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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Guns in America; President Obama Visits Middle East
Aired March 20, 2013 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight, outrage. 2,793 Americans dead in gun violence since Newtown. And Harry Reid says this about the assault weapons ban.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: I'm not going to try to put something on the floor that won't succeed. I think the worst of all worlds would be to bring something to the floor and it dies there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Tonight my guest, the five men who've seen the tragic toll of guns up close. They're demanding change. I talked to police chiefs from Newtown and all around that area about what they saw on that tragic day and what it will take to keep America's children safe from further massacres.
Plus, President Obama in Israel. With tensions rising throughout the region, is Iran now the greatest threat?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Will Syria's civil war spill over?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The Assad's regime must understand that they will be held accountable for the use of chemical weapons or their transfer to terrorists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I'll ask the president's one-time Middle East peacemaker, George Mitchell, is now the time for the U.S. and Israel to kiss and make up?
This is PIERS MORGAN LIVE. You've heard a lot of heated debate on this show on both sides. Tonight I'm going to talk to five men who probably know more than most of us about guns and in particular the aftermath of the atrocity of Newtown. They're police chiefs in and around Newtown. All of them had experience and trauma of that terrible day at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Sadly, the toll of guns doesn't end there. Colorado's present chief Tom Clements was gunned down in the doorway of his home last night, just hours before Governor John Hickenlooper signed a new gun control legislation. We'll be taking all of that in a few minutes.
Plus, there's something special tonight. We conduct an informal count of U.S. senators asking them whether or not they would have supported Dianne Feinstein's proposed ban on assault weapons. The numbers aren't official and in some cases the answer wasn't quite as simple as a yes or no, but we'll give you those results in a few moments.
I now want to turn to my panel of police chiefs in Newtown and the surrounding area. Chief Michael Kehoe of Newtown, Chief Douglas Fuchs of Redding, Chief Joseph Gaudett of Bridgeport, Chief Robin Montgomery of Brookfield, and Chief Patrick Ridenhour.
But first I'm going to read the names of the 35 senators who so far have told us that they oppose Senator Feinstein's assault weapons bill. It's important to know who they are. Senators Alexander, Ayotte, Baucus, Begich, Boozman, Burr, Coats, Coburn, Cochran, Crapo, Cruz, Donnelly, Enzi, Flake, Graham, Grassley, Hatch, Heitkamp, Hoeven, Inhofe, Isakson, Johanns, Johnson, King, Lee, Manchin, McCain, Risch, Roberts, Rubio, Shelby, Wicker. And we have three late responses of no from Landrieu, Murkowski and Murray.
Those are the 35 senators so far who have told us that no, they oppose Senator Feinstein's proposed bill to ban assault weapons, 28 senators said yes, they agree with her and support it, 34, no responses so far, and three said they had no position.
We're going to chase the 34 no responses and the three who say no position. And we'll come back on Friday, give them enough time to think about their response so that we can get a very firm idea of why this assault weapons ban has apparently got no chance of getting passed in the Senate.
You as the American people have a right to know what these senators believe and I intend to get it out of them.
Let's turn now to the police chiefs. I can't think of five better people to talk to about what happened. Ever since just over three months ago now.
Let me start with you, if I may, Chief Kehoe, because you had the -- I don't even think there are the words to describe the experience of what you must have gone through that day. You had to walk into that school and find the bodies of 26 people, including 20 young school children between 6 and 7 years old who had been slaughtered by Adam Lanza and his AR-15 assault rifle.
Take me back to that day. For those who perhaps have already moved on, who don't think it was a tipping point in this debate. What did you see that day? What do you feel about it now? What do you think needs to be done?
CHIEF MICHAEL KEHOE, NEWTOWN, CONNECTICUT, POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, it was a horrific day. There's no doubt about it. It was a horrific day for so many. Not only the families who we really do cherish, but it was a horrific day for our community and for the -- for the nation as a whole.
That day will be etched in my mind, will forever change me. And I think that, you know, as I reflect today about that day, as much as I try to -- I try to forget about it, I just can't. And I know that will give me the energy to move forward, and to hopefully make change, in our society that we need.
MORGAN: Michael Moore, the filmmaker, was on my show last night and got very passionate and emotional as many of the debates on the show have been since Sandy Hook. He believes that the only way the American people will feel compelled to force that political powers in Washington to do anything about this is to perhaps see the pictures of the bodies of these children.
And he cited the example in the race battles and in Vietnam, where imagery, however horrific, has changed American public opinion.
