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Violent Video Games And Real Life Violence; Starbucks Asks Customers To Leave Guns At Home

Aired September 18, 2013 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I am Jake Tapper. We're of course outside the Washington Navy Yard, site of the massacre that claimed 12 lives earlier this week. We'll continue with the latest developments on that story in a moment.

But first, we want to get to our World Lead. The ongoing international dispute over what to do in Syria. Representatives of the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council met again today to talk over the deal that the U.S. and Russia reached over the weekend that would allow Syria to give up its chemical weapons and avoid a U.S. strike. But now, U.S. and Russian diplomats don't seem to be able to agree about what they agreed upon.

I want to bring in senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh. He's standing by at the U.N. Nick, the Russians are now planning to present their own evidence to the council that it was actually the rebels that launched the attack?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPODNENT: Certainly the Russians have long claimed that this was all a provocation by rebels designed to draw in the international community on their side in the Syrian civil war. I have to say the Russians themselves say they got this evidence from the Syrians. They haven't yet translated all of it from Arabic, and some of them at a top level say they haven't seen it. But they're still saying they will put it before the U.N. Security Council and in fact claiming that U.N. inspectors in Syria were given it but didn't pay it adequate attention. They're disappointed in that.

I mean, a lot of people, though, reminding themselves that the U.N. inspectors were never given a mandate to blame anybody for the particular attacks and themselves today very stridently said, look, what are scientific analysts. What we have done forms up to all possible norms, and we stand by it entirely. But it feeds into this general sense of not collapse but unpeeling of that Geneva framework.

There is a clock ticking on it, Jake, and they set a deadline on Saturday of a week for Syria to confess what chemical weapons it had. That does pass this weekend. We're still waiting to see if a resolution can be hammered out between the Americans, French, British and Russians with the veto of the Security Council. Talks still going on, I understand, between the permanent five of the Security Council right you as we speak. But all the while, I think perhaps Syria looking at this international continued disarray when people thought maybe in Geneva they found a way forward and saying this is the time they hoped they could stall for, Jake.

TAPPER: Indeed. Nick Paton Walsh at the U.N. Thank you so much.

The U.S. and Russia gave Syria until Saturday to supply a full accounting of it chemical weapons stock pile as Nick just mentioned. And then what?

I want to bring in Jane Harmon. She's a former congresswoman from California. She's also the former ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Currently Harmon is the director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center.

Congresswoman, good to see you as always. You have said that the U.S. evidence on the Syrian regime is rock solid, that Russia is presenting their so-called evidence courtesy of the regime to the U.N. Is this a point of impasse for any actual resolution? Can they get through this?

JANE HARMON, DIRECTOR, WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER: I don't think so. They own this problem now. Let's understand that if the deal falls apart, chemical weapons stay in Syria. I don't think that's going to happen. And let's imagine they get in the hands of these radical Islamists.

Where are they going to be used? The post office address is Russia. This is an existential threat to Russia. Also, by the way, the Iranians were a million Iranians in 1982 to 1986 were the targets of Saddam Hussein, sarin and mustard gas attacks; 100,000 got sick. Ten thousand to 20,000 died. Iran understands this, too. There is no way that the Prime Minister Lavrov can be (INAUDIBLE) yet past Saturday.

TAPPER: Well, Mike Morrell, who was acting director of the CIA until earlier this year, doesn't necessarily share your confidence and optimism. He tells "Foreign Policy" magazine, quote, "I think this is the Syrians playing for time. I do not believe that they would seriously consider giving up their chemical weapons."

So, Morell, obviously leading the CIA until six months ago. You disagree with him?

HARMON: I disagree with him. Syria has signed or asked to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention. Syria has to - Syria is in a box. It can't use chemical weapons at this point, I don't think any way possible. By Saturday, Russia has to explain, as far as I know, why this deal didn't going through. We're not in the box, they're in the box. And they're the ones who would be the target of an attack. So, I don't see this.

