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North Korea Claims Hydrogen Bomb Test; President Barack Obama Announces Executive Order on Gun Control. 11-12mn ET

Aired January 5, 2016 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:49] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: 11:00 p.m. here on the east coast. This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Yes, we do have some breaking news. This is out of North Korea tonight. Pyongyang says it has conducted a successful nuclear test. That is according to the North Korea state news agency which confirmed this was a hydrogen test. A hydrogen bomb test.

CNN's chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto, he joins me now on the phone. Apparently this caused a seismic event in the country? Jim, are you there?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (on the phone): That's right. First detected as a 5.1 magnitude earthquake which has been in the past the first signs of a nuclear test which were conducted underground in North Korea. Same size, in fact, as a nuclear test took place there in 2013.

What is different about this one is, as you say Don, they are claiming that it was a hydrogen bomb, a more powerful explosion. The U.S. is still assessing this test and sometimes that could take them days to determine exactly how large an explosion it was. And it was the nuclear - to be clear, the U.S. has expressed doubts in recent weeks as North Korea has said that it is developing a hydrogen bomb. The U.S. has expressed doubts they have that capability. But, North Korea, we know, has conducted three previous nuclear tests. So the U.S. is aware they at least now have the ability to do at least do that. And there have been an increasing concerns about advances as they have been making including advances. And missile technology in the possibility of miniaturizing nuclear warheads so they can be placed on top of missiles and threatening not only their neighbors but the potential of threatening the west coast of the United States. That is not confirmed but that is capability of the North Koreans are seeking to do.

So this is at a minimum a provocation. Things to watch for now, not only the U.S. reaction but certainly the reaction of its neighbors, South Korea and, of course, China. China is a North Korean ally. It has, in recent years, been impatient, upset with provocations from North Korea but not necessarily clamping down on North Korea to the agree that the U.S. and others would like.

It's a sobering development tonight, Don. To be clear the U.S. has non-confirmed it is a nuclear explosion and has expressed doubts whether they have the capability for a hydrogen nuclear test by any measure it's a sobering development tonight and at least a provocation.

LEMON: And Jim, so here is what the pacific command spokesman is saying, that U.S. forces Korea is aware of reports of North Korea's nuclear test today, will remain vigilant and are fully committed to working closely with our republic of Korea ally to maintain security on the peninsula. So what are the next steps to take in at least trying to keep the area secure or what happens next is really the question?

SCIUTTO: Well, the first step will be confirming that this was indeed a nuclear explosion. It has all the hallmarks and a similar earthquake as it were or registering as an earthquake similar in size the previous (INAUDIBLE) in 2013. So assessing the size of this, confirming it is nuclear and then the U.S. making an assessment as to whether it was indeed hydrogen which would be a step forward technologically. But one of the U.S. has expressed out about.

But let's be honest, Don, you know in recent years, North Korea has made many advances. They have set off several nuclear explosions, granted underground. They have made progress with missile technology and at least claimed to be able to miniaturize that technology. The warhead technology so they could put it on top of a missile. At the same time, U.S. analysts some estimated that North Korea may have as many as 10 to 15 nuclear weapons.

So an expanding capability question becomes then, what is the stick at this point? What is the punishment? And as you know, we have been watching this for years, negotiations haven't worked. North Korea has reneged on commitment previous nuclear deals including going back to the Bush administration. China has tried to squeeze them diplomatically with some economic measures. South Korea has offered them detente, in effect. All of these things have been tried with North Korea and it hasn't worked. And it's a great frustration of everyone involved. Meanwhile, you have an unpredictable dictator there with a nuclear weapon. It's bad all around.

[23:05:16] LEMON: What can we expect to hear from Washington, specifically the president, the Pentagon? What should we expect to hear?

SCIUTTO: I have been in touch with the White House tonight. They say they are still assessing this. I would expect to have a statement -- some sort of reaction from the White House state department by tomorrow morning. Will you see any announcement of moves, penalties, sanctions, et cetera? All these things? Likely not immediately. They have seen these tests before and the fact is the U.S. has minimal leverage with North Korea.

