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Aired June 30, 2013 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MORGAN SPURLOCK, CNN HOST (voice-over): If you listen to the news these days, you might think America is a pretty divided nation. You're either for gay marriage or against it. You're either pro-life or pro-choice. You're a Republican or a Democrat.
But when it comes to guns, things get a little trickier, because no matter which side of the line you stand on, you can't ignore the news about gun violence.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Another deadly shooting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: The gunfire erupted at this birthday party.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Two people are dead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Shot a 35-year-old --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: 7-year-old boy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Opened fire on the street with tons of people around.
SPURLOCK: More than 11,000 homicides were committed with firearms in 2011 alone. Mass shootings and gun suicides are on the rise in the United States. That's disturbing to people on both sides of the issue, and it's obvious that something's got to change. We just can't agree on what that is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The majority of the people want sensible gun restrictions.
WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
SPURLOCK: If there is one thing we are united on, it's that everybody wants to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people. But how do we come together to do it? Are there more than two sides to the story?
Guns don't scare me. Crazy people with guns scare me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good shot. Do you want to put the target further out?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or do you like where it is?
SPURLOCK: In the United States, we love guns. I mean it's like in our DNA. It's in our constitution, the right to bear arms, the freedom to defend ourselves.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go.
SPURLOCK: As an American, I myself own guns. When I was 12-years- old, this is a true story, I was given my first rifle, a .22, that my grandfather hand-made the stock for me, gave to me as a present. And on the first day of he and I out shooting it, we were in the backyard shooting it as a target, and at some point while we were shooting at the target and walking back to where we were shooting from, my dog went and hid behind my target. And on my 12th birthday, I shot and killed my dog. True story. Terrible story. It still doesn't stop me from owning guns.
But I'm somebody who even as a gun owner believe there's should be some sort of change to gun policy, you know, that there should be certain people that shouldn't have the ability to get, you know, high- powered firearms, you know, et cetera. And I do believe that there are people out there who are just like me.
But if you turn on the television, you get one side whose basically saying there has to be this overwhelming revamping of gun policy in the country. And then on the complete inversion of that are people saying we can't touch it because it's in the constitution.
You know, and as a gun owner, I really don't believe those two polar opposites represent America. So what I want to do is go out and talk to some people who I think are representative of much more of what is going on in kind of the centrist attitude of Americans.
In November, just one week after the reelection of President Obama, gun sales were reaching record highs in the U.S. I wanted to know who were the people buying these guns and why were they doing it. So I figured taking a job in a gunshot would be a good place to start.
How are you doing?
DOUG STOCKMAN, OWNER, SSG TACTICAL: Hey, man.
STOCKMAN: Nice to meet you.
SPURLOCK: Thanks for meting me come down.
STOCKMAN: Sure. Absolutely.
SPURLOCK: I went to work at SSG tactical, a gun retailer in Fredericksburg, Virginia, who specializes in class three firearms. STOCKMAN: Class three guns are basically, that's a generic term for any guns that are restricted under the 1934 gun control act.
STOCKMAN: Which would be machine guns, silencers, short barreled rifles, and what they consider destructive devices, which to any rifle over 50 caliber.
SPURLOCK: Couldn't any gun be a destructive device?
STOCKMAN: So, they are coming around here, this is obviously our main gun area over here.
SPURLOCK: A lot of people preparing for the zombie apocalypse?
STOCKMAN: Yes. The zombie phenomenon has caught on big. And then from there, we move in to the tactical shotguns, the tactical type rifles.
SPURLOCK: What is the average price of a rifle?
STOCKMAN: Typically a good quality rifle starting around a thousand dollars.
SPURLOCK: What is the most expensive rifle?
STOCKMAN: Probably we have the LWRC right there that is just a little under $4,000.
SPURLOCK: Wow. So, why would somebody buy that gun?
STOCKMAN: For that platform, that's the Cadillac. So if you want the best.
STOCKMAN: That is actually legal caliber for deer. So you could actually hunt for it.
SPURLOCK: If that deer really is asking for it.
SPURLOCK: Yes. Not a lot of people getting something like that?
SPURLOCK: Do you guys do lay-away?
SPURLOCK: What is the most popular gun?
STOCKMAN: I would say the AR-15 is probably the most popular rifle in the United States. That's the semiautomatic version to what the U.S. military uses.
