovering well from his latest search. Chavez is being treated for cancer in Cuba. He's been unable to return to Cuba for a planned inauguration ceremony for his fourth term. 58-year-old Chavez has not been seen in public for about a month.
An operation to free a French spy captured in Somalia has failed. France's president said two soldiers died possibly along with the hostage. That's not the only place French soldiers se fighting in Africa. France has come to the aid of Mali's fragile government in its fight against Islamic militants. Those fighters are linked to al- Qaeda.
The man known as the American Taliban has won a legal battle allowing him and fellow inmates to gather for daily prayers. John Walker Lindh has being held in the federal prison in Indiana. A judge ruled yesterday the prison warden was violating his rights but not allowing the religious activities. He pleaded guilty to supplying services to the Taliban.
We got a lot more is plans for you this Saturday night. Here's what else we're working on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: After the Newtown tragedy, the loud cry that enough is enough. Mass shootings must stop.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We won't prevent them all. But that can't be an excuse not to try.
LEMON: And since then, we've seen action. Not new laws but a huge spike in gun sale and crazy talk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms.
LEMON: But get ready, the president appears ready to make some changes with or without congress' approval.
A warning from one psychologist. The actions and attitudes of women are making them a lot like, well, men.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're trying to keep up with the boys. It's a trap. It's a freedom trap.
LEMON: One recent example, binge drinking. You won't believe this scary trend for American women.
And baseball's all-time hit king, Pete Rose, on his new reality show. His ban from the hall of fame and how some of the biggest names were shut out of the hall because of suspected steroid use. We push for answers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you putting me on the spot like that? I have people from TLC standing right here ready to knock me in the head.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: First, we'll start with guns.
It is the kind of statistic that on the surface seems to make no sense. During December, the same month that saw the heartbreaking tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, the FBI conducted a record 2.8 million checks for gun purchases, a record for a single month. In other words, a lot of Americans reacted to the horror of that terrible day by rushing out to buy a gun. Since that day, and unlike after past shootings, the old debate over gun rights who should buy them and what kind that they can guy has only gotten more intense.
Vice president Joe Biden on Tuesday will present the president with his task force's recommendation for reducing gun violence.
Mental health, violent video games and school safety have all been a part of his agenda. He even met with the NRA. But the group said it was, quote, "disappointed in their discussion. That discussion is stirring passion from dinner tables to talk shows nationwide in ways we haven't seen in a very long time.
Here's our own Piers Morgan with a radio host who started a petition to get Piers deported over support for gun control.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX JONES, HOST, THE ALEX JONES SHOW: The tyrants did it. Hitler took the guns. Stalin took the guns. (INAUDIBLE) took the guns. Castro took the guns. Chavez took the guns. And I'm going to tell you 1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms. Doesn't matter how many lemmings you get out there in the streets 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 much how much propaganda, the republic will rise again when you attempt to take our guns.
My family in the Texas revolution against Santa Ana, my family was at the core on both sides starting because Santa Ana came to take the guns at Gonzalez, Texas.
Piers, don't try what your ancestors did before. Why don't you come to America, I'll take you out shooting. You can become an American and join the republic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Paranoid much? We're going to cover this debate tonight in different ways than you have been hearing so far. Democratic congresswoman Jan Schakowsky is in Chicago. Lou Palumbo is a former NASA County New York police officer. He now holds owns his own security agency and Sam Granillo. He joins me tonight from Denver. He is a survivor of the Columbine high school shooting in 1999 and a friend of his was killed in last year's Aurora theater shooting. He's also a filmmaker behind Columbine wounded minds.
Good to see you all. Do you think you guys have been OK?
LEMON: Lou, I'm going to start with you. An administration source tells CNN that the president will push for a new assault weapons ban assuming it's passed, do you think it would work? Lou?
LOU PALUMBO, DIRECTOR, ELITE INTELLIGENCE AND PROTECTION: I'm sorry. I apologize. I was dozing on you. I tragically do not believe that the assault rifle ban is going to have any dramatic impact on the violent crimes in our country. In fact, it's interesting this young lady from Illinois would probably be aware that in Chicago where you basically have no access to firearms, they have shootings at epidemic proportions. Passing more gun laws isn't going to fix the problem. They need to put an immense amount of concentration into enforcement.