But there will be moves certainly to reassure allies in the region particularly South Korea which is, of course, very close to all this and hard questions about what is the policy going forward. And I think also, Don, you want to look at what China does because there has been a lot of speculation about when will China finally run out of patience with North Korea. When will hey squeeze them truly economically to influence their decisions? And, you know, we haven't seen that to a agree that changes North Korean behavior. Whether this changes that we will have to see.

LEMON: Jim Sciutto is our chief national security correspondent reporting to us tonight. North Korea has conducted a nuclear test at least according to Pyongyang. That's what the North Korea news agency is reporting tonight specifically, a hydrogen bomb. Make sure you stick with CNN. We will continue to update you on the story, all the developments as we get them.

Now, from bombs to guns, we want to turn to the events of Washington today. President Obama saying that he will take action on guns with or without Congress. He made a passionate plea at the White House for America to come together and stop gun violence. Introduced by Mark Barden whose young son, Daniel, was killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It was and extraordinary speech and we are bringing you the whole thing right now. Here it is.



Mark, I want to thank you for your introduction. I still remember the first time we met and the time we spent together. And the conversation we had about Daniel. And that changed me that day. And my hope earnestly has been that it would change the country.

Five years ago this week, a sitting member of Congress and 18 others were shot at, at a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona. It wasn't the first time I had to talk to the nation in response to a mass shooting, nor would it be the last. Ft. Hood, Binghamton, Aurora, Oak Creek, Newtown, the Navy yard, Santa Barbara, Charleston, San Bernardino. Too many. And thanks to a great medical team and the love of her husband, Mark, my dear friend and colleague, Gabby Giffords survived. She is here with us today with her wonderful mom.


OBAMA: It is thanks to a great medical team, her wonderful husband, Mark, who by the way, the last time I met with Mark, this is a small aside, you may know Mark's twin brother is in outer space. He came to the office and I said how often are you talking to him? He says I usually talk to him every day but the call was coming in right before the meeting so I think I may not have answered his call which made me feel kind of bad. That's a long distance call.


OBAMA: So I told him, if his brother, Scott, is calling today, that he should take it. Turn the ringer on.

I was there with Gabby when she was still in the hospital. And we didn't think, necessarily, at that point, that she was going to survive. And that visit right before memorial, about an hour later, Gabby first opened her eyes. And I remember talking to mom about that.

But I know the pain that she and her family have endured these past five years. And the rehabilitation and the work and the effort to recover from shattering injuries. And then I think of all the Americans who aren't as fortunate. Every single year, more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns, 30,000, suicides, domestic violence, gang shootouts, accidents.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost brothers and sisters or buried their own children. Many have had to learn to live with a disability or learn to live without the love of their life. A number of those people are here today. They can tell you some stories. In this room right here, there's a lot of stories. There's a lot of heart ache. There's a lot of resilience, there's a lot of strength, but there's also a lot of pain. And this is just a small sampling.

The United States of America is not the only country on earth with violent or dangerous people. We are not inherently more prone to violence. But we are the only advanced country on earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency. It doesn't happen in other advanced countries. It's not even close. And as I have said before, somehow, we've become numb to it and we start thinking that this is normal. And instead of thinking about how to solve the problem this has become one of our most polarized, partisan debates. Despite the fact that there is a general consensus in America about what needs to be done. That's part of the reason why on Thursday I'm going to hold a town hall meeting in Virginia on gun violence because my goal here is to bring good people on both sides of this issue together for an open discussion. I'm not on the ballot again. I'm not looking to score some points. I think we can disagree without impugning other people's motives or without being disagreeable. We don't need to be talking past one another. But we do have to feel a sense of urgency about it.

In Dr. King's words, we need to feel the fierce urgency of now because people are dying. And the constant excuses for inaction no longer do, no longer suffice. That's why we're here today. Not to debate the last mass shooting but to do something to try to prevent the next one.


[23:15:10] OBAMA: To prove that the vast majority of Americans, even if our voices aren't always the loudest or most extreme, care enough about a little boy like Daniel to come together and take common sense steps to save lives and protect more of our children.