STOCKMAN: And it's a modular weapon system. So the ability to accessorize it is virtually unlimited. And a lot of people jokingly say it's a Barbie for men.
SPURLOCK: I'm curious to see who comes into the store, what they're looking to buy, and why they want it.
I'm decked out and ready to go.
And I'm hoping to find out today when I step behind the counter at SSG.
Now I'm employee. See that? Any advice? Anything I what should I say, should I not say?
STOCKMAN: Well, typically, you know, we want our guys not to ask a simple yes or no question like can I help you. Because then it's easy for somebody to say no thanks. Maybe I can say what are you interested in buying today? See now I've already planted the seed they might want to buy something. Yes, not just browsing.
Introduce you to Kurt, my store manager.
SPURLOCK: How are you man? Nice to meet you, man.
The employees at SSG know the guns they sell because they believe them. They believe in the power of weapons for protection.
Are there a lot of people that come in to steal?
STOCKMAN: They're a lot less likely to come in knowing that we're armed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is up, man? How you doing?
SPURLOCK: I got a new helper today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Morgan?
Good to meet you.
What are you looking for?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looking for a .38, a little conceal job for the wife.
SPURLOCK: Do you have a look on it?
A pleasure meeting you. And business is booming at SSG. Just in the day I worked there, I saw husbands, hunters, and whole families come in to purchase guns for all kinds of reasons.
When you're carrying concealed, it's not about dropping that dude, it's about what I can do to stay alive. You have to know when not to fire.
But mainly they were afraid because tighter gun control legislation is coming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have never owned a gun in their lives think things are going to change so much that they want to get into the game now.
SPURLOCK: One way or another, it's a fear-driven market.
KURT, STORE MANAGER: This thing speaks all languages. In the middle of the night somebody screams get out of my house and I've got a gun and they rack a shotgun, the next thing you hear is going down the hall away from you.
SPURLOCK: You're looking for a while?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really, since Obama got re-elected. Making sure I get one before I can't get one. That's really exactly what I'm looking for.
KURT: Well, that's it, man.
KURT: All you need is two forms of id with the same name and address and a credit card or some money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got that.
KURT: You don't even got to ask for permission?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
KURT: Oh, man, I'm giving you a punch. You're all right. Meet me over here. We'll get you some paperwork and get it started.
SPURLOCK: In 1993, federal legislation mandated that all license firearm dealers do background checks on potential gun buyers looking to purchase handguns, shotguns and rifles. Some states like Virginia have their own additional checks.
KURT: Everything has to be spelled out in full. You have to have two forms of id with the same name and address on it.
SPURLOCK: Virginia runs the forms through an FBI database where they check to see the if the potential buyer is a felon or has a warrant out for arrest. Background checks reveal whether the buyer has previously been committed to an institution or determined to be mentally adjudicated or unstable. When you put that through, how quick does the background check go through?
KURT: It depends. It is solely based upon your name, really. Somebody that has the name John don't go away, whatever, a common name, then a physical person in Virginia state police has to go in there. And that's why they use place of birth, hair color, weight. All that identifying features and separate you from that bad person, OK. And that can sometimes take a little time. It can take five minutes. It can take two hours, it can take a couple of days.
SPURLOCK: Yes. So you're looking for protection, recreational?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now I'm just going to hunt deer with this rifle and try to improve my skills a little bit. Never know when we might get invaded or something by China. I'm arming myself against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Who, I cannot tell you because it hadn't happened. But if it happens, I'm going to be ready.
Dylan was approved. And easy as that, he was able to just walk out with the door with his brand-new weapon, a gun capable of shooting up to 45 rounds of ammunition per minute.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can use them on anything, not just zombies.
SPURLOCK: I have to say that I'm a little conflicted. Should it be that easy for someone to get a gun?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Appreciate it.
KURT: OK, man, thank you.
SPURLOCK: Dylan didn't have to undergo a mental health assessment before he purchased his weapon or view any gun safety demonstrations. He didn't even have to get an eye examine. But he passed the background check so now he's got his gun.
Now you go I just hope he's not crazy.
KURT: All right. Have you had any formal pistol instruction?
KURT: So you have no clue what you're doing?
SPURLOCK: Very little. KURT: All right. but don't shoot my guys and don't shoot my truck.
SPURLOCK: OK. Deal.