LEMON: Congresswoman, you want to respond to that?
REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Yes. You know, the conventional wisdom is now that the National Rifle Association, as they oppose a piece of legislation, that it's doomed. But there's a new reality in this country. And the debate has been transformed by the faces that everyone saw of those little children who were killed at Sandy Hook school, and made people think, do we really need these kinds of weapons where people can go into a classroom and in less than a minute destroy the lives of these beautiful little children?
I think that the debate has been completely transformed and that the power of the NRA -- I'm not talking about NRA members, now, I'm talking about the leaders and the lobbyists., has really been diminished in the minds of the public. And I think there's a new determination that stronger laws, that stronger regulations are not inconsistent with the second amendment and that absolutely it is time for us to do something about getting the hands -- the guns out of the hands of the wrong people and have some stronger regulation. Ninety five percent of Americans, according to a CNN poll, believe that there should be universal background checks. I would certainly hope there's no disagreement on this panel about background checks.
LEMON: And even members of the NRA as well.
Sam Granillo, you lived through columbine. What's your reaction when you see another mass shooting like Newtown?
SAM GRANILLO, COLUMBINE SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Well, every time these things happen, it's so gut-wrenching. But you know, we have to figure out what the bottom line is here, you know. Is it gun control? Is it mental, you know, therapy and options and stuff like that and counseling? And you know, gun control, it needs its own regulations. No one's going to take anyone's guns away. No one's going to storm into people's houses and take, you know, what is theirs away.
I think the problem is there needs to be more regulation on just how easy it is to get a gun. You know, every circumstance is so unique and so individual. You know, as far as columbine goes, even if they didn't have any guns, those guys wanted to do some damage and they were going to find out any which way they possibly could to, you know, make that happen.
So is it a gun problem? Not necessarily. You know, I think it's a good combination of so many things. But you know, we have to look at both sides. You can't just be pissed off one way or another saying, you know, no one's going to take the guns out of my hands, or you know, being on the other side saying that we're not going to give you guns. Everyone has to look at both sides sort of evenly or no one's going to listen to your point of view.
LEMON: It's an interesting sort of paranoia about taking guns way that I don't really understand. It is a hypothetical that someone's going to take your guns away and there's going to be some sort of tyranny when the reality is that people are being killed by assault weapons all the time. And at these mass shootings, that's what they're using. That's the reality going to move.
PALUMBO: Don, there is a couple of things I want to say. First of all, the solution to this problem that we have is a cumulative product. There's no magic wand, if you ban assault rifles, the problem's going away. There are many denominators that are causing this problem today with our young people.
First, we have to examine what the information network is, or the information highway is to our children. We teach them in video games and movies explicit ways to perpetrate violence with the very same weapons being used in these mass shootings, number one.
LEMON: But, Lou, let me respond to that. When people talk about video games, and listen, I know that violence and we're afraid to put nudity on television but we'll put all sorts of violence on television and in video games. But in other countries, people play and watch these violent video games more so than in this country and they have less gun violence. Why are we blaming a video game? A video game doesn't kill anyone. Guns, people with guns kill people.
PALUMBO: Don, I'm not blaming video games. I'm saying cumulatively we need to examine many components or aspects as to what is lending itself to this problem. And you may very well be right about what goes on in other countries. But the reality of the situation is there's a dynamic in our country that we have to address. And gun control solely isn't --
SCHAKOWSKY: You know, and that is why --
LEMON: GO ahead, Congresswoman.
SCHAKOWSKY: And that's why the vice president has been meeting with people that represent all aspects of this. But to say that the weapons themselves -- these powerful military-style assault weapons and the assault magazines that can kill, you know, that can shoot off 100 rounds in a short period of time, why does anybody, a normal person have to have that kind of weapon? To take guns off the table is just ridiculous.
LEMON: Ma'am, you're right. It is absolutely ridiculous.
PALUMBO: If I can speak to this for one second. I want to say one thing to you, so everybody has a clear understanding about this weapon that we're referring to. This ar-15-type weapon was introduced to the American public for consumption in around the mid '60s. It's been here for over 45 years, that weapon. It should never have been released to the American public.