Now, I want to be absolutely clear at the start. I have said this over and over again. This also becomes routine. There's a ritual about this whole thing that I have to do. I believe in the second amendment. It's there written on the paper. That guarantees a right to bear arms. No matter how many times people try to twist my words around I taught constitutional law. I know a little about this. I get it.

(APPLAUSE) OBAMA: But I also believe that we can find ways to reduce gun violence, consistent with the second amendment. I mean, think about it. We all believe in the first amendment. The guarantee of free speech. But we accept that you can't yell "fire" in a theater. We understand there are some constraints on our freedom in order to protect innocent people. We cherish our right to privacy. But we accept that you have to go through metal detectors before being allowed to board a plane. It's not because people like doing that. But we understand that that's part of the price of live impugning in a civilized society.

And what is ignored in this debate is that a majority of gun owners agree that we can respect the second amendment while keeping an irresponsible law breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale.

Today, background checks are required to gun stores. If a father wants to teach his daughter how to hunt, he can walk in to a gun store, get a background check, purchases his weapon safely and responsibly. This is not seen as an infringement on the second amendment. Contrary to the claims of what some gun rights proponents have suggested this is not the first step in some slippery slope to mass confiscation, contrary to claim of some presidential candidates apparently before this meeting, this is not a plot to take away everybody's guns. You pass a background check, you purchase a firearm.

The problem is, some gun sellers have been operating under a different set of rules. A violent felon can buy the same weapon over the internet with no background check, no questions asked. A recent study found that about one in 30 people looking to buy guns on one Web site had criminal records. One out of thirty had criminal record. We are talking about individuals convicted of serious crimes, aggravated assault, domestic violence, robbery, illegal gun possession. People with lengthy criminal history buying deadly weapons all too easily. And this is just one Web site within the span of a few months.

So, we have created a system in which dangerous people are allowed to play by a different set of rules than a responsible gun owner who buys his or her gun the right way and subjects themselves to a background check. That doesn't make sense. Everybody should have to abide by the same rules. Most Americans and gun owners agree. And that's what we tried to change three years ago after 26 Americans, including 20 children, were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Two United States senators, Joe Mansion, a Democrat from West Virginia and Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, both gun owners, both strong defenders of our second amendment rights, both with "a" grades from the NRA. That's hard to get. Worked together in good faith, consulting with folks like our vice president, who's been a champion on this for a long time, to write a common sense compromise bill that would have required everybody who buys a gun to get a background check. Common sense stuff.

Ninety percent of Americans supported the idea. Ninety percent of Democrats in the Senate voted for that idea but it failed because 90 percent of Republicans in the Senate voted against that idea. How did this become such a partisan issue?

Republican president George W. Bush once said I believe in background checks at gun shows or anywhere to make sure that guns don't get in the hands of people that shouldn't have them. Senator John McCain introduced a bipartisan measure to address the gun show loophole saying we need this amendment because criminals and terrorists have exploited and are exploiting this very obvious loophole in our gun safety laws. Even the NRA used to support expanded background checks. And by the way, most of its members still do. Most Republican voters still do. How did we get here? How did we get to the place where people think requiring a comprehensive background check means taking away people's guns?

Each time this comes up, we are fed the excuse that common sense reforms like background checks might not have stopped the last massacre. Or the one before that. Or the one before that, so why bother trying? I reject that thinking.


[23:22:41] OBAMA: We know we can't stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world. But maybe we could try to stop one act of evil, one act of violence. Some of you may recall that the same time that Sandy Hook happened, a disturbed person in China took a knife and tried to kill with a knife, a bunch of children in China. But most of them survived. Because he didn't have access to a powerful weapon. We maybe can't save everybody but we could save some. Just as we don't prevent all traffic accidents but we take steps to try to reduce traffic accidents.

As Ronald Reagan once said if mandatory background checks could save more lives it would be well worth making it the law of the land. The bill before Congress three years ago met that test. Unfortunately, too many senators failed theirs.


OBAMA: In fact, we know that background checks make a difference. After Connecticut passed a law requiring background checks, gun deaths decreased by 40 percent, 40 percent.


