Piers Morgan: The Day to Debate Gun Control Would Have Been Yesterday
I don't watch Piers Morgan's show too often since it's generally just a bunch of celebrity gossip that makes his predecessor, Larry King, look like he practiced serious journalism in comparison, but I caught some of his show following the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado this weekend. And I have to admit I'm really glad I heard someone say what Morgan did this Friday evening about when it's acceptable to talk about gun control.
If we don't talk about gun control after a tragedy like this one, it won't get talked about at all... period. And even if we do have a discussion now, both political parties are so beholden to or scared to death of the NRA, that neither of them are going to act unless there's finally enough pressure from enough voters that siding with the NRA is finally a losing proposition and is going to cost some politicians their seats. Given their huge war chest, that's a big hurdle to overcome. I'm not sure how many more people have to die by gun violence for that to finally become a reality.
Anyway, as I said, I'm no big fan of Piers Morgan, but it was nice to see for once the hypocrisy of not being allowed to talk about the root causes of this many deaths when we don't treat any other issue that way. People die and we want to know why and how to prevent it from happening. Sadly it seems even a Democratic member of Congress being shot wasn't enough to wake these people up that the laws need to be changed. Makes me wonder how many nut jobs out there have to be killing one of their own before enough is enough and Congress is willing to act. Apparently just one wasn't, which still just astounds me.
Transcript of Morgan going after the Cato hack below the fold.
MORGAN: The most deadly shooting in American history was at Virginia Tech University in 2007. Colin Goddard was shot four times by the gunman who killed 32 people. He now works on legislation with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
He joins me along with Dan Gros, president of the Brady Campaign, and David Koppel, who is a law professor at Denver University and associate policy analyst at the Cato Institute.
Let me start with you, David Kopel, you heard there from Professor Tribe it is time now for gun control to be strengthened. What is your reaction to that?
DAVID KOPEL, PROFESSOR, DENVER UNIVERSITY: Honestly, Piers, I think this is the wrong night to be doing this. And I really wish you'd waited to have this segment until after the funerals. This is a time in Colorado and nationally when it would have been better to have more of the segments like you did before with the family, and when people could be unified in helping the victims.
MORGAN: Well, if I could jump in there --
MORGAN: Wait, let me just challenge you on that --
MORGAN: If I may, let me challenge you on what you just said. A lot of people have said that today, a lot people who don't want strengthening gun control have said this is not the day to debate it. I'll tell you the day to debate it, it would have been yesterday to prevent this from happening. When you have a young man like this able to legally get 6,000 rounds of ammunition off the Internet, to buy four weapons including an assault rifle, and for all of this to be perfectly legal in modern America, allowing him to carry out the biggest shooting in the history of the United States, that, I'm afraid, means it's too late for this debate, for those people that lost their lives.
So don't patronize me about when we should be talking about the gun control debate. You tell me a good reason why we should not strengthen the law now to stop another young man like him going into a store tomorrow, buying four more weapons, 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet, and killing and shooting another 70 people in America.
KOPEL: Because we don't even know the full facts of this situation yet. And that's another reason it would have been prudent for you to wait a few days where we know more about this. Nobody's been able to come up with any proposal specific about the facts of this case, partly because the facts are still being developed. And I know -- you've said many times on the air, America's got too many guns. You want to drastically reduce the number of guns.
If your whole point is there's too many gun, we've got to get rid of lots of them, drastically constrict things, and you think somehow that's going to make it better, well, there's no real evidence that it will. If you want to talk about specific reforms that might involve this specific guy, and prevent future people like him, that's fine. But let's wait till we find out the information, instead of rushing the country into this pro/con thing that I know sells a lot of commercials on TV, but it's inappropriately divisive now.
Nobody's stopping you from having the segment on Wednesday. Can you give people a little bit of breathing room --
MORGAN: OK, you've made your point. Let's move to Dan Gross from the Brady Campaign because I'm really not interested in having a debate about whether we can debate gun control. Given that we now know this young man legally purchased these weapons in the last two months, and purchased this staggering amount of ammunition -- he purchased a hundred-round drum magazine, allowing him to fire off 50 to 60 rounds in one minute in that movie theater, which is what has led to this mass slaughter and mass gun attack.
Given what has happened today, do you think there is now legitimate cause to press politicians for tougher gun control in America?
DAN GROSS, THE BRADY CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE: Piers, I think, like you said, that legitimate cause existed yesterday. And it exists today. It will exist tomorrow. This should be incentive for everybody to make their voice heard. Because, you know, with these guys, it's never the time to talk about it.
You know what, we're not going to talk about it seriously as a nation until the American people get involved in this issue and demand accountability from our leaders, not to do the bidding of the gun lobby, but to represent the people that they've been elected to represent and to prevent tragedies like this.
If Mr. Kopel wants to talk about specific things that can be done to prevent specific people from getting specific guns, you know, what about background checks that can prevent convicted felons, convicted domestic abusers from getting their hands on their guns? The gun lobby works against laws like that on a regular basis. And they're going to be able to continue to until we make our voice heard, which is why the Brady Campaign is launching a petition today at BradyCampaign.org that -- for Americans to sign, to demand that our elected officials do something about this issue, to stop arming dangerous people like this young man was armed today.
MORGAN: Yeah, and just to be clear, you've made it clear that you didn't wait. You didn't wait. You acted today because today is the day to act to prevent something happening tomorrow. Let me go to Colin Goddard. You survived the Virginia Tech shooting, Colin. You went to Capitol Hill to try to persuade Congress to try and reform the gun control laws.
There are many strands to this. As people pointed out to me, in Chicago they have pretty tough laws and they have an almost wild west scenario there with gun crime and shootings amongst the gangs. But that has to do with, in my view, the incredible amount of guns that are in circulation illegally in America. There are apparently nearly as many guns now in circulation in America as there are people.
I'm afraid, the more guns you have, the more likelihood there is they're going to get used. Colin, what is the answer? How are you going to persuade the law makers and politicians? Because at the moment I'm being told by everyone on the airwaves today neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney will even mention guns before the election. It's not politically helpful to them getting elected. That can't be right, can it?
COLIN GODDARD, VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTING VICTIM: The American people need to express their outrage directly to their representatives on every single level. This is something that will change when the American people want it to change. Shooting after shooting, we hear words. We see letters. And then they shrug their shoulders and that's it. That can no longer happen.
We need to hold these people directly accountable. These people being their representatives, for doing the bidding of people who profit from selling firearms to anybody, and that ultimately end up killing innocent people. This is insane that in this world and this modern country that we have to have this conversation. It is way overdue.
MORGAN: It's way overdue. And let me reclarify what I said at the start of this program. I respect the Second Amendment. I respect the average Americans' right to defend themselves in their own homes with a firearm, if they need to. This is a totally different issue that we're talking about today. It's got nothing to do with that right whatsoever.
Mr. Kopel, if you want to come back when it suits you and when you feel the time is right, I will be waiting any time to debate this with you. Thank you now, all of you.