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North Korea's Nuclear Threat; Remembering Roger Ebert; Guns in America

Aired April 4, 2013 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight, brink of war or bluster? North Korea moves its missiles. Washington calls it calm. Who will blink first?

And remembering Roger Ebert. Michael Moore joins me to pay tribute to America's favorite movie critic. He'll always get two thumbs up from us.


ROGER EBERT, MOVIE CRITIC: I just love movies.


MORGAN: Plus, guns, gays and pot. America's changing its mind about a number of things at the moment. Will the GOP? I'll ask Newt Gingrich where he stands.

And the debate that may surprise you with outspoken, unpredictable magic man, Penn Gillette, actor and activist Billy Baldwin, and far-right conservative Kellyanne Conway.

And what the hell's going on with Justin Bieber? We've got some advice for the teen idol from someone who has been through it all before, Lance Bass.


JUSTIN BIEBER, SINGER: I'm just a regular 16-year-old. Just living my dreams.


MORGAN: Good evening. This is PIERS MORGAN LIVE. A lot to get through tonight. We will start, of course, with the rising tensions in North Korea. The eyes of the world are on that region tonight, looking at the demilitarized zone, no man's land between North and South Korea. We learned today that the North may be planning to launch a mobile ballistic missile, possibly in a matter of days.

That's according to a U.S. official who told CNN communications intercepts the plans. American officials have also seen movement in missile components over the last few days from North Korea's east coast. Those missiles could have a range of 2500 miles, enough to threaten South Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia.

But just how serious is the threat? Joining me now is a man with strong feelings on all this, Newt Gingrich, the former presidential candidate, also Robin Wright of the U.S. Institute of Peace and former diplomatic correspondent.

Welcome to you both. Robin, let me start with you. The question keeps being asked, how serious is this? We've had this kind of bellicose threatening from North Korea as long as I've been alive. Is it any more real now? Is there a particular threat because we have a new young certainly unpredictable leader there, or is it just the same old stuff?

ROBIN WRIGHT, U.S. INSTITUTE OF PEACE: I think you always have to worry about North Korea. It is -- of all the countries on earth, it is probably the most unpredictable. It is the most isolated and it's hardest to deal in -- on a diplomatic framework. So its movements since December with the firing of a three-stage rocket with the third -- only the third time it's done a nuclear test in February, that you have to worry about any of the follow-up steps.

And what is he trying to do. And the reality probably is that Kim Jong-Un is doing three things. One, he's flexing his military and political muscle at home, he's proving himself. The third in the political dynasty. He's also playing in the Korean Peninsula at a time that you have a new leader, another -- emerging in South Korea who is also part of a political dynasty.

And he's also jockeying in the international community. He wants something out of this. It's very unlikely that we'll see a major military confrontation, but does he engage in some kind of small, smaller scale provocation? That's quite possible.

MORGAN: I mean, the real problem is it could just be a mistake. You get somebody who's young, inexperienced, wanting to impress, he does something a little bit outrageous and the wrong people react the wrong way. We could suddenly get a very serious escalation, couldn't we, Robin? I mean, what happens then?

WRIGHT: Well, it's always the wild card. And does he interpret what the United States has done as something that makes him worry even more and think he has to do even more, that we get this kind of gradual escalation, tit for tat, and it gets out of control. That's the real danger. That did not happen under his father and there is kind of an assumption, I think, that a lot of this is bluster, that this is trying to do things that have to do more with political, diplomatic and economic aspirations than it does with proving military superiority because the truth is that North Korea is not superior militarily.

And the danger of any conflict with the United States is ridiculous. It doesn't have a missile that has the range to hit the United States and I think its range is actually smaller than you suggested. I think it's more -- I think it's under 2,000, which would make it hard to even hit Guam.

MORGAN: Robin Wright, thank you very much indeed.

Let me bring in now former speaker Newt Gingrich.

Newt, you have seen this kind of stuff from North Korea for a long time. Is the president doing the right thing? Should America be doing more? Is the onus really on China rather than America to control what's going on?

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, I think, first of all, Robin hit it exactly right. Nobody fully understands what Kim Jong-Un is thinking. Nobody understands the whole nature of the regime. It's a very hidden, very secret, in many ways very strange regime. I don't think the South Koreans understand it. The Japanese understand it or the Chinese.

So all of us are standing around watching this guy who's dangerous. Now he's not likely to do anything and if I were betting I would bet he probably won't, but it's a pretty high stakes bet. Seoul, Korea, the capital of the country, the largest city, is within easy reach of his artillery pieces. He doesn't need a very long range to kill millions of South Koreans or millions of Japanese.

Nobody, by the way, ever notices that that same range covers a good part of China. So all of them have a good reason to be worried. I think the president, this may shock you, Piers, but I think the president has actually been pretty close to correct in the way he's handled this. I think having the B-2s go there, making them visible, indicating we're prepared to be as tough as we need to be, having a senior officer say earlier today that if anything, if this does come to war, we will replace the entire regime, it's not going to be some game.

