Return to Transcripts main page


Sandy Hook Massacre a Month After

Aired January 14, 2013 - 21:00   ET



PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, armed America. The president demands action on guns.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If there is a step we can take to save even one child from what happened in Newtown, we should take that step.


MORGAN: I'll ask the families of Newtown one month after the massacre. What will it take to protect this country's children?

Also the courageous father who lost his only son in Sandy Hook.


NEIL HESLIN, SON, JESSE LEWIS, DIED IN SANDY HOOK SHOOTING: My little boy is never going to come back to me.


MORGAN: And John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted." This crime fighter says the NRA has held Congress hostage for years.

Plus the former congressman and NRA point person who says this.


ASA HUTCHINSON, LEADS NRA INITIATIVE FOR ARMED GUARDS AT SCHOOLS: There's nothing more critical to our nation's wellbeing than our children's safety.


MORGAN: Why he thinks the way to stop shootings is to put armed guards outside every school in America.

And Hollywood star gun owner. But why Rob Lowe is taking a stand against assault weapons?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROB LOWER, ACTOR: I like guns and I don't know want to own an assault weapon. I wouldn't know what to do with one. I wouldn't know why I'd want one.




MORGAN: Good evening. You're looking live at the White House where in a matter of hours Vice President Joe Biden is expected to hand President Obama his recommendations to stop gun violence in America. Meanwhile, a group of parents who lost children in the massacre at Newtown one month ago tonight are speaking out.


JEREMY RICHMAN, FATHER OF VICTIM AVIELLE RICHMAN: We want to bring about changes that will stop a tragedy such as this from happening to any community ever again. Because this can happen in any community. Your community. It has already happened in Tucson, Littleton, Aurora and Blacksburg. It has happened in our schools, theaters, places of worship, malls, and offices.


MORGAN: I think it's important to be transparent in this debate. So here's where I stand on guns. I'm in favor of a nationwide ban on military-style semiautomatic assault weapons and high-volume magazines. I want to close the gun show loopholes and require private dealers to run background checks on buyers at gun shows.

Also want to see the president increase federal funding for mental health treatments for all Americans who need it.

We begin tonight with a father whose story I found incredibly moving the last time we spoke. Neil Heslin lost his 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis from the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I spoke to him just a few days after that tragedy and he's with me in person now.

Neil, welcome to you.

HESLIN: Thank you.

MORGAN: It was incredibly powerful, evocative conversation that we had. It moved millions of people, I think, around the world. How are you doing, first of all? You're a month on now.

HESLIN: I'm going day by day. It's a struggle. I miss my son Jesse something terrible. Not a minute goes by I'm not thinking of him. I'm just still heartbroken over it. I maybe accept what happened a little bit more. I can't forget what happened. And I'm just trying to go forward every day and deal with it the best I can. MORGAN: I heard this very touching story, Jesse had this ornament which he wanted to give to Vicky Soto, his teacher he loved, who also lost her life.

HESLIN: That's true. The day before -- the evening before Sandy Hook shooting, we were at Stew Renert's in Danbury, and Jesse had wanted to pick out -- he loved Christmas, it was his -- one of his many favorite holidays, but that was his favorite holiday. And he had picked out two ornaments. I'm unclear why he picked out two for Miss Soto, but one was a star that was for his teacher and the other was an apple that was -- for a teacher.

And he also got his mother and his brother an ornament, one that said mother, and the other said brother on it. And his good friend Daniel Miyager (ph) who he used to play with every Saturday and took riding lessons from Jesse's mom. He -- Daniel loved horses and Jesse picked him out a horse ornament.

Jesse purchased the ornaments which was $37 all together, with his own money he saved doing a little odd jobs or his allowance. He never got to give those ornaments out in person to his teacher or his mom or his brother or Daniel. And I made sure that Miss Soto's family got the ornaments or received them along with his mother and brother and Daniel. I just -- it was something he felt was very special.

MORGAN: And it says a lot about the kind of boy that he was. Very kind-hearted young man by all accounts.

HESLIN: He was a very kind-hearted kid. He loved life to the fullest. Was always happy about everything, always wanted to help people. Always put people -- other people before himself.