You saw not just pictures. You saw what happened there. Do you think that there's any merit to that argument? Do you think that if America had seen what you saw there would be any doubt about banning assault weapons?
KEHOE: I think it may help. But law enforcement's position from day one has been to protect the families. And they have suffered enough. And to release some pictures like that may make them suffer more. And we have to talk about the families collectively. We just can't think of one, maybe, and say it's OK, and then -- and we have 19 or 20 or 25 others that don't feel -- don't feel it's OK.
I don't think that's going to work either. So I don't think we're ever going to get that full range of acceptance to releasing pictures. But I think everybody can understand, as you've aptly put, the slaughter that an AR-15 can do to a 6 or-year-old or 7-year-old. I don't think we don't need pictures to know that. I think in our own minds, we can -- we can certainly imagine it. And that should be our driving force.
MORGAN: Chief Fuchs, you had, I think, two children who attended Sandy Hook school. They no longer attend the school. They attend another Newtown school, just -- from age point of view. For you, it must have been a very, very harrowing experience again, simply because this could have been your children.
CHIEF DOUGLAS FUCHS, REDDING, CONNECTICUT POLICE DEPARTMENT: It was. And to be honest when I was responding, we didn't know at first to which school we were responding. We heard the radio calls coming over the air. Immediately my first reaction was it's going to be the high school. And I have a child at the high school. And that's where I thought I was heading. When I heard it was an elementary school, I don't think it ever really processed that I was going into a school where the kids who would be that young who were going to be affected by this.
MORGAN: There's lots of debate going on about what the best response should be. The latest polls suggest that 57 percent of Americans are in favor of a national ban on the sale of assault weapons and on party lines, 77 percent of those were Democrats. And yet it's the Democratic senators who are leading the charge, perhaps, in preventing an assault weapons ban coming in.
You, I believe, are supportive of an assault weapons ban. Why is it so important that there should be one?
FUCHS: You know, I heard the president say they deserve a vote. And he was speaking about the Newtown families. I've heard others say they deserve a voice. I'd like to suggest that we deserve a chance. We in law enforcement know that when an active shooter reloads, that's an opportunity for us to move. That's an opportunity for us to try to neutralize that threat.
We in law enforcement know that when an active shooter has to reload, that's an opportunity for people in public to try to overpower that individual, and try to get away. And we in law enforcement know that in a school setting, when an active shooter has to reload, that's an opportunity or that's a chance for our kids to run. And I really believe that we deserve that chance.
MORGAN: And with Adam Lanza, he had taken enough ammunition to kill more than 600 children which would have taken out I think the entire school. He just in the end could feel law enforcement arriving and took his own life. If they hadn't got there in time, he could have killed many, many more.
FUCHS: We know that our presence makes a difference. Our presence in and around schools either deters it or when we show up, usually the individual chooses to take their own life rather than challenge us. So we know that makes a difference. But for law enforcement officers going into that environment, having to deal with some someone with a 30, 40, 50-round magazine, that puts them in needless harm's way. So by eliminating that capacity -- people still have the right to fire those weapons -- we just have a better opportunity, a better chance, to really neutralize that threat.
MORGAN: Chief Gaudett, you live in Newtown, I believe.
CHIEF JOSEPH GAUDETT, BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT POLICE DEPARTMENT: I do.
MORGAN: The argument -- you would have heard this many times -- is there any attempt to prohibit the sale of AR-15s, one of the most popular rifles in the country, is an assault on the Second Amendment rights of Americans. What do you say to that?
GAUDETT: I respect the Second Amendment. I believe that people should have the right to own weapons. I think that the assault weapon in particular is a weapon of war. And I don't believe necessarily that anyone, other than police or military, should own a weapon like that. It puts my people in danger and great jeopardy. It puts the citizenry in great jeopardy. I reject the notion that it's a hunting rifle, a sporting rifle. I believe it's a weapon of war and it's intended to kill as many people as efficiently and effectively as possible.
MORGAN: Chief Montgomery and Chief Ridenhour, interestingly -- I mean, Chief Montgomery, in your case, you are a Brookfield police chief, you're an incredibly highly decorated Vietnam. Actually I think you've got two Purple Hearts, am I right?
CHIEF ROBIN MONTGOMERY, BROOKFIELD, CONNECTICUT POLICE DEPARTMENT: Yes, sir.
MORGAN: Nobody then needs to tell you about guns or indeed the military comparison. And yet both of you, I think, do not support an assault weapons ban. Explain to me why with all your experience you don't think it would be effective.