OBAMA: Meanwhile, since Missouri repealed a law requiring comprehensive background checks and purchase permits, gun deaths have increased to an almost 50 percent higher than the national average. One study found unsurprisingly, that criminals in Missouri now have easier access to guns. And the evidence tells us that in states that background checks law-abiding Americans don't find it harder to purchase guns whatsoever. Their guns have not been confiscated. Their rights have not been infringe. And that's just the information we have access to. With more research we could further improve gun safety just like we have reduced traffic fatalities enormously over the last 30 years. We do research when cars, food, medicine, even toys harm people so that we make them safer. And you know what, research, science, those are good things. They work. They do. (APPLAUSE)

[23:25:39] OBAMA: But think about this, when it comes to an inherently deadly weapon -- nobody argues that guns are potentially deadly -- weapons that kill tens of thousands of Americans every year, Congress actually voted to make it harder for public health experts to conduct research into gun violence. Made it harder to collect data and facts and develop strategies to reduce gun violence.

Even after San Bernardino, they refused to make it harder for terror suspects who can't get on a plane to buy semiautomatic weapons. That's not right. That can't be right. So the gun lobby may be holding Congress hostage right now but they cannot hold America hostage.


OBAMA: We do not have to accept this carnage at the price of freedom.


OBAMA: Now I want to be clear, Congress still needs to act. The folks in this room will not rest until Congress does.


OBAMA: Because once Congress gets on board with common sense gun safety measures, we can reduce gun violence a whole lot more. But we also can't wait. Until we have a Congress that's in line with the majority of Americans there are actions within my legal authority that we can take to help reduce gun violence and save more lives. Actions that protect our rights and our kids.

After sandy hook Joe and I worked together with our teams and we put forward a whole series of executive actions to try to tighten up the existing rules and systems that we had in place. But today we want to take it a step further. So let me outline what we're going to be doing.

Number one, anybody in the business of selling firearms must get a license and conduct background checks or be subject to criminal prosecutions.


OBAMA: It doesn't matter whether you're doing it over the internet or at a gun show. It's not where you do it but what you do. We're also expanding background checks to cover violent criminals who try to buy the most dangerous firearms by hiding behind trusts and corporations and various cutouts.

We're also taking steps to make the background check system more efficient. Under the guidance of Jim Comey and the FBI and our deputy director Tom Brandon at ATF we are going to hire more folks to process applications faster and we're going to bring an outdated background check system into the 21st century. (APPLAUSE)

[23:30:02] OBAMA: And these steps will actually lead to a smoother process for law-abiding gun owners, a smoother process for responsible gun dealers, a stronger process for protecting the people from -- the public from dangerous people.

So that's number one. Number two, we're going to do everything we can to ensure the smart and effective enforcement of the gun safety laws that are already on the books which means we will add 200 more ATF investigators. We are going to require firearms dealers to report more or lost - more lost or stolen guns on a timely basis. We are working with advocates to protect victims of domestic abuse from gun violence, where too often -


OBAMA: Where too often people are not getting the protection that they need. Number three, we're going to do more to help those suffering from mental illness get the help that they need.


OBAMA: So high profile mass shootings tend to shine a light on those few mentally unstable people who inflict harm on others but nearly two in three gun deaths are from suicides. So a lot of our work is to prevent people from hurting themselves. That's why we made sure that the affordable care act, also known as Obamacare -


OBAMA: That law made sure that treatment for mental health was covered the same as treatment for any other illness. That's why we're going to invest $500 million to expand access to treatment across the country.


OBAMA: It's also why we're going to ensure that federal mental health records are submitted to the background check system and remove barriers that prevent states from reporting well of an information. If we can continue to de-stigmatize mental health issues, get folks proper care and fill background checks in the system then we can spare more families the pain of losing a love on to suicide.

And for those in Congress who rush to blame mental illness for mass shootings as a way of avowing action on guns, here's your chance to support these efforts. Put your money where your mouth is.


OBAMA: Number four. We are going to boost gun safety technology. You know, today many gun injuries and deaths are the result of legal guns that were stolen or misused or discharged accidentally. In 2013 alone, more than 500 people lost their lives to gun accidents and that includes 30 children younger than five years old. In the greatest, most technologically advanced nation on earth there's

no reason for this. We need to develop new technologies that make guns safer. If we can set it up so you can't unlock your phone unless you got the right fingerprint, why can't we do the same thing for our guns?


