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Piers Morgan Live

Guns in America

Aired December 19, 2012 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT: Guns in America, a live special.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we work harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one in Newtown or any of the lesser known tragedies that visit small towns and big cities all across America every day.

Since Friday morning, a police officer was gunned down in Memphis, leaving four children without their mother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I keep her and her family in our prayers.

OBAMA: Two officers were killed outside a grocery store in Topeka.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We really don't know why he did what he did.

OBAMA: A woman was shot and killed inside a Las Vegas casino. Three people were shot inside an Alabama hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a tragic event.

OBAMA: A 4-year-old was caught in a drive-by in Missouri and taken off life support just yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My 4-year-old baby!


MORGAN: The toll of gun violence goes on, at least 10,000 Americans murdered with guns every year. President Obama says it's time for real reform right now. And now (ph) the (ph) conversation America needs to have. I'll talk to victims, to gun owners, to family members, also Newark mayor Cory Booker, Deepak Chopra, Tom Ridge and Christiane Amanpour. They're all here, and they want to hear from you, too, America. Enough is enough.

Good evening. Welcome to our studio audience and to all of you at home. This is our version of a town hall, a big conversation about guns in America with people on both sides of what may well be the single most important issue in this country today. Take a look at these people. They've all been touched in some way by gun violence, and they'll talk about their experiences. You can follow us (INAUDIBLE) on Twitter to me, @piersmorgan, and use our hashtag #gunsinamerica. Join the conversation. Join the debate. Have a view. And I will ask questions that you put to me and raise them on air.

But I want to start with the place where the pain is most acute tonight, the reason that we're all here, Newtown in Connecticut, where there were more funerals today for the children and adults killed at the Sandy Hook school.

Just a few moments ago, I spoke to Neil Heslin. His 6-year-old son, Jesse, died in the shooting.


NEIL HESLIN, SON JESSE LEWIS, 6, DIED IN SANDY HOOK SHOOTING: He came late in my life, and Jesse was my son, but he was my best friend and my buddy, too. And I'm just really lost for words. I -- I -- we did everything together. And he had so many favorite spots where he'd go, the diner in town here, the grocery store for his bagel or muffin in the morning, the Mistyvale (ph) Deli where he'd go to get his sandwich in the morning, also before school and his snack. Just -- I -- I'm lost for words. And...

MORGAN: The feeling I got from everything I've understood about his last few moments alive were that he showed great courage, that he was trying to get out of there, that he was aware something was happening. Obviously, his favorite teacher, Vicky (ph) Soto, was there. She was being heroic, too.

But did it surprise you that in that moment, even at his young age, that he was showing such enterprising courage?

HESLIN: That's what's said happened and that's what's going around, that the kids made or were attempting to make a run or to escape. I'm not sure of the number of survivors in Ms. Soto's class, if there were are any. But yes, that wouldn't surprise me.

Jesse -- that was Jesse. He was the type that would take control and he was adventurous. And he -- I always told Jesse never to leave anybody hurt and always to help them. So if there was somebody that was hurt or injured, he would be the one that was helping them or trying to help them.

He loved life so much and loved it to the fullest. And the little guy really had no fear to anything. And -- I -- it's just -- the whole thing is such a tragedy to all the victims, to all their families. My heart goes out to the other families for their loss of their loved ones, and also for Adam's father and his family.

I just want to extend my sympathy and my condolences to his family. They're going through what I'm going through, and they are not responsible for what Adam did. And so I just want them to know that and my thoughts are with them, too. My little boy said something the night before to me. And he said, Dad, this is going to be the best Christmas ever. And he was going on about it. And I said, Jesse, you know, it's -- you know, we'll make it the best we can. And I don't have much family. So it's kind of a quiet time for me. And he makes -- made Christmas happy for me and joyful and he made it what it was.

And I said to him, Jess, we'll make it the best we can. And the next day, this tragedy happened. It occurred. And I thought to myself, Boy, was he wrong about that.


MORGAN: Neil Heslin, whose son, Jesse, died, another of many heart-breaking interviews with the poor families who've suffered such terrible loss. More of that interview tomorrow.

I've got a lot of different perspectives tonight on guns in America. I want to bring in Newark mayor Cory Booker, CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, psychologist Havi Amadour (ph) of the Leaf (ph) Institute, and Dr. Deepak Chopra. He's the co-author of "Super Brain." Also joining us from Washington is Tom Ridge, former Pennsylvania governor and former Homeland Security secretary.

