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Obama Signs 23 Gun Control Executive Actions; NRA Vows To Fight Obama Proposals; Kentucky Sheriff Opposes Gun Proposals; Gun Lovers Snatch Up Assault Rifles; Austin, Texas Reacts To Armstrong; Mental health In Gun Proposals

Aired January 16, 2013 - 13:00   ET


BEAU BIDEN, ATTORNEY GENERAL, DELAWARE: -- being responsive to young people's voices is outrageous. I think that actually demonstrates whoever is saying that simply doesn't get what the job of the president of the United States is. The president of the United States' job is to respond to the voices and the pain that the American people are facing, whether it be the mother or the father of the child that was referenced by the president, whose painting hangs, as he said, in his private study or the four children you saw sitting behind him who wrote him letters. To criticize the president for being responsive to the voices of children is -- it just makes me scratch my head and I'm putting that politely.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: We appreciate your being polite there, Beau. Final question, of course, one of the things that the president is saying that he wants to go ahead and ban the assault weapons, assault-style weapons that used primarily in the military. You are an Iraq War veteran. Give us a sense of what that kind of weapon does and what that means. Do you think that's appropriate or do you think it ought to go even further?

BIDEN: We proposed a similar piece of legislation in our state. I was very, very gratified that the president is pursuing a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban on military assault weapons. These are weapons -- M16 was what was assigned to me for most of my military career. It's been about 10 years now. And, look, these are weapons designed for the battlefield. They're not designed for our communities. They're not designed for Wilmington, Delaware or cities and communities all over this country. It's an understandable and rational balance to recognizing that there's a well-established right to bear arms under the second amendment, a tradition, quite frankly. I'm a gun owner.

But also, that doesn't mean that there should be weapons that are meant for the battlefield to be able to wreak havoc on the streets of my state and communities all over this country. And that's why the president is trying to reinstate a ban that's been in place -- that was in place for nearly a decade. One that Ronald Reagan supported. One that sportsmen across and up and down my state have supported. These are not weapons of sport. These are weapons of destruction. These are weapons that you send soldier, sailor, airmen and Marines to take to go to do battle and defend our nation, not needed to defend neighborhoods and homes. MALVEAUX: Yes. Beau, there is a controversy that is happening right now, the National Rifle Association putting out an ad in which they say that it is unfair to have the president criticize actually arming schools to protect children because his own children actually receive secret service protection. Do you think that that's a fair criticism? This is something that a lot of people are very emotional about. The fact that now the president's children is being used as part of his gun debate.

BIDEN: Look, it's -- obviously that's out of bound and well out of the bound for the NRA to make that the first thing they say on this -- on this issue. It's somewhat telling that that's what they do. They try to take on the president on that issue. It's obvious why --

MALVEAUX: Beau, I --

BIDEN: It's obvious --

MALVEAUX: I want out -- if I -- if I can interrupt, I want our viewers and I want you actually to watch this ad if you can and then we'll talk about it on the other end real quick.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are the president's kids more important than yours? Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their school? Mr. Obama demands the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, but he's just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security. Protection for their kids.


MALVEAUX: I'm sorry, Beau. Go ahead, finish your thought.

BIDEN: Any American and any law enforcement official would tell you that there's a rationale and a reason, unfortunately, why the president of the United States' children need the secret service around them, especially in the post-911 world that we unfortunately live in. So, that's obvious -- fairly apparent on its face. What that ad is just simply out of bounds. It demonstrates, quite frankly, them being somewhat out of touch.

You know, as you heard my father say in the press that he had what he believed to be a constructive meeting with the members of the NRA. I hope that they can get back to that kind of constructive discussion rather than leading with what appears to be a well-funded ad that takes on the president on an issue that is just clearly out of the bounds and out of line.

MALVEAUX: All right. We're going to, obviously, get their reaction as well. But Beau, I imagine you don't see much of your dad these days. He seems very, very busy with all these different task force that he's heading. Beau, good to -- good to see you as always.

