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PIERS MORGAN LIVE
North Korea Crisis Heats Up; Texas College Stabbing; Interview with Senators Murphy, Blumenthal
Aired April 9, 2013 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Thanks, Anderson.
We've got much more coming up on Gabby Giffords and one of her closest friends, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wassermann Schultz.
I want to welcome my studio audience and all of you at home, for a special PIERS MORGAN LIVE, taking your questions and comments. Tweet us @piersmorganlive or straight to me, @Piersmorgan.
But we begin with the breaking news on North Korea. Pyongyang could launch a missile any minute now with absolutely no warning. I talked to a woman who knows just how dangerous and unpredictable the regime could be. She was held prisoner for 140 days, only got out when Bill Clinton intervened.
Euna Lee is the author of "The World is Big Enough," and she's here along with CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour. But I want to start by going first to Kyung Lah who is in Seoul.
Kyung, what is the latest? I believe it's now tomorrow as far as we're concerned where you are, which means this could be the day that a missile is unleashed. Is that your belief it will happen today?
KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the belief of the South Korean Presidential Office. They believe that because April 10th is the date that's been cited by Pyongyang in a couple of other bulletins, they really believe that it is going to happen on April 10th. If you look at the pattern of when North Korea has done these previous launches, they have always been in the morning time so the indication from the government is that they believe now is the highest probability of a potential missile launch.
Something I should mention, though, Piers, is that normally the South Korean Oceans and Fisheries Department is notified prior to any sort of launch. This time around, they weren't notified. You can read this two ways, either they're not going to do the launch right away or they're going to do it without any notification, which really tells us a little bit more about the unpredictability of Kim Jong-Un.
MORGAN: I've got a question actually from an audience member here, Eunju, which is relevant I think for you, Kyung, because you're over in Seoul at the moment. What is your question?
EUNJU, SOUTH KOREAN AUDIENCE MEMBER: I'm a South Korean citizen. And we've been living with numerous threats from North Korea for over the past 50 years. So is the current threat different or is it even different from the ones in the past?
MORGAN: It's a good point, isn't it, Kyung? I mean, there have been so many of these saber-rattling threats. But there is a feeling, Dick Cheney apparently briefed Republicans today, that he felt and his quote, "We could be in deep doo-doo," in this situation because of the unpredictability of a new young -- young leader in North Korea. What is the sense you're getting form the people of Seoul?
LAH: It's two-fold. One is that you're right, people who live in South Korea, they're used to being told that they're going to be burnt down into a sea of fire. That's something that's normally said out of North Korea. They're numbed to it. So there isn't any sort of panic or extreme alarm from people of South Korea.
Here's what is different. What is different is that the threats from Pyongyang are now coming from that young unpredictable leader, he is untested. We simply don't know him. The rules are very different. We have a president in South Korea who is a woman, also untested. The first woman to lead a country that has been traditionally very male oriented. So the players are different.
But also the threats are different. They have been rapid fire, day after day after day. There's been a ratcheting up. There has been a rapid fire progression of them. Back now what appears to be the good old days of Kim Jong-Il, they were -- they were a little more spaced out so it's a bit more unpredictable.
Put all of those factors together and the fact that they're speaking now more directly to the United States, this is a bit of a different game. Even though South Koreans, Piers, may feel more numbed to it than the international community.
MORGAN: Kyung Lah, thank you very much indeed.
Christiane Amanpour, you've covered this for a long time. How serious do you think it is? Is it any different or do you detect it may be different?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think for all the reasons that Kyung says, it's different mostly because nobody quite knows how Kim Jong-Un is going to react, and unlike his father and his grandfather, when one of these provocations is ratcheted up, they seemed, according to the U.S., to know how to get off, how to get on the off ramp. They're not sure whether this young leader does. So that's the unpredictability.
You know, there's been a lot of fear about his nuclear threats. There's not a single official anywhere, South Korea, the United States, Japan, anybody who I've spoken to, with a shred of credibility who believes there's any chance of any nuclear device being launched any way any how. But the question is what will they do with their missile test. Now it's sort of taken as a given, kind of that it's going to happen, they don't know when, will it be today, the 10th, will it be the 15th of April, which is the founder of North Korea's birthday? When will it be?
And what will happen? Will it be a missile fired as a test, in an open area, in water, in some where that's unpopulated that doesn't create any harm or anything, in which case the United States today in testimony on Capitol Hill, the Pacific Command admiral said that he would recommend not shooting such a missile down.
Things change. If the missile is directed in anger at an ally, South Korea, Japan, Guam, and then they would -- they would have to shoot that down.
MORGAN: Euna, you have a unique perspective on this. Obviously you've been held in North Korea. What is your take on the current crisis?