Cory Booker, let me start with you. It just is heart-breaking. It's agonizing. You can't say anything to make it any better. What I find fascinating about Mr. Heslin was his incredible dignity, the way he's prepared to offer comfort and sympathy to the family of the man who had shot his child dead.

He went on to talk about gun control and said that he actually didn't want wide-ranging gun control to come as a result of this, but he said he didn't understand why this shooter's mother would ever want to have the kind of assault weapon that was used in her home to defend herself. So he raised a number of very interesting issues about that, which we'll see more of tomorrow.

But what do you say to other families in America who've got young children now? They can't send them to school now in complete safety. They can't send them to movie theaters. There's almost nowhere left now that's sacred for Americans to be safe because of gun violence. What is the answer?

CORY BOOKER, NEWARK MAYOR: Well, first of all, this is not as rare as people might think. There's a Virginia Tech, so to speak, 30 to 34 Americans dying every day due to gun violence. And unfortunately, the courage and dignity that he showed there is something I have to deal with on a regular day, on a regular basis in Newark.

And so what gets me most frustrated, I guess, is that we all agree in America. And in fact, if you look at gun owners -- you know, I work with a coalition of mayors called the Coalition Against Illegal Guns. We used a Republican pollster to poll gun owners and NRA members, and you get from 70 to 90 percent, depending (ph) on the common sense issue we could do that would make our country safer.

And so let me give you one example. About 40 percent -- roughly 40 percent of the guns sold in America are sold in what's called a secondary market, in other words private sales, where there's no federal registration at all, where people with criminal backgrounds -- where you could get somebody on the terrorist no-fly list who can't get on a plane, but they could go to many of these secondary markets and buy weapons.

Overwhelmingly, 84 percent of gun owners in America -- 82 percent of gun owners in America, 74 percent of NRA members believe that should change. Changing that alone, ending those secondary markets, makes a difference.

And I'll give you the specific example how. One out of two women that are murdered with a gun are murdered by what's called an intimate, somebody they know well. In states that have eliminated that secondary market and don't allow people to trade in private gun sales or gun shows and the like, that number drops by 40 percent because those people with the intention to do wrong or who have just a misdemeanor domestic violence abuse can't buy guns in America. So changing these laws makes people safer.

MORGAN: Let me ask Tom Ridge about this because, Tom, you've had a lot of experience of dealing with guns in your career. There does seem to be a national crisis. I mean, you've had six of the worst of 12 mass shootings in American history happen since 2007. There's just an escalation in the kind of extremity of these situations. Aurora was the worst single killing with a gun or worst single shooting, I should say, 70 people. This incident in Sandy Hook was the worst school shooting.

Is there a national crisis? And is the president right to identify the solution to at least trying to deal with this as being the -- banning these type of assault weapons and the high-capacity magazine clips and also, as Mayor Booker says here, trying to register the ownership of guns in a more sensible manner?

TOM RIDGE, FMR. PA GOV., FMR. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I think the president recognized today in a very appropriate statement that we have to take a look at a variety of risk factors that have created this epidemic, this carnage. And he talked in his remarks when he identified the vice president as leading -- beginning to lead that national conversation. He did understandably point to firearms, but I think very appropriately.

He talked about our mental health system. He talked about a culture of violence that dominates in many of our urban areas. And so I think if we're serious about dealing with this and reducing the risk that it will happen again -- and I think we have to be very clear to the audience and all of America, it's very unlikely that we'll be able to come up with a solution that eliminates future episodes such as Sandy Hook or the drive-by shooting, and the like.

But there are clearly multiple things that can and should be addressed that could severely reduce the number of those incidents. I happen to think the mayor's onto something very significant, background checks and the secondary market. That's a very thoughtful and I think it's a needed approach.

But let's take a look at our mental health system. Let's take a look at the profiles of individuals who've been responsible for these mass murders, and I think you're going to see many similarities. You're going to see severe mental health problems.

The Cho example is one with which I'm very familiar because I sat on the Virginia Tech panel. This is a young man whose lifetime chronicled a deteriorating mental condition. Multiple people knew about it, and yet they never connected -- and it's an overused euphemism -- they never connected the dots.

This situation -- this environment has to be changed. And so I think the president has framed it correctly. There are multiple risk factors, and if we're serious about having a national conversation, we better entertain them all.

MORGAN: Christiane Amanpour, in the end, it's about the guns because without the guns, you don't have the shooting. This particular weapon, the AR-15 assault rifle, has been used now in the last three mass shootings, in Aurora in the movie theater, in the Oregon shopping mall and now here in an elementary school. It is a military weapon.