I think all those things are about right and then I think the question is to sort of bite your tongue and be quiet and let's see what happens. We don't want to push him into a corner where he thinks that in order to save face and save his seat back in Pyongyang that he has to start a war. So we want to be firm, we want to be clear, but we don't want to increase the temperature of the water.

MORGAN: Let's turn to the gun control debate which I've talked to you about several times on the show. I want to play you a clip from Wayne LaPierre on FOX today, the head of the NRA.


WAYNE LAPIERRE, CEO, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: The criminals, the drug dealers, the people that are going to do horror and terror, they aren't going to cooperate. I mean, all you're doing is making the law books thicker for the law-abiding people. And -- I mean, from the very start, my thought has been how little this has to do with actually keeping kids safe.


MORGAN: I mean, of all the facile arguments that Wayne LaPierre puts up against having any new gun control, the idea that criminals won't obey laws seems to me to be the most stupid, because if that was the criteria for any law in America, you wouldn't have any. You wouldn't have any drink driving laws, you wouldn't have any, you know, under 21 ban on drinking or anything.

You would just have the complete Wild West, because criminals don't obey the law. Am I wrong here?

GINGRICH: Well, look, let's take the examples, and I hate to disappoint you, but let's take the examples of the recent cases. The young man in Connecticut was using his mother's guns. Explain to me how some kind of background check would have caught that. The young man in New Mexico was, in fact, using his family's guns with his father's permission. So explain to me how a background check would have caught that.

Most of the young men in South Side Chicago which is the most dangerous place in America today, over 500 murders last year, they're not going to go get a background check. So I would start and say to you there are steps you could take, when they had an "Operation Trigger Lock" in Richmond and they locked up felons, they brought down the murder rate very, very fast.

And I think it is possible to bring down violent crime very rapidly. Ironically, and this makes all of the pro-gun control people go crazy, but the fact is in the states that have concealed carry, you increasingly have evidence that having honest citizens have the ability to protect themselves reduces the crime rate, it doesn't increase it, and it does it by a practical commonsense standard which is criminals know it's a lot more dangerous to be a criminal.

MORGAN: So are you against universal background checks?

GINGRICH: Look, I think it depends what you mean by universal. You know if --

MORGAN: Well, I mean, call me old -- well, let me explain. Call me old fashioned, call me naive, but I don't understand why you can't have a system in America that has this appalling record of gun violence where we all know exactly who owns the guns and when there's a gun sale, we know who sold it and to whom, because when you have 40 percent of all gun sales in America unchecked, they could be sold to anybody, complete nut cases, murderers, felons of any description, anybody.

Why would any rational person not want to know who is selling guns to who?

GINGRICH: First of all, under the current gun check system, we know that 70,000 convicted felons have tried to buy a gun. The Obama administration has refused to prosecute them. So you have a system that actually picked up 70,000 people who are convicted felons trying to buy a gun inside the system. Nothing was done.

I mean, I understand there's this passion for somehow checking everybody every time. The question I'd raise for you is you think any of the kids in South Side Chicago who are parts of teenaged gangs are going to go out and go through a gun check?

MORGAN: But when you sell a car --

GINGRICH: What are you trying to accomplish?

MORGAN: When you sell a car, Newt -- when you sell a car, you have to register it, you have to know who has sold it and to who. Why would a gun be deemed less significant for a background check than a car or registration? I mean, we register all sorts of things in this country. Why not guns? They're the most dangerous thing out there.

GINGRICH: Well, actually, I think cars kill an awful lot of people. But the objective fact is that in this country, if I were to buy a gun from one of my son-in-laws, do I go through a background check? I mean, what does that mean?

MORGAN: Yes. Yes. You do.


MORGAN: Because I want to know -- I want to know if you're a criminal, I want to know if you're mentally sound. Sorry if again I sound naive but why the hell wouldn't I want to know that?

GINGRICH: OK. I think -- I think most Americans would regard this conversation with amazement. This is a country --

MORGAN: I would want to know -- I would want to know if you were mentally sound or a criminal when you buy a gun? Why is that so crazy? Why am I the crazy guy here?


GINGRICH: Well, first of all -- OK, no, you're the crazy guy here for a simple reason. We have a system already in existence. The system isn't working. We're finding 70,000 felons trying to buy guns. The government does nothing. Now what you're saying is let's expand the failed system.

MORGAN: Well, I agree with you. I agree with you about that. I agree it's ridiculous.

GINGRICH: All right.

MORGAN: And by the way, I'll go further. I think the president is full of hot air. He keeps going down to Newtown and places like that, Colorado, and saying all the right things, but at the same time, there's going to be no new assault weapons ban, there's going to be no ban on high capacity magazines.


MORGAN: And there probably won't even be background checks. America's answer to Sandy Hook will be zilch. Absolutely nothing.