I've been working at SSG Tactical in Frederiksberg, Virginia. I need to learn a little more about the merchandise. So Kurt, a shooting instructor, invited me out to show me how to shoot some of the weapons firsthand.
KURT: We brought a bunch of cool stuff out for you the shoot, the assault, the machine guns and I wouldn't be much of a host if I didn't let you shoot the infamous AK-47.
SPURLOCK: I grew up around guns, and I got to be honest with you. I love to shoot. I'm pumped to try out these new weapons.
KURT: Can you still hear me?
KURT: Can you still hear me?
KURT: That's good.
SPURLOCK: But guns aren't like they were when I was growing up. It's a multimillion-dollar industry and there are literally hundreds of options for the gun enthusiast looking to drop some cash.
There are currently three types of guns available for purchase in the United States. Antique firearms, these are anything made before 1898 and are completely unregulated. Handguns, rifles and shotguns, and automatic weapons which are highly regulated.
KURT: All right. This is a revolver. Great, great conceal and gun. Great personal protection gun. It is a double action revolver. In other words, we squeeze the trigger, it will cock and fire the gun. I want you to shoot with both eyes open.
If you're going to carry a gun, especially out in public, I want you to be able to see as much as you can. I want you to see little Timmy running from the bus stop from the left to right. I want you to see that other threat when it pops up.
Let's go ahead and get you shooting some fun stuff. This time full ought total. Let's go with MP-5.
SPURLOCK: Now, we are moving on to automatic weapons. They're much harder to get in this country than other guns, and for good reason.
KURT: It's considered a submachine gun. Try to hold it on the silhouette right on the red dot.
SPURLOCK: Right on the red dot.
KURT: Right on the red dot.
SPURLOCK: I didn't hit the red dot once.
KURT: You did great.
SPURLOCK: I was all around it.
KURT: You can see why tactical teams and different military groups and even civilians love these things, because they're very low recoil and very accurate. I don't know that there would be a practical application for a full auto. But it's fun to shoot.
SPURLOCK: Newly manufactured fully automatic weapons were banned for civilians in the United States in 1986. You can still apply to get one, but even if you do, they're extremely expensive. If somebody is going to buy one of those, how much it would be?
KURT: An MP-5 SD like that probably somewhere around 15 to 20,000.
SPURLOCK: It's expensive. That's why most people buy semiautomatic weapons instead, millions of them in fact.
KURT: This is the AK-47.
SPURLOCK: They may not be automatic, but they're still extremely popular.
KURT: A very popular gun because of their reliability. They're also very villainized.
SPURLOCK: This is what they call assault rifles. This is the type gun used in several recent mass shootings, which is why they're the ones up for debate.
KURT: You ready?
SPURLOCK: Yes, absolutely.
Depending on the magazine you use, a semiautomatic AK-47 like this one can hold up to 75 rounds and shoot up to 40 rounds per minute.
KURT: Move the magazine, you're good to go. I don't like the term assault rifle because it's not an assault rifle until you assault someone with it. It's a rifle.
SPURLOCK: And that's really what's at the heart of the gun debate. With weapons far more powerful than the founding fathers ever imagined come new questions. Should these types of weapons really be so easy to get?
KURT: All right, you ready to do some work?
SPURLOCK: I am.
KURT: We had some packages that came in this morning. Let's go back here and get to work. SPURLOCK: How often does stuff come in?
KURT: It comes in daily. It's like Christmas around here, man.
SPURLOCK: Every day?
KURT: Every day. You're not sweating, are you?
SPURLOCK: Not yet.
KURT: This isn't some cushy activist job.
SPURLOCK: Just like any other modern and successful retailer, SSG is doing a lot of their business on the internet.
KURT: We'll show you how our online business works.
Nearly a quarter of the sales come from online orders.
Is there anyone who is kind of a licensed retailer has the ability to kind of sell guns that he want on the internet.
KURT: Yes. You can go on here and list anything from guns to gun parks to ammunition to, you know, anything you wanted. We were looking for a rifle.
SPURLOCK: But it's illegal for them to ship weapons to online customers the way say Amazon ships their merchandise to customers.
KURT: You would basically pay for the gun on line, mail us a check, whatever. We then get your FFL information. In other words, what dealer near your home do you want the gun shipped to. So it's literally no different than going into a store and buying it. You're still going to have to do a background check.