Just like the high capacity automatic pistols that were designed for us in law enforcement to offset the disparity in our weapons against the bad guys. We released those as well. It was done so we could make money. The horse is out of the stall. That's one of the problems we're facing here. The reality of it is that that gun went pretty much unnoticed for about 35 years. In the past decade or so, we're having a rash of these shootings. So you have to really take a bit more of a measured approach as to exactly what's going on here. It isn't just the fact that these guns are in the hands of people that shouldn't have them. There is a big issue with the mental health. It's a big issue with the psyche of Americans.
LEMON: It is. Lou, I understand what you're saying. I'd much rather go up against someone who has a knife or who has a bottle or who has a baseball bat than someone who has an ar-15 and who are mentally unsustainable. I think I could stand a good chance with the other things rather than the gun.
But Sam, tell us. I want you to tell us about --
GRANILLO: And that's a whole other thing. You can't just say that you're going to, you know, even fare better against a knife or whatever. Sure, statistically you know, a knife, it seems more safe than one of those crazy guns. But you know, you have to look at the psychology. When you go through something like this, you don't know how you're going to react. You don't know how you're going to respond. Sure, someone will come at you with a knife but what if you freeze, you know? What if you turn around and trip and hit your head on something and you die that way?
SCHAKOWSKY: Let me bring in a little -- can I bring in a little reality here? There is a growing consensus in this country, vast majorities of ordinary Americans, people in Chicago who are tired of seeing 500 killings last year alone, going to funerals every weekend of kids that are killed, are saying that we have got to do something about the guns. That we can at least take these assault weapons as we have before, that we can deal with the assault magazines, that we can have background checks for everyone.
And I think these are straightforward, simple ideas that most Americans now agree to. I really think in the minds of most American people, the debate is over. It's a question of whether or not members of Congress are going to respond to this need.
PALUMBO: Jan --
SCHAKOWSKY: The national rifle association is being unfair --
PALUMBO: Jan, I think you're being remiss.
LEMON: I'm sorry, Lou. I can't. I have to get to a break. We'll be back. We'll talk more about this. You guys will be back. You know Lou, you have been on a bunch of time.
Thank you, guys. I appreciate it.
A man listens in over the phone as his wife at home fends off an intruder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shoot him again. Shoot him. Oh, no!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Some argue she needed more firepower. We'll talk to the sheriff handling the case next.
LEMON: The tragedy in Newtown is reenergizing activists who want new restrictions on gun ownership. But gun rights activists are pointing to a different shooting to defend their point of view.
A week ago in a suburban, Atlanta, woman and her two 9-year-old children fled to their attic as a man with a crowbar forced his way into their home. She took a loaded 0.38 revolver with her. The woman called her husband at work who used another phone to call 911. The intruder forced his way into the house, broke through two more locked doors and eventually discovered the woman and her kids. Her husband on the phone with the 911 operator described what happened next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She shot him. She's shooting him. She's shooting him. She's shooting him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shoot him again. Shoot him. Oh, no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Joining me now is sheriff Joe Chapman of Walton County, Georgia, outside Atlanta where the incident happened.
Sheriff, thank you very much for joining us here tonight. This woman fired all six bullets hitting the suspect five times. He survived. He's now in the hospital. Did she do the right thing?
SHERIFF JOE CHAPMAN, WALTON COUNTY, GEORGIA: Absolutely. Without any question she did.
LEMON: Yes. And some say that she may have need more firepower. What do you think?
CHAPMAN: Well, I've heard all the debates and what I would have done, what she should have done, what kind of ammunition she should have used, she done what she needed to do at that moment in time.
LEMON: Yes. I want you to take a listen to this. The man in charge of gun owners of America told our Piers Morgan that it's good this woman defended herself but again, she could have used even more firepower. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY PRATT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GUN OWNER OF AMERICA: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Is this an argument, as we set, for more firepower or this is why people have guns in their homes, to defend themselves against situations like this. But do you think it has anything to do with the high capacity magazines and the assault rifles that everyone's been debating lately?
CHAPMAN: That's always going to be a debate. If someone's breaking into my home and I'm afraid, I want every weapon I can get my hands on. If I could have an m1 Abrams tank in my closet, I would love to have that. But this lady has a 0.38 revolver. And it turned out good for her.
LEMON: Yes. How does it feel -- let's talk about personally now. You're a sheriff. You came into the building. And anytime a guest comes in, we get an alert that says, you know, sheriff Joe Chapman is here. And we had to take his gun. CHAPMAN: Well, I actually made it all the way upstairs before they found it.