GINGRICH: Well -- MORGAN: Just a load of hot air. And the NRA win again.

GINGRICH: Now, in a lot of states, actually, they are moving towards protecting children by having people who are armed in schools and a lot of states are taking steps to move towards having honest people --

MORGAN: Well, that's a great idea, isn't it? Arm the teachers, 120,000 schools in America, arm a teacher in every one. Why do the NRA want to do that? Because it sells another 120,000 guns.

GINGRICH: Come on.

MORGAN: And then we have our kids going to school with guns everywhere.


GINGRICH: Piers, even by your standard --

MORGAN: Why are you laughing? That's what it means.

GINGRICH: That is an absurd comment. First of all the greatest --


GINGRICH: The greatest gun salesman in American history is President Barack Obama. Nobody has led to a greater increase in gun purchases than the Obama administration. Just look at the last five years. You have gun factories working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to meet the demand. And the fact is this president for some reason has spurred in the American people a desire to own a gun on a scale that the NRA couldn't have dreamed of.

I mean, he has been their most effective salesman. So let's be clear. They don't need to go out and hire people in order to buy guns. The question is, if you're in a world where somebody could walk in a school and kill an innocent child, shouldn't you have somebody who is decent and who is an honest citizen capable of stopping that villain from doing something terrible?

The NRA released a report in the last day or two and they had people from Newtown who were, in fact, supporting the idea that if you'd had an armed person who was honest and a good citizen at that school, most of those children might today still be alive.

MORGAN: OK. Final question to you. U.S. Catholic Bishops today said that it's pro-life to ban assault weapons. You are a newly converted Catholic. Do you agree with the Catholic bishops?

GINGRICH: Well, I can assure you I'm going to read their reasoning and I'm going to try to understand why they took that position. I take the bishops when they take a stand very, very seriously. And by the way -- MORGAN: Well, let me explain to you. Let me explain to you. Let me explain to you what they said. They said they want universal background checks, they want to limit civilian access to high capacity weapons and ammunition magazines, and to make gun trafficking a federal crime. All the things I've been calling for. These are our Catholic bishops. I'm a Catholic. You're a Catholic.


MORGAN: Do you agree with your own bishops?

GINGRICH: You know, I think we could have a wonderful evening and we'll talk and we'll compare notes on your position on right to life and my position on guns, and maybe during the course of the evening, we could have a Catholic to Catholic come-together and decide exactly how much each of us could support the bishops. It could be a wonderful show.

MORGAN: Let's have a Catholic get-together. I like the idea of that, Mr. Speaker. Nice to talk to you.

GINGRICH: Good to be with you.

MORGAN: Coming up next, remembering Roger Ebert. Director Michael Moore tells me how the great Ebert changed his life.



ROGER EBERT, MOVIE CRITIC: "Roger and Me" is the right movie in the right place and the right time with the right sense of humor.


MORGAN: Big moment for young filmmaker, a thumbs up from Roger Ebert. America's favorite critic died today at the age of 70, just days after revealing his latest battle with cancer. This week, Ebert wrote what would become his final words. "I'll See You at the Movies."

Joining me now on the phone is director Michael Moore. Also here is Thea Flaum, she's the creator of "Sneak Previews," a show that introduced viewers to the team of Siskel and Ebert.

Welcome to you both.

Michael, a very sad day for anyone that loves movies today. What was your reaction to the great Roger Ebert?

MICHAEL MOORE, DIRECTOR: Well, it's very sad to hear of his passing, although he and others, myself included, knew that it was -- it was going to happen at some point. He had been battling various forms of cancer for a number of years, and -- but he didn't give up. He kept working right to the end, and you know he was such an incredible supporter of the underdog, the underdog film maker, the independent film maker, documentaries, foreign films.

He and Gene Siskel brought the knowledge to the mainstream American public of films that otherwise many people never would have heard of and that was certainly the case for me. And I really owe in some sense my career to him because he was the very first person to write about my very first movie.

MORGAN: That's right. He said this line, "Roger and Me" is the right movie at the right place at the right time with the right sense of humor. That was of course your brilliant expose of G.M. and its CEO, Roger Smith.

It's been great tributes today, Michael, one from Steven Spielberg who said, "Roger loved movies, they were his life. His reviews went far deeper than simply thumbs up or thumbs down. He wrote with passion through a real knowledge of film and film history, and in doing so, he helped many movies find their audiences."

Robert Redford said, "One of the great champions of freedom of artistic expression and the power of independent films was still unknown and few would support it. Roger was there for our artists."

And the president of the United States, Barack Obama, said, "Michelle and I are saddened to hear about the passing of Roger Ebert. For a generation of Americans Roger was the movies. When he didn't like a film, he was honest. When he did, he was effusive, capturing the unique power of the movies to take us somewhere magical."

