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Piers Morgan Live

NRA: Put Armed Guards in Schools

Aired December 21, 2012 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Good evening.

Tonight, "Guns in America", the number one issue in the country.

One week after the mass shooting in Sandy Hook, the NRA finally breaks its silence. We'll get to that in a moment.

President Obama and communities all over America paused for a moment of silence this morning for the 20 children and seven adults murdered by Adam Lanza. President Obama is calling for a ban on assault weapons. Democrats planned to introduce a bill seeking just that.

But, today, the NRA offered a rather different solution, publicly breaking the silence. The silence for the first time since the massacre, the NRA proposed a sweeping and controversial plan to have armed guards at every school in the nation.


WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NRA: The truth is our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters. People that are so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can ever possibly comprehend them. They walk among us every single day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn't planning his attack on a school?

Since when did a gun automatically become a bad word? A gun in the hands of a Secret Service agent protecting our president isn't a bad word. A gun in the hands of a soldier protecting the United States of America isn't a bad word.

And when you hear your glass breaking at 3:00 a.m. and you call 911, you won't be able to pray hard enough for a gun in the hands of a good guy to get there fast enough to protect you.

So, why is the idea of a gun good when it's used to protect the president of our country or our police, but bad when it's used to protect our children in our schools?


MORGAN: To be clear, this wasn't a press conference. It was a statement. No questions were taken. That doesn't mean there weren't any interruptions. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: NRA, stop killing our children. It's the NRA and assault weapons that are killing our children. Not armed --


MORGAN: Two protesters accused the NRA of having blood on its hands. I'll talk exclusively to one of those in a moment.

Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president, paused but continued. He blamed the violence on video games, the media, on just about everything actually, apart from guns. He said that American should deal more with the mentally ill. He also said that the news media is consumed with hate for the NRA.

But the proposal to have armed guards in schools in America that is stirring the most debate.

Well, joining me now is Geoffrey Canada, the president and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone.

Geoffrey, let me lay my cards on the table off the top here. I watched that press conference or that statement with mounting horror and anger. But I was also aware that a lot of people in America would have watched it and said he's right.

GEOFFREY CANADA, PRESIDENT AND CEO, HARLEM CHILDREN'S ZONE: Yes, people will say that the answer to every escalating sort of violent act in America is the ability to use more violence to counter that. And it never stops. So, you're going to give a security guard a regular gun against someone who has an assault weapon.

So when the assault weapon overpowers the regular gun, then you give the security guard in the school an assault weapon, where does this end? It doesn't end.

That was the most irresponsible and I think hurtful response to an American tragedy that I have heard. And he should be ashamed of himself to come and tell the American people I'm not going to do anything reasonable, not one thing. I don't care if it's 100 kids killed, I would have said the exact same thing. Let's get more people with guns and surround our kids.

We have to as a nation examine our souls and say, how did we come to this?

MORGAN: It was really, I found, horrifying, because I watched the whole thing. At the end, I thought two things are going to happen here.

One, the NRA is going to get a lot of people joining it as a result of this. Secondly, gun sales, the assault weapons, are going to rocket because of this. This was a promotional tool, this statement, for encouraging more Americans to go and arm themselves. And it really cut to what I think the NRA and other gun lobbyists in America do. They play to fear. They play to people's fear. And they commercialize it and they sell more weapons on the back of that. And that is why it's shameful.

CANADA: It is shameful because they can give you not one logical reason that an American citizen needs an assault weapon. Not one. They aren't good for hunting. They serve no purpose.

In the hands of someone really mentally ill, they can do damage that is -- it's inconceivable to us. And we've got to put an end to that.

And this is one of those issues, Piers, where I think the American people have to say, some people you just sort of can't have a rational discussion with. We've got to take this matter into our own hands and protect our children. And I think that's what this country has to do.

I think the president, I think the speaker, I think Senator Reid, I think folks have to come together and say let's put children first, and let's not deal with people who are just, I think, irresponsible in their responses to a tragedy in this country.

MORGAN: I mean, we've covered this ever night since the Sandy Hook massacre and we also did the same after Aurora and others and there's been this escalation in the scale of these atrocities, and I have been getting angry this week at some of the gun rights people that have come on the show, very angry, and I have been accused of being rude and, you know, all the rest of it.

If you can't get angry over the cold-blooded murder of 20 school children age 6 and 7 years old, when the hell do you get angry?

CANADA: That's problem.

MORGAN: When do enough Americans say, enough, this is not going to continue?