MORGAN: There are so many issues, Neil, that have arisen from what happened at Sandy Hook, to many people, certainly to me as a father of four children, it was a tipping point. It was something that cannot be allowed to happen without other stuff now being done to prevent or try and prevent further massacres. But without putting any words into your mouth, of all the things that you've heard, which do you think may make a difference? What to you resonates?

HESLIN: Well, I think what happened in Sandy Hook was really a turning point. We had Columbine and Aurora and the other massacres in the malls over the years, but I think the significance with Sandy Hook is these were just little babies. They were young children that really had no survival instinct. They were helpless. And I think that's really what touched the hearts of everybody.

MORGAN: What do -- what do you think we can sensibly do?

HESLIN: I think -- I think there should be mental health for people who have mental health problems.

MORGAN: Better treatment, better funding?

HESLIN: Better treatment. Homes, like when they had Bellevue and Fairfield, when they were open for the mentally insane. I think a lot of the problems society has now started back when those facilities were closed. And I think there should be stricter gun control.

I'm not in favor of banning weapons or guns, but I'm definitely in favor of much more stricter background checks, regulations for gun owners. As for the assault rifles or the Bushmaster military-style rifle, I really can't see why somebody would need to own a weapon like that. And especially somebody like Adam Lanza's mother. I still have no -- I can't fathom why a woman would want a rifle like that.

MORGAN: Particularly a woman who knew that her son was clearly a threat.

HESLIN: Exactly. Exactly.

MORGAN: Neil, thank you for now. I'm just going to turn now to two people who know exactly what you've been going through because they also are living through the pain of what happened at Sand Y Hook. The family members of 6-year-old Emilie Parker. James Parker is Emily's uncle on her father's side. Jill Cotton Garret is her aunt on her mother side.

Welcome to you both.


MORGAN: It's just almost too agonizing, even a month later, to look at the little faces, to try and make any sense of this. I don't think there is any sense to be made of it at all.

But, Jill, in terms of what we can now do -- you know, one of the theories that people are putting out, particularly from the NRA, we've heard this loud and clear, the answer is more guns that actually every school should have somebody armed, whether it's a teacher or a janitor or an armed security person outside.

You're a mother of four. What is your reaction to that?

JILL COTTLE GARRETT, NIECE, EMILIE PARKER, DIED IN SANDY HOOK SHOOTING: Well, I think as a mother of four, sending my kids out to school every day, I think that's why this tragedy affected so many people and hit home with so many people, is that we all go to our homes and send our kids off to school, and every day we assume that they're safe, and we have faith in the teachers and the school that everything is OK. And this exposed that we aren't safe, and that we all are vulnerable.

And because so many more accidents happen with guns as they're introduced into homes and introduced into elements with children, especially, I just think it presents so much more possibility for accidents instead of actually being helpful. But I think gun -- but I think school safety has got to be addressed. It's a huge issue that clearly we're vulnerable to and we're all afraid as we send our kids to school.

We know why we're scared of what happened there it's because we all have children or know children that we're sending off as well. MORGAN: James, you spent six years in the U.S. Air Force. You recently moved to Connecticut from Tucson.


MORGAN: Scene of another ghastly tragedy involving Gabby Giffords. You wanted to be nearer to the family. Obviously a devastating blow to your family. You're a military man. You have heard all the debates now about all the aspects, the violent video games, Hollywood movies, mental health, registration, background checks, gun control and so on.

I want to make it clear, you don't speak for either of Emilie's parents, that wouldn't be appropriate. I know you speak for yourself. What is your view?

PARKER: I mean, we just need better enforcement of the laws that -- first of foremost better are already put in place. And to be able to follow through with things like the background checks and -- I mean, this is a good time for everyone to come together, to admit that something bad, something tragically bad has happened and has been happening.

And so this is a good time for everyone to come to the middle and start the conversations. Not arguments, not debates, but conversations on what needs to be done for the betterment of our communities, our nation, our world. And for me, that's -- that's the most important thing for me.

MORGAN: Jill, why do you think it is such a polarizing issue? And the reason I ask that, in Britain, we had a similar thing, at Dunblane in Scotland. Sixteen young children murdered with guns. It was never a political debate. But here, it really is. It's a real right-left thing. If you're in favor of gun control, you're a loony liberal. If you're not, you're a raving right-wing activist or whatever.