How important in the end was Roger's thumb? Because it became one of the most famous thumbs in critical history. He either gave you a thumbs up or gloriously if you were a real triumph, two thumbs up, or a thumbs down and it could make or break a movie, couldn't it?

MOORE: Yes. And -- but I think he was -- he was much more about the thumbs. I mean, that became an iconic thing for both of them, but he won the Pulitzer Prize. He was the first film critic ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for film criticism. He was a very smart man and he championed film makers that otherwise maybe wouldn't have had the backing.

Spike Lee, all of his films, his early films. Errol Morris, the documentary film maker. Ang Lee. I can go down a whole list, myself included. He got behind our films and was an enthusiastic critic.

When you say the word critic, you know, it implies that, well, criticism is negative. Well, the criticism can also be very positive and encouraging and supportive, and that's who he was to film makers like myself and these other film makers.

Thea Flaum, if I could bring you in here. And first of all, my deep condolences at the loss of your great friend. You knew Roger for over 30 years. It was your idea to put him together with Siskel. How should we remember Roger?


MORGAN: How would he like to be remembered?

FLAUM: I think that Roger would like to be remembered as a real communicator about the power of movies to give people really insights into themselves. He loved to talk about the way a movie could take and catch you up, put you up on the screen, introduce you to lives, to characters, to ideas that you never would have experienced in any other way, and that really, the whole idea of a movie, watching a movie, being a personally enriching experience, I think was at the heart of all of Roger's communications about the movies.

MORGAN: What was amazing --

FLAUM: So that's the way --

MORGAN: Thea, was it -- I'm sorry.

FLAUM: No, go ahead.

MORGAN: I was going to say that what was amazing about Roger was that he had this constant battle with cancer for the last decade of his life but it never stopped him. He carried on doing the reviews and right to the end, right to last week, he was still writing his blog. Quite extraordinary.

FLAUM: Yes. He was. He was writing things and in fact it was just a little over -- a couple of weeks ago that he said to me, writing, because of course, he couldn't speak, that he thought he was doing right now some of the best writing he'd ever done in his life, in his blog. And I think that that was true. I think his book, his autobiography "Life Itself" was different from his criticism and was among the best things he'd ever written also.

He did -- the thing about it, Piers, is Roger was a great talker. He was funny, he was witty, he was also a prodigious eater, wonderful, and yet when he lost his ability to speak, he managed to overcome it I think partly because he was really and a lot of people don't know this about him, such an intellectual.

He lived a life so much inside his own head. He loved ideas, he loved books, he liked philosophy, he liked thinking about things, so as long as he had books and he had movies and he could write, he had this urge to communicate, as long as he could do that, I think the disability was perhaps somewhat less painful for him, losing the ability to speak, than it would have been for other people because he had so many other things right down to tweeting and his blog and the Internet and writing reviews.

So he was able to be very much present despite the fact that he was really unable to speak. And a kind of interesting thing, two years after Roger lost his ability to speak, "Forbes" magazine listed him among the top pundits in the United States. He loved that. This from a man who hadn't said a word in two years.

MORGAN: Amazing. Wonderful statement from his wife Chaz Ebert. She says, "I'm devastated by the loss of my love, Roger, my husband, my friend, my confidant and my oh, so brilliant partner. He fought a courageous fight, was the love of my life. The world has lost a visionary and a creative and generous spirit. He touched so many people all over the world. We had a lovely, lovely life together, more brilliant and epic than any movie. I want to echo what Roger said in his last blog, thank you for going on this journey with us."

Michael Moore, final word from you. How should we remember Roger Ebert and what advice do you think you should give to other film critics who may be coming up on the blocks as to how they should do this quite unique job that he did?

MOORE: Wow. That's a very good question. Film criticism these days is -- I think has taken a very sad turn. It's all about, you know, the Rotten Tomatoes score, and in the old days, you had the Stanley Kauffmann, Andrew Sarris, and Judith Crist and others. Just great -- I remember as a teenager reading these film critics and really starting to think about movies in a way I had never thought about them before sitting in, you know, the middle of Michigan.

And in fact, he had such a great sense of humor, too, that when I first met him, I had taken my film to the film festival. And I was -- you know, I was nobody, I was unknown, unemployed, and when I got to the festival I found out that they scheduled it against the opening night gala film in the Opera House at the same time. And I'm thinking nobody's going to come see my film. And I saw Roger Ebert going into the Opera House and I just went up to him, introduced myself and I said Roger, I've got a film down the street here, and I don't think anybody's going to come see it. And would you come -- he said, I'll see it sometime.

I know, but this is the first time I'm showing it, you should be there. And he said look, I said I'd be there. And I pestered him for like another minute or two and he finally like, I said I'd see it. Good night.


MOORE: I'm thinking oh, geez, I just screwed myself with the most important film critic. Twenty minutes later, like two minutes before the film's going to start, I look out the windows of the door, of the theater that I was in, little tiny theater, and there's Roger Ebert walking up to the door, to open the door. And he walks in. I'm like -- and he looked at me and said don't say a word.