You've been in war zones all over the world. It is as near to an M-16 machine gun, assault rifle, as you can get, isn't it.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it is. And I can visualize the state of affairs in those classrooms in Sandy Hook because I've seen that on the battlefield, in Sarajevo and Somalia, what's going on in Syria right now. And it is about those particular weapons.

And I look out and I realize that two years ago, I conducted a town hall just like this in the aftermath of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the killing of those people around here in Tucson. Some of the same people who were there are here today, victims' families, all people crying out for at least -- at the very least, a dialogue, a sensible, rational conversation, a national discussion where we're not afraid to call it like it is. And that means to bring everybody to the table.

And that also means, Piers -- and I think everybody here will probably agree. It means cutting down the strawmen that are raised up when people get freaked out about this conversation. This is not about taking people's guns away. It's not about taking the hunter's gun, not about the sporting gun, not about the private protection gun.

It is about sensible gun laws. Semiautomatic weapons, the kinds of things that make killing industrial-strength. There will always be these incidents, as Tom Ridge just said. But you don't have to have industrial-strength killing.

And I'll tell you, there is cause and effect. There are other countries which have faced similar such massacres, and they've taken procedures and it's worked. Our country, England, in Scotland, you know, in 1996, Dunblane, children the same age as the children at Sandy Hook...

MORGAN: Sixteen children. Same thing.

Sixteen 6 and 7-year-olds killed...

MORGAN: National handgun ban. And it was incredibly effective. Australia, the same thing.

We'll explore this again after the break. As I said, the precedent is there. It can be done if you have the will of the politicians. The difference in America right now, with respect to the mayor here, is that not enough people are prepared to come and talk about this.

AMANPOUR: This may be the moment. This may be the tipping point.

MORGAN: It is to me...


MORGAN: It has to be the moment.

We'll come to you gentlemen after the break. We asked America's major gun manufactures to come on the show tonight. They either didn't respond or they declined. We also asked the NRA. They referred us to last night's statement promising "meaningful contributions" to ensure this never happens again.

Stay right there, everyone. When we come back, I want to bring in a man who says that more guns equals less crime.

And remember, you can follow and send a question on Twitter to me @piersmorgan, using the hashtag #gunsinamerica. Tell me your views and I will raise them on air.



OBAMA: A majority of Americans support banning the sale of military-style assault weapons. A majority of Americans support banning the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips.


MORGAN: President Obama today. My studio audience and my guests are back with me now. Joining us is Steve Dulan with the Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners. Also John Lott, author of "More Guns, Less Crime," and CNN contributor Will Cain.

Let me start with you, Steve Dulan. The president made it clear he wants to see a ban on assault weapons of the kind that was there before, perhaps with some tinkering to the loopholes. He want to see an end to the high-capacity clips and fuller (ph) background checks.

What is your reaction?

STEVE DULAN, MICHIGAN COALITION OF RESPONSIBLE GUN OWNERS: My reaction is I -- first off, on behalf of the entire Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners, I want to express sincere sympathy to those who have lost loved ones. We have the goal of increasing safety, and the reason we -- I ended up involved in this discussion is because we passed in our legislature what we thought was a common sense change to create more safety.

MORGAN: But (INAUDIBLE) more guns didn't you.

DULAN: Well, not more guns, but to allow those of us who have licenses to go into more places. That's a little bit different. But yes.

MORGAN: Why do you not want to see assault rifles like the AR-15 banned, given that they are so devastating? They are military-grade weapons, in many senses. They cause massive devastation. People don't understand what these are. They're semiautomatic, but they can fire four to six bullets a second if they're primed properly. They can fire 100 bullets in a minute if people know what they're doing with them.

This shooter at Sandy Hook took enough bullets to wipe out the entire school of 600 children, and he could have done. Why do you want these weapons on the streets of America? As Christiane says, these belong -- not belong but they are found on the battlefields of Sarajevo, of Syria?

DULAN: Well, my thinking on this is they are out there. They're not going away anytime soon. I have a friend, actually former student. He's come to be a guest lecturer in my class before. He was shot by an SKS rifle that was manufactured in Yugoslavia, never legally imported to Canada or the U.S. at any time, according to the records.

And the way he says it is, There is no law you can pass that would have stopped that bullet from being lodged in my hip, which he still carries to this day.

MORGAN: But what do you say to the families in Sandy Hook, this poor man I interviewed earlier, when you just say, Sorry, there's nothing we can do? They're out there. What kind of response is that...