OBAMA: If there's an app that can help us find a missing tablet, which happens to me often -- the older I get -


OBAMA: If we can do it for your iPad, there's no reason we can't do it with a stolen gun. If a child can't open a bottle of Aspirin, we should make sure they can't pull a trigger on a gun. All right?


OBAMA: So we're going to advance research. We are going to work with the private sector to update firearms technology. And some gun retailers are stepping up by refusing to finalize a purchase without a complete background check or refraining from selling semiautomatic weapons or high capacity magazines. And I hope that more retailers and more manufacturers join them. Because they should care as much as anybody about a product that kills almost as many Americans as car accidents.

I make this point because none of us can do this alone. I think Mark made that point earlier. All of us should be able to work together to find a balance that declares the rest of our rights are also important, second amendment rights are important. But there are other rights that we care about as well and we have to be able to balance them. Because our right to worship freely and safely -


[23:35:26] OBAMA: That right was denied to Christians in Charleston, South Carolina and that right was denied Jews in Kansas cities and that was denied Muslims in Chapel Hill and Sikhs in Oak Creek. They had rights too.


OBAMA: Our right to peaceful assembly, that right was robbed from movie goers in Aurora and Lafayette. Our unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, those rights were stripped from college kids in Blacksburg in Santa Barbara and high schools in columbine and from first graders in Newtown, first graders.

And from every family who -- who never imagined that their loved one would be taken from our lives by a bullet from a gun. Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad. And by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day.

(APPLAUSE) OBAMA: So -- all of us need to demand a Congress brave enough to stand up to the gun lobby's lies all of us need to stand up and protect its citizens. All of us need to demand that governors and legislators and businesses do their part to make our community safer. We need the wide majority of responsible gun owners who grieve with us every time this happens and feel like your views are not being properly represented to join with us to demand something better.


OBAMA: And we need voters who want safer gun laws and who are disappointed in leaders who stand in their way to remember come election time.


OBAMA: I mean, some of this is just simple math. Yes, the gun lobby is loud and it is organized in defense of making it effortless for guns to be available for anybody, any time. But you know what? The rest of us, we all have to be just as passionate. We have to be just as organized in defense of our kids. This is not that complicated. The reason Congress blocks laws? Is because they want to win elections. And if you make it hard for them to win an election if they block those laws, they'll change course, I promise you.


OBAMA: And, yes, it will be hard. And it won't happen overnight. It won't happen during this Congress. It won't happen during my presidency. But a lot of things don't happen overnight. A woman's right to vote didn't happen overnight. Liberation of African- Americans didn't happen overnight. LGBT rights, that was decades- worth of work. So just because it's hard, that's no excuse not to try.

And if you have any doubt as to why you should feel that fierce urgency of now, think about what happened three weeks ago. Xavian Dobson (ph) was a sophomore at Fulton high school in Knoxville, Tennessee. He played football, beloved by his classmates and his teachers. His own mayor called him one of their city's success stories. The week before Christmas, he headed to a friend's house to play video games. He wasn't in the wrong place at the wrong time, he hadn't made a bad decision. He was exactly where any other kid would be. Your kid. My kids. And then gunmen started firing. And Xavian, who was in high school, hadn't even gotten started in life, dove on top of three girls to shield them from the bullets. And he was shot in the head. And the girls were spared. He gave his life to save theirs. An act of heroism, a lot bigger than anything we should ever expect from a 15-year-old.

Rare have no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends. We are not asked to do what Xavian Dobson did. We are not ask to have shoulders that big, a heart that strong, reactions that quick, I'm not asking people to have that same level of courage or sacrifice or love. But if we love our kids and care about their prospects and if we love

this country and care about its future, then we can find the courage to vote. We can find the courage to get mobilized and organized. We can find the courage to cut through all the noise and do what a sensible country would do. That's what we're doing today and tomorrow we should do more and we should do more the day after that. And if we do, we'll leave behind a nation that's stronger than the one we inherited and worthy of the sacrifice of a young man like Xavian.