BIDEN: The reality is, and he'll tell you this, and you know him, he is a dad and a -- and a husband first. So, I talk to my dad every day, and he's still my dad and he still calls the three of his children every day. So, he gets to -- he gets -- he can walk and chew gum at the same time.

MALVEAUX: That's great. Yes, he is a busy guy these days. Good to see you, Beau.

One sheriff in Kentucky feels -- he's saying, quote, "A moral obligation not to enforce gun control laws. That is right. Not to enforce the gun laws that are on the books. This is what Denny Peyman said over the weekend.


DENNY PEYMAN: You know, I couldn't justify if Obama passes this -- it doesn't matter what he passes. The sheriff has more power than the -- than the federal people. They need to go back and just study that. We're a commonwealth. I can ask the federal people to leave, they have to leave.


MALVEAUX: Sheriff Denny Peyman, he's is joining us from Hazard, Kentucky. And first of all, sheriff, you listened to the president. What specifically in his proposals would you not follow that you would say that this is not fair? The background check -- universal background check for all those who are trying to purchase a gun?

DENNY PEYMAN, SHERIFF, JACKSON COUNTY, KENTUCKY: No. I -- to be honest with you, I didn't listen to the president. I was traveling to get here to speak today. I got a chance to read over them. I didn't get a chance to hear his speech this morning.

MALVEAUX: Do you have any objections to what he said? One of the proposals was university background checks for all those who are purchasing guns. Would that be acceptable to you?

PEYMAN: No. Yes. That's acceptable.

MALVEAUX: Now, what about the ban on assault weapons? Is that something that you also agree you would uphold the law?

PEYMAN: OK. What it is is if he's -- if it goes through the channels, if it goes through Congress, if it goes the -- you know, if Congress -- it becomes law, if it goes that way, --


PEYMAN: -- yes, I would enforce the law. But to make, you know, an executive order and to say this is the way we're going to do this, see, that's what -- that's where I have the problem is when it becomes an executive order, it becomes -- to be able to override basically the second amendment, the constitution -- I took an oath to the constitution, also to Kentucky's constitution, to stand by that. And that's still what it is. That second amendment was actually to protect us, the people, against the government. MALVEAUX: Part of --

PEYMAN: Against, you know, exactly what's happening here now.

MALVEAUX: So, what part of the law, then, would you encourage your citizens not to -- not to actually obey? Is there anything that the president has proposed that you say, no, we're not going to cooperate?

PEYMAN: No. Exactly what you said, a proposed. It's not law. We go by the law. When a judge hands me an order and says, Denny, go out and arrest this guy. I go out and arrest the guy. It's when it becomes law. Right now it's not law. I can't say -- I'm not going to tell my people to break the law, no. I'm not -- I'm not going to do that. But I'm just saying as in a remote area where we live in the -- you know, we don't have the access to police on every corner. We don't have it. Sometimes it takes me 45 minutes to be able to respond. But, you know, to have my people say, no, we're going to -- we're not going to do what the president says, no. We're not going to do what Congress says. We're not going to -- we're not going to go against what the amendments are. The way it is right now, it's -- all it is is just a suggestion.

MALVEAUX: All right. We're going to get back to you. We're going to see if, in fact, there is a fight that incurs with the Justice Department, if there is something that -- a law that is not being enforced. But it sounds like what you're saying is that you would cooperate with the federal law and with what the president puts forward. Thank you very much, sheriff, we appreciate it.

I want to bring in Paul Callan here, one of our legal contributors. Paul, first of all, does the sheriff or any local law official have the responsibility to enforce federal law? Do they -- are there loopholes where they can say, look, I want to enforce this part of the law if Congress passes, like, say the assault bans weapon, but I'm not going to enforce this particular part?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, a local sheriff in a particular state, if he takes an oath to obey the state constitution and the federal constitution, has an obligation to obey the law. And, you know, there's some earlier reported statements by the sheriff in which he said he was not going to obey any, you know, interpretation of the constitution which involved taking away people's guns in Kentucky. Now, I'm not -- I -- the Obama administration didn't propose that. But in terms of interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, under our system of law, we allow courts to do that, not local sheriffs.