MORGAN: Eleven thousand, twelve thousand Americans die every single year from gun murder, 100,000 gun incidents a year. This is the worst by far of any of the richest countries in the world. It shames America, and yet your answer is more guns.

DULAN: Well, I've had conversations with individuals who saved lives with guns. I participate in training concealed pistol licensees in Michigan. And more than one of the folks who have come through my class have saved lives with guns, and in fact, semiautomatic guns. They have protected themselves and their loved ones. So we look at it as guns save lives also.

MORGAN: Tom Ridge, you're hearing this. Guns save lives.

RIDGE: Well, you know, I -- first of all, I -- I'm wondering if there's any veterans in the audience, men and women who've been in the Army or the Marines who've actually had the experience either in combat or even in training with assault weapons. I'd be curious to know whether or not they think that their neighbor who's not had the training should be able to access military or assault weapons with a high-capacity clip, 20, 30, 40 rounds. And I'd be curious if anybody in your audience has a response to that, and having been in the military, where they think that's a matter of public policy, that's a good idea and we should go forward with continuing to permit the sale of those kind of items.

MORGAN: Well, I can probably jump in. My brother's a British army colonel. He's used these weapons. And what he said tallied with what a surgeon told me in Los Angeles, who's a friend of mine, who has operated on tens of thousands of people who've been injured in the gang wars down in the south of Los Angeles.

Let us make no mistake, though, about what these guns do. And I'll come to you, Cory, in one second. Let's make no mistake about...


MORGAN: Wait one second. Let's wait (ph) about what these do. A surgeon who carried out these operations -- these bullets enter from these semiautomatic weapons and they explode inside the bone. They shatter the bone, the tissue. They lead to multiple amputations, if you're lucky enough to survive. He said they are weapons of mass slaughter. He has no comprehension what they're doing on the streets of his country.

Now, you can see, this is an astonishing picture. This is a car outside Sandy Hook school. That is a bullet hole from a ricochet bullet fired from inside the school. Look at the power. Look at the impact. Imagine what that was doing to a little child of 6 or 7.

Now, John Lott, your answer is more guns makes America safe, even though you look at the statistics, you have 300 million in circulation and you have the worst gun murder rate of any of the wealthy countries of the world by a massive multiple.

How do you justify the claim more guns makes more safe people in America? I don't -- don't get it.

JOHN R. LOTT, JR., AUTHOR, "MORE GUNS, LESS CRIME": Every place that guns have been banned, murder rates have gone up. You cannot point to one place, whether it's Chicago or whether it's D.C. or whether it's been England of whether it's been Jamaica or Ireland...

(CROSSTALK) MORGAN: That's a complete lie.

LOTT: It is not!

MORGAN: It's a complete lie!


MORGAN: The gun murder rate in Britain is 35 a year average!

LOTT: Do you understand...

MORGAN: You need to stop repeating a blatant lie about what happened in other countries!

LOTT: Look, sir...

MORGAN: Thirty-five gun murders a year...

LOTT: You don't -- you...

MORGAN: No, you're not going to get away with this!

LOTT: No! Just one...

MORGAN: You lied about it the other day!

LOTT: Sir...

MORGAN: Thirty-five gun murders a year in Britain, 11,000 to 12,000 in America!

LOTT: You...

MORGAN: Stop...


LOTT: No! You don't even understand simple math!

MORGAN: What you say drives Americans...

LOTT: Can I explain something...

MORGAN: ... to go and buy weapons...

LOTT: Well, there's a difference between...

MORGAN: ... to defend themselves!

LOTT: ... saying something's low and that it increased. What I say is there's lots of reasons why murder rates differ across countries. But when a ban is put on, it still may end up being lower than someplace less, but it went up! There's not one place...

MORGAN: Christiane... LOTT: Everybody knows...


LOTT: Do you understand the difference between changes...

AMANPOUR: I do, sir. I do, yes.

LOTT: OK, and what happened after '97 to the murder rate in England?

AMANPOUR: After Dunblane, they put in these bans. They put in these punishments, fines, jail sentences, et cetera. And it's true that straight afterwards, there wasn't a huge change. But in 2002, 2003, until 2011, the rate plummeted by 44 percent.

LOTT: But it was still higher...

AMANPOUR: That's match.

LOTT: ... than it was in '96!

AMANPOUR: (INAUDIBLE) going down...


MORGAN: Let me bring in -- let me bring in...


MORGAN: Let me bring in Deepak Chopra...


AMANPOUR: Also in Australia!


LOTT: Americans know what happened in Chicago and D.C.!

MORGAN: With respect, you've had your turn.