Why is that? And how do we get through that, do you think?

GARRETT: Our country is founded in such a different way that, you know, so much -- with the Second Amendment even being part of the Constitution, it's so much about protecting liberties because of how we established ourselves as a country.


GARRETT: And it's such a part of our foundation as a -- as a country. And so I think it has to be a part of the discussions as far as respecting where we came from as a country but also realizing the world we live in has got some problems that are directly related to safety and schools and that these tragedies are happening, we can't -- we can't ignore what elements are coming into that, what factors. And there are many.

MORGAN: See, the problem I have, James, with this is that if you look at almost any other country that has strict gun control, they actually have a lot of the same videos, the same Hollywood movies, the same kind of incidents of mental health issues. They don't have the gun murders at all. I mean, nothing like it. You know, you're talking about a comparison between, say, Australia.

Forget Britain for a moment, which is a (INAUDIBLE). But Australia had a very similar massacre in the mid-'90s. They have, you know, 30, 40 gun murders a year to America's 11,000 to 12,000. There's a culture of violence here involving guns.

PARKER: Yes. That's exactly it.

MORGAN: That seems to -- seems to just got out of control. And I think that people -- I really feel there was a movement to try and do something meaningful. The question is what.

PARKER: For me, and you put it perfectly with the culture around guns. And that's where I believe that it can start in the home. It can start with a gun-owning father teaching his child proper gun responsibility, gun accountability, gun safety. And teaching him the correct culture that should be put in place with something like that. With something that can cause --


MORGAN: You see in Switzerland, where they have a lot of guns in people's homes, safety is an absolute premium. I looked into this. People kept saying Switzerland. And it's true. And they have very few gun murders and they have a lot of homes with guns. And a lot of military take their guns home. But safety is absolutely paramount. A lot of training, a lot of safety and so on.

And I'm sure that that would certainly help. Anything that helps stem the tide of violence has got to be good.

Jill, how are the family doing? Because it broke everybody's heart when Robby gave -- I think it was the first interview of any of the parents, and you saw this beautiful little girl. You know, I just became a father to a little girl myself. It was just -- it was heartbreaking.

How are they doing, the parents and her little sisters?

GARRETT: You know, time, I think, creates this stark realization of what's missing in your life. And I don't think it heals. I think you come to terms with it. And I think you accept it over time. They are -- I'm proud of my sister for getting up each day and taking care of her children, and I -- that's all I could ask for her. I think it's the country that needs to get up and do something. These families are the impetus for all of the rest of us who care and who see how much they're suffering and how much this affected these beautiful families, these beautiful people.

They now have the country that wants to help these people grieve and help these people move forward. They do it -- they need to do it by being proactive and getting involved in the discussion -- MORGAN: And I think today -- today speaking out the way that they did and to have you guys come on and do the same in this eloquent and powerful way is exactly what needs to happen. To be part of this debate going. We will keep it going. That these kids are not going to die in vain.

And I thank you all for coming on and so bravely talking about this because it's not easy, I know. You have lost loved ones and they're never coming back, and it's heartbreaking.

Thank you all very much.

HESLIN: Thank you.

MORGAN: When we come back, the former congressman who says the best way to keep kids safe is to have armed guards in every school in America. The NRA's point man, Asa Hutchinson.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My starting point is not to worry about the politics. My starting point is to focus on what makes sense, what works. What should we be doing to make sure that our children are safe, and that we're reducing the incidents of gun violence.


MORGAN: President Obama speaking today about what it will take to keep this country's children safe.

Joining me now is a man who sees the issue quite differently. Former Congressman Asa Hutchinson leads the NRA's initiative for armed guards at schools.

Welcome to you, Mr. Hutchinson. Explain to me why the answer to a massacre at a school that kills 20 young children in this hideous manner and six adults is to arm people at every school in America, over 120,000 schools. Why is that the solution?

HUTCHINSON: Well, Piers, I don't think you're quite accurately stating what I -- my job is. And what I've said is that, one, it should be a decision of the local school district as to what kind of security you have in schools. I do believe that one element of that would be trained, armed presence for schools that particularly have a particular risk. And today, we see from Sandy Hook Elementary that virtually every school in America has some risk.