EUNA LEE, AUTHOR, "THE WORLD IS BIGGER NOW": Well, as Christiane said, we -- this is a new leader and we really don't know if he is the power, the main power or who is the power, you know, behind him. If you understand Korean history, Korea, 5,000 of Korean history, they deal with invasion after invasion and they really do not like to deal with or controlled by a stronger or bigger country.
And it is important for North Korea to portray themselves that it is independently strong country that can protect its citizens.
AMANPOUR: And they are, by all accounts, by U.S. official accounts as well, desperate about their survival. They really do worry about their survival. They see regimes being toppled left and right all over the world. They know that they're just in an armistice, and not in a full peace with the United States and South Korea. And so they are worried. The question is, how do you achieve some kind of resolution to this?
Well, the United States is relying to a great deal on China. Secretary Kerry is going to be there at the end of this week. Many top U.S. officials are going to China to try to figure out how --
MORGAN: Can China do enough, do you think?
AMANPOUR: Well, apparently the U.S. says no, not enough yet. It has regretted publicly what North Korea's doing. There's a huge move in the Chinese public media and public sphere saying gosh, you know, really, is it worth us sticking to this wayward ally? But the Chinese army is, you know, quite committed to it so the new leader of China, according to U.S. officials, has to be persuaded that it's in China's interest as well as the whole region's interest to bring North Korea into line.
MORGAN: Final question for you, Euna. When you were on the North side, what is your experience of the North Koreans by comparison to the South Koreans? LEE: Well, if I recall my detention in Pyongyang, I thought North Korea, when you talked to (INAUDIBLE), with their pride intact. And, you know, in the evening news, they start the evening news with a comment from their allies how great their leader is. It was very important for them to show saving face and then respect.
LEE: From other countries to its citizens.
MORGAN: Well, certainly a tense time. But we shall see how it unfolds. Thank you both very much indeed for coming today.
And I want to turn to the stabbing rampage on a Texas college campus today. Fourteen people were injured. Two of them are in critical condition tonight.
And joining me now two students at the Lone Star College, brothers Jonathan and Jon Paul Clayton, said they could have prevented the bloodshed with a hand gun. And on the phone is student Michael Chalfan, he's also Texas State -- also a Texas State Senator Dan Patrick, who is also in favor of concealed firearms on campuses.
So welcome to you all. Let me start, if I may, with Michael Chalfan, because you actually witnessed what happened today. What did you see?
MICHAEL CHALFAN, STUDENT, LONE STAR COLLEGE (via phone): Well, I saw a male running toward me when a guy by the name of Stephen Media, if I got that correct, tackled him to the ground and while others helped out and police also helped out as well. So basically, simultaneously they all came and wrestled him to the ground with really no -- I would say no hesitation from him.
MORGAN: Did you see the weapon he was using?
CHALFAN: No. I did not see it. I was about 20 to 30 feet away, so I didn't see a clear view of it. But I do remember them wrestling him to the ground. He didn't struggle a lot. He just kind of gave up.
MORGAN: Let me turn to you, Jonathan and Jon Paul. Although you didn't see the incident, you have quite strong views about how you think you should be empowered to deal with this kind of thing. Tell me what you think should happen.
JONATHAN CLAYTON, STUDENT AT LONE STAR COLLEGE: Well, sir, I think that -- you know that we as students, are -- I mean, we are adults and the government does not permit us to have -- carry weapons even, sir, even if you have the certificates and certification to carry a handgun. I think that law should be changed for protection.
MORGAN: So you basically both think --
JON PAUL CLAYTON, STUDENT AT LONE STAR COLLEGE: I agree.
MORGAN: Right. You both think that you should be allowed to carry guns at school?
JON PAUL CLAYTON: Yes, sir. If you're properly trained and have the certifications and all the legal papers, because 99.9 percent of all gun owners are legal, abiding citizens.
MORGAN: Right. But you do have armed -- you do have armed security guards there, right?
JON PAUL CLAYTON: Correct.
JONATHAN CLAYTON: Yes, sir, we do. We have our own police officers here.
MORGAN: Where were they?
JONATHAN CLAYTON: They are -- they are all throughout the campus, sir, but since there's about I'm guessing around eight of them, if I remember correctly, sir, and there's a couple hundred or thousand students on campus at one time during this, so eight officers can't guard and protect everyone on campus.
MORGAN: You see my argument would be that far from -- with respect -- allowing all the students to carry guns, which I think would descend the school into total Wild West madness, isn't there an argument that this could have been a lot worse if the -- if the person carrying the knife had had a gun? I mean, they'd all be dead, these students. So although it's been used as an argument by people like yourselves in favor of more guns, I would argue it's a -- it's a compelling situation where if there had been more guns, more people would have been dead.