LEMON: And what happened?
CHAPMAN: They asked me to walk through a metal detector and I told them I had my weapon with me and they said that I couldn't come in with it.
LEMON: And you said, you can carry your weapon into the capitol but you can't bring it into CNN?
LEMON: Is that odd for you?
CHAPMAN: Pretty odd.
LEMON: You're straight out of Central, Kansas. I mean, you look like a sheriff. You look like the poster boy for what a sheriff should look like. Does that mean, though, when you know, because you're a sheriff, what do you think of gun laws and what do you think of assault rifles on the street? I have friends in law enforcement who say -- some of them say, you know, Don, I'm so glad you're bringing up this thing about assault rifles because we're outgunned on the street. And then, there are others who say, you know what, people should be allowed these. Where do you stand on that?
CHAPMAN: Well, I think -- I have a little bit different observation of what you're calling assault weapons. I'm prior military. I'm not afraid of them. I'm well-trained with them. My son's actually on I guess what you would consider assault weapons. Like I said before, an assault weapon to me is an m60 machine gun, a mark 19 grenade launcher or something to that effect. I get confused when I hear this argument because I can do quite a bit of damage with a shotgun that I use for bird hunting.
CHAPMAN: If someone's tactically efficient with a firearm, it really doesn't matter what kind it is, they can do just as much damage with a lever action rifle or a pump action shotgun as a semiautomatic rifle.
LEMON: That seems to be the argument for people, though, who want more restrictions on these semiautomatic rifles. I mean, did you hear what general Stanley McChrystal said? He's been on a number of shows here on CNN. And he said that those weapons are -- and the bullets in those weapons are to do major damage in a war zone and on the battlefield. And he doesn't feel that they should be on the streets.
CHAPMAN: Well, that's his opinion.
CHAPMAN: I watched this debate. My opinion isn't going to change someone else's opinion. LEMON: I think you underestimate yourself, though, as a member of law enforcement, you said you're a member of the military as well. I think your opinion is very important. I mean, you should be one of the people who has a leading voice, who have a leading voice in this.
CHAPMAN: Well, I live in a different environment, too. I work for people in a different environment than what we see going on in some of these places where mass shootings are going, to the best of my knowledge. I live in a great county. We have a great population of people. And that's not to say that something like that couldn't happen in Walton County. It very easily could. But we haven't reached the point of where we have gangs and that sort of thing.
LEMON: Do you think more restrictions, more gun restrictions will reduce crimes?
CHAPMAN: I don't think it's going to make a difference at all.
LEMON: Thank you, sheriff.
CHAPMAN: We already have some laws now that I've tried to enforce that the federal authorities, people would lie on an ATF firearms form and it was no big deal. And I didn't understand it.
LEMON: Thank you, sheriff. Thanks for coming in. I want to shake your hands but I don't want you get infected. We appreciate you coming in. We'd like to have you back.
CHAPMAN: Thank you.
LEMON: Shortly after the Newtown shootings, a gun shop owner came on this show to be a part of my panel and he has seen -- I want to know if he's seen any changes since then. What are his customers saying? We're going to ask him next.
LEMON: You have seen my next guest right here on this program before. I've challenged him pretty strongly on his position on gun control. And it's made for some very valuable conversation.
Tom Detts is back. He owns a gun shop, a shooting range and a training center. He is also a former -- you're currently a police officer.
TOM DEETS, GUN SHOP OWNER, GEORGIA: I am. In the reserve unit.
LEMON: When you hear about the hearings with the vice president and the recommendations that they're going to come up with on Tuesday, any concerns about this for your business?
DEETS: Well, there's a lot of unknown right now. We don't really know where these recommendations are going to go. Clearly, as a firearms retailer, we're concerned about what types of firearms we're going to be limited to, as are our customers. But right now, everything's speculative. And until we hear the real recommendations Tuesday, at that point, we can kind of make a determination about how we feel.
LEMON: Have you heard -- the gun range and the gun shop owner, people worry that the government is going to come in and take all of their guns away --
DEETS: I heard some of that speculation but not from our customer base. Clearly their concern just has to do with restricting --
LEMON: There's a lot of misinformation out there.