SPURLOCK: But lots of people selling guns don't do background checks because they're not required to. In most states guns can be sold between two private parties online as long as they don't ship across state lines.
KURT: The private sale is perfectly legal to do so under some restrictions.
SPURLOCK: Yes. But then, what do citizens do because you can't do a background check as a citizen.
KURT: You can't. Wish you could, but you can't. Generally what we tell people to do is to get a copy of their driver's license and a clear bill of sale.
SPURLOCK: So you think that's something that needs to happen to enable citizens to check on who they're selling guns to?
KURT: I don't think it would be a bad thing. I'll put that it way. SPURLOCK: Right.
KURT: As far as dealers like myself, if you don't pass the background check, you don't get the gun.
KURT: If you don't have the forms of identification required, you don't get the gun. If you give me anything other than a warm and fuzzy feeling, you don't get the gun, you know what I mean? I want to be able to sleep at night. I don't want anything bad to happen to anybody that doesn't deserve it. And I certainly am not going to sell a gun to somebody who I think is going to do something wrong with it.
It's obvious that Kurt is vigilant about who he sells guns to. But I can't help but wonder if everybody on the Internet is as responsible as he is when they make private sales. I mean, after all, you can't even be sure who you're talking to on the Internet, how do you know you can trust them with a firearm?
A grand total for today was 1132. That's all in, including the cash.
It's a good day.
STOCKMAN: Yes, that is a good day.
SPURLOCK: Yes. Pre-election, what would you be hitting?
KURT: Probably around 7, 8.
SPURLOCK: 7,000, 8,000.
KURT: You know, any time that fear drives a market, you know, where they think somebody is going to outlaw something, somebody is going to do away with something, if they're so worried at the state of the country and their neighborhood and society that they're now looking at buying a gun, taking training.
SPURLOCK: Why do you think the world would be a safe place if we all had guns?
KURT: Well, because if we all had guns, wolves wouldn't be able to prey. If you can't defend yourself, what is to protect you? Nothing.
KURT: But the problem is we raised a whole society who are willing to just lay down on the floor and let a gunman come through the room and kill them at will instead of fighting. And I'd rather have that sheep dog mentality that I've got a little something for the Wolf when he comes knocking.
SPURLOCK: All right, gents. Thank you.
Today I saw America's gun laws in action.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good job.
SPURLOCK: Thank you. Thanks.
And while I'm confident we didn't put any guns in the wrong hands, I can't help but think there is a lot more we as a nation could do to prevent that from ever happening. But what, and how?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Right here in Newtown, Connecticut, the site today of a mass shooting and this time gunfire aimed at elementary school children.
SPURLOCK (voice-over): Even for a nation that is sadly becoming more and more desensitized to mass shootings, the Newtown massacre was sickening, prompting taking its place as one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. But it wasn't an isolated incident.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were shooting people and throwing grenades and stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Seven are dead, at least in this shooting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: When a gunman opened fire and killed five people before taking his own life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Among those shooting victims is Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got people rung out of the theater. They were shot.
SPURLOCK: What is even worse, as horrific as mass shootings are, they're only responsible for a tiny fraction of violent gun deaths in this country, less than one percent in 2010. Mass shootings may get the media coverage, but on the same day as the Newtown shootings, at least 21 of the people in this country were also killed by gun violence.
No matter the circumstance, the toll these shootings take on victims and their families is enormous. They're united in their grief, but also in their desire to put a stop to this type of tragic gun violence once and for all. In fact, the Newtown killings galvanized people on both sides of the issue and sent the gun debate into overdrive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tragedy in Newtown demands a powerful response. LAPIERRE: I call on Congress to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can pass common sense laws to protect our kids and protect our rights.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we really think that adding any more laws to our books would have stopped him?
SPURLOCK: It's been a few weeks since Newtown, and, you know, you can't help but feel that the world is a different place. People are proposing assault weapons bans and magazine bans and everybody is talking about how the gun business is going to, you know, be suffering.
So I have to imagine that right now Doug and Kurt are starting to see kind of the impact of that. You know, that people are, you know, kind of rethinking whether or not they're going to buy guns. So what I want to kind of see is what is happening with them at their shop and how they're dealing with it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finding everything all right, man?
SPURLOCK: Wow. Look how much stuff is like missing from the store right now. It's kind of amazing. Is there any restrictions how many you can buy in a week or month or anything?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With rifles, no. Per day it's five handguns.