JON PAUL CLAYTON: Well, I can respect your argument, Mr. Piers. Really, this is the only places we cannot legally carry a gun if you have the proper permits is college campuses, post offices and airports, and now airports, you can legally carry knives and stuff, but then you can't even carry a knife legally on a college campus? And this -- this particular incident didn't even involve a gun, but would allow us to protect ourselves just like we can anywhere else. So the law --
MORGAN: But don't you think -- don't you think --
JON PAUL CLAYTON: Thirty rounds in this place.
MORGAN: Let me ask you both, don't you think -- I mean, how old are you both?
CHALFAN: I'm 22, sir.
JONATHAN CLAYTON: I'm 20 years old.
JON PAUL CLAYTON: I'm 26 years old.
MORGAN: OK. I mean, do you not think if all the students are armed, though, that the kind of day-to-day conflict which goes on on all schools and college campuses could very quickly escalate into much more dangerous situations if everybody had a gun?
JONATHAN CLAYTON: Well, we're not saying everybody should have a gun. I'm saying that --
CHALFAN: I agree but that shouldn't stop somebody from carrying a gun.
MORGAN: You're not saying everyone should -- how many should have guns?
JONATHAN CLAYTON: Anyone that's permitted and goes through the right training, sir, I think should be able to carry a gun. Long as they go through the proper government safety laws, sir. And get the training.
JON PAUL CLAYTON: And get -- and get the certifications that all gun owners are required to have to have a concealed hand gun permit on their person.
JONATHAN CLAYTON: On their person.
MORGAN: OK. Dan Patrick, let me come to you. Do you agree with this?
DAN PATRICK (R), TEXAS STATE SENATOR: Yes. In fact, I thought you were going to have a new issue tonight, Piers. I thought you would want banning of knives all over America because you have wanted to ban guns and let's in a very serious mode, Piers --
MORGAN: See, why would you --
PATRICK: Thank God --
MORGAN: Why would you start the conversation by being so completely facetious?
PATRICK: Because actually the way you've been thinking about the whole gun issue, I found just totally out of touch with reality.
MORGAN: I know. It's crazy, isn't it?
MORGAN: It's crazy that I think that 100,000 Americans being shot a year is out of control.
MORGAN: Crazy, I think the 30,000 Americans who kill themselves every year or shoot others with guns is out of control. Call me crazy. I think it's absolutely shameful. So I want to try and reduce the gun violence, not increase it.
PATRICK: Yes. Well, you don't reduce, you don't reduce gun violence or any violence by taking guns away from law-abiding citizens.
MORGAN: No. You actually do. You actually do.
PATRICK: You should have figured that out by now, first of all.
MORGAN: No, no, you really do.
PATRICK: Secondly --
MORGAN: If you go to Japan or Britain or Australia or a number of other countries I could name where they have very strict gun control laws, it is so difficult to get your hands on guns, you don't have the gun violence. It is a proven demonstrable fact.
PATRICK: Yes. Well, this is America. This is -- yes. Well, this is America and our Constitution gives us the right to bear arms. This is not Tokyo. This is not Finland. This is not whatever other country you want to talk about, Piers. This is the United States of America. And in America, where law-abiding citizens have guns, crime is down, like in Texas.
MORGAN: But I've got a lot of Americans in this audience who are all shaking their heads on what you're saying. So how do you equate that?
PATRICK: Well, they -- well, they're probably northeast liberals who don't understand --
But in Texas -- but in Texas, but in Texas --
MORGAN: Actually -- well, actually half an hour -- well, actually -- as you know, we are half an hour from Newtown. We are half an hour from Newtown.
PATRICK: That's fine. In Texas, in Texas, we believe in defending our families and our properties with guns and crime is down. In Chicago, where you have some of the toughest laws against guns, crime is up and I wouldn't want to be out on the streets in Chicago. I'll be out on the streets in Houston or Dallas and San Antonio and feel safe.
And secondly, Piers, thank God this young man did not have a gun today. Think about the massacre that could have been stopped if another student had had a gun. And my guess is if this student with the knife had known that people with the CHL, law-abiding citizens had a gun, he wouldn't have stabbed 12 or 14 people today.
We just had a gun class this past weekend in Dallas offered to schoolteachers. It was free. Seven hundred schoolteachers came out to take advantage of this course.
Piers, CHL holders are responsible gun owners. All the things you're saying about there would be the Wild West, that's what they said back in the '90s when Texas passed this law. There will be road rage, there will be barroom fights, there will be, you know, neighbors shooting each other over a noisy dog.
None of that, Piers, has ever happened. It hasn't happened. I -- my heart breaks for what has happened in America, whether a college or an elementary or a high school campus. It could happen anywhere.
But in Texas we believe we have a right to defend our life, our property and the lives of a third party if we could help them.
MORGAN: OK. Got to leave it there. Thank you all very much.