There is just -- there's thing -- he said, there's something crazy in your eyes that told me I should be in this theater tonight watching this film. "Roger and Me."

MORGAN: Fantastic.

MOORE: Yes. And the next day, he wrote the first piece and told the world about it, and told -- went on TV and said things like it was -- you know, one of his favorite films of the last decade, and I had a career after that of making movies. Thanks to this man. I will miss him deeply. His wife is a wonderful person and I guess to answer your question for film criticism and for people who love the movies, get out of the house and get to a theater, and tell the theater owners and the people that you want to see stuff other than just the -- you know, "Transformers 7."

You want to see foreign movies, you want to see nonfiction, you want to see what independent voices are saying. People are missing great films these days and in part it's because we no longer have Siskel and Ebert speaking to a mainstream audience about films they otherwise would know nothing about. That's a huge loss. And I hope that somebody is willing to step in and fill Roger's shoes.

MORGAN: I completely agree. Be very difficult shoes to fill but I hope they try.

Michael Moore and Thea Flaum, thank you both very much indeed. And it's great tributes to do --

MOORE: Thank you.

FLAUM: Thank you.

MORGAN: For Roger Ebert.

When we come back, a debate you'd never expected. Penn Gillette versus Billy Baldwin. The first and memorable quote from Roger Ebert who was as passionate about life as he was about the movies.


MORGAN: Here now to talk about all the big stories of the day, Magic Man Penn Jillette, author of "Every Day is an Atheist Holiday," and the talkative half of the duo "Penn and Teller". Also, actor and activist Billy Baldwin and Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway.

Welcome to you all. A genuine all-star panel tonight, I'm pleased to say. And let's start with Roger Ebert. I guess you two probably came across him a few times, right?

PENN JILLETTE, AUTHOR, "EVERY DAY IS AN ATHEIST HOLIDAY": Yes, I bumped into him a couple of times. And I just wanted to talk to him about the fact that he wrote "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls."

MORGAN: Right.

JILLETTE: You know, that's -- I loved that movie. You know that is Austin Powers. And Just lose the laundry, this is my happening and it's freaking me out. It's just such a goofy, goofy movie. So I didn't -- at the time I talked with him, I didn't care much about the criticism, I just wanted to know about "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls."


MORGAN: Billy, when I -- as a viewer and as somebody who liked movies, I would always look to see what Roger Ebert was giving it, always. And it would have a real effect on me. What effect did it have on actors?

WILLIAM BALDWIN, ACTOR, ACTIVIST: Well, I tell you, one time I was in a green room going on to Oprah Winfrey with, like, Universal executives in the green room, Ronnie Howard, Brian Grazer, Kurt Russell, Robert De Niro, and they all got up when he walked in the room, and they all sort of milling around him, and like making sure he was OK.


And I sat there on the couch and then Ron Howard was like, Roger Ebert, come on, let's go. It was when Gene Siskel was still alive.

One thing I appreciated about those guys is they never took it to the level. We discussed it in the green room ourselves. They never took it to the level of John Simon and Frank Rich and really, if they didn't like a film, they told you why. If they liked a film, they told you why. There was never personal attacks about someone's career, the successes, the failures. They were overweight, the woman was unattractive. I never -- I always loved the fact that they stayed out of that game.

MORGAN: It was honorable critiquing.

BALDWIN: Definitely.

MORGAN: He'll be very sorely missed.

Let's turn to the Republican Party. And I'll start with you, Kellyanne. It's a strange thing going on in America, where you see now a poll come out today saying the majority of Americans are now in favor of legalizing marijuana, for example. A majority are in favor of same-sex marriage. These are things that would have been pretty unthinkable even 10 years ago.

Many in the Republican Party are trying to embrace this. Many feel threatened by it. I interviewed Michael Reagan last night, who was absolutely appalled by the whole prospect of same-sex marriage. What will this do to the party? How do you come together in time for the next election in 2016 with any kind of united front when these social issues appear to be ripping the party in two?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think it's an overstatement about it bifurcating the party, Piers, because actually I prefer to be in a party where diversity viewpoints on these issues are welcome rather than the party that seems to have this litmus test that you must feel a certain way.

I mean, look at all the Democratic senators who have come out in the last week or two in and around the Supreme Court arguments on gay marriage, sort of posting very quietly on Facebook or Tumblr. They wouldn't dare come on your show and brag about their change of heart and their prayerful conversations. I think that's pretty cowardly.

I appreciate the fact that I am a member of a party and a movement where these serious discussions are taking place and where we still have I think as the unifying factor, a respect for the democratic process. So for example, whether the Supreme Court finds a constitutional right to gay marriage, if they don't, I think that you heard even with some of these skepticism of the liberal justices last week, that the democratic process state by state should take hold.