LOTT: Everybody...

MORGAN: I -- listen, I've heard what you...

LOTT: But you've been calling me a liar!


MORGAN: You said the murder rate soared in Britain. It hasn't.


LOTT: I said it went up.

MORGAN: Let me ask Deepak Chopra this...


MORGAN: If you don't mind, sir, show some respect to the other guests.


MORGAN: Show some respect to the other guests. We're talking about today.

Deepak, what does it say about America that even after 20 young children between 6 and 7 years old are murdered with these assault weapons, you still have people here who say we cannot take them off the streets, there's nothing we can do? And actually, they know that when they fill people with fear, in the last five days, sales of these particular AR-15s have rocketed in America, as Americans race to defend themselves and make themselves safer.


MORGAN: What is going to change this culture?

CHOPRA: Piers, this is what's going to change it. First of all, there are three things that have been pointed out very clearly. One is the easy availability of literally weapons of mass destruction. That's all you can call them, assault weapons.

The second is mental health. And the third which you are asking me about is the culture of violence because the same gun laws (ph) are there in Canada right now and Switzerland, per capita, and yet you don't have the same incidence. We have a culture which has somehow accepted the psychosis of our collective consciousness as normal. We call it "normal." This happens every two months. And so...

MORGAN: But Deepak (INAUDIBLE) anyone that says -- anyone that says they want this particular assault weapon, this murder weapon, this -- this military-grade rifle...

CHOPRA: I would...

MORGAN: Anyone that -- anyone that says that they want...


CHOPRA: ... question their sanity.

MORGAN: But they're accused -- I've been accused of this, of being unpatriotic to America, anti-American. I've been accused of not understanding an American's right to bear arms and the 2nd Amendment! It's got nothing to do with it!


MORGAN: ... American having a firearm at home to defend themselves! CHOPRA: Piers...

MORGAN: This is a weapon of mass slaughter!

CHOPRA: When they passed the 2nd Amendment, they had muskets. It took 20 minutes to load one, and half the time, you missed, OK? The 2nd Amendment didn't take into account assault weapons, the fact that you can buy them through the secondary market or you can load up on ammunition through the Internet.

So you know, we're living in a culture that accepts this as normal. And what we need -- forget (INAUDIBLE) trying to prove him wrong because he's only going to get more belligerent if you prove him wrong. What we need to ask ourselves is what's the solution.

And the solution is this kind of town hall meetings across the country, and then people taking action and going to their legislators and say, We want these laws changed. Otherwise, it's not going to happen.

MORGAN: (INAUDIBLE) come to you after the break. I want to bring in a woman after this break who shot and killed an attacker in her church. You'll be surprised to hear what she says about civilians being armed with guns.

And remember you can follow and send a question on Twitter if you use the hashtag #gunsinamerica. We're getting a huge reaction, as you can imagine. Not everyone agrees with what I believe about this, but many do, too. We'll talk after the break.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are going to do something. I mean, that is obvious. And people want to get stuff before a ban on whatever comes in. Probably magazines. People get scared.


MORGAN: In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, gun sales are soaring across America, especially for weapons like the AR 15 that was used. Back with my studio guests. I want to bring in now Jeanne Assam, who shot a gunman at her church.

Welcome to you, Mrs. Assam. You have an extraordinary story because they you were in a church when a madman came in, a young man armed to the teeth. I think he had an AR 15 as well, And began shooting people. Tell me what happened.

JEANNE ASSAM, STOPPED GUNMAN AT HER CHURCH: He had already shot and killed people in arzata (ph) at a facility called Youth With a Mission. And then he went home and slept in his bed. And the next morning, he came to New Life Church and he waited for the uniform law enforcement to leave. He waited an hour in the parking lot and then he -- as soon as they left, he made his move. He came into the church. He -- I apologize. He shot some people out in the parking lot. He killed two sisters and severely wounded their father. And I heard the shots, because it was obviously very loud. And he came into the church. Everybody -- there were hundreds of people in the hallway. This hallway is like 100 meters long and 30 -- about 30 feet wide. And it houses all the special needs adults, daycare, classroom for youth.

So everybody scattered all of a sudden. Everybody was like, get down; he has a gun. And I took the handgun out of the waste ban of my jeans and sprinted down the hall toward him. Like I said, everybody scattered. It was like a miracle. Everybody found a place to hide. Then I took cover, and I had just seconds to come up with a real solid game plan.