Very quickly, Christiane Amanpour, I can see you reacting to that debate.
What is your view? Because you've in proper war zones around the world.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Well, look, I mean, this debate has been going on for a long time. The fact of the matter is that in states inside the United States where there are tougher gun laws, there is lower gun crime.
And I think you are right in saying that, in these other countries which have had their own massacres which then took these measures, there has been very little if not any gun crime.
So I think that is -- that is a real fact and I'm watching it on my own program; we know that Thursday is going to be the real showdown day in the U.S. Capitol to see how the Congress reacts; Newtown families are there. They have been talking about it.
And they're very committed to sensible gun control, not taking away people's rights to have the guns that they're allowed to have. But look, even the Columbine massacre, they say, wouldn't have happened had there been these background checks, so the third person would not have been able to buy these guns.
MORGAN: (Inaudible) to me, just believing the obvious. And the ideas all come down just to that to me is offensive to those families in Newtown.
But let's take a break.
Coming up, Harry Reid (inaudible) get us any vote on guns this week, filibuster or no filibuster. I will talk to various people about that.
And also Gabby Giffords in a remarkable interview that she conducted earlier. So we'll have a lot more on guns after the break.
MORGAN: She's resilient and improving every day, but Gabby Giffords' life will never be the same after being shot in the head in Arizona two years ago. She and her husband, Mark Kelly, are front and center in the battle for gun control.
In a moving interview with (inaudible) CNN's Dana Bash, why trying to pass a new law is so difficult.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. MARK KELLY, GIFFORDS' HUSBAND: It's tough.
GABRIELLE GIFFORDS, FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN: It's tough.
KELLY: It can be a tough issue and that's because of the influence --
KELLY: -- of the NRA, you know, and the gun lobby.
DANA BASH, SR. U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And what do you think about the NRA's argument that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun?
GIFFORDS: It doesn't work. It doesn't work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Joining me now is Congresswoman Debbie Wassermann Schultz, a good friend of Gabby Giffords and the chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Welcome back to you, Debbie.
It was a very, very moving interview and fascinating in many ways because you have this scene of Mark Kelly firing a very similar Glock gun to the one that obviously was used to shoot Gabby, and she sort of slightly jumps when he does it, but they both say that they are gun owners and they like guns. And this is not what their campaign is about.
Tell me more about their philosophy on this.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, CHAIR, DNC: Sure. I mean, Gabby and Mark have been strong supporters of the Second Amendment and active gun owners for many, many years, but they have balanced that, particularly with her experience of having been shot in Tucson, with common sense support for making sure that people who shouldn't be able to get a gun can't get one.
So they support closing all the loopholes and making sure we have universal background checks. They support making sure that assault weapon like an AR-15 can't be accessed and doesn't need to be accessed in order to make sure that you have a right under the Second Amendment to own a gun.
They support making sure that we limit high-capacity magazines and not allow somebody to have any more than 10 rounds in a magazine so that we can reduce the likelihood.
We know we'll never totally eliminate it, but these are 90-10 issues in America for a reason, because like when I drove my three beautiful children to school this morning and dropped them off and -- at the bus stop and at the carpool line, moms and dads across America want to know that the bad people who shouldn't have guns can't get them and that the law prohibits them and will work to make sure they can't get them.
MORGAN: I mean, I totally agree with everything you just said, as does the President of the United States, as do a lot of reasonable people in this country.
But it looks to me like very little of what you would like to happen or I would like to happen is actually going to happen.
The assault weapons ban has already disappeared. The high- capacity magazines has disappeared. We're left now with a squabble over background checks, which will end up being diluted. I mean, really in the end, where have we gone? I mean, the promises made to the families in Newtown seem to me to have fallen on spectacularly deaf ears.
SCHULTZ: You know, Piers, I know that you in your heart have angst about that, and I do, too, but having served 20 years as a legislator, I have learned over time that you can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
And in the legislative process, sometimes we have to embrace the fact that we can get something significant done even if it's not everything we want.
So I can tell you two years ago, after -- I can't tell you how badly my heart was broken after Gabby was shot, but I can tell you then that I was not at all sure, in fact, was convinced that we wouldn't be able to get anything done, particularly not background checks or anything that looked like restrictions on gun ownership and making sure that we could prevent people who shouldn't have them, couldn't get guns. And now we have background checks within our grasp.
We just need a few Republican senators to use their head to embrace common sense and to embrace the 90 percent of Americans and moms and dads across the country who drop their kids off at school every morning so that they can know comfortably that it is much less likely in America that a bad person can't get a gun, not that we're putting more guns in the hands of people who shouldn't have them.