And by the way, what he didn't mention today, Wayne LaPierre, he didn't mention anything about assault weapons other than to try to play down what they are. He didn't mention high-capacity magazines. He didn't explain why the killer in Aurora needed 100 bullets in a magazine. What is the purchase of the mass slaughter? Nor did he mention background checks, 40 percent of all gun trades, there's no background check.

Had he done any of those things --

CANADA: Any reasonable --

MORGAN: -- then someone would have said, you know what? He's making some good effort. There was nothing.

CANADA: That's right. (INAUDIBLE), a guy like me who thinks there's just too many handguns in America and we need to do something about it, they would consider me extreme, right? But this was a moment for a rational sort of compromise that says to America, OK, guys, maybe this is too far. Maybe you can't allow a person to come in with 100 bullets and slaughter people, our children. Maybe we should stop that.

The fact that they did not make even the most minor compromise or to give our president and our Congress the confidence to say that this is extreme, or this kind of extremism will destroy America. We're already a country awash in handguns. Everywhere you go, our citizens are being slaughters.

When do folks stand up and have the courage to say to the NRA -- you are wrong, we're not tolerating this anymore? Real reasonable gun legislation is what America has to do.

MORGAN: I would be curious how many members of the NRA actually agreed with what Wayne LaPierre said today, because I can't believe that rational Americans do not see the need after three mass shootings in the last six months that involved an AR-15 assault weapon. It's a military weapon.

He said, the media call semiautomatic firearms "machine guns". They claim these civilian semiautomatic firearms used by the military, they tell us the 223 round is one of the most powerful rifle calibers, all factually untrue.

What do you think he's saying? Look, these are fine, these weapons. The AR-15, when it's been modified by someone who knows what they're doing, can fire four to six bullets a second and 100 bullets in one minute. These are killing machines. They are machine guns.

CANADA: They -- look, we're allowing people to have higher sort of firepower than our police. You do not see police officers walking around with weapons like this because these weapons are used to fight in wars with soldiers.

There's no excuse for this, Piers. There's no rational explanation for allowing this to go on. The NRA has bullied our Congress. Let's be honest.


CANADA: They have bullied them with money. They have threatened that they're going to put them out of office, and we have people in our Congress who so want to cling to their office that they're prepared to sacrifice American children and it's about time someone called them out on it and just said, stop it, guys. These are our kids. We've got to fight for them.

And if it means we get out of office, we get out of office, but we save this country. We're going over a moral cliff. You can't just morally justify the slaughter of American children.

And, by the way, 350 kids a week are shot or murdered in this country of ours, that's every week. That's 14 classrooms and no one does anything about it. It's like that's normal in America. That's an outrage.

MORGAN: I couldn't agree more. Geoffrey, thank you so much for coming in.

CANADA: Thank you, Piers.

MORGAN: Good to see you.

The NRA statement today was interrupted by two protesters. Medea Benjamin was one of them, the co-director of Code Pink, joins me now exclusively.

Welcome to you, Medea.

It was quite a moment when you managed to infiltrate this NRA statement, as it was. And what struck me most ironic, of course, there he is talking about security, and you were able to get your way into his own little press event and make your protest known.

MEDEA BENJAMIN, CO-DIRECTOR, CODE PINK: Well, that's right, Piers, but I went in prepared with a banner, but I wasn't necessarily going to pull it out because I naively thought that the NRA was going to make some concessions. I thought they were going to say something like, yes, we understand that something needs to be done and that's why we're supporting a ban on assault weapons, or something they were going to give us as the American people.

And my jaw dropped when Wayne LaPierre started out swinging, saying that we need to put more guns on our streets. So I was as shocked as I think a lot of the reporters in the room at what the NRA had to say.

MORGAN: It was an extraordinary event. I mean, in a way, I was thinking to myself that it was so -- it was so uncompromising. It was so lacking in any kind of compassion or anything, really, that I found it could backfire pretty badly on the NRA. And that's why I'm curious how many of its membership actually going along with the sentiments he expressed.

What would you think?

BENJAMIN: Well, I don't know. So many of us are parents, and I can't imagine that parents want their kids to see armed security guards on their way to school every day. And these security guards would probably be private contractors with firms that are taking people that have been in combat overseas, have PTSD, could also snap. I mean, the more weapons around, the more unprotected I think our children are.

So I hope it backfires. And I hope people saw that lack of compassion that you mentioned.

MORGAN: Thank you very much for joining me, Medea.

It was an extraordinary moment to watch your protest. And it went around the world. Thank you for joining me. BENJAMIN: Thank you for having me on.

MORGAN: Next, debating the NRA's plan with people from both sides.

And later, Cory Booker and others join me for my special debate on guns in America.