OBAMA: Thank you very much, everybody.


LEMON: The president's speech in its entirety today at the White House. The question is did the president go far enough and will anything change? We're going to discuss that when we come right back.

Plus, the latest on reports of a successful nuclear test in North Korea. Could it have been a hydrogen bomb?


[23:47:28] LEMON: We just played the president's speech in its entirety. We know, he is taking executive action outlining his plan to reduce gun violence and a really crying as he talks about the children massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary school.

Let's discuss now. Ben Ferguson and Marc Lamont Hill.

OK, gentlemen, good to see you. Ben, good to have you back.

Marc, what did you think with the president? Did the president go far - I mean, far enough?

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he hit the right note. Obviously, he could have gone farther. For example, he could have set a number, for the exact number of guns a person could sell to be a gun dealer. But he was trying to do is walk that tight rope so that he doesn't get into the same type of legal battle they did immigration, but that he can set a provisions that will allow him to move the ball forward and actually get something done.

LEMON: OK. So here is what he says. Expand background checks for private sales, bolster database of prohibited buyers, and on. And you see there, and then it includes research, develop gun safety and technology. So do you think this was more symbolic, was it more about his legacy rather than getting something done? Do you think this is really about doing what he can to get done?

HILL: It's both. Some things require money from Congress and the Republican Congress is going to say no.

LEMON: That's why I said you think it stands a chance. HILL: Some of it symbolic, right. But he is saying, look. You guys

say (INAUDIBLE), mental health, even Ben, you have been saying mental health for a long time. So this is an example where they can take half a billion dollars and invest in the president's plan and address mental health. But some of it is very concrete. For example, the president says, look, we are going to refine and define what constitutes a gun dealer. By doing that, it makes background checks necessary for wider group of people. That is concrete. That's within his power and that's within something that is immediate. It can be done very quickly.

LEMON: I was trying to understand, Ben, earlier, what you --- I didn't quite understand your argument when it came to mental illness or mental health and background checks. It didn't see - I don't see the distinction. What are you trying to say?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I think you have to look at what is it that we actually accomplish when it comes to mental health? Those are a lot of gray area today. It is studying and researching is one thing. That's fine. But we still don't have a clear plan for what would constitute you to be ineligible to buy a gun based on your mental health.

I have been saying now for years that if you are committed against your will by the state, by a judge, we should agree on a moratorium amount of time that you are not able to buy a weapon. I'm in favor of that. But that's not what we did today. And what we do have now is a lot of ambiguity about who should be reporting what. We know now that doctors no longer have to worry about HIPPA laws based on what the president said today. If you have someone that comes and is depressed that you think might be a threat to themselves or other, that now information can go into the FBI database which could also not allow you to purchase a weapon.

There are a lot of people that go and get help and we want people with mental health issues to get help. Now the concern is do you go and get that help because you may get on a list that says you can't buy a gun should you lose your second amendment right --

[23:00:17] LEMON: Do we know that yet?

FERGUSON: No. We don't know that because we don't know how you get on the list, what constitutes you getting on the list. And here is the other scary part. We also don't know how to get off the list. Because no one is described and or explained that if you do get on the list and you get help and then you say, look, I'm better I struggle with that or I still struggle with it --

[23:00:14] LEMON: Don't you think that there is going to be some explanation of that? Because, you know, if you can't pass a driver's license test you don't get a driver's license.

FERGUSON: Why not have the explanation today.


LEMON: By saying what's going to happen doesn't mean you have to explain every detail of how it's going to go into effect.

FERGUSON: Don, you are dealing with the constitution, though, and a second amendment right. You should have this planned out.

LEMON: I understand what you are saying --


HILL: You are misrepresenting the president's argument. We are not saying -- I'm not saying that the president doesn't have a plan and that he is just going to throw it against the wall and do what works. What he is saying is that tonight, the president didn't outline every minute detail of the plan.

The second part of this is that some of what the president is doing is outlining a broad set of provisions and recommendations for federal agencies. You can't, on the hand, say that the president shouldn't be making law outside of Congress and on the other hand say he is not being specific enough in the laws that he is making.