Finally, very quickly, Debbie, if you don't mind, this filibuster nonsense, and I use that word very deliberately, the idea that 14 Republican senators are basically signed up to refusing to even allow a vote on gun control, it makes me puke, to be perfectly honest with you. What is your reaction to it?
SCHULTZ: It's disgusting. It's unconscionable and it shows how cowardly they are, because the reason they won't give Gabby Giffords a vote, the folks in Aurora a vote, the people of Columbine and Newtown a vote, is because they're afraid, because they don't want to face the 90 percent of Americans who support making sure we can close those loopholes and prevent bad people from getting guns.
They don't want to stand up to the NRA. They don't have the nerve and they only care about their own ability to get re-elected and their political power. They don't care about protecting people in America from people who would do them harm with a gun.
MORGAN: It is utter political and moral cowardice. Anyway, Debbie Wasserman Schultz --
SCHULTZ: It's immoral.
MORGAN: Thank you very much for joining me.
SCHULTZ: Thank you.
MORGAN: Coming next, Connecticut senators on their push for gun control and some smart people here in my studio with very different views on guns in America. And you can tweet your questions and comments to us @PiersMorganLive with me @PiersMorgan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: Sometimes people in a fit of passion will purchase a handgun to do bad things with it, Mr. President, even as my dad did, kill themselves. Waiting a few days helps. Requiring a simple background check every time a gun is sold is common sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP) MORGAN: An emotional and personal appeal from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on universal background checks.
Here with me now, Connecticut's two senators, who say if their colleagues won't take a stand on gun control, it will be nothing short of insulting and outrageous to the memory of the victims of Newtown.
Joining me now are Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy.
Gentlemen, before we start with you guys, I think we should read out the names of these senators who signed up to this filibuster. Let's name and shame these people: Senator Mitch McConnell, Senator Rand Paul, Senator Lee, Senator Cruz, Senator Rubio, Senator Inhofe, Senator Moran, Senator Burr, Senator Johnson, Senator Enzi, Senator Rich, Senator Crapo and Senator Coates. Shame on all of you. And Senator Roberts.
I really find it completely outrageous that over something as important as this, these characters would sign up to basically refuse to allow a vote. What is your reaction as to -- senators, to this letter?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: My reaction is the American people are going to be very aghast and deeply angry if a handful, small group of United States senators block a vote. The president has said that the Newtown victims as well as the victims of Aurora and of Virginia Tech and Columbine deserve a vote. And so do the American people.
And I'm confident that if there is a vote, we will be on the right side of history. Obviously the ban on illegal trafficking, strengthening school safety, as well as a national criminal background check are essential. And Senator Murphy and I are going to be championing a ban on high capacity magazines and joining and supporting a ban on assault weapons.
So we have the core of a very, very viable package that the American people will welcome and that will make us safer as a nation.
MORGAN: But, Senator Murphy, how is any of this going to happen? I mean, it can happen in individual states like Connecticut. And I applaud you guys for doing what you've been doing there. But how is this going to happen nationally when there's absolutely zero interest in making this happen from a bunch of cowardly politicians who want to protect their own backyards?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, listen, there's zero interest amongst 14 members of the Senate. But 14 members of the Senate can't stop this debate from proceeding. Today we had about an equal number of Republicans come out and say that they were going to oppose a filibuster. So we're confident that we're going to be able to win the votes to proceed to a debate.
But frankly, it's a debate on a bill that's not really a debate out there in the public. I mean, 90 percent of Americans want universal background checks. The only place where this is controversial is here in the United States Senate. We're hoping to get an agreement in the next day or so on universal background checks so we can proceed to a conversation about a ban on these high capacity clips that the Newtown families are here pushing for.
I think we're going to get to this debate next week. But it can't just be a debate on universal background checks. We need to start talking about some of the root causes of the tragedy in Newtown.
MORGAN: Well, senators, I applaud for the work you're doing. It's incredibly important. Please keep going. Thank you for joining me.
MORGAN: You've heard from the senators. Now let's hear from my guests here in the studio, Abby Huntsman of HuffPost Live, Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway, Marc Lamont Hill, a professor at Columbia University and also of HuffPost Live. It's a HuffPost Live festival here. And former Republican Congressman Steve Latourette.
Welcome to you all. Steve Latourette, where do you sit with all this?
STEVE LATOURETTE, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Tonight I sit in Chicago, and I'm a little nervous based upon what the guy in Texas said, to tell you the truth.
LATOURETTE: I hope I have the opportunity to see safe streets. I tell you, you know, we've talked about this before. It was interesting to listen to Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She talks about the perfect not being the enemy of the good. But then you have this overheated rhetoric.
I'm going to tell you that the right thing to do is to do the universal background checks. It's recognized by the Supreme Court as a reasonable restriction on the Second Amendment. People would go for it. But some people want to continue to have the issue. For instance, Mike Thompson, Democrat from California, recently said, you know, one of the reasons we're having trouble getting conservative Democrats is because of the overheated rhetoric from the left.