And so a logical response to that is to provide greater protection and security. But this is a decision of local school districts. And what I've -- my job is to bring some of the best security experts in the country together and look at what we can do better in our schools to provide parents assurance that their children are going to be safe. To make sure this does not happen again. But it has to be a decision by the local school district, but if I have a choice, yes, if my grandchildren have a choice of going to a school that has a trained, armed presence versus a school that doesn't, I think the one with the trained, armed presence there would have a much better chance of being safe.

MORGAN: Now this is one of the theories that have been put out by the NRA, which has garnered some support. And I don't want to ridicule you for it. I understand that many Americans who listen to that think it makes perfect sense.

My issue is when you listen to the lady I just interviewed, you know, who lost her niece at Sandy Hook, who's a mother of four, who can't think of anything worse than having guns around the children all day long. And I share that concern. And, you know, although I've said this to some of the other gun rights people before is that I come from a country where we don't have any guns. So it's a very different culture, I get that.

And I don't want to play that card with you, but there is a real fear that if you start loading up firearms around schoolchildren all over America, what you're basically doing is kind of militarizing schools.

And then where do you -- where do you stop? You have to militarize almost everywhere that children may be, and that is everywhere. So America becomes this kind of paramilitary country.

HUTCHINSON: Piers, you're absolutely wrong. First of all, President Clinton initiated the cops in the schools program. We presently have resource officers that are armed, trained guards in about one third of our schools. They're not military encampments. They're safe environments in which the children feel very secure around with that kind of protection.

You think about, in your country, England has an armed presence for international flights going in and out of England in a very sensitive environment called the airplanes. Post-9/11, people said guns have no place in the cockpit or in the passenger planes. But in fact, they have worked very well because they're trained. They're --

MORGAN: Well, actually --


HUTCHINSON: Deterrent and it's worked very effectively.

MORGAN: Let me pick you up on that. Well, actually no, what's been effective on planes is an outright ban on any weapons, any guns. That's what's been effective. The reason you don't see people using guns on planes is they've been banned. Now this brings me to the point of what I have been trying to get to on this show, which is it's not about removing everybody's guns in America.

It's a complete fallacy when people spin out that line. And it's designed, I think, to instill the kind of fear President Obama talked about today. Trying to make people think, oh, my god, they're coming for my guns. And then what happens is a lot of Americans got and buy more of these guns and more ammunition, and so it spirals on.

Why can't you see the plane analogy that you brought up as the perfect example of what you should be doing, which is dealing with the chicken and not all the eggs? The chicken is the gun. The gun situation in America, to many people, seems increasingly ridiculous, where a young, deranged man could very easily access an AR-15 assault weapon and take a magazine with 100 bullets and commit mass murder.

The last four shootings in America have involved that specific weapon. And have led to complete carnage. It's that that people want to remove.


MORGAN: It's not regular guns, handguns, or pistols. What is your answer for that?

HUTCHINSON: Well, first of all, guns are prohibited in the airplane. They're also prohibited in the school. What we've got to make sure is that somebody who violates the law, that children are still protected. And that's why we have federal air marshals on airplanes and that's why we have more security that we need to apply to our school.

Let me come back to the issue of safety. My job is to come up with some good solutions to help our school districts and our states to look in this. When the president comes out with his proposals, I do hope that he provides a federal partnership for providing funds for training of the armed presence in the schools to help our local school districts.

Right now, virtually every school district in America is looking at better ways to assure the safety of their children.

MORGAN: But here's -- here's the counterargument.

HUTCHINSON: Probably half the states are including this.

MORGAN: Here's the counterargument to this, is that it's not new. I mean, we've had armed security at schools and universities before.


MORGAN: And it just hasn't been effective. At Columbine, at Virginia Tech, most notably, at Fort Hood, the most protected place on earth, almost. You had a complete outrage and massacre there. Just having armed people around isn't necessarily the answer. I read a very convincing argument against it today, for example, with somebody saying you have these people, they get trained. They're armed. And they're twitchy, they're concerned, they're not quite sure what they're looking for.

And they get an odd looking character turns up. You could end up with all sorts of really unfortunate incidents. How do you kind of regulate that?

HUTCHINSON: Well, certainly, you need to look beyond simply a trained, armed presence. And the training is critically important in a sensitive environment. And I think we ought to have more standardized training and enhanced training for anyone who is a protective person at a school. But secondly, you know, right now, we have about one third of the schools that have an armed presence.