DEETS: There is. A lot of things are floating around about what the administration can do, what Congress would do. Their concerns are strictly around them being limited as to what firearms they would be able to purchase, what types of magazines that they'd be able to purchase moving forward.
LEMON: So, let's talk about that because there's much speculation about what the White House recommendations will be, banning certain magazines, banning assault weapons, possibly. How will some of these measures affect you if they do go into law and is there any support for them?
DEETS: Well, clearly the magazine limitation would -- and if there were an AR ban, it would limit a certain number of rifles that we would be able to sell. We clearly don't agree with that. We've had that discussion before. I don't truly believe in my heart that that's going to change the levels of gun violence that occur in this country. There's other underlying factors that we need to discuss. And that's really what we need to address.
LEMON: What recommendations would you like to see the committee make?
DEETS: One, I'd really like to see the committee make is to look strongly at the mental health issue. Over the last 20 years, we have seen funding towards mental health care decline. When I was a police officer in Kalb county back in the 1980s, there were a number of mental health facilities here in metro Atlanta that we could take patients to who were mentally unstable. Now that's really limited to one. The ability of individuals, families who have health insurance, to get mental health care for their loved ones has been diminished because most health insurance plans don't pay for that coverage. So that's a problem. Number one.
Number two, if you look at the FBI crime statistics over the last 20 years and you look at the violent crime index and the murder index, over the last 20 years, that's dropped 50 percent. But the other part of it that's interesting is that if you look at urban areas with population greater than 250,000, the violent crime index and the murder index is double the national average, 75 percent of all murders that are committed in this country are gang and drug related. Ad you know, we've got to look at the culture of violence in major American cities and give kids hope and mentor these kids. Because I read a thing this morning -- LEMON: I think you're right on that. Richard, give me two more minutes with him. I want to ask him -- continue, go ahead.
DEETS: I read an article this morning that was -- it was based in Jacksonville. And they were looking at the murder rate of young -- in this case, it was discussing young black men between the ages of 12 and 19, that that is the leading cause of death for them, homicide.
DEETS: And if we can't -- and his point was, a lot of the kids are born with young, poor mothers and if we can reach these kids before they reach the age of eight --
LEMON: Let me jump in here. I think you're absolutely right. I think there are two different issues here, though. One is to stop mass assaults with the assault weapons with going into schools and places of work. And then there's the other thing, people killing each other on the streets, adults killing each other and some of them are young kids.
DEETS: The murders in Chicago and Atlanta -- and the other thing has got to be stricter enforcement and incarceration. Last here in Atlanta, we had an Atlanta police officer that was shot. The individual -- and fortunately the officer was hit in the chin, he's going to survive. The individual who shot him is a convicted felon. He was arrested for aggravated assault on a police officer and a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He has been arrested for this before. The Clayton county police officer back in December that was killed, same thing.
PALUMBO: I get your point. Do gun owners feel attacked at this point with what's going on?
DEETS: Absolutely. As I mentioned, with the levels of violent crime and the murder rate dropping by 50 percent over the last 20 years, at the same time, the number of people who have purchased firearms and have firearms in their home have increased. So we have a larger number of firearms --
LEMON: But you can't say that a lower crime rate comes from people having more guns in their home and if the murder rate is here and it drops to here --
DEETS: If we look at it, the crime rates that are highest -- in the highest urban areas have the highest level of gun control and it's not working. We've got to do something to stop this gang culture. And young people killing each other over gangs, over drugs --
LEMON: We have to run now. Isn't that the point to talk about how to get -- how to keep the guns in the hands of the right people --
DEETS: Correct. I agree.
LEMON: -- and the get the guns out of the hands of the wrong people?
DEETS: We need to do a much better job of screening people who are mentally defective.
LEMON: It's also about access. I say always. If someone has a baseball bat, or someone has a knife or someone has a bottle, I'd much rather go up against that person. I think most people would, than someone with an automatic assault weapon.
DEETS: Sure. But the number of people, and like I said last year there were less than 300 people last year killed in this country with rifles. We have to do what we can to stop all gun violence.
LEMON: Thank you. You're always an amazing guest. I hope I don't get you sick. Thank you.
DEETS: Me, too. Last time, we broke up.
LEMON: I think last time you got it too.
DEETS: Fair enough. Than k you.
And my talk with Pete Rose next.