LAPIERRE: There exists in this country sadly a callous, corrupt, and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people. Through vicious, violent video games, with names like "Bullet Storm", "Grand Theft Auto", "Mortal Kombat", and "Splatter House". And here's one, it's called "Kindergarten Killers."


MORGAN: The NRA blaming video games for creating a culture of violence in America. Are video games really to blame, though? We'll get to that in a moment.

First, joining me now is Republican strategist and gun owner Hogan Gidley.

Welcome to you, Mr. Gidley. What was your reaction when you --


MORGAN: -- when your heard the address by Wayne LaPierre?

GIDLEY: Yes, I think the NRA missed a huge opportunity. To come out and say we want to be on the forefront of having this discussion, we definitely need to talk about guns, but we also need to talk about mental health issues. We need to talk about parental environment. We need to talk about a cultural decline.

And let's have that discussion, because we are, as the NRA, we are for responsible gun ownership. This was clearly not responsible. We need to have that conversation and be out in front on this.

And instead, I think they missed an opportunity here, blaming other people and really kind of drawing a line in the sand that didn't need to be drawn at this point.

MORGAN: You're a gun owner. Are you a member of the NRA yourself or?

GIDLEY: I'm not. I support the NRA but I'm not a member. No, sir.

MORGAN: The relationship between an American and his or her gun is historic and something that creates great passion. What is your view about the specific campaign which I have been pursuing and the president is pursuing and others are pursuing which is not about banning guns, it's about banning assault weapons, getting the kind of weapons which can massacre school classrooms, these military-style machines, getting those off the streets?

GIDLEY: Right, when you have such a tragedy like we did, it was such a dark day for this nation. I think those types of conversations, talking about assault weapon bans and things like that, need to be on the table.

The fact of the matter is, if I went to the doctor and he said, you have cancer, and I said how do I get rid of it? And he said take these two aspirin, and I said, was this going to get rid of my cancer? And he said, no, but it will make you feel better.

But we can't afford to do is pass legislation just make us feel better. We actually have to do these things that are meaningful that will protect our citizenry, protect our children. And that's where the NRA kind of missed the boat on this. I think they could have come out and had that conversation.

MORGAN: You think assault weapons should be banned or not?

GIDLEY: That's a good question. And the thing is, I'm not militant on it one way or the other. I'm willing to have the conversation.

You obviously think there should be. Give me the statistics. Let's have the conversation and I'm willing to come to the table and talk.

If I'm not on the table, then I'm on the menu.

MORGAN: Let me give you some statistics.

GIDLEY: Please?

MORGAN: The particular assault weapon that massacred the children at the Sandy Hook School, was the same one used at the Oregon shopping mall mass shooting and in Aurora in the movie theater. It's an AR-15. It is a military-style machine gun. Those who say it isn't a machine gun have never seen it actually be modified and how it works. You can check it on YouTube.

These things when they're modified can fire four to six bullets a second or 100 bullets in a minute. They can wipe out 100 people in less than a minute. Those are some statistics for you.

What I never hear back from anyone who defends them is what other purpose can they possibly have than mass slaughter?

GIDLEY: Right. Well, that's the thing. If I own one of those weapons and I had clips of 100 or clips of 30, kids wouldn't be in danger. The irresponsible people with them, obviously, it makes the conversation different, because now, we're talking about being able to mow down a number of people in a matter of seconds. And that's a serious, serious problem in the hands of somebody who has a mental instability or who's just angry or should have no business owning a gun at all. Those are the conversations I myself as a Republican am willing to have with anybody. And those are the kinds of the things I think we need to put on the table if we're going to have an honest discussion about how we protect this country moving forward.

MORGAN: OK, Hogan Gidley, thank you very much.

GIDLEY: Thank you, Piers. God bless.

MORGAN: Now, we're going to bring in CNN's Jeffrey Toobin and Antwand Pearman, he's the CEO of Game Fit Nation.

Welcome to you both.

We'll start with you Jeffrey. I want to play a little bit of footage here. This is actually an AR-15. We found this on YouTube. A CNN colleague found it.

And the point of playing this is that you can see the kind of weapon it is, particularly when they get modified. That they are military assault weapons. I mean, these are behaving like machine guns.

The NRA and other gun rights lobbyists would have us believe thee are single-shot semiautomatic, relatively -- relatively harmless kind of hunting rifles. But that footage, which by the way, there are numerous examples on the Internet, shows you what they really are when they're in the wrong hands.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, not only that. I mean, as we saw in the news conference by Wayne LaPierre today, they don't think banning any sorts of guns are the problem. They think there are monsters out there, as he said, but it's OK for the monsters to buy weapons as long as the good guys have weapons, too. That's the solution to their problem.