And I think that you will find a lot of federalism type of strains within the Republican Party which is why there's a resistance. And let me just say on gay marriage and certainly on legalizing marijuana, there's a real libertarian strain in this country that's starting to get its due. I think people who call themselves liberal sometimes mean libertarian. Many young people would consider themselves libertarian over conservative or liberal.

And I think this is the strength of say, a Rand Paul, when he talks about drones or he talks about all these different issues from a libertarian bent.


CONWAY: I think that -- that's really what's going to happen in the coming years.

MORGAN: OK. Well, I mean, it seems to me what you've got is younger people don't understand the fuss about gay people. They don't care. Predominantly.

BALDWIN: It's very, very interesting that you say that because that's exactly where I was going. I personally think election day Republicans were taken to the woodshed. I appreciate what Kelly just said and I hope that there's a big enough big top in the Republican Party for that type of diversity and that type of debate.

They haven't been successful at it in the recent past. They got taken to the wood shed, all of a sudden there's this mass movement to move to the center of the party. And two years ago, a pastor friend of mine said when I look out into the -- into the congregation into the eyes of these 8 and 10 and 12-year-old children and they all have classmates whose parents are lesbian parents or have homosexual parents, and they go on play dates and they go on sleepovers every weekend, and they come home and say dad, what's this debate about? Why can't they be married?

MORGAN: They don't get it. They don't get it.

BALDWIN: And that generation will be voting, it's been happening for the last 10 years.


BALDWIN: And that generation will be voting, and 10 years from now, I'm telling you, it's not even going to be an issue. And there's people in the Republican Party that are moving to the middle, are out in front of that, they're visionaries because they see that coming. This is --

(CROSSTALK) MORGAN: Well, they cab see the way the wind is blowing. I agree.

JILLETTE: It's also pretty --

MORGAN: Penn, hold your thought. Let's take a quick break. I want to come back and ask you specifically about Bill O'Reilly. Even he is beginning to talk about same-sex marriage but he's accusing some of the more hardcore conservatives of thumping the bible, which I think is an interesting point for you as an atheist.



MORGAN: Back now with Penn Jillette, Billy Baldwin and Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway.

So you've had a bit of time to think about this. The thumping on the bible claim from Bill O'Reilly. Interesting that Bill O'Reilly was saying that, saying look, these issues may not be religious masses. They need to be addressed in a different way, perhaps, by the conservatives.

JILLETTE: Well, you know, you're always dealing with the -- with the god of the margins, you know, as compassion grows, as science grows, you just keep taking the bible less and less literally and that's good. And I think for all the sadness and all the persecution that gays have, and I know 50 years is a horrible amount of time if you're the victim, still changing these kind of views in a generation is something to celebrate.

And also we have to remember that the politicians are in no way leading this. They are following. The people have accepted other people and the politicians are scrambling to catch up. And I love when the -- politicians are scrambling to catch up with compassion.

MORGAN: I totally agree with you.

Let's turn to guns. I talked to Newt Gingrich earlier about this. It is a very volatile debate but it's a very disheartening one for those who want to see something happen to try and reduce the volume of guns in America, and the answer appears to be it's not going to happen. Only today, we heard about James Holmes, the Aurora shooter. New information coming out about him, including this devastating fact that his therapist, Dr. Lynn Fenton, reported him to University of Colorado police on June 12th, 2012, saying that he was, quote, "A danger to the public due to homicidal statements." He sent threatening text messages the same day she reported him to campus police.

The shooting happened on July the 20th. So just over five weeks later. By then, he threatened his therapist, access to university was cut off, but after that, he ordered 10 different deliveries of weapons via FedEx. The guy was able to do this perfectly legally. And still, people like Newt Gingrich, a man I greatly respect as a politician, telling me no, no, there's nothing we can do to stop this kind of thing.

Of course there damn well is.

CONWAY: Well, Piers --

MORGAN: Of course -- there's the warning sign.

CONWAY: He could have been stopped.

MORGAN: Kellyanne?

CONWAY: He -- Piers, he could have been stopped.

MORGAN: How would you stop him?

CONWAY: James Holmes could have been stopped had the police listened to his therapist who had actual knowledge --

MORGAN: Right.

CONWAY: -- that he was a clear and present danger but that's different than the discussion you had with Newt earlier. This particular shooter could have been stopped. It has nothing to do with extra laws on gun control. He could have been stopped before --

MORGAN: Let me ask you, Kellyanne. Kellyanne.

CONWAY: He totally went into that theater, he could have been stopped. And people looked the other way.

MORGAN: Kellyanne. Kellyanne.


MORGAN: Put aside -- put -- OK. Put aside the fact that he was flagged up by the therapist. Of course they should have done something about it and could have stopped it. But how did he get 6,000 rounds of ammunition? How did he get all this fire power, all these guns and everything else perfectly legitimately in a civilized society? How are you going to stop that, Kellyanne? How are you going to stop the next crazy shooter getting such easy access to this armory because I don't hear anything from most Republicans about how you stop these people getting these weapons.