SPURLOCK: Hey, boss man. Good to see you. How you been?
KURT: How have you been. I needed you last week.
SPURLOCK: I mean, I can't believe the walls. Where are all those guns?
KURT: In somebody's home. I had every member of my staff 12, 13 people. I even had some customers who are regular customers that I actually through SSG shirts on and put them behind the counter to help. It was way worse than this. We sold in a couple of days what we would normally sell in several months.
SPURLOCK: That's unbelievable.
KURT: This was shotguns from back there, of course, we spread them out a little bit to try to fill the gaps.
SPURLOCK: Were these just semiautomatics or class 3s that were here?
KURT: No, semiautomatics civilian section one guns. And they're all gone.
SPURLOCK: Yes. And so you can't get handguns either?
Very, very few. KURT: SPURLOCK: Everybody has bought them up.
KURT: Not only have they bought them up, some of the manufacturers have already started saying there is a 24-month back order.
SPURLOCK: They're sold out two years.
SPURLOCK: Wow. How many people are buying guns that are already gun owners versus first-time gun owners?
KURT: Probably half of that.
KURT: And we've seen a lot of new faces. I've had grandmas and grandfathers and soccer moms. They're scared that they're not going to be able to defend themselves.
SPURLOCK: In case they need it?
SPURLOCK: Because of the fear of the U.S. government currently?
KURT: Yes. And the fear of that liberal mind-set to disarm the American people. I mean, that's what it come downs to.
SPURLOCK: But is there not a way that having more guns contributes to a problem?
KURT: No. I don't see it that way. And the only reason is you can't disarm the criminals. They want us to live in a police state because they believe in that protect and serve, law enforcement is there to protect and serve. Well, let me break down for you. I'm former law enforcement, right? Law enforcement can't become involved in an issue until a crime has been committed.
SPURLOCK: Until it's an issue.
KURT: Yes. So in order for a crime to have been committed, there has to be a victim. Unless you're willing to be a victim, law enforcement can't solve your problems. When seconds count, police are generally minutes away.
SPURLOCK: Yes. So, the fear for people right now is that ultimately they think somebody is going to come and try to take the guns away.
SPURLOCK: Do you think that's going happen?
KURT: I hope not.
SPURLOCK: They isn't getting mine.
SPURLOCK: I got to tell you. I'm completely blown away by the response that people have had to Newtown. That on the heels of a tragedy like this, that they feel that they have to arm themselves. And what's really surprising to me is it's not people who already own guns that are coming in, but it's people who have never owned a gun in their life that are owning a gun for the first time who say I've got to get one and I've got to get one now.
You know, you have to believe that part of this fear that is being generated is also coming from kind of the gun manufacturers themselves. You know, in the middle of a crisis like this, in a middle of tragedy is just this incredible boom of opportunity for them, you know, to kind of capitalize on. And it's -- it's terrible.
(Voice-over): But some people took a different type of action after Newtown. People whose lives have been affected by gun violence saw their opportunity to be heard too on an issue that they know is literally a matter of life or death.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm here as a voice for my son, Malik, who at 17 years of age lost his life due to an act of gun violence.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On December 14th, we lost the love and light of our family, our daughter, Grace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gun violence in the United States is a much bigger problem than the shooting that killed my father.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a tragic incident of gun violence affected his life forever when a disgruntled employee suffering from mental illness came into the workplace and let loose with a barrage of guns. He had 6,000 rounds of ammunition.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are 875 and more mayors from all across the country, unified by one thing, which is the belief that we can respect the second amendment and the rights of law-abiding gun owners and do much more to keep guns out of the wrong hands.
SPURLOCK: Mayors against illegal guns is the largest gun violence prevention and advocacy group in the country. They have come to Washington to help members of Congress put a human face on America's gun violence problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every day we lose 32 more Americans to gun murders, 90 to gun deaths, hundreds more are wounded in our homes and our streets and our schools.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say to yourself, well, this didn't happen to me. But I say to you, it could happen to you. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you don't help pass this.
CROWD: That's right.
SPURLOCK: Teresa Hoover's son, A.J., was a victim of the Aurora, Colorado, mass shooting in a movie heat they're killed 12 and wounded 58 others.