So, if the courts uphold orders handed down, whether they're executive orders or Congressional laws, then the sheriff would have an obligation to obey the Constitution. Now, I just wanted to add one other thing. Under our federalism system, local sheriffs, local police officers will not be enforcing these federal regulations. These are going to be federal laws. The FBI will enforce them. Treasury agents will enforce them. It won't be the local police who will be out making sure that new federal gun regulations are enforced. That would be a federal law and under our system only federal law enforcement authorities would have the ability to enforce.

MALVEAUX: And Paul, if you had people like the sheriffs out of Kentucky, Oregon, or some of these governors who are talking about that they're not going to follow necessarily the federal law. It would be the Justice Department that would step in and have to enforce that. Is that correct?

CALLAN: That's absolutely true. And, of course, we saw this during the early days of desegregation of schools in the south where local authorities were unwilling to enforce federal constitutional requirements. And what happened was the National Guard was federalized, local police were superseded --


CALLAN: -- by federal law enforcement. I'm not saying that's going to happen, but that's -- in an emergency, that's how it works.

MALVEAUX: All right, Paul Callan. Thank you, Paul, appreciate it.

CALLAN: OK, thank you.

MALVEAUX: People all over the country, they are weighing in on the president's gun control plan. Blair Roberts he is tweeting. He says, thank you, President Obama and Vice President Biden for taking a stand. But it's only one step, but at least it's a step. Jessica Alexandra says, I get that criminals don't follow laws, but some reform is better than no reform.

A different perspective from Jonathan Christian. He tweets, if new gun laws save one life, we must do it? What about guns saving hundreds of lives? And this from former presidential candidate, Herman Cain. Gun control does not stop gun violence. Washington specializes in the art of doing something that does nothing.

The talk of tighter gun control laws, of course, sparking firearms shopping spree across the country. That is right. We're going to take you to Las Vegas for reaction.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot keep them in stock.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot keep them in stock. We received 17 this week, and I sold them in 36 hours.



MALVEAUX: Some gun advocates who want to own assault rifles, they're going on shopping sprees. That is right. Fearing that the president is going to push through a ban on their weapons. Miguel Marquez, he went to a shooting range in Vegas where right now the gun industry is holding one of the biggest trade shows.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Whoa, my god.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Go big or stay home, as they say in Vegas.

(on camera): Wow.

(voice-over): Yes, that is a chrome plated fully automatic 50 caliber machine gun, a one-of-a-kind weapon that can now be fired right on the Vegas strip.

(on camera): This is the place for the gun connoisseur.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. We're going after --

MARQUEZ: Someone who wants --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- a little bit of a higher-end demographic.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): For gun lovers, it's the sort of things dreams are made of. The world's most powerful handgun, the Smith and Wesson 500 is here, too.

(on camera): Look at this thing. My god.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just make sure not to put your finger on the trigger or point it at anyone.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The strip gun club has only been open a month. Co-owner Justin Michaels is attending the shot show now in town hoping to find new sources of ammunition now in short supply. Why is there a shortage of ammunition?

JUSTIN MICHAELS, CO-OWNER, STRIP GUN CLUB: It's because certain people have a fear that with the -- what they perceive to be upcoming gun legislation.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Rick Cass, an Indianapolis gun dealer, is also here for the shot show. Like ammunition, he says, gun owners are buying up AR-15s at about $2,000 a pop in record numbers.

MARQUES (on camera): Eighty percent of your business is AR-15s --


MARQUEZ: And you cannot keep them in stock?