BALDWIN: This is like when Zacarias Moussaoui took flying lessons and didn't want to learn how to -- for the plane to take off or the plane to land.

CONWAY: And nobody said anything.

BALDWIN: And that was reported to law enforcement officials and it didn't go through the chain of command. This was preventable, this should not have happened and there should be regulations, laws on the books to try to prevent this from happening. MORGAN: Kellyanne, tell me, how are you going to stop these people getting their hands on these weapons? Because at the moment, the NRA are winning the war. They don't want to have any background checks, any assault weapons ban, any high capacity magazine ban. Nothing. Zilch. Don't do anything. Until the next one.

CONWAY: You're making this about the NRA versus the people, when actually Barack Obama --

MORGAN: That's what it is.

CONWAY: Well, hold on. President Obama has made this his cause (INAUDIBLE), for three and a half months now and the trend lines and the polling, including CNN's polls, are going in the opposite direction. There's less support now --


CONWAY: -- for stronger gun control measures, and I think in part because people start to realize that what is being proposed in most places would not have stopped most of these killers. However, listening to the therapist who reported he had homicidal tendencies and she cut off his access, listening to her would have saved the lives of 12 people and the injuries of 58.

MORGAN: Well, yes, OK. Penn Jillette, so would stopping him getting such easy access. He had a 100-bullet magazine in that movie theater.


MORGAN: And an assault rifle, and 6,000 rounds of ammo. How much more does somebody have to do before America goes no, we're going to stop these people getting such easy access to this kind of fire power?

JILLETTE: The vast majority of people who have mental illness problems never hurt anybody. The vast majority don't even hurt themselves. The vast majority of people who have guns never hurt anybody. The problem is you're dealing with such tiny numbers of people and I'm not -- I don't in any way dismiss one death is too many, anything we can do to stop it --

MORGAN: What do you call tiny numbers?

JILLETTE: A tiny --

MORGAN: Hundreds of thousands Americans a year get hit by gunfire. Thirty thousand get killed by guns. Do you know how many have been killed by guns since Sandy Hook?

JILLETTE: Absolutely.

MORGAN: 3,240 I think it is. Since Sandy Hook.

JILLETTE: You're confusing two different things, though. You're lumping together the mass murders which are very, very rare and --

MORGAN: But mass shootings are escalating in a dramatic way since 2007. Many more of them happening and the scale of them, massively higher. Aurora was the single worst shooting involving one shooter and the number of people he hit in American history.


MORGAN: Sandy Hook, the worst school shooting in American history.

JILLETTE: And if you're going to talk about that, you can't bring in all the handguns and all the --

MORGAN: I agree. But what --

JILLETTE: That's a separate issue.

MORGAN: I agree. But in the same you --


JILLETTE: But every time you make this --

MORGAN: But, Penn, you've got to make it more difficult for these people.

JILLETTE: But every time --

MORGAN: You've got to stop the criminals getting the handguns.

JILLETTE: Every time you --

MORGAN: You've got to stop the mass shooters getting assault rifles. Haven't you?

JILLETTE: Every time you make this argument, every time you make it, the -- what you do is you start with the mass murderers, and then you will ask how many gun shootings there are.

MORGAN: Well, some of them --


JILLETTE: And those are two very, very different things.

MORGAN: Billy -- I am angry about this because I see nothing happening.

BALDWIN: You've been out in front of this. And I applaud you --

MORGAN: Nothing is happening.

JILLETTE: You're conflating --

BALDWIN: Listen, in the 1980s, I testified for -- in the '90s I testified for Lieberman with Hilary Rosen and Jack Valenti on violence in the media. And the entertainment industry hid behind the First Amendment to -- to line their pockets with billions of dollars in profits and they stepped up. We have a rating system for television, we have a rating system for video games, we have a rating system for movies and for music.

And that's exactly what the gun industry and the NRA are doing now. They're hiding behind the Second Amendment to line their pockets with profits. They're selling hundreds of millions of weapons worldwide and they're making billions of dollars in profits, and that's what it's all about.


CONWAY: Hold on.

MORGAN: Kellyanne, let me ask --

JILLETTE: No evidence whatsoever.

CONWAY: Some of the Democratic senators -- what are they hiding behind? Some --


BALDWIN: I don't think it's a Republican --

CONWAY: The Democrats --

MORGAN: I completely --

CONWAY: The Senate, they won't pass anything.

MORGAN: I totally agree with you.

JILLETTE: That's fine. That's fine.


CONWAY: They're hiding behind re-election.

MORGAN: There are 77 --

JILLETTE: I agree with you. There was no violence in entertainment, none, zero. There is the artistic depiction of violence. You cannot call --

BALDWIN: No. No. You're missing the point of what I said. Why would you not want -- we're changing the subject but why would you not -- they thought Tipper Gore was a crackpot.