TERESA HOOVER, MOTHER OF MASS SHOOTING VICTIM: He had gone to the movie with some friends for their midnight showing that they always did. And 3:00 in the morning I got a knock on my door, and it was a couple of friends of theirs. And I was like where is A.J.?
It's not something you ever want to go through. You know, I just thought if I prayed enough, he would be OK, and he wasn't. But that's why I'm here. It is easy to just kind of move on if it hasn't affected your life. But that's why I'm here is to make a difference and don't let people forget how important it is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go ahead and do our first interview, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
SPURLOCK: Teresa is here with her brother Dave, a policeman, a Republican, and a gun owner.
DAVE HOOVER, A.J.'s UNCLE: These mass murders, on average we've had four a year since columbine. And last year we had 15. So, things don't seem to be going in the right direction.
We've had a lot of discussions, and we're hoping we get some meaningful legislation out of this. It's time to take some action and not just make some promises.
SPURLOCK: Teresa and Dave are here to demand action. And for the first time in a long time, there is a chance they might actually be heard.
Over the next few months, Americans would see a slew of new legislative proposals about guns.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: My colleagues and I are introducing a bill to prohibit the sale, transfer, manufacture, and importation of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices that can accept more than ten rounds.
OBAMA: Overwhelming majorities of Americans, Americans who believe in the second amendment have come together around common sense reform.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time for Congress and the White House to put public health above special interest politics.
SPURLOCK: And then finally a bill was put forth in the Senate with nine amendments regarding gun control and safety. One of the amendments was the Toomey Manchin amendment which focused on instituting universal background checks for potential gun buyers across the nation, an idea that 90 percent of Americans support.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one is going to take anyone's guns away. What we're saying is if you buy a gun, transfer a gun, there should be a criminal and a mental background check.
OBAMA: I urge the new Congress to hold votes on these measures next year in a timely manner.
SPURLOCK: It seems like common-sense legislation if you want to keep guns out of the wrong hands, try to better restrict who can gain access to potentially devastating high-powered weapons. But remarkably, not everyone thinks that's a good idea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three, guns!
CROWD: Guns save lives, gun save lives!
TERESA HOOVER: The most frustrating part of this is the people out there that are not listening to what the message is. And they're afraid that people are going to start knocking on their doors and taking away their guns. That's not what we want.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their create were certain unalienable rights. And that among these are right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Ladies and gentlemen, without our firearms, we have none, none of the liberties.
SPURLOCK: The NRA was founded in 1871 as a sportsman's organization aimed at educating and building marksmanship as a skill among its members.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can become a part of this great heritage simply by calling now.
SPURLOCK: Today the NRA has nearly five million members and considers itself the voice of the American gun owner. But here is the thing. About 70 million Americans own guns. That makes around 65 million who aren't card carrying members of the NRA. So the NRA doesn't really get its power from its membership dues. It gets its power from the deep-pocketed corporations that have contributed nearly $52 million to the organization in the last eight years alone.
And the NRA spent that money pretty well. They've ushered in expansive conceal and carry laws, sensitive government data about gun crime, tied up federal regulation, and effectively blocked the renewal of the 1984 ban on assault weapons with high capacity magazines. In spite of numerous polls that show not even most gun owners but even most NRA members actually that support tighter restrictions on gun ownership, the NRA has strong armed legislation to loosen restrictions and aggressively expanded the base for gun manufacturers.
The NRA is really good at defending the second amendment, and some of its members are persuaded by all the talk about home invasions, Chinese hackers and a post apocalyptic America. But the main thing the NRA is defending is the bottom line for gun makers.
But if the NRA doesn't speak for gun owners, who does? I figured I would just let them speak for themselves. So we're at the nation's gun show, which is the largest gun show in the state of Virginia.
How you doing, man? I'm Morgan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have some nice toys back here.
SPURLOCK: Yes, I saw that. As you can see everything here from handguns to rifles to shotguns to AR-15s and semiautomatic rifles.
Oh, yes, check that out. A grenade launcher. Not for sale.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure most of you are aware of the political decision that is going to be taking place. Miss Feinstein's bill is ready to be put to the Senate. We don't feel like it's got a chance of passing, but certain parts of that bill may have a chance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is going to be a mad rush on high capacity mags and assault weapons.
SPURLOCK: What are your thoughts on the legislation?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I -- I think it's an infringement on the second amendment. I think it's an excuse to try to confiscate firearms.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even if they ban assault weapons, I mean.