In California, I've talked to a school resource, the officer there, I believe they have about 500 in the Los Angeles. They have them in Philadelphia. Do you want to pull those all out of the schools and not have any armed presence there when the local school district says it's important to protect our children?

But it is more than that. That's why we need to look at architecture and how we --

MORGAN: But do you think -- do you --


HUTCHINSON: Let me finish this -- let me finish my answer, please. We need to look at the architecture of the schools. We need to look at other technologies, how to keep them safe. It is more -- much more than just being an armed presence.

MORGAN: What are you going to arm them with that's going to protect these children from a deranged young person with an AR-15 that can fire up to 100 bullets in a minute? What weapon will you give your trained security people?

HUTCHINSON: We'll give them what they need to get to do the job to protect the children.

MORGAN: Right.

HUTCHINSON: And it took --


MORGAN: So just to -- just to clarify, would you give them AR- 15s?

HUTCHINSON: This is not -- this is the -- the experts, the school safety experts, the national law enforcement people, they will recommend what is the best way to protect the children in this environment.

MORGAN: What would you do?

HUTCHINSON: I would give them a weapon so they could take the shooter out. And if there's not --


MORGAN: I just want to clarify whether 120,000 armed people you're going to put into America's schools, are they going to be armed with semiautomatic assault rifles, too? Because that seems to be the only logical way that they could have any chance to get somebody that has one of those killing machines. You give them a handgun, they have one, two, or three bullets at a guy who's firing possibly 100 in a minute.

So I'm asking you again, just to clarify, would you give these trained people you're going to train up AR-15 assault rifles?

HUTCHINSON: I disagree with your point. I believe that a person with a firearm that is trained can be very effective. And also I question whether if -- just like somebody doesn't rush into the cockpit of an airplane because they know there's a pilot that very well could have a weapon there.

I believe that it's -- you have to have layers of security in the schools. We're going to be looking at the experts as to how this can be done. We're going to give them model training programs. We're going to give the schools greater resources online. This is a very serious effort in school safety. And I hope the vice president, whenever he makes the recommendations to the president, includes school safety as a large part of the equation as to what needs to be done in the future.

MORGAN: But just very quickly, you don't think removing AR-15s would help safety?

HUTCHINSON: I think that Congress could pass a half a dozen laws just like they did with the ban on Columbine, and yet the tragedy occurred. So they can pass laws, but I think we will make more progress and keep our children safer if we focus on how we can better provide a secure environment in the schools, and that's what I'm addressing.

MORGAN: OK, Mr. Hutchinson, thank you very much for joining me. I appreciate it.

HUTCHINSON: Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming up, the man who says the NRA has held Congress hostage for years. John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted" said this country can't put up with gun violence any longer.


MORGAN: Like so many of the parents of Sandy Hook, my next guest sadly also knows the pain of losing a young son to violent crime. John Walsh is the host of "America's Most Wanted."

Welcome to you, John. You were listening there to the conversation with Asa. You know him, and very much the thoughts of the NRA generally. Their answer to all of these massacres is just more guns. What do you think of it?

JOHN WALSH, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": Well, first, I have to say I'm thankful that you keep this dialogue going. It has to be a civil dialogue. I don't think -- it's evading all of the important issues by saying we're going to put more guns in schools. The NRA is supported by the gun manufacturers. And I know Aca and he's a good man. Is that the way you're going to make a Sandy Hook stop and just say, we'll just sell, what, hundreds of thousands of more guns and put armed guards in every school in America?

MORGAN: I thought the president had it absolutely right today. He made it very clear that he just think there's a direct link now between the fear driven by the NRA and others after these massacres -- the fear is quite deliberately put out there to drive more sales, to make more money. It's a commercial deal.

WALSH: They're the most powerful marketing and P.R. firm on Capitol Hill. I have been going up there for 31 years, walking those halls and trying to get Congress to do reasonable things for victims, change the laws because the level of violence is so unacceptable. You have said it a million times. We are 20 times more violent than the closest first-world country.

We are a first world country. We are the richest, most powerful country in the history of the world. And we have the most violence, the most guns, and the biggest problems that we seem to keep skirting because Congress won't do anything about it. They're in gridlock.