MONTGOMERY: I think what Doug mentioned regarding the ability to fire 30, 50 rounds at a clip is what we want to inhibit. We want to make sure that that doesn't occur. And I think by limiting the magazine rounds, that resolves at least one issue. One of the things that bothers me is that when you have a tragedy like this, people focus on one particular element.
And really, it's a far more holistic approach to what ails this country right now with the violence you see, the gun violence, the violent videos. And that's why when you talk to Mike about pictures being shown, I would venture to say kids have seen so much violence via TV, video games, they have become immune to it. And that's been documented. So that's a problem. I think that we as a society have to change.
MORGAN: Chief Ridenhour, the other elements of this involve universal background checks. We discussed the magazine sizes. Of the three planks, really, of what Dianne Feinstein, the senator, is trying to push through, assault weapons, background checks, and the magazine, which of those things that do you feel strongest about?
CHIEF PATRICK RIDENHOUR, STRATFORD, CONNECTICUT POLICE DEPT.: Background checks.
RIDENHOUR: I think the background checks are very important. Not only for the individuals that are trying to possess weapons, but also to find out more about what's going on in their homes. I mean, when you look at this situation, apparently the mother was a law- abiding citizen who did have proper permits to have weaponry. But there was issues within the home and her son got ahold of these weapons. So I --
MORGAN: And by the way, Adam Lanza, until he committed this atrocity, was also a law-abiding citizen. My problem with this is an argument from the gun lobby, if you like, is they keep saying well, what about the law-abiding gun owners? Well, his mother was and actually he was until he did this. He didn't have a criminal record. But what would have picked him up?
A loner living with his mother who did nothing about it. I don't know how you'd pick him up. All you can do, I would argue, with great respect to you guys, who oppose the assault weapons ban, you've got to make it as difficult as possible for people like Adam Lanza out there -- now, there was one -- two days ago in Florida who was about to shoot up a university. Again, a misfit, a loner. Somebody, though, who was able to acquire 1,000 rounds of ammunition. Assault weapons, handguns, educational DVDs to teach him how to use all this stuff. This cannot be right in a civilized society.
RIDENHOUR: Well, first of all, Piers, I'd like to first of all say that it's not that I oppose the ban. What I do support is a more healthy debate about the ban, and whatever our legislature, whether it's state or federal, comes out with, I will support. I'm not a gun person, personally. But I do believe that all sides of the issue need to be focused on and then there's other issues that need to be addressed also.
Mental health checks, access for us. That would be part of the background process. Having mental health checks to find out if there's issues within the home. Knowing who has these types of weapons. Another thing that concerns me is when someone does die who does have weapons. But we're not notified that there are weapons in the home. Who takes possession of those weapons for the short term until it's decided who they should go to?
RIDENHOUR: Then they end up on the streets. So those are the things that -- that I'm concerned about. And I just think that we have to have a really thorough debate about the issue.
MORGAN: I thoroughly agree with that. And this is a very constructive one, by the way. And particularly given you're not all completely agreed. I think that's fascinating.
Stay where you are, Chiefs. We're going to come back with a Colorado sheriff who is joining us. He says he won't enforce new laws in his state requiring universal background checks.
But 30 who oppose Senator Feinstein's assault weapons bill, 34 haven't responded as yet to our informal count. Three have said they no position.
As we go to the break, here are the 28 in the Senate who've come out in support of the bill to us, to our show. And just one note. We're going to keep going back to those who haven't responded. We'll update you probably on Friday. Enough time to work out if they want to tell us.
MORGAN: Early today Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed new gun control laws requiring universal background checks which buyers must pay for themselves and limiting magazine to 15 rounds.
My next guest, Sheriff Ronald Bruce of Hinsdale, Colorado, says he won't enforce these laws and is here to tell me why.
Also with me, our expert panel, five police chiefs from the Newtown area.
Welcome to you, Sheriff. Tell me why you are not going to implement these laws.
SHERIFF RONALD BRUCE, HINSDALE COUNTY, COLORADO: Well, good evening, Mr. Morgan. I believe that the laws as they are written are basically unenforceable and that philosophy is viewed by about 57 of Colorado's 62 elected sheriffs.
I just think that, for instance, there's no way for me to know that a magazine is in possession of an individual we come in contact, was acquired before or after the ban. And I don't believe that a magazine capacity limitation will solve the problems we're facing with just about 15 minutes of practice, sir, I could have you -- you're doing a magazine exchange, in about two seconds. So the mass shooters could still fire the same number of rounds with only a limited extra number of seconds.