SPURLOCK: Would it make a difference?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it will make any difference whatsoever. I think it's just going to create a black market for them. Just like the drug market. I mean, drugs are illegal and they're still everywhere.
SPURLOCK: Yes. So for you it's more just making sure people don't know what you own?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. If you had to have all sales go through a background check, then the government would actually know exactly what guns you have. And you don't want that for confiscation reasons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody that is buying, people that think that the Democrats are going to take away their guns. So they think they need to stockpile them now while they still have the ability.
SPURLOCK: Is Obama going to take your guns?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, of course not. I mean, I own 12 guns. I voted for Obama. I'm not worried about him taking my guns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all about money. The NRA motive people by fear to go out and say I have to go out and get, you know, because I don't want them to ban this. It's about selling weapons.
SPURLOCK: You are remember the NRA?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SPURLOCK: What are your thoughts on the legislation?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree with that.
SPURLOCK: You agree with that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree it's responsible, yes. I believe, they need to over 10, 15 rounds. You're thinking offense. Because if, you know, you're hoping in five to ten rounds will get you out of a situation. That's what the goal is. And to have a weapon is to get out of a situation that is lethal.
SPURLOCK: Right. And he wasn't the only gun owner I heard from that felt that way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't agree with anything the NRA does. I don't think they're true to gun owners at all.
SPURLOCK: So you think the process now is flawed where you basically come in, you know, pay for your gun, do a background check and you walk out in an hour?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean I did that that's what happened to me. But at the same time, I like I said, they don't know if I'm crazy, and it's the person, not the gun.
SPURLOCK: So what do you think is the solution?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely mental evaluation or something like that.
SPURLOCK: With guns flying off the shelves, it's obviously that the NRA's tried and true sales tactic, fear, is still working.
But it's also pretty obvious that a lot of gun owners don't agree with the NRA. They want common sense regulations and responsible gun ownership, just like the proposed legislation calls for. And maybe the time is right for those voices to be heard.
SPURLOCK (voice-over): Today I've been invited to come down to the headquarters of the Baltimore police department by Jim Johnson, the chief of police for Baltimore county in Maryland. And while he may not look like a spokesman for gun control, that's exactly what he is.
JIM JOHNSON, CHIEF OF POLICE, BALTIMORE, MARYLAND: I'm a target shooter. I enjoy going to the range. I'm a hunter. But I believe that gun violence reduction strategies do work.
SPURLOCK: Chief Johnson is a gun owner and a second amendment defender. But he has seen the deadly results of America's lax gun policy more times than he can count. So he is a man who supports legislation put forth in the Senate that aims to reduce gun deaths in this country.
JOHNSON: Up to 40 percent of gun transactions occur through private individuals without a background check. It's allowing 40 percent of passengers to board a plane without going through security. Would we do this?
SPURLOCK: What would you like to see happen?
JOHNSON: Three things must change to make America a safer place from gun violence. Number one, a national background check. Number two, a ban on the assault weapons. And three, a capacity of no more than ten rounds or magazines.
SPURLOCK: According to one study that focused on mass shootings, high capacity magazines were used in half of the incidents occurring in the U.S. in the last 30 years, and shootings were significantly deadlier when assault weapons and high capacity magazines were used.
I've heard the idea that limiting access to high capacity magazines would make a difference before. Now it's time to put the theory to the test. There is a lot of bullets.
JOHNSON: It is, sir. On this table is a sampling of magazines. This particular set here is for the AR platform rifle. You have a ten- round capability, and they're also marked 20, 30, and a drum they can also fit the AR platform rifle, which would hold 120 rounds.
JOHNSON: This is a standard AR platform rifle. It shoots semiautomatic only.
SPURLOCK: How quick can somebody change one of those? If somebody is really quick, how fast could they do it?
JOHNSON: It all very, sir, depends on the skill level.
SPURLOCK: How quick could I do it?
JOHNSON: I will walk you through.
JOHNSON: Here on the right side is your magazine release button. Merely pressing in will allow the magazine to release. Right now the bolt is open. Here on the left side is a lever that will drop and drive the bolt forward for you. So, pressing that will charge the weapon and load the round for you. That's all you're going to need right now.
SPURLOCK: OK. I want to have one in.
JOHNSON: You can leave it in a pocket, put tonight table.