CASS: I cannot keep them in stock. We received 17 this week and I sold them in 36 hours.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): He also sold 2,100 high-capacity magazines in just three days, he says. All this the unintended consequence of talk of new gun laws. This is a place perfectly comfortable with guns. You can even go to the state of the art Clark County Skeet Shooting Range opening this week. We got a sneak peek.


MARQUEZ: Gun carts, desert views, 30 manicured shooting stations. It is golf with guns. In Vegas, anything goes. Sport shooters in high-end gun ranges don't think the new gun laws will have much effect on them. But retailers and manufacturers of guns gathering here are watching, waiting, and worried.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Las Vegas.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Lance Armstrong, his legacy and the future of the cancer foundation that he started. What Livestrong has to say about Armstrong's doping.


MALVEAUX: Twitter users are talking about #rhoh. OK. This is a new reality show called "Real Husbands of Hollywood." Yep. Debuting on BET last night. It is a mock documentary, but the guys are all actual husbands of famous women, like singer Mariah Carey, actresses Tisha Campbell-Martin and Paula Patton. Here is a little sample.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that the girl from "Mission Impossible"?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yep, that's Robin's wife, Paula Patton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yo, Paula Patton's in my driveway. I'm about to bag it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is wrong with him?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paula Patton? Oh. See, they don't understand. I said that I was never going to get married again unless it was to Paula Patton. Or unless it was to Mariah if she dumps Nick.


MALVEAUX: Comedian Kevin Hart creating this series.

Lance Armstrong is also trending today. We're going to have to wait until tomorrow night, of course, to find out what the former seven time Tour de France winner told Oprah Winfrey about his involvement in doping. Livestrong, the charity he founded, urged him to come clean. The foundation said in a statement, "we expect Lance to be completely truthful and forthcoming in his interview and with all of us in the cancer community." George Howell, he's in Austin, Texas, where Armstrong lives.

And, George, this is, you know, this is a place where you grew up, where you've covered the local news there. How are people taking this?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, I can definitely say that the mood here today is a lot different than it was, you know, some 12 years ago. When I covered this big citywide party for Lance Armstrong. This was right after he won the Tour de France his third time. Some 15,000 people came together on auditorium shores, just nearby where we are, to celebrate. It brought the city together.

And think about it, you know, this is a person who not only inspired people as an athlete, but also as a cancer survivor. He became a real symbol of pride for the city of Austin, Texas. But now when you talk to people, you can't help but be disappointed. Personally, it's disappointing to tell this story, you know, especially when you saw his rise and now you're covering this fall. You feel like you were kind of taken for a ride. And that's really what you get when you talk to people here on the streets. Take a listen.


SHIRAZKHAN, AUSTIN RESIDENT: Boy, he's an icon here. You know, people looked up to him. They admired him. But now they're going to kind of look at him maybe in a little bit of negative light now, you know, like, do we really want Lance Armstrong to be the icon of Austin, Texas? I think that a lot of people have the that question in their mind now that, you know, I don't know if I want this guy to be the face of Austin anymore.


HOWELL: And, Suzanne, you know, you talk to people and some have told us, you know, over the last few years, they've just gradually lost respect for Lance Armstrong because, you know, there have been years and years where he adamantly denied doping. And come Thursday we will all hear him say in his own words that he did take part in doping, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Do people give him a break because of the extraordinary work that he did involving cancer? I mean being a cancer survivor, raising, what, $470 million for those fighting cancer, battling cancer, really being an inspiration in that part.

HOWELL: A lot, yes.

MALVEAUX: Do they feel like there is some good here that he can be resurrected in some way?

HOWELL: Yes. So there's disappointment definitely here. But there's also some sympathy, maybe some forgiveness in the sense that he did do a lot of good work. And that is the hope. A lot of people say that, you know, they don't want to lose sight of the fact that he was, you know, such a big -- had such a big impact on cancer research, on cancer charities. That's one thing that people hope does not get lost in all of this. And we heard from Livestrong, you read part of that statement.