MORGAN: Right. But with respect, Mr. Sheriff, you're in a state, which has just brought in these laws. And one of the reasons that they brought them in was what happened at that movie theater in Aurora in Colorado where a deranged young man called Holmes walked in and had four weapons, including assault rifles, and including 100 bullet magazines.
Now you can't tell me that he could not have been stopped earlier if he hadn't had a magazine with 100 bullets in. And that's the point of this, isn't it?
BRUCE: Well, certainly, on the surface, it is. But, again, let's say he had just had 10-round magazines. He's making a magazine exchanges in a matter of two seconds. Again, with just a little bit of practice. I don't know -- and, again, you know, I can't Monday morning quarterback that. So I don't know what the crowd at the theater was doing. I got the impression they were simply trying to take cover or flee, and didn't seem to be concerned about stopping the shooter.
MORGAN: OK. Well, let me go to Chief Kehoe.
You've heard this. This is to me an extraordinary situation where you have a state that suffered the single-worst shooting by one shooter in terms of hitting people. He hit 70 people and killed 12 of them.
In American history, and as a result, they brought in -- I applaud them for doing this. They brought in some to me obvious new laws to try and do something about this. And you've got a sheriff that's saying not only he, but the vast majority of the sheriffs in the state want nothing to do with it.
KEHOE: Yes. I think what sheriff is saying is that he feels the law is unenforceable as opposed to he's not going to enforce the law. I think there is a distinction there. I don't think law enforcement officials --
MORGAN: Well, let me clarify that.
Sheriff, are you -- are you saying you're not going to even try and enforce the law?
BRUCE: Mr. Morgan, again, I don't think that there's any ability for -- I or my officers or other officers armed around the state to determine if a magazine that comes into our inspection was acquired before or after the ban.
MORGAN: I understand. I heard that. Right. But to clarify, because the chief has raised this as a question. You are not even going to try then to enforce this law. You don't think it's workable at all.
BRUCE: That is correct.
So you have a sheriff there, and he says he represents the vast majority of sheriffs who is not even going to implement this. These new laws are therefore rendered almost instantly meaningless. In a state that had the Aurora theater massacre. I mean, you may as well give up. I mean, this is the front page of the "New York Daily News." "Shame on us," it says. With the pictures of these children that you saw, Chief Kehoe, you saw their slaughtered bodies. There's got to be a better response than just sheriffs all over America saying, nope. I'm not going to do anything.
KEHOE: I'm wondering -- again, I'm not aware of the Colorado laws that were passed today. Or whenever they were signed into law. But maybe what needs to be is they need to relook at that and maybe they need some input from the sheriffs to make those laws enforceable. And one -- one that's certainly all officers can enforce instead of having to think about what's the interpretation of the law.
MORGAN: Chief Fuchs, I mean, we talked about magazine sizes. At Sandy Hook, had he had 100 bullet magazine, he could have killed a lot more in the same period of time, right?
FUCHS: And you're right.
MORGAN: And this is an inarguable fact. FUCHS: There's two issues, one is the two seconds about which my colleague out west is speaking, and that two seconds makes a difference. That two seconds is an opportunity. That two seconds is a chance.
And we know that in law enforcement. That protects civilians and protects our officers. And gives them a better or fighting chance when in harm's way. I think the other point, as Chief Kehoe raises, if that law is enforceable, we as chief law enforcement officers of a county or municipality, we take an oath to uphold the law. We don't write the law.
MORGAN: Well, that's what I was going to ask you, Sheriff. I mean, you have a duty. It's not really your decision, is it? You have a duty, if this is the law of the state of Colorado, you're a sheriff, you have a sworn duty to try and uphold that law. And I would also like you to answer the point, if it saves one life of one child in a future mass shooting in your state, even in the area that you're the sheriff, isn't it worth it?
BRUCE: If I thought that was the fact, yes, sir. I don't think that's the case.
MORGAN: You've just heard -- you've just heard it. A police chief in Connecticut say it's an inarguable fact.
BRUCE: I did.
MORGAN: Clearly, it is. If you have to spend a few seconds changing clips, you have a chance. You have a chance to apprehend that person. You have a chance to try and save life. That's the point of this -- of this magazine reduction law. That's the point of it.
BRUCE: Yes, sir, it is. I just don't agree with it.
MORGAN: And I respect that. But what I'm asking you is, do you not think if it could save one life, it's worth doing? What is the downside? Who gets hurt? If you bring in a 15-round maximum? Who is offended by that? Hunters and sports shooters don't need anything more than that. That's not hunting. Who is going to miss 30, 40, 50 bullet magazines?