I also see -- I think John Kerry should be nominated for sainthood, and I think he is following Rahm Emanuel's playbook, no crisis should go to waste. And with this going on, with some overtures now by Rohani in Iran with at least some reason for optimism in the peace process, all the puzzle pieces are moving, and all the players are seeing a lot of each other.

And I actually think -- well, if I weren't an optimist, I would not have been in Congress for 17 years. But I actually think we're headed -- it is a mess on how we got here, but we're now headed to a place. We, the U.S., as partner with people in the region and in Europe and hopefully with the world tuned in in a good way, we're headed to a place where Syria and Russia have to do the right thing.

TAPPER: Well, I hope you are right, Congresswoman. Congresswoman Jane Harmon, thank you so much.

HARMON: Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up next on THE LEAD, it's something we hear all too afternoon with mass shootings: the killer spent time playing violent video games. But is that just an excuse people put out there to divert attention from the real problems? Is there an actual connection between the two?


TAPPER: Violent videogames and violent acts. Is there a connection? My next guest says not quite. That's coming up next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I am Jake Tapper live from just outside the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., the scene of Monday morning's horrific shooting rampage that claimed 12 lives.

It is a story line that has tragically become all too familiar: a young male with a gun snaps for one reason or another, and he sets out to take as many lives as he can. What we learn about these killers in the aftermath also tends to follow a similar thread: they were quiet, perhaps even showed signs of mental illness, they didn't receive adequate treatment. And in many instances, they shared a common past time: playing violent videogames. Listen to what a friend of Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis told us on THE LEAD yesterday.


MICHAEL RITROVATO, FRIENDS WITH AARON ALEXIS: It surprised me that a long time ago, probably a year or so go when I was invited to his house to watch a football game, he spent more time in there watch -- playing the game online with some other individual -- which was a pretty bloody game, of shooting. He spent more time doing that than entertaining his guests.

And I commented to Aaron on that that wow, man,are you in your 30s. Dude, you need to let that stuff go.


TAPPER: We heard the same thing from another of Alexis' friends who said that he would play all of these games all day and all night and similar to what we heard about the Newtown school shooter and the Columbine killers that reportedly played violent games for hours at a time.

So, is there a link between violent video games and these recurring acts of mass killing in our society? Well, the answer may not be as clear cut as you think. Joining me now live from Philadelphia is Dr. Patrick Markey. He's an associate professor of psychology at Villanova University who researches video game violence.

Dr. Markey, let's just get right to it. There has been plenty of research out there which those a link between violent video games and aggression. But can we go so far to say -- as to say -- that playing violent games triggers or leads someone to committing any violent act?

DR. PATRICK MARKEY, ASSOCIATE PSYCHOLOGY PROFESSOR, VILLANOVA UNIV.: No. It is very difficult to make that kind of claim. But as you said, we know that violent video games are linked to increases in hostility and so forth. But there is really no evidence to suggest that such violent media is linked to these shootings or really any real world violence. That what we find in our laboratory studies are very small effects affecting our thoughts, our cognitions, but not so much affecting our actual real behaviors.

TAPPER: What about minds that are psychotic? I suppose it is difficult to tell after the fact when these individuals are often killed, such as the Newtown shooter or the Navy Yard shooter what triggered anything specifically. But the effect that a violent video game has on a normal college-aged male, those are the subjects of a lot of these studies -- or adolescent may not be same when it comes to people with serious mental problems.

MARKEY: No, you might absolutely be correct. The problem is we just don't know yet, that the research really is not there. It is irresponsible for researchers in my field to take research down on how you said normal adolescent males and so forth and then try to generalize those findings to these actual horrific acts. That we're kind of going beyond the data we collected in the laboratory when we try to predict it.

So you may be right. I would guess that the bigger causes of these types of situations are the shooter. I mean, the news reports coming out that probably was paranoid schizophrenic and so forth then looking for rather not video games contributed to that, really seems to be looking at perhaps the smallest effect here of any.