And I just said, God please with me, and then stepped out and said police officer, drop your weapon. And he turned toward me with his AR 15, and I fired five rounds rapidly. And he fell back -- all the way back on his back. And I just walked toward him with my gun pointed at him. And he sits up and I said, drop your weapon or I will kill you. And he fires at me, so were shooting at each other. And I shot him again and killed him.

MORGAN: Let me jump in. That is an act of extraordinary courage on your part. You were a trained officer. And you were carrying a gun for that reason. What is your belief about the claim that many people that, that if the teachers had been armed at Sandy Hook, that they could have averted the disaster, and that civilians should be armed for that reason, to protect themselves from mass killings like this?

ASSAM: Let me just very quickly say, I'm very sorry to all the parents who lost their children and to the other people who lost the adults in this massacre. I don't even know what to say to you. Just know that my thoughts and prayers are with you. And I'm very sorry. And stick together. You are going to need each other. Stick together and be there for each other.

And to answer your question, you know, a teacher wants to be a teacher. He or she doesn't want to be a police officer. And I think it's -- and I hope people just really listen here, because I hear both sides of this argument. And I hear where you are coming from. And both arguments make sense to me.

So, in my opinion, to -- to tell a teacher that he or she needs to be armed is -- that is ridiculous. It just -- it doesn't make sense. That is not their calling. Their calling is to be a teacher or to be a pilot. And when you have trained personal in place, it is their job. And I think rather than having -- I think everybody has the right to bear arms.

But I want to say this: I was a very well trained officer from a very aggressive police department where we -- I never called SWAT once when I was on the department, and we had shootings all the time. Because SWAT doesn't have really better training than us. They just have better equipment. MORGAN: I have to jump in. That is the point, that you were highly trained and that's why you were able to do what you did.

Thank you so much for that contribution. Because, Dr. Amador, this is really the nub of this, which is that people get driven to believe that they have to protect themselves, that that is why they have to be armed. And every time one of these shootings happens, more and more Americans go and buy more guns. And so it proliferates. But as she said, people should be trained for these use, right?

AMADOR: Well, of course. And what you are making me think about that I have not heard people talking about are CIT trained police officers, Crisis Intervention Team trained police officers, who know about mental illness, who know how to deal with people who have serious mental illness.

The problem is not mental illness. President Obama, Tom Ridge talked about our mental health care system failing us. And that is the problem. It is not the mentally ill people who are dangerous. It's the system that's leading them to fall through the cracks, not get into treatment, and not evaluate and build relationships with them, so that we can keep them from acts such as this.

MORGAN: You were very spirited this morning defending an American's right to own weapons. But I can't understand -- you're a smart guy. I watch you most morning talking about all sorts of stuff. Why does any American need one of these AR 15s? What possible protection can that kind of thing offer them? It's a military rifle.

CAIN: I don't think the conversation that comes to me is with burden upon me to say why I might need that weapon. What I need you to do is explain how you've made the country safer by proposing to ban that weapon.

Now listen, I understand the sense that we have at moments like this that we must do something, we have to solve this problem. But what I would suggest is make sure you are actually going to accomplish that.

Here's what I would suggest to you. Your personal crusade, Piers, to ban assault rifles, I'm not convinced that you will accomplish anything significant. And I will just give you three quick reasons. One, Adam Lanza's gun in this incident would not have been banned under the Connecticut Assault Weapons Ban. And it wouldn't have under the federal one we had in place for 10 years.

MORGAN: But I find that ridiculous.

CAIN: What I would say is, the federal ban that we had did have for 10 years didn't drop national violence.

MORGAN: Well, it did actually, by 6.7 percent.

CAIN: This is the most important one

MORGAN: It did. But it did. (CROSS TALK)

CAIN: Here's the most important point, Piers. A guy like Adam Lanza, he premeditates these things. He plans it. And he is a very determined criminal to do something horrific.

MORGAN: So make it difficult for him to get the tools. Apparently these guns were even left unlocked. His mother was away, now it turns out, two days, leaving a deranged son who she apparently is about to try and commit to a psychiatric unit, in a house full of six firearms, insulting an assault rifle which could blow bodies to pieces.

CAIN: What law do you propose that would have stopped this?

MORGAN: Here's what I think: you have to try. I have been in this country for the last six, seven years, watching shooting massacre after shooting. It is not good enough to say we don't do anything. When does the slaughter stop?


CHOPRA: What does an assault gun do for recreation? What does it do for hunting? What does it do for self defense?

MORGAN: Why don't you tell me, Mr. Lott?

LOTT: OK. It is a semiautomatic gun that looks like a military weapon. If you want to ban all semiautomatic guns, fine. Let's talk about that. Most guns owned by Americans are semiautomatic.