BALDWIN: No. No -- you don't -- why not give a parent all the tools you can to protect their child from music or a video game or a television show --

JILLETTE: Giving the parents tools is different -- from the phrase you used, hiding behind the First Amendment.

BALDWIN: Yes, they were --

JILLETTE: The First Amendment is a wonderful thing.

BALDWIN: They were trying to say we don't want a rating system because --


JILLETTE: The depiction of violence in art, the depiction of violence in art has not --

BALDWIN: I have no problem -- I have no problem with the violence being there. Just rate it so I can make an educated decision.

JILLETTE: There is no violence in there. It's the depiction of violence.

BALDWIN: Right. I have no problem --

JILLETTE: That can be done privately.

BALDWIN: I have no problem --

JILLETTE: It's just not to be done by Tipper Gore.


MORGAN: Guys, guys, we're going to hold it there. Just take a quick break and come back for more. This is getting lively. I like it.


MORGAN: Back with my all-star panel. Never quite had a commercial break where the debate continues in an even more aggressive manner.


A lot of tweets coming in to me @Piersmorgan, saying let Penn Jillette finish what he's saying. Here's what I ask of you the question. What is the difference, ideologically, between all the rules and regulations concerning buying alcohol, buying a car, selling a car to somebody else and so on, and guns? Why shouldn't guns be regulated exactly the same way as cars, alcohol, tobacco?

JILLETTE: Well, you're not talking about whether they should be regulated or not.

MORGAN: We are. JILLETTE: No, we're not.

MORGAN: At the moment 40 percent of all gun sales in America, nobody has a clue who is selling them to who. It's complete madness.

JILLETTE: But do you think that the shootings you're talking about, which are, as you've said, the majority are gang. The majority are handguns. Do you believe those will be stopped by background checks?

MORGAN: No. But how could you have happen what happened at Sandy Hook 20 young children blown to pieces. And the answer is, according to Kellyanne -- I want to come back to Kellyanne, be fair to you.

JILLETTE: There's no one --

MORGAN: Kellyanne, do any of the proposals that you've heard about controlling gun violence in America, do you support anything that would actually reduce the number of guns in circulation?

CONWAY: Yes -- well, I support true background checks that allow us to know who has the gun, meaning without registering them because that doesn't work. I mean, Michigan has had a law since 1927. You have to register -- you have to have a permit for a handgun. And have you seen Detroit lately? So I'm for true background checks and true knowing who has the gun if it's -- and knowing about that person who wants a gun.

Here's a great example, Piers. You know, the HIPAA laws and all these privacy laws about our medical conditions mean that I, as a gun seller, could do a background check on somebody who wants a gun, but there's no way I have any access to know that that person actually is mentally ill, which has been the pattern with some of these most recent shooters that you point out.

So, I, as a mother of four children ages 8, 8, 5 and 3, you're damn well right that I want to know about these people who are there with guns but I have yet to see --

MORGAN: OK. But --

CONWAY: -- how we'll accomplish that.

MORGAN: Billy -- OK, but Billy, you know, I know there's a cultural thing in America. I know many people believe the Second Amendment entitles them to have just about any gun they like. I also know there are lots of gun control laws already in existence in America. I can't walk around with a machine gun. There are already bans on many of these things. I don't understand -- answer your point, Penn, why given the last five mass shootings in America all involve these AR-15 assault rifles, why are they still available to any other deranged persons in America at places like Wal-Mart? Why?

BALDWIN: Well, this is why we're having this debate. I mean, when I talk to my friends that are -- that are, you know, anti-gun control, and I say, do you want to keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons, violent felons? Yes. Mentally ill, yes. Children, yes. And I said, we're 90 percent of the way there. You agree with almost everything that I want. Now we have to define AK-47 and clips with 30 weapons and weapons that fire -- 20, 30 rounds in a burst.

Do you need that to protect your home and your family and your land?


BALDWIN: Can you -- can you deal with that with a couple of handguns, a couple of high-powered hunting rifles --

MORGAN: Your final point and make it quick.

JILLETTE: You have to -- mental health records being kept sealed is absolutely important.

MORGAN: I totally agree.


MORGAN: I totally agree. Listen, it's a fascinating debate. It will keep going because, at the moment, the politicians are doing nothing. I find it scandalous.

CONWAY: Yes. Democrats for sure.

MORGAN: Scandalous. Anyway, Kellyanne, Billy, Penn, thank you all very much.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

MORGAN: That was a great debate. And we'll be back after the break.


MORGAN: Tomorrow night we got actor Jeremy Piven. He's comparing his latest role to the new "Downton Abbey" with his role in "Entourage" as Ari Gold. But nobody, least of all me, will ever forget.

That's Jeremy Piven, tomorrow night.

We also have the Lance Bass interview (INAUDIBLE) tonight. That will be tomorrow night as well. And Ryan Phillippe. So a good bag of big stars for tomorrow night's show. That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts at 11:00. Now let's "GET TO THE POINT."