TAPPER: Is there any evidence that playing these violent videogames in which you are playing some sort of role and shooting a fake gun, et cetera, has more of an effect in causing aggression whether it is aggressive thoughts or aggressive acts than say watching a very bloody and violent movie?

MARKEY: No. There are theoretical reasons why violent videogames should have a bigger effect than violent television or movies. But empirically there is absolutely no difference. In fact, when we look at meta analyses, which big studies done on all of the studies done these areas, we actually find the average effect of video games is actually lower than the average effect of movies, television and so forth. And so at the very least it is unfair to say that violent videogames have a bigger effect on an individual than other violent media.

TAPPER: What do you think as a researcher every time there is one of these mass shootings and they seem to be happening with disturbing and despairing frequency these days, seems like almost every single time the shooter played the violent video games. I understand a lot of people think there should be more gun restrictions and they think even talking about violent video games is changing the subject from the most important thing. What is your reaction as somebody that studies this?

MARKEY: Yes. I think you nailed it on the head. I think this becomes a red herring, that essentially the profile of most of these shooters are they are males, between 20 to 30 years old, and the average age of video gamers is about 30 years old. In fact, maybe more unusual to find one of these shooter that is they didn't play video games. So really finding that they play violent video games is not particularly surprising consider being if you take a random sample of any males, most of them are going to report playing violent video games.

TAPPER: Lastly, sir, as somebody with young children, what do you say to the parents out there in terms of letting their children play Grand Theft Auto 5 or any of these other violent games? I don't know if you have children. Should children be allowed to play if you had children or if you do have children, are they allowed to play?

MARKEY: Yes, I have two wonderful children. They're not allowed to play. It is not because I am scared that playing Grand Theft Auto is going to turn them into a killer or anything, the reason why we protect our children from violence, from violent video games and even from discussing sometimes watching CNN even, it is simply because we try to shield our children from violence.

We don't want to make them to be scared. It is not because we are going to make them to be killers. I think it is a wise idea to not have a child play a violent video game. That recommendation is not because doing so would turn the child into a killer. It is simply because doing so is exposing that child to something that will scare him or her and as parents our job is to protect our children.

TAPPER: All right, Dr. Markey, thank you so much for joining us. CNN will have continuing live coverage of the D.C. Navy Yard massacre and much more in a special night of primetime. Take a look.


ANNOUNCER: CNN Tonight, at 7:00, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT," controversy over the crown. The new Miss America responds to racist comments over her win. Then at 8:00 on "ANDERSON COOPER 360," remembering the victims who lost their lives in the Navy Yard shooting, and at 9:00 on "PIERS MORGAN LIVE," it's a deadly combination, guns and mental illness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no way a gun should ever get in the hands of a mentally ill person. ANNOUNCER: From the suicide of Pastor Rick Warren's son to the shooting in Washington's Navy Yard, Piers asks the experts, can anything be done? It's all on CNN Tonight, starting with "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" at 7:00, "ANDERSON COOPER 360" at 8:00, and "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" at 9:00 tonight on CNN.


TAPPER: Coming up on THE LEAD, the CEO of Starbucks staying a stand. How will his no guns policy go over with customers? He defines his position in our exclusive interview next.


TAPPER: When you go to order your grande pumpkin spice latte, if it is not too much trouble, could you not bring your Glock inside. Gun owners, the CEO of Starbucks has a request for you. That when THE LEAD continues.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I am Jake Tapper live right outside the Washington Navy Yard after yet another mass shooting tragedy in this country. Starbucks CEO seemed to fire up people with both sides of the gun debate with a strange but kind request, a polite one, that customers please keep guns out of his stores even though you will still get a smiley face on your cup if you are carrying.

CNN's Poppy Harlow talked exclusively to Howard Schultz to try and clear this up.


HOWARD SCHULTZ, CEO, STARBUCKS: We're not an antigun company. We're not a policy maker.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The man behind the ubiquitous green siren is smack in the middle of a heated gun control debate.