BRUCE: I think there's a -- I think there's a major concern which I concur with. That this it is based on looking at history for the last 200 years, is that proverbial foot of the door. That it's a 15-round magazine today, it's a 10-round magazine tomorrow. And a no magazine a year from now.
MORGAN: Chief Ridenhour, I can see -- Chief, you're shaking your head. What do you say to that?
RIDENHOUR: I say that it's our responsibility to enforce the law, whatever it is. And it's not for us to really look at the reasons behind it. We have elected officials who give us laws, give us mandates to enforce. And that's what we're supposed to do. MORGAN: And this idea that it may be a slippery slope to further reductions, you know, you can cross that bridge when you come to it. But the -- you know, as the "Daily News" front page says, "Shame on America if the answer is nothing. Surely. I'm so grateful to you all. Thank you all for coming in.
You've come in together and you've made a serious of excellent points. This debate will continue to rage.
Sheriff, I appreciate you coming on. I know that you are aware of my position on this and I respect your opinion. I don't agree with it. You don't agree with mine. But we'll agree to defer and I do appreciate you taking the time to come on.
BRUCE: Mr. Morgan, thank you.
MORGAN: Coming up next, civil war in Syria. Nuclear threat in Iran. Will President Obama's visit to Israel calm the storm in the Middle East?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did inform the prime minister that they are very good-looking young men who clearly got their looks from their mother.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: Well, I can say the same of your daughters.
OBAMA: This is true. Our goal is to improve our gene pool by marrying women who are better than we are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: A joke to start of a symbolic and historic trip to Israel for President Obama. He met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and called the bond between the U.S. and the Jewish state unbreakable. Mr. Obama also covered big foreign policy issues including the Iranian threat and the civil war in Syria.
CNN's John King is live in Jerusalem with the latest. John, all seemed very maty and chummy. But underneath all that, what is the reality of the state of the relationship between America and Israel right now?
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: There's no question, Piers, it's been obvious to the world, not just to these two leaders, that they've had a very frosty and somewhat unfriendly relationship. President Obama is left of center. He believes that Prime Minister Netanyahu has said some things he finds insulting or he didn't like.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, right of center, supported Romney in the last presidential election, has at times thought that President Obama -- my language, not his -- quote, doesn't get it about the security of Israel.
But there's no question -- look, both of these guys just won elections. They are, in the words of a top American official the other day, stuck with each other. And it's very crystal clear today, both of them have decided to try to turn a new page. Are they going to be best friends? I think not. But are they going to be better friends? Today it appeared they're going to at least try at that.
And you know, that makes a difference. When you're dealing with the Iran nuclear crisis, the Syria civil crisis, the question of whether you can get the Palestinians and the Israelis back on the table, if they like each other a bit more, it helps when things get difficult. And that's a difficult list.
MORGAN: People assume that Iran may be overshadowing this trip. In a sense, Syria has overtaken even Iran because of the suggestion that chemical weapons have been used. Both sides continuing to try and blame the other side. What do we really know about what may have happened here?
KING: Not much, which is part of the issue. The president used some very muscular language today at the press conference with the prime minister, saying it would be -- would be a game-changer if he sees conclusive evidence that the regime used chemical weapons against its own people. Now he didn't specify how the game would change.
Does that mean any use of the United States' military? The president has been very reluctant to do that. And I don't know anybody in the administration talking about that. Does it just mean pushing for war crimes tribunals? Does it mean going back to the United Nations? I don't know what purpose that would serve.
So we don't know what he means. But he did say he will look at the facts and see what happens. And one of the -- part of the assistance he will get, excuse me, is from the Israeli military. I'm in Jerusalem tonight, Piers. The United States is about 6,000 miles from Syria. I'm 135 miles from Damascus. So the Israelis have a history of having better intelligence, if you will, of that neighborhood.
MORGAN: Right. John, stay with me, if you can, for a moment. I'm going to bring in George Mitchell now. He's a former U.S. special envoy to the Middle East.
Mr. Mitchell, when you see what's going on here, what is your overview of the region in totality? Because it used to be a case that if you solved the Israel-Palestine problem, everything would be so much easier. Now there is so much tension all over the region, it's no longer just about Israel and Palestine, is it?
GEORGE MITCHELL, FORMER SENATOR: No, it isn't. That's an important element, but there are many intersecting conflicts in the region, all of which affect each other. You mentioned several of them, Syria, the Iranian quest for a nuclear weapon, the historic antagonism between the Persian Iranians and the Arab countries, the historic divide within Islam between Sunni and Shia, which began way back from the succession of the prophet -- to the Prophet Mohammed.