So this is not rocket science. You have to do the doable. What's doable this week in the Senate and the House are universal background checks.
MORGAN: OK. Kellyanne, it seems to me imminently sensible. Why wouldn't there just be unanimity on a universal background check? Why shouldn't we know who the hell is selling guns to who?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You're presuming that they are universal background checks that will work. Everybody wants universal background checks that will work.
MORGAN: Do you? CONWAY: Yes.
MORGAN: So you want universal background checks.
CONWAY: Of course, and ones that will work. The ones that we currently have in place, Piers, have been woefully, painfully, poorly executed. In 2010 -- of course it's all government data -- 76,000 people were denied a firearm purchase as a result of failing a background check. Of the 76,000, 44 were arrested, 13 were actually prosecuted.
MORGAN: Right. Here's my point to that. I totally agree they should enforce the law better. I agree with that. But on the other hand, 70,000 odd people were barred from getting the weapon. That's a start. It's better than nothing, isn't it?
CONWAY: It's a start. But we don't want to do things that just make us feel better. We want to do things that work and actually protect our children, including my four. Let me just make a comment. I'm so happy. It's great to see you, Congressman Latourette. I'm so happy that he said what he said because I just was astonished here at Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz blaming Republicans who are worried about their re-election win.
I will gladly give this seat up next time you invite me to Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, to Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, both who are Democrats who are -- fear their own re-election prospects this year and are absolutely --
MORGAN: I totally agree with you, by the way.
CONWAY: They are cowards worried about their reelection.
MORGAN: There are six or seven Democratic senators who are utterly gutless, too, about this. Because, you see, my definition of gutless is not that they don't agree with me or the president. It's that they're voting against their conscience and everybody knows it.
ABBY HUNTSMAN, HUFFPOST LIVE: -- not doing what's right for the country. I actually disagree with you. I think that comes down to a number of politicians that are, frankly, more concerned about the re- election than they are about what is right for this country. It's really unfortunate.
You look at Mitch McConnell, for example. I mean, this is a guy who is running for re-election in Kentucky. He could very well be challenged by someone who is further to the right than he is. That's his challenge. He's not concerned about what the country wants, 91 percent of the country wants. He's concerned about his constituency. It's --
CONWAY: That's really unfair to Senator McConnell.
MARC LAMONT HILL, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: I agree. I don't think it's fair to Mitch either.
MORGAN: Why be fair to him? Mitch McConnell signed up on this letter and he doesn't want the people of Newtown to even have a vote. It's outrageous.
HILL: Hold on, piers. That's not the point. He might actually believe it. I disagree with him profoundly. But let's not assume that everybody is operating in bad faith. If we want to have a real conversation, then we can't assume that everyone who disagrees with us --
MORGAN: To not even allow a vote on something like gun control after what happened at Sandy Hook? I'm sorry, that is shameful.
HUNTSMAN: He's not even allowing for a conversation. If you're putting up a filibuster, you're not allowing the conversation to happen.
CONWAY: Harry Reid runs the Senate. Harry Reid couldn't get a vote by his Democratically controlled Senate last month on assault weapons. OK? So let's just be honest about the facts and figures here. Senator McConnell is the minority leader in the United States Senate. He does not have the majority.
And Senator Murphy is telling us the truth from Connecticut. He just told you, Piers, that this filibuster will fail because there will be enough votes, cloture, to end the filibuster. It will go to a vote. But people who filibuster like Senator Rand last month that really captured everybody's imagination when he filibustered on drones, he actually got Attorney General Holder to answer the question.
MORGAN: We know why? Because he made a good point and most people agreed with him. On this one, 90 percent of the American people want background checks.
HILL: It doesn't matter, though.
MORGAN: Yes, it matters.
HILL: Here's why it doesn't matter, Piers.
MORGAN: Hold your thought. Hold your response. Because I want you to think about it doesn't matter that 90 percent of Americans agree with something and you don't.
We'll come back after the break with more on this, a bit of North Korea, some other hot issues and some questions from my lively audience tonight.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MORGAN: Back with my live audience and very outspoken, opinionated panel group, Abby Huntsman, Kellyanne Conway, Marc Lamont Hill and Steven Latourette. Marc, we left the viewers on a cliffhanger there.
HILL: Tell me why you were wrong.
MORGAN: You said it didn't matter that 90 percent of the American people want universal background checks. It's unimportant?
HILL: Yes, it's unimportant. Let me preface this by saying I actually support universal background checks. I support reasonable gun control. I don't want to be positioned as the gun nut here. However, we don't want to win this argument by the wrong means.