MORGAN: What is the purpose of an AR 15.

LOTT: It is like a hunting rifle that cosmetically, on the outside, looks like a military weapon. But look, how --

MORGAN: How many bullets can it fire in a second?

LOTT: There's a reason --

MORGAN: How many bullets can it fire a second? Answer my question.

LOTT: No, I'm answering your first question before I answer another one.


MORGAN: No wait. You will not downgrade what these weapons do. How many --


MORGAN: How many bullets does the AR 15 fire a second?

LOTT: The point -- MORGAN: They've been used in the last three mass shootings. Answer the question.

LOTT: Sir, you have to let me finish.

MORGAN: Do you want to answer or not?

LOTT: I'm going to answer your first question. And then I'll answer your second question. The first question, the reason why you have a semiautomatic weapon is because take the alternative. If I were to have a bolt action rifle, where I have to manually load it, and let's say I have two criminals coming at me, what do I do? I can fire one bullet and then it's going to take me a while to fire the second one. It may be too late.

What happens if I fire a shot and I miss? What happens if I fire a shot and --

MORGAN: How many bullets does it fire a second?

LOTT: The point is --

MORGAN: Can you answer the question or not?

LOTT: You will lose lives. People need to be able to protect themselves. The police can't be there all the time. And if you want them to have to fire a bolt answer rifle so that it's going to --

MORGAN: Are you going to answer my question.

LOTT: I was trying to answer your first question.

MORGAN: It's a very simple question. You how many bullets can the AR 15 fire in one second? Do you know?

LOTT: I think your estimate is high.

MORGAN: Actually, I've spoken to many experts today. It can fire four to six bullets a second. It can fire 100 in a minute. That can wipe out, as we saw, 20 children in a matter of seconds, if not two minutes.

LOTT: It is a characteristic of all semiautomatic guns.

MORGAN: You don't want to say the answer to those questions, because you want people to think they are just harmless old hunting rifles. And that is why they sell so fast. And it is a disgrace that you won't answer those questions.

LOTT: I already said at the beginning --

MORGAN: We will take a break.

No, you have to answer the questions truthfully to an American audience. That is what you have to do. When we come back, survivors of gun violence tell me about the impact of these terrible, terrible weapons on their lives and the people that were taken from them.


MORGAN: We are talking to survivors of other mass shootings, as well as the family members of victims. First Cory Booker. I find this an almost impossible debate to stay calm about, because I keep thinking of these kids in Sandy Hook and the latest families devastated, and so on.. I just interviewed one of the fathers. And it makes me so angry.

And I just don't understand why there isn't just this unanimity about getting rid of these things. What is the middle ground here? If you were trying to debate this in a more rational way than I appear capable of, what would you do?

MAYOR CORY BOOKER (D), NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: But I understand your passion, having stood on too many street corners, seen too many bodies, seen the kind of weapons we're pulling of the streets.

But I really want to pull this debate back to the pragmatic center, where we can move this country forward and make it a lot safer. There has only been one shooting in my city that we've been able to find who has done by somebody who acquired a gun legally.

The overwhelming majority of people murdered in the nation every day are done because criminals and people who are mentally not qualified to buy guns can get guns.

So to improve a system where we can do background checks on people, which universally, as I said earlier --

MORGAN: It is key.

BOOKER: The one more mental health point I want to make is there are states now that -- there's 19 states almost where there is less than 100 people that they have registered in the NIX system as mentally incapable, because states aren't even turning over this information. If we just shared information, we can do a much better job as a country keeping guns out of the --.

MORGAN: Let's me go to Amardeep Keleka. You lost your father in the Sikh Temple shooting. You've heard this debate. It is very emotive. And I don't mean to be disrespectful to those that don't hold my view. I just feel strongly about it.

What is your reaction? You are a gun owner, I believe.

AMARDEEP KALEKA, FATHER DIED IN SIKH TEMPLE SHOOTING: I have a gun. I was in Army ROTC. I worked with an M-16, the Saw, everything. And those guns aren't meant for protection. They're meant for annihilation.

But to deter somebody is quite easy. You can deter somebody with a knife like my father did. He wrestled this guy with a knife, a butter knife, and that guy immediately left the building. To have gun after gun -- it's becoming a black and white issue. People want to take the argument that way so that they can have a hollow fight. So we need to get a little bit more complex and in the middle.

MORGAN: If you can pass the mic down to Daniel here. Daniel, you and Roxanna were both involved in the Tucson tragedy where Gabrielle Giffords nearly died. You were there. What do you think of this debate?