MORGAN: When people say to you, John, as they say to me, you're anti-the Constitution, you're anti-the Second Amendment, I'm entitled to all these assault weapons, what do you say?

WALSH: I'm a gun owner. I've hunted my whole life. I have a ranch in Florida. I shoot quail. I don't need an AK-57. I don't need an Uzi. I don't need a Mac 10. I don't 50-bullet clip when I go out quail hunting. I have shotguns, I have pistols. No one is ever going to take my guns away. There's no dictator. There is no foreign country that is going to take over America and take our guns away.

This is reasonable, thoughtful -- the ban on assault weapons is a reasonable start. We have to start somewhere, Piers. We have to.

MORGAN: That's what I feel. I mean, what's the option? To do nothing, to just allow the proliferation of guns out there of that type, this military style weapon? That's what they are. And those that try and say to me, what about handguns? Handguns have a completely different capability and power to one of these AR-15s, particularly when they're loaded with 100 bullet magazines as the shooter in Aurora showed. He shot up an entire movie theater in a matter of a few minutes.

WALSH: And bought 6,000 rounds of ammunition.

MORGAN: With no regulation.


WALSH: These guns are for killing other men. I hunt men down for a living. I have caught 1,200 guys in 35 countries. I have profiled some of the most -- excuse me, some of the biggest sociopaths in the world. And one in five Americans are mentally ill, have some problem. But we have no mental care, no mental health service anywhere in the United States.

MORGAN: When you mix that with 40 percent of all gun sales in America having no checks, no background check, no database, nothing, I find that a terrifying cocktail.

WALSH: No one wants to take anybody's guns away. Those two boys went to that gun show before Columbine. They weren't old enough to buy guns. They got a girl who was 18 that had a driver's license. Nobody asked them, what are you going do with those semiautomatic weapons? Why do you need so many rounds of ammunition?

And the next day, they went and killed all those people. And it's happened multiple, multiple, multiple times. Background checks don't exist, Piers. We need better, better background checks. I have no problem waiting 10 days for my permit. I have no problem taking a psychological test. I have no problem taking a gun course. We need to make better background checks.

MORGAN: John, as always, you make complete sense, the host of "America's Most Wanted." Please come back soon. And we'll talk about it more.

WALSH: Stay at it, Piers.

MORGAN: I will.

Coming um, the Hollywood star who owns guns and is also taking a stand on assault weapons. Rob Lowe joins me next.



MORGAN: You're an independent and you have sort of said, look, I want these guys to court me as a voter. In that courting process, what should they be doing? How are they going to hook you in? What are you looking for?

ROB LOWE, ACTOR: They need to personally come to my house, Piers. They need to come over and they need to watch football with me and spend some quality face time. Look, I'm no different than an Iowa farmer. I think I deserve exactly the same respect as an Iowa corn farmer. Come and -- politics is retail. Come to my house.


MORGAN: A year ago when the absurdly tan Rob Lowe stopped by to talk about the White House race. The Hollywood star is passionate about politics and other things. It's good to have you back.

LOWE: None of -- none of the candidates took me up on my offer. Not one of them came to my house.

MORGAN: Nobody called, nobody rang? LOWE: It was sad. I felt -- it shows the kind of juice I really have.

MORGAN: What did you make of the race, in the end?

LOWE: I was -- I was really surprised that it wasn't closer.


LOWE: I can't believe that President Obama turned out bigger numbers than he thought -- than a lot of people thought he would. I was surprised. All of a sudden, it felt like it was called and it was over. I looked around and thought, it's over, that quick? Really?

MORGAN: I thought of you, funny enough, because I was watching -- rewatching, for the third time, the entire "West Wing" phenomenon, all seven seasons. And what was great about the Bartlett campaign was he was a great campaigner, had campaigners around him. Obama, in the end, I think won convincingly because he runs a brilliant campaign.

LOWE: He does. And you know what? He communicates and he connects with people. People can say he's aloof. We all know the knocks that we have heard about President Obama. Maybe they're true, maybe they're not, but the guy connects. In the end of the day, that's always going to carry, I think.

MORGAN: What do you make of his nominations so far? We have Hagel at defense, Lew at Treasury, Kerry state, Brennan CIA.