JOHNSON: So are you ready?
SPURLOCK: You tell me when.
JOHNSON: All right, three, two, one, go.
SPURLOCK: That was pretty fast.
JOHNSON: You were at 2.5.
SPURLOCK: 2.5. Was that pretty quick?
JOHNSON: That was fast.
SPURLOCK: But in the stress of a situation, you're never going to go that fast.
SPURLOCK: Yes, Like here you're sweating. You're freaking out. You're hearing like police sirens. People aren't going to be able to change that quick.
JOHNSON: It's possible, correct.
SPURLOCK: Yes. And I feel like you would be more stressed out if this was happening.
JOHNSON: Push-ups. Get your heart rate elevated, get your muscles working.
SPURLOCK: like how many, 10, 15?
JOHNSON: Ten, 15. Get your heart rate up good.
JOHNSON: Three, two, one, go.
SPURLOCK: That wasn't as fast.
SPURLOCK: That was terrible. So basically, the idea of having smaller magazines means just like less bullets can come out, the more time people have to come in and actually stop a situation.
JOHNSON: You know, your drum magazine over there holds 120 rounds.
JOHNSON: If you want to go up on the street with somebody with that and wait for that to run out, that's 120 rounds versus the ten.
SPURLOCK: That's right.
JOHNSON: Ten rounds you have to continuously come back in and reload.
SPURLOCK: As soon as you hear that thing eject, like in the two seconds somebody has, what could somebody do to react?
JOHNSON: Depending on their distance to the shooter, the individual could come up and attempt a tackle, or with the weapon being unloaded, go for the weapon and try to remove it from the suspect.
JOHNSON: You can cover a lot of distance in two seconds. And that's what happened in Tucson, where the shooter was attacked by a citizen when he tried to reload that 33-round magazine.
SPURLOCK: When seconds count, I know I would want the time on my side.
SPURLOCK (voice-over): On April 17, at least 15 more Americans were killed from gun violence. And on the same day, the legislation drafted after Newtown came to the Senate floor for a vote.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The bipartisan compromise to expand background checks on guns just failed to break a Republican filibuster. The vote was 54-46. So technically, six votes short.
SPURLOCK: In spite of all the talk about change and the deaths of so many victims of gun violence, the U.S. Senate voted against a range of gun control measures. The failed legislation included universal background checks, something 90 percent of Americans favor, which makes you wonder how often do 90 percent of Americans agree on anything?
Not too often, it turns out. According to an online poll of Americans, background checks were more popular than apple pie, kittens, and child labor laws. Only 81 percent have a favorable view of apple pie, 76 percent can agree on liking kittens. A mere 71 percent support child labor laws. But there was one big winner in the poll, ice cream. It came out on top with a tiny 3 percent edge over comprehensive background checks for gun sales. So how in the world did the one thing Americans virtually like as much as ice cream still manage to fail? You can thank the hardworking NRA for that one.
OBAMA: The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill.
SPURLOCK: They launched a misinformation campaign to derail any legislation by willfully misleading their members into thinking a national gun registry was possible even though it was against the law.
LAPIERRE: This is not universal background checks. This is universal registration of all of your firearms and all people like you all over America.
OBAMA: Those lies upset an intense minority of gun owners, and that in turn intimidated a lot of senators, even though the bill did the opposite. This legislation in fact outlawed any registry, plain and simple, right there in the text. To all and all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.
SPURLOCK: But just because the NRA's lobbyists are shouting in the ears of Washington's politicians doesn't mean the conversation is over.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: This is just the beginning. This is not the end.
SPURLOCK: Just last year, even talk of gun legislation was considered political suicide, not so now. People everywhere are demanding action. There has been a seismic change in the political landscape. We're ready to battle it out. And we aren't going to back into our corners without a fight.
After traveling around and meeting all these different people, the one thing that you start to realize is that we're much closer than anyone would really like to believe. You know, we all want this nation to be a safer place. We do want to keep these guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them. But at the same time, we all do have to give something up to make that happen. But I think there is a way to do this that is going to be better for everyone.
The majority of the population is for universal background checks. Do we need 120-round magazines for target practice, an AR-15 for home protection? Actually, no, you know. When the second amendment was created, nobody could envision the types of weapons we have today and the sheer firepower that they have. So, you know, at some point we have to say we should do what is right, you know, rather than just what is easy.