So there are many intersecting conflicts. But I will say that a resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflicts, while not the only problem, will help very much in dealing with several of the others. It will help Israel to have to change from what it now does, is building walls all around it, to establish normalization in the region, which I think would be very important, and a positive step for the people in society of Israel.
So the president really, I think, is trying to assure or reach three audiences: the people of Israel we are for committed to Israel's security, absolutely committed; the Palestinians, we want a Palestinian state, a two-state solution; and others in the region, friend and foe alike, that the United States is in the region to stay, and we're not pulling out any time soon.
MORGAN: John King, the one thing we didn't hear about today was settlements. Why is that? And is that going to be discussed over the next couple of days?
KING: Well, it will be discussed in the morning. You can be certain, Piers, when President Obama goes to see the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, his top complaint is going to be I'm not coming back to the bargaining table until Israel stops building settlements in the West Bank. And I'm very interested in Senator Mitchell's views on this.
I was in Afrat this week. I was Mala Abdamin (ph), two Israeli settlements. There is construction on both of those settlements right now, not major expansions but new subdivisions. And the Israeli government is debating whether to give the green light for a major new settlement on a parcel called E-1. And President Obama did not mention settlements. There were a couple of opportunities today where he could have turned to his counterpart and said, you must stop.
He has said that in the past. I'm sure it came up in the private conversation. But the president decided not to pick a public fight with the prime minister. But that is one of the huge obstacles to getting the Palestinians back to the bargaining table.
MORGAN: Right. Senator Mitchell, you heard what John said there. How crucial is this going to be, this part of the debate?
MITCHELL: Yeah. It's a very important part of it. Let's be clear. Every American president since Israel was created has opposed Israeli settlement construction, Democrat and Republican alike. No president has ever supported continued expansion of settlements.
At the same time, we and Israel are close friends and allies. We don't agree on every issue. And that's one on which we disagree.
I think John is correct. I'm certain the president has raised it in private. He certainly will hear it from the Palestinians. My own view is, the best thing everybody can do is get into negotiations and try to resolve all of the issues, including settlements. MORGAN: Finally, senator, switch quickly to guns, if I may. Because yesterday we saw Harry Reid basically kiboshing any attempt for Dianne Feinstein's assault weapons ban to be included on this gun control bill. You were voted the most respected man in the Senate many times in your career there. What do you make of this? I mean, do you not think they should, at the very least, be pushing forward to a vote, so that everyone can see who is in favor and who is against?
MITCHELL: I don't know all of the issues, because I don't follow them in nearly as much detail as when I myself was there. But I was Senate Majority leader when Senator Feinstein pushed the assault weapons ban. And I helped her do so, and voted for it.
I thought it made sense then. I think it makes sense now. But I think, as you are finding out, Piers, in your questioning of all senators, there is not even a majority for it, let alone the 60 votes who would be necessary in the Senate to pass it.
MORGAN: What I'm finding, just to clarify, is that we've got about 35 who have said yes, we oppose it. But there's at least the same again who are at the moment not responding. And that in itself, I think, speaks volumes. I think some of them do not want to be exposed for perhaps putting their political careers over their principle.
MITCHELL: Well, there's absolutely no doubt about that. And they're letting Harry Reid know that. The leader, one of his functions and tasks is to be a lightning rod and take the heat for others. And there's no doubt that Harry Reid has been told by many senators, don't bring it to a vote. You don't have the votes. And so what point will be served then? And you're going to hurt me in my next election.
That's a reality that's occurred for the 225 years that the United States Senate has existed, or whatever the length of time is. Nothing new about that, Piers. But you're also finding out, you've got 28 votes for, 35 votes against. And I think that the rest of the votes you get, to the extent that you can get a decision, will be probably even more weighted against. And so I think it's a very tough situation for all concerned.
As I said, I don't know all the details. My own view is, I think an -- I believe an assault weapons ban is justified, and would serve a useful purpose.
To the argument made earlier on your show about the camel's nose under the tent or the slippery slope, if you limit the magazines to 15 rounds now, then it will be 10, then it will be five, then it will be none -- the fact is, of course, we have all kinds of laws prohibiting certain weapons. You can't go out and buy a Bazooka.
MITCHELL: You can't go out and buy a machine gun. You can't go out and buy a bomb. And so the reality is, if you bought that argument, you would say, open it all up. Let them -- let's have any weapon being purchased. That can't be the case. I mean, you have to make a rational decision based on the circumstances which exist at that time.