So, however many bullets you can fire at once, machine gun, submachine gun, that's all fine, as long as the good guys have guns, we're safe.

MORGAN: I mean, the more guns America has, the more gun murders occur. In Japan, where they have almost zero guns, they have almost zero gun murders. And the parallels are there all around the world.

I don't get why the NRA can get away with statements like this, and there isn't just a huge outcry.

TOOBIN: Well, we'll see. I think things have changed somewhat. They remain a very powerful group. They're speaking to a constituency that really believes in their message.

And historically, at least, that you cross the NRA at your peril as a politician. They have a great deal of money. They have a great deal of influence. Politicians care deeply about getting a high rating from the NRA.

You know, it could be that Newtown marks a turning point, but it also could be that it doesn't and that's why you have not seen a huge rush of politicians to embrace gun control in the past week.

MORGAN: Let me understand, Michael Steele, the former head of the RNC, called the NRA statement very haunting and very disturbing. He's actually an NRA supporter.

Michael Bloomberg said, "It's beyond belief that following the Newtown tragedy, the NRA leaders want to fill our communities with guns and arm more Americans."

Let me turn to you, Antwand. The one thing you did say what some people thought was actually a point worth making is a possible association of violent video games to a disturbed mind and this leading to some kind of desire to do what they see in the games for real.

You have this Web site which is very popular with gamers. What is your view about that?

ANTWAND PEARMAN, CEO, GAMEFITNATION.COM: I don't see how video games can contribute to violence in that manner, especially when most video games is emulate real life. And, you know, what they emulate is soft compared to what's actually happened in the real world. I mean, today, hearing him speak about what he said, I thought it was just a really horrible joke, because it's ridiculous.

MORGAN: I mean, I have seen some video games which are pretty violent and I could imagine if you were disturbed and you were a loner like this misfit character Adam Lanza in your underground room and that's all you're doing all day.

I spoke to my 12-year-old son. He plays a lot of games. He said a lot of his friends play happily. Some he sees get quite upset. They have their headphones all the time. They play them far too much. And he said he sees them become aggressive.

I thought that was an interesting insight from a young guy who enjoys his games and has no problems that he could see a people of a certain mentality perhaps getting angry and aggressive.

PEARMAN: Right. I could see where people might get aggressive as far as playing. I mean, I guess, you get into that mode, but that's almost with any sport, anything you get into.

MORGAN: Right.

PEARMAN: People get into it, it's competition. You know, you got the guy on the other side coming at you. You're going at him.

But at the end of the day, it's all said in fun. You can get up, walk away. It's over.

Whereas, with -- you know, what they're trying to imply, they're saying you get up, walk away, and then you go outside and kill people. And that's not what gaming does.

MORGAN: The real issue, probably, Jeffrey, finally, it's probably the mental health issue and guns. I mean, it's basically, those two things have got to be tackled head on.

TOOBIN: Absolutely. I mean, there is a legitimate question to be asked about what effect these games have on people. They're going to be studies for that. And I think that's a legitimate subject to study.

But we know that a Bushmaster rifle killed these kids. We know that for sure. We don't know if video games had anything to do with it.

So, why do you start with some mysterious, hypothetical causation rather than the actual cause of these children's death? I mean, I think that's -- if you're going to choose between those two, a certain cause and possible cause, you start with the certain cause.

MORGAN: Gentlemen, thank you both very much, indeed.

Coming up next: "Guns in America". THE PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT special, Cory Booker, Tom Ridge, and many others when we talk about the most important issue facing America today. That's coming up next.


MORGAN: The NRA says armed guards will keep kids in school safe. What do you think? It's part of the national debate on "Guns in America." It's the focus of a special we'll have this week. We're going to bring it to you tonight.

Mayor Cory Booker, Deepak Chopra, Christiane Amanpour, and psychologist Javier Amador join me, along with other lawmakers, experts and survivors. The emotions were raw, and as you'll see, things got pretty heated.

Here then is our special, "Guns in America."


MORGAN: Cory Booker, let's start with you. It just is heartbreaking. It's agonizing. You can't say anything to make it any better. What is the answer?

MAYOR CORY BOOKER (D), NEWARK: First of all, this is not as rare as people might think. There is a Virginia Tech, so to speak, 30 to 34 Americans dying every day due to gun violence. And so, what gets me most frustrated, I guess, is that we all agree in America. 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: 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.

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

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

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 else, but it went up!

MORGAN: 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, here's the thing, 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 right now 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: I'll come to you after the break. 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.

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.


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.

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?

BOOKER: 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 Kaleka. 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.

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.