LOWE: I'm very happy about John Kerry. John is a friend. And I think he'll be -- he'll be great in the job. He's clearly wanted it. Although, you know, Hillary has been amazing -- an amazing secretary of state. Really great. But I think the appointments are good. It sounds like defense is going to be a fight. That will be fun to watch. I like a good political row.

MORGAN: Let's turn to guns. I have been talking about this a lot recently, particularly since Sandy Hook, but also before that. You're an independent politically in many ways, but what do you make of the gun debate? I'll tell you why I ask. Because in Britain, it's not a political thing, never has been. Never been left or right. It's more of a human reaction to when these things happen. We have to do something. Why is it so political in America?

LOWE: It's a part, I think, of how our country was formed. We did have to take up arms to form our country.

MORGAN: To get rid of us.

LOWE: I didn't want to say it, but if you're going to bring it up, yeah, to get you guys out. So there's that. It's in our Constitution. Look, I own guns. You know, I'm gone a lot. I have a wife. I have two kids. I know how to keep them. They're in a gun safe.

MORGAN: How many do you have? LOWE: I have three.

MORGAN: What types?

LOWE: I don't have an assault weapon.

MORGAN: You have handguns?

LOWE: Exactly.


LOWE: And I'm a sportsman. And I shoot skeet, and I grew up in the Midwest. That's a part of my culture. So I understand them in a way that perhaps people living in more urban areas don't have that history.

MORGAN: But I totally understand why you would do that, why you think you have the right to do that under the Second Amendment. And I have total respect for that. You want to defend your family and do some hunting or shooting, or whatever it may be.

I just don't get the assault weapon thing. I don't get why responsible gun owners in this country aren't rising up together and saying, you know what, they have no place in a civilized society.

LOWE: Let me ask you this, because I know you have really been leading a charge on this. I haven't heard anyone articulate to me what would really be the problem with an assault weapons ban. We had it before.

MORGAN: You had kind of a woolly ban. It had so many exemptions to it.

LOWE: That's the issue. People say --

MORGAN: Actually hundreds of thousands of them still on the streets. It's not a ban. In Britain, when we had our Sandy Hook at Dunblane, there was a national ban on handguns and assault weapons. And they all got taken away. If you were found with one, you were sent to jail.

LOWE: They literally came and took them away.

MORGAN: This word confiscation causes mass terror in America. You are not taking my guns.

LOWE: Yes, people don't like it. They don't like it. Look, I -- it's a complicated issues. I think one of the problems for me -- and I know I have heard you talk about this, and I'm glad, is that I think the mental health, parenting, personal responsibility.

MORGAN: Video games.

LOWE: -- all of it, first shooter video game stuff, which -- look, admittedly, I missed that generationally. So it's not a thing for me. I have never played them. I don't really get it. My kids do. I think kids growing up, blowing people away, blood, pulp everywhere, and then turning it off and going to have a sandwich, I don't think that's -- I don't think that's good. And I think that it needs to be a large conversation. And it sounds like we're starting to have it as a nation. And that can only be good.

MORGAN: As a gun owner, you would have no problem if President Obama said, I really want to push for these assault rifles, in particular, to be taken out of circulation?

LOWE: Look, I wouldn't because -- look, I like guns, and I don't own an assault rifle. I wouldn't know what to do with one. I wouldn't know why I would want one. I also see that if you're a law- abiding person and you bought it under the law, having it taken from you, I can see why people would have a problem with that. But if they don't do that, as you point out, it's not really a ban, is it?


LOWE: And I know social anthropologists, but I do think that the last thing viewers want is another Hollywood actor telling them anything about guns, pro or con.

MORGAN: Let's take a break. Let's come back and talk about your new role, which is as the prosecutor in the Casey Anthony case, which was equally emotive issue that divided the nation. I want to know what it feels like to be that guy.



LOWE: Junior Seau and I became friends while volunteering to mentor Indianapolis teens. I gave them tours of the statehouse. Jim gave them Colts tickets and autographed jerseys. They preferred Jim.


MORGAN: Funny stuff there from Lowe, as he told me himself, is a funny guy. That was "Parks & Recreation." But he doesn't shy away from drama either. His new work "Lifetime's" new TV movie, "Prosecuting Casey Anthony."