SCHULTZ: We have been mischaracterized as being pro or antigun. We're neither.

HARLOW: Forty three states have so-called open carry laws meaning you can visibly carry a license gun in public. Many businesses like Target, Wal-Mart, and Starbucks say when it comes to customers, if a firearm is allowed by the state, it is allowed in their stores. That has led some to dub Starbucks pro gun.

SCHULTZ: We have seen advocates on both sides of this debate use Starbucks as a staging ground for their own motivations.

HARLOW: Across the country, gun rights advocates have gathered at the coffee chain displaying firearms for what they call Starbucks Appreciation Day, some posting photos on Facebook. SCHULTZ: A number of episodes in which people have walked into the stores and customers felt significantly uncomfortable and children have felt uncomfortable.

HARLOW: In an open letter, Schultz says guns are not welcome at Starbucks and asks customers not to bring them. He stopped short of a ban.

SCHULTZ: We made that decision so that we would not put our people in the uncomfortable position of having to confront a customer who is carrying a gun.

HARLOW: Ryan Delp and Bill Stevens both carry their guns in public but generally concealed.

RYAN DELP, GUN OWNER: I am carrying a firearm anyway. I still would intend to respect their wishes. I just won't be taking my business to Starbucks.

BILL STEVEN, NEWTOWN GUN OWNER: In a free society like America where we are supposed to honor equality, tolerance, and each other's rights, here we have a company saying we don't want that right in our store. I think that's unfortunate.

HARLWO: The Brady campaign and others have petitioned Starbucks to ban guns as AMC Theaters and Pete's Coffee have done. Last month, a group of Newtown residents sent him this letter asking him to ban guns saying your company has the chance to honor the 26 innocent lives lost here in Newtown.

MONTE FRANK, NEWTOWN ACTION ALLIANCE: I think it is a significant step in the right direction. We would have preferred an outright ban. I think it sends a clear message that we need to have safe places for our kids.

HARLOW: Gilles Rousseau signed that letter. His daughter Lauren was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary. She was a teacher and a Starbucks barista.

GILLES ROUSSEAU, LOST DAUGHTER TO GUN VIOLENCE: It is a good first step. I am glad he did that. I knew he would do that because he is a very socially conscious man, and he is put in a tough situation. It is not for him or his staff to regulate guns. It is for the government.

SCHULTZ: I am deeply empathetic and sympathize with the families of Newtown and have tried very hard to make the kind of decision that was both in the interests of our company at the same time extremely respectful to those families.

HARLOW: Taking a stand on controversial issues is not new for Starbucks. It banned smoking outside its stores and has long support same sex marriage.

SCHULTZ: We employ over 200,000 people in this country and we to want embrace diversity. HARLOW (on camera): How do you make these decisions, what social issues Starbucks should engage in, put your name in front of and Starbucks name in front of?

SCHULTZ: There are times when I feel like America has lost its conscience, and as a result of that, that people need to stand up and be counted for and leaders need to emerge in other parts of society. And I think the role and responsibility for companies is not only to make a profit, but serve their communities as best we can.


HARLOW: I can tell you, Jake, that Howard Schultz said time and time again in our interview. We are not pro gun. We're not antigun. We just think they don't have a place in Starbucks. Despite that, some people love it. Some people hate it, and it goes without saying how much debate this is bringing up on social media.

TAPPER: Poppy, great report. Just a quick question, Howard Schultz has given money to Democrats in the past. How much was this manifestation of his personal politics versus what he was doing as a CEO?

HARLOW: Great question. I asked him are you a gun owner and did your personal views play into this? He would not answer whether he is a gun owner or not. He said this is not about me. This is about the company, so we don't really get a view into that lens. This is a CEO what has come out in front on major issues like gay marriage and supporting it and he is coming out in another controversial issue right now -- Jake.

TAPPER: Poppy Harlow, thanks so much. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to the able hands of Wolf Blitzer. He is in THE SITUATION ROOM.