Will a measure help or oh hurt? That's the judgment. There are good people on both sides of the issue. I think, though, it won't pass. That's pretty clear.
MORGAN: Senator Mitchell and John King, thank you both very much indeed.
MITCHELL: Thank you.
MORGAN: Coming next, Alan Dershowitz and James Zogby join me to talk about the president's trip to Israel and whether there is any chance for a peace settlement.
MORGAN: Talking about a lasting peace is one thing. Making it happen for Israel and the Palestinians is another. Can the president do what others have not? With me now is Alan Dershowitz, attorney and author of "The Case for Peace." And James Zogby is the president of the Arab American Institute and author of "Arab Voices."
Let me start with you, Alan Dershowitz. A poll I saw -- a most recent one, CNN/ORC poll, will Israel and Arab nations ever live in peace? Yes, 32 percent; no, 66 percent. Very depressing.
What is a way through this? Are you remotely optimistic?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, AUTHOR "THE CASE FOR PEACE": I am very optimistic. It depends on what you mean by peace. Will there ever be a loving peace like between the United States and Canada? Unlikely. But will there be an end of war the way there is with Egypt and the way there is with Jordan and perhaps realistically with some other surrounding countries? Yes.
The key is to start the negotiations now. I agree completely with Senator George Mitchell. What President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority is saying is, I'm not going to come to the bargaining table unless you do A, B and C. He's not in a position to make those kinds of demands. He wants land. He wants a state. He has to sit down to negotiate.
I recently met with him and I made a proposal. I said, how about you sit down, begin the negotiations, and then Israel will start a freeze, and then you'll negotiate borders. He seemed to agree with that. Netanyahu seems to be agreeing with that. There is an opening for peace.
I hope the president will try to bring them closer together. Look, the Palestinians had an opportunity to have a state in 2000, 2001. Arafat turned it down. Prime Minister Olmert offered them even more in 2007. No response. The ball is clearly in the Palestinian court.
DERSHOWITZ: They must come to the negotiating table.
MORGAN: Let's go to James Zogby. The ball is in the Palestinian court. Do you agree with that?
JAMES ZOGBY, ARAB AMERICAN INSTITUTE: No, I don't. I think that's a very serious exaggeration of the leverage Palestinians have. They really have none in this case. And they look to the U.S. president to balance the scale. At this point, Abbas has a U.N. resolution. It's about the only thing he has in his camp. He has no -- he's become a dependency, dependent upon foreign aid to sustain an ever-dwindling authority.
They have become a police force governing the terrorists. Alan, let me finish. They have become a police force governing the territories. But they've gotten no payment back. And this issue is bigger than the West Bank. It's about Palestinian nationhood. It's about the right of Palestinians to have the same respect as a nation that Israel demands for itself.
And frankly, that's not on the table. I would say to you that what the U.S. has to do, when the president is done with this trip, come back, hopefully earning the confidence of the Israeli people, trying to restore some confidence on the Palestinian side, which is lost right now, and then refashion a Middle East peace initiative that gives some hope to both sides. Right now, Palestinians don't feel hope at all.
MORGAN: OK. Let me ask you both very quickly -- and I'll start with you, James Zogby, very quickly, if I may. Are you optimistic that within five years there could be a peace deal?
ZOGBY: Well, we did a poll on that. And what we found is that Palestinians themselves are hopeful that in five years a peace deal could be done. I, on the other hand, look at the politics of it. I don't see the Israeli society moving in the direction of peace. I don't see Congress here in the United States giving the president the backup he needs to push for peace. They slapped him down very hard in 2011. It was insulting to the United States. And it hurt the chances for peace. So I would be rather sanguine.
MORGAN: You're pessimistic.
ZOGBY: I would love to see it happen, but I think it's tough.
MORGAN: OK. Alan?
DERSHOWITZ: Well, if the Palestinians sit down and negotiate, the Israelis will make a very generous offer, as they did in 2000, 2001 and 2007. It's up to the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table. You're not going to get peace without negotiation. You're not going to get it through the U.N. You're not going to get it through the International Criminal Court. You're not going to get it through violence and terrorism.
You're going to get it with negotiations. Will everybody be happy with the resolution? Of course not. Will the Palestinians get 100 percent? No, they won't get the '67 borders, because that would include the Western Wall and Jewish section of Jerusalem and other areas that are historically Jewish and necessary to Israel's security.
Both sides have to negotiate and compromise. But you can't compromise until you negotiate. So my message to the Palestinians is, please, come sit down to the negotiating table. Netanyahu has offered that.