HOWELL: And the other part says that they are going to independently move forward, you know, just to make sure that they continue their work.

MALVEAUX: And finally, George, real quick here. A lot of people, are they talking about watching this interview in its entirety?

HOWELL: Yes. You know, a lot of people will be watching it. We're here at this bike shop that Lance Armstrong co-owns and, you know, this is the conversation of the day. People are waiting to see exactly how he's going to say it. What's he going to say? Because for so long he's denied it.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thank you. Appreciate it.

CNN is going to actually take an in-depth look at Lance Armstrong. That is tomorrow at 3:00 Eastern.

And the president laying out his plan to curb gun violence. This is, of course, in the wake of the Newtown shooting. One part, stricter background checks. There is another, more funds to help people treat them with mental illnesses. Coming up, we're actually going to take an in-depth look at how they think this can curb gun violence.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one can know for certain if this senseless act could have been prevented, but we all know we have a moral obligation, a moral obligation to do everything in our power to diminish the prospect that something like this could happen again.



MALVEAUX: The president, as you know, he came out with a plan just this last hour to help stop gun violence. It included recommendations from the vice president's task force spurred into action, of course, after the Connecticut tragedy. It includes a proposal for reinstating the assault weapons ban, requiring universal background checks, and banning magazines carrying more than 10 bullets. But the president also mentioned mental health as part of the mix of solutions.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will make sure mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence, even as we acknowledge that someone with a mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the perpetrator.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MALVEAUX: Joining us from Washington, Michael Fitzpatrick. He is the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

And, Michael, I understand that you were actually at the White House event today. You've been part of the vice president's task force in talking about mental health care and services provided. Were you satisfied with what you heard from the president today?

MICHAEL FITZPATRICK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ALLIANCE ON MENTAL ILLNESS: I think it was -- we certainly were satisfied. I think there were other members of the mental health community there. I think what we heard was that there's the willingness to have a national dialogue on the mental health system. It is fractured, broken and inaccessible in many communities. To provide support to teachers and schools, to provide support to families and caregivers. And to really take a new look at the whole mental health system that everyone believes, after every one of these tragedies, is something that doesn't meet the needs of either the people served by it or the families trying to get access to it.

MALVEAUX: How important was the president's point that he was making about providing funding for the Centers of Disease Control? The research, the science, he said, when you take a look at violence?

FITZPATRICK: You know, I think that's very important. I think there's a lot of mythology around the issues around mental health and guns. We believe this dialogue right now has little to do with guns. It's more about a broken mental health system. I think to have research and definitive research to understand the relationship with violence and guns and mental health, I think is very important.

MALVEAUX: Did it concern you at all, because there are some people whose eyebrows were raised when they heard this, the information- sharing component? Because the president does want to give federal agencies, different federal agencies better abilities, capabilities, if you will, to share information on people's records. Whether it's the FBI, whether it's from Veteran Affairs. Does it concern you in terms of privacy for people who are mentally ill?

FITZPATRICK: On any given day, 60 percent of the people with mental illness in this country can't get the service they need for a variety of reasons. Some of that has to do with stigma. So you want to be very careful when you're setting up this criteria for reporting that you don't stop veterans, teachers, everyone in our community -- one in four people in this country will experience a mental health problem in their lives -- that you're not setting up a block for them to get the services they need because of this reporting system. We need to know the details and we'll be watching them very closely as time goes on.


FITZPATRICK: We want to make sure that people who are dangerous don't get weapons. But on the other hand, we want to be careful we don't set up a system that blocks people from getting the services that they need for mental health. MALVEAUX: And I want to show our viewers here. This is a quick graphic that we made here. Obviously some of the things that you want to have accomplished there. Implementing school-based mental health services.


MALVEAUX: Lack of health insurance coverage for mental services. Must implement key provisions of Affordable Care Act. That these are some of the things that you are putting on the table.