DANIEL HERNANDEZ, TUCSON SHOOTING SURVIVOR: There are three points that I think need to be raised. All due respect to the folks who are talking about having more guns, having more guns does not solve the problem. Having people that are trained like the police woman, who stopped, who didn't even call in SWAT because she was so trained, that's the difference.

In Tucson, we saw people who would come up and said, you know, I had a gun, but I didn't feel like it would have been a good idea to use it. There was so much chaos and so much confusion.

You know, when these people come in, and they have planned this for a significant amount of time, they are studied and they are ready to do this deed. But the people in the area are completely in a panic. People are in shock, because this is not something that you expect.

MORGAN: Do you want to see these assault rifles just gone?

HERNANDEZ: You know, I think getting rid of the assault weapons, you know, it is not a perfect bill, but we will never be able to legislate against evil. But we can close some of these loopholes to make sure we are taking some of these weapons off the street.

But the other thing that I think is really important to raise is the reason why Jared Loughner only killed six people, the reason why only 13 were injured, was because he had to reload the weapon. He had a semiautomatic weapon, but he had an extended clip that had 30 rounds.

The time that he stopped was when someone grabbed that clip when he was trying to reload. There's no reason you need 30 rounds in a magazine.

MORGAN: No civilian needs this stuff. That's how they commit mass slaughter. Daniel, thank you. We'll be right back.


MORGAN: Back with my guest Tom Mauber. His son was killed at Columbine. And Lori Haas, whose daughter was injured at Virginia Tech. Let me start with you, Tom, if I may. I'm told you're wearing your son's shoes that he died in, which brings it home.

TOM MAUBER, SON KILLED IN COLUMBINE SHOOTING: We had the same size shoes, so I wear these shoes. These are the shoes he was wearing on April 20th, 1999. I walk in his shoes to honor him.

MORGAN: You have achieved a lot. You have managed to bring in an elimination of gun show background check loopholes in Colorado through legislation. Do you want to see that nationally? Are you aghast that it isn't a national thing?

MAUBER: I am. Because in Colorado, we put it on the ballot. When the legislature failed to close that gun show loophole, we took it to a vote of the people. We won that election, 70 percent to 30 percent, in a pro-gun western state.

People in Oregon closed it the same year, 62-38. You put something sensible before the people and they'll support it.

MORGAN: Lori, your daughter survived. She was shot at Virginia Tech. Here's the thing. I love America, and I love Americans. I really do. I've been very lucky here. I've worked here for seven years, I live here. And I respect the Second Amendment.

But when I hear this debate, my heart just sinks that there are still so many people that just don't see a reason to ban these high powered assault weapons. What is your view?

LORI HAAS, DAUGHTER INJURED IN VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTING: I absolutely believe in banning those weapons. I believe in banning semiautomatic weapons. The killer at Virginia Tech used 30 round, high capacity magazine clips on his guns and untold carnage in those classrooms. The Virginia Tech families, almost all of them -- I speak for all of them -- would like to have -- do a better job with background checks.

Tom Ridge served on the panel. The panel concluded, at the end of their investigation, that all gun sales should go through a background check.

MORGAN: Can you pass the mic very quickly to Roxanna, because I wanted to give the last word to you. You lost your daughter, Christine. We all remember the terrible story. She was nine years old. What is your view?

ROXANNA GREEN, DAUGHTER KILLED IN TUCSON SHOOTING: My view is that all military style weapons should be banned, period, and Background checks for all. You know, my husband is a gun owner. He likes to hunt. But I think every weapon should have a background check and these military style weapons that you spoke of earlier, there's no reason why civilians should have them.

The slaughter has to stop. Thank you.

MORGAN: Thank you very much for that. And we'll be right back.



LOTT: You're not going to stop criminals. MORGAN: The argument is still going on here. And it has been very vociferous between those who want to carry on selling these assault rifles which cause such mass carnage, and those who have been on the receiving end of the devastation that they cause. I wish you could have heard what I've just been listening to for the last few minutes, because it was really quite something.

I want to thank all my guests and studio audience tonight. It's a crucial debate. I'm not pretending that I'm right about it all. And I respect everyone's opinion. But something, as the president said, has to change to stop the slaughter of innocent Americans. Enough surely is enough.

We began the special "Guns in America" with that heart wrenching interview with the father of six year old Jesse Lewis who died in Newtown. Tomorrow, we'll have much more of that powerful and deeply emotional interview. I commend you to watch it. The man has dignity and grace.

That's all for us tonight.