There was a time when 91 percent of people opposed gay marriage. There was a time when 91 percent of people opposed civil rights. Just because a lot of Americans want it doesn't mean it's right. Right after 9/11, 90 percent of people supported the Patriot Act that we all didn't want. Let's not win this argument by the wrong means. And let's not put gun supporters in a box as crazy and unreasonable.
HUNTSMAN: Isn't this just common sense gun proposals that we're talking about? We're not talking about assault weapons. We're not talking about the size of magazines.
CONWAY: What part is common sense? What part? Tell us specifically.
HUNTSMAN: Someone who is criminal or mentally ill --
MORGAN: How can they be right if 40 percent of gun trades in America, nobody has a clue who is selling to who? How can that be --
CONWAY: But Obama keeps using that statistic. It was discredited by the actual professor who ran the poll.
HILL: Let's say it's 10 percent. It's still a bad number.
CONWAY: Regardless of the facts. The point is that I want to know if I held up the Senate version of the bill to you right now, Abby, what part of it deals with mental health, the kind of mental illness that Adam Lanza had?
HILL: It is implicitly part of the legislation.
CONWAY: Implicitly? It's either in there or it's not. MORGAN: Let me take a question from the audience. Let's go to Deb because you have a pretty powerful question, but I think it needs to be asked.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- do you think it would have, if any, if a parent of a child who was killed in Newtown -- what impact, if any, do you think it would have on Congress or America at large?
MORGAN: Let me go to Steven Latourette first on it. It's a very interesting point, because although it's an emotive point to make, there has been a parallel on another issue recently when we had Senator Rob Portman who did a complete U-turn on gay marriage and gay rights because his son said dad, I'm gay. So when you have a personal connection or the American people will be exposed to the hideous photographs of those poor children, I think it would change things.
LATOURETTE: Yeah. I think having a personal connection obviously would make a difference. Senator Portman had a difficult set of circumstances, then he came out, in my opinion, on the right side of the equation. But I feel a little outgunned here. I know that's a bad expression. But I'm here in Chicago, dangerous Chicago. Everybody's there with you.
I will tell you that the 90 percent thing, you know, it's a Republican form of democracy that protects us from running off and doing things that 50, 60, 80 percent of the American people want us to do. So I agree with that point.
But I want to go back, Piers. The very first time I appeared on your show, I said this is the solution and we need to find the solution. I'm glad you've now come to my point of view.
MORGAN: But Steven, on the point raised by Deb from the audience there, would it make a difference, do you think, to public opinion in the way that we saw the civil rights debate change dramatically when victims of the Klan were photographed? And then you had the Vietnam War debate change dramatically when you had the hideous pictures of American troops and so on. Would it change things?
LATOURETTE: I got to tell you, any senator or member of the House of Representatives that isn't very familiar with what happened in Newtown and Columbine and Aurora has been living in a cave some place. I mean, people get it. But what -- you have to find what Chuck Schumer calls the sweet spot. You have to do the doable. And the doable always was the universal background check.
And where I have to -- although I have great respect for Kellyanne, just because background check isn't perfect, it's a little bit like the e-verify argument that just because we catch a few people we aren't supposed to catch doesn't mean it isn't worth the effort. We're a smart enough country to get this right.
MORGAN: Let me ask actually on that point, Kellyanne. What I don't understand is this. Why is it that Americans are quite happy to have a full registry of car purchase and car ownership but not guns? What is the big deal? Even if the universal background check did lead to some form of database of who owns guns, what the hell's wrong with that?
CONWAY: I'm just going to venture a couple guesses. One is that cars kill more people than guns by about three-fold, according to FBI statistics.
MORGAN: The car's primary purpose is to get people from A to B. Guns' only purpose is to kill things.
CONWAY: Which amendment to the United States Constitution allows you to have -- protects you to have a car?
HUNTSMAN: This doesn't infringe on our Second Amendment rights at all, though.
CONWAY: The bill does that.
HILL: They argue that it would. But again, I think they're wrong, but there's an argument for it.
MORGAN: All I hear is -- all I hear is Second Amendment rights, Second Amendment rights. What about the rights -- what about the rights of those six and seven-year-old children not to be blown to pieces? Where do they come in higher than people's Second Amendment rights to own a gun?
CONWAY: That's 100 percent to 0 percent.
MORGAN: Let me go to Deb. I want to get your reaction because you raised the question. What do you think generally of this debate?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that the gentleman that you were just speaking with, he said that people are -- they know what happened and they're in tune to what happened. But I think that the visual -- I think you brought up a very good point about Emmett Till and the Civil Rights Era and all of that, that when you see -- it's one thing to sort of say OK, it happened. But it's a totally different thing to see a visual of that.
And I believe that if people in Congress who are hesitating or doing those things in Washington, if they were to see those little six and seven year olds and they were to see those bodies, I think that they wouldn't hesitate.