DERSHOWITZ: Sounds good, Alan. But the two Israeli leaders who made an offer in 2001 and '07 were on their way out of office, and therefore had nothing to lose by making a deal they never could fulfill.
DERSHOWITZ: Try it again.
MORGAN: I'm going to leave it there. As Winston Churchill said, it's always better to jaw jaw than war war. I hope they're listening to that over there. He was right then and he'd be right now.
Thank you both very much indeed.
DERSHOWITZ: Thank you.
ZOGBY: Thank you.
MORGAN: When we come back, I'm going to talk to a man who created an addiction for me. It's this, a Blackberry. I'm addicted. But are you? Or are you on to Apple and Samsung and Android? We'll find out after the break with the boss of Blackberry.
MORGAN: Before we get to the boss of Blackberry, a quick clarification. We said earlier that Senator Murray was opposed to Dianne Feinstein's bill to ban assault weapons. In fact, Senator Murray is in favor of it. So we will be following this. And on Friday, we'll come back with an updated list of exactly who thinks what in the Senate. It's an important, important debate.
Nearly 80 million users worldwide, Blackberry is giving Apple and Samsung a run for their money. Now it's hoping to take an even bigger slice out of the smartphone business with the release Friday of the Blackberry Z-10. And with me is Thorsten Heins. He's the president and CEO of Blackberry.
Welcome to you.
THORSTEN HEINS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, BLACKBERRY: Thanks for having me. MORGAN: So I'm a well known Blackberry crack addict or whatever they call them. I'm still hanging on in here. I'm going to lay my cards on the table to you though. My two teenaged sons recently defected from the Blackberries I had lovingly given them to iPhone. How are you going to stop the migration, which has been going on now for quite some time, of your product to Apple and indeed to Samsung and Android?
HEINS: The way we stop this is we have built this new product and platform, Blackberry 10, because we knew we had to come up with something really exciting and new. And the Z-10 is the first product of its kind that we will so.
So let's give it to your sons. Let's give them a run.
MORGAN: I've been playing around with it. You've got them both here. These are the ones here. So this is the one which is the touch screen. It's an iPhone rival. It's very cool. It's very gadgety. The reviews I've seen have been pretty good for it. But have they been spectacular enough? Are you concerned that this may already be being overtaken with technology by some of your rivals? Is it that fast now in this marketplace?
HEINS: The innovation actually really is very, very fast, and ferocious, right? That's why we did innovate this new products. But the user interface works with the -- ebb and flow is actually designed for people that are really hyper connected, multitaskers, gamers. They want to get things done, and that's why we did this flick typing on the keyboard as well.
MORGAN: That is cool.
HEINS: There's some stuff in there that will excite people.
MORGAN: That is cool. And the keyboard is very cool, which is something I always love about Blackberries. And the hub idea is very cool. But you said that iPhone is outdated. Did you mean that? Or were you hoping they're outdated?
HEINS: No, I think with Z-10 coming to market, I think they are falling behind in terms of the user interface. You have this in and out paradigm all the time on an iPhone, right? You open up the case, you do something, you close, you open, you close. On Blackberry, you flow. You open everything, and it's open for you. And just with a swipe of your thumb, you go wherever you want. That takes a lot of think points and stress away for you.
MORGAN: Blackberry used to be the big business device. Every businessman wanted a Blackberry. I see a lot of businessman now, a lot of them still have Blackberries. I saw P. Diddy the other day. He was furious I had a black one of these. He only had the silver. I said you're so last year, Diddy.
So you still have a big crowd of people that like your devices. But I have seen a lot of business people at senior level who have gone. They've gone to other places. What is the single best way you are going do hook them back with these new things?
HEINS: The single best way is, first, the user interface we talked about. The second is the physical keypad. Because what I'm hearing from a lot of them, give me that keypad instead of the touch device. The third thing is, keep their private life and business life separate on one device, not make them carry two devices.
And what we see in the markets we have launched them, people latch on to this pretty well and pretty nicely. So we actually see a trend from people coming back or new to Blackberry. So very excited about this and very encouraged about it.
MORGAN: Well, I'm a big fan. Full disclosure, I once did a promo for you in Vegas to promote the Playbook. It wasn't that successful. It wasn't down to me. But I do love the Blackberry. I hope your business does well because I like them. Good to see you.
HEINS: Thank you very much, Piers.
MORGAN: Tomorrow night, we have a world exclusive, Tom Hanks and the cast of "Lucky Guy," his new play, first ever play on Broadway, and his first play in 30 years. It's a great interview.
Anderson Cooper after the break.