OK, this is fascinating. Because I watched your last one, the Drew Peterson TV drama movie. It was fantastic.

LOWE: Thank you.

MORGAN: You were compellingly evil. It was the last time we spoke. Again here, have you a very polarizing figure about whom there remains a lot of doubt. And no one is quite sure, as they were with Drew Peterson, whether they are really guilty or not. And yet most people think they are. Did you follow the case as it happened? Were you as enthralled as everybody else?

LOWE: First of all, I probably watch more cable news than any human should be. I see too much of you. I just do.

MORGAN: You can never see too much of me.

LOWE: You would think that, and I understand that, and that's perfectly fine. So you couldn't escape it if you wanted to when it was on. In terms of the day by day minutia of the trial, I didn't follow it. And that's -- when I read Jeff Ashton's book --

MORGAN: He's the prosecutor.

LOWE: -- who I played. I was really surprised at some of the twists and turns, some of the overreach and some of the things that went on to lead us to the point where the country was so shocked about this verdict.

MORGAN: What is fascinating about him, the prosecutor, was that his record is extraordinary -- 68 out of 70 homicide convictions, 12 out of 12 death penalty convictions, almost a perfect record. And everybody assumed he was going to have another tick, another conviction. And there was real shock when she walked. Did you get to meet Jeff Ashton?

LOWE: He actually came to visit the day I did the closing argument.

MORGAN: Really?

LOWE: Which was --

MORGAN: So he watched you deliver --

LOWE: -- deliver his closing argument. It's a direct transcript. It's what he actually said. And he's by the monitor while I'm out in the courtroom, which is an exact replica of the courtroom in Orlando. It was pretty surreal.

MORGAN: What did he say to you?

LOWE: I almost didn't want to go back and see him for fear he would give me the "oh, boy" face. But I think he was pretty happy.

MORGAN: Of course he is going to be happy. He has Rob Lowe playing him. I mean, Jesus, how much better can it get? I want you for my Lifetime movie?

LOWE: I'm there, my friend.

MORGAN: It's going to be called "Deported." It will happen eventually.

LOWE: You're not going anywhere. I won't let it happen.

MORGAN: Thank you. Let's take a look at a clip from this movie, "Prosecuting Casey Anthony."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The doctor is key to explaining why Casey didn't report her daughter's disappearance.

LOWE: Thirty one days and nights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't see why we need all this mystery here.

LOWE: Why don't we stop playing games and Just tell us what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. The truth is Cayleigh was never murdered.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She accidentally drowned in the pool on June 16th. And Casey trusted someone she never should have to take care of it.

LOWE: Like whom?


LOWE: You know what? Bring it.


MORGAN: Would you have personally convicted Casey Anthony, the more you now know about the case?

LOWE: It's my personal opinion that she absolutely had something to do with her daughter's death. I don't know if it was an accident or premeditated. That I don't know to this date. But there is no doubt within my mind at all that she is responsible.

MORGAN: I spoke to her briefly, arranged by one of her defense attorneys. And like all of these kinds of evil characters that get portrayed that way, underneath it there was this kind of quite softly spoken, very normal sounding woman, who had obviously had been through complete hell and probably will be for the rest of her life.

Do you have any sympathy for the people that get caught up in these things?

LOWE: This one would be a tough one, Piers. I'm a father. I have got two kids. Child neglect is an unthinkable thing. And child murder is off of the scale.

MORGAN: Well, it looks riveting. I've only seen clips, but I'm looking forward to seeing the whole thing. It's airing on the January 19th at 8:00 p.m. on Lifetime. "Parks & Recreation" airs Thursdays at 8:30 on NBC. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MORGAN: Tomorrow night on the heels of the one-month anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook, and as Joe Biden hands the president his recommendations on gun violence, I'll host a live one-hour special: "Guns in America." This is one of the most vital issues this country faces right now.

I'll be talking to people on both sides, including Maryland Attorney General Beau Biden, who says military style assault weapons have no place on America's streets, and a gun advocate whose own brother was a casualty of gun violence. She says the victims in Newtown are being used as, quote, "propaganda by those who want to see evil prevail."

Plus, the families of the victims of the Aurora movie theater massacre.

You can be part of a live audience here in my New York studio tomorrow night. Just go to my website,, for details.

That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.