MORGAN: I can't get it out of my head, that image.
HILL: That's because you see a relationship between those poor dead children and really bad gun laws. It's not that the people in Congress who support guns don't care about seven-year-old children. They just don't think that an assault weapons ban is going to stop those children from dying. I think they're wrong. Let me be clear. I think they're wrong. But let's not characterize them as people who don't care about seven-year-old kids. (CROSS TALK)
MORGAN: Let's come back, because interesting things going on tonight. There's a huge party happening at the White House. I want to know how everyone feels about the White House partying away in the sequester hit times.
MORGAN: It's party time tonight in the White House. Sounds like it's party time here. President Obama and the First Lady are hosting a music celebration with big-name guests like Justin Timberlake and Queen Latifa. But it's taking place with the people's house closed because of the battle over the budget cuts. Back now with my outspoken guests, Abby Huntsman, Kellyanne Conway, Marc Lamont Hill and Steven Latourette.
So, in a week where we've heard there will be no more air shows from the Navy's Blue Angels because of the sequester, which cost 100,000 dollars to the bases, we now have this great party going on at the White House. Marc, is this just the White House, again misplaying things?
HILL: I think it's much adieu about nothing. There has not been a presidential administration in the last 30 years where there's been some budget issue or some foreign policy where they say yeah, but they had a party, yeah, but they had a celebration, yeah, but they spent money. It's a drop in the bucket. It's a minor thing.
CONWAY: The White House tours are like two million dollars a year. This is probably not that far off from that.
MORGAN: The difference is Justin Timberlake goes tonight to the White House tour, anyone can go.
CONWAY: And a lot of those sweet kids that everyone is trying to talk about likes to enjoy those White House tours. I don't know if it was true of every administration. Because I think George W. Bush was asleep by this time every night.
MORGAN: It was paid for by PBS, apparently. But obviously the --
MORGAN: I would imagine the state is paying for all the security and everything else, as they would for every event. President Obama makes this five percent off of his salary thing and he cuts the White House tours to the America public. But at the same time, business as usual for all of the party goers. Steven Latourette, I mean, am I getting worked up for the wrong reason here?
LATOURETTE: Yeah, you're getting worked up for the wrong reason. Listen, he's the president of the United States. And if he wants to have a party, he should have a party.
My difficulty with the way the administration has handled sequestration, it's a little bit like a school levy. When a school levy fails, rather than addressing costs, they say we're going to whack the band or we're going to take out the football program or we're going to make your kid walk to school. So I think the president misstepped when he did the Easter Egg Role and reinstated it in the White House tour. But if he's a country music fan, God love him and I hope he has a good time.
MORGAN: Let's take a very quick question from Tiffany in the audience. Where's Tiffany? Tiffany, ask your question very quickly?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure, my question is -- my question is what sort of message does it send when you have people like Beyonce and Jay-Z traveling to Cuba?
MORGAN: OK, good question. Let's go very quick. I want a very quick answer this.
HILL: Again, much adieu about nothing. We've got to worry about a reasonable trade policy, a reasonable anti-embargo policy with Cuba. Jay-Z and Beyonce going on a culture tour is nothing. There's bigger issues at stake here.
CONWAY: No, no, that's not true. There are very prominent figures in our country, very popular entertainers, very successful entrepreneurs. And I do think it sends the wrong message. You've got Cuban American legislators in the U.S. Congress in the U.S. Congress who are upset about this. And not just because they're Republican and Beyonce and Jay-Z partied with the president at the inauguration.
They have serious questions about how they got there, how --
MORGAN: The Treasury Department cleared them to go.
HUNTSMAN: You would think that these congressman would care a little bit more about getting our fiscal house in order than where Beyonce and Jay-Z spend their time, frankly. But I understand we have an embargo for a reason. I think that should be respected. But on the other hand, they could be well ahead of their times. I think a few years down the road, that embargo will be lifted.
HILL: The Cuban people are not suffering because Jay-Z and Beyonce are there. And this stupid embargo -- this blockade, in fact, against Cuba has done nothing to make the Cuban people freer. In fact, it's given Raoul and Fidel Castro a narrative that the U.S. is isolating them.
MORGAN: The good news is that as a Brit, I'm allowed to go to Cuba. So Beyonce and Jay-Z should come back. I will go. Steven Latourette, final word to you on the great Beyonce, Jay-Z Cuban scandal.
LATOURETTE: You know, if they can score some cigars and bring them back, I'm all for it.
MORGAN: OK. We'll be right back after the break.
MORGAN: I want to thank all of my guests tonight and, of course, this terrific studio audience who joined me for the hour. I have another live audience show tomorrow night so be sure to join us for that. That's all for us tonight. Anderson Cooper starts right now.