The president is making a recommendations and he is outlining within the boundaries of his power what is possible. Part of what the president wants to do with mental health is use money to do research, to investigate and to develop a plan. You are mad he doesn't have a plan --

FERGUSON: But the point that I'm making tonight is based on what they put in the executive order when they gave, for example, Social Security administration now the power to decide who is capable and not capable of handling -- these are their words, their own personal affairs, OK, and then that could disqualify you from buying a gun. That is in the present executive order tonight. That's --

LEMON: Who should decide then?

FERGUSON: Well, I don't want someone looks at a chart at the Social Security administration to decide because an older elderly person maybe is not doing their taxes right that somehow that should take aware their constitutional right to own a weapon.

LEMON: But do you know that to be true specifically if someone is not doing their taxes right? That that is going to be a qualification?

HILL: No one said that.

FERGUSON: If you read the executive order and I read the executive order that the White House put it out and it says explicitly that if someone in the Social Security administration deems an individual not capable of handling their own personal affairs. That has nothing to do with mental health. That could be your finances. That's when the Social Security steps in on finances.

HILL: But that determination is not made by low level bureaucrat. The Social Security officer themselves --

FERGUSON: Then, who is making it? Do you think the head of the Social Security point to?

HILL: The Social Security officers operate in conjunction with the other person with the person's doctor. So, for example, if the person's doctor and family decides this person cannot take care of themselves.

FERGUSON: That is not true.

HILL: That is absolutely true.

FERGUSON: It is not true. If you read it, it is not.

HILL: No, it is true. They are not saying that someone woman at a desk or some guy at a desk is going to say, you know what, you can't handle your affairs therefore you can't have a gun. That's absolutely not true.

LEMON: Which is what happens across the country every day when people say you can't handle your own affairs at this point, you can't drive at this point, you are suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia. These things happen every single day. I have to go, though. Seriously, I have to run.

FERGUSON: They happened every day. But if you can't drive, does that mean you shouldn't be have a gun?

LEMON: It depends.

HILL: Why can't you drive? Because you can't put you shoe on the ignition, you probably shouldn't have the gun. I don't know why you keep stopping that.

LEMON: President Obama joins Anderson Cooper Thursday night at 8:00 eastern for an exclusive one-hour live town hall, guns in America.

When we come right back, the latest on the breaking news out of North Korea. Pyongyang says it has successfully carried out a hydrogen bomb test.


[23:58:07] LEMON: Our breaking news tonight is out of North Korea. Pyongyang says it has conducted a successful nuclear test. That's according to the North Korea state news agency which says this was a hydrogen bomb test.

I want to go to CNN's Paula Hancocks live for us tonight in Seoul with more.

What do you know, Paula?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, the North Koreans have announced that this test took place at 10:00 a.m. local time on Wednesday. So that is 8:30 p.m. eastern on Tuesday in the United States. They say that it was a successful hydrogen bomb test but of course we don't know for sure if that is accurate. The U.S. senior U.S. administration official say it could take several days before they obtain the scientific data needed to be able to confirm if it was successful. But as far as the North Koreans are concerned, it was successful they say that it was to defend themselves against the United States. They have used this as a justification for these nuclear tests and missile tests many times in the past saying they have a legal right to defend their country. And that if the U.S. does not violate North Korean sovereignty we will not use nuclear weapons.

Now, as you can expect, this has been widely condemned already. Japan's prime minister condemning it saying it is a threat to Japan's security. The South Koreans saying that they are working with their regional partners to figure out how to make North Korea pay a price. They have all said this is clear violence of the United Nations Security Council resolutions. There will be meetings around the world. At this point, emergency meetings, to figure out what the next step will be? What response should the international community give to North Korea? In the past it has consistently been the U.N. Security Council meets and passes resolutions and sanctions, but as you can see up until this point that simply does not work, North Korea continues -- Don.

[01:00:01] LEMON: Paula Hancocks reporting to us from Seoul, South Korea about the activity in North Korea this evening.

Thank you very much for joining us this evening. Make sure you stick with our coverage. Now, our live coverage is going to continue with John Vause in Los Angeles.

Good night, everyone.