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Piers Morgan Live

Fixing Immigration; The Battle Over Guns

Aired January 29, 2013 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight a father's pain. He lost his 6- year-old son at Sandy Hook, now his impassioned plea for an assault weapons ban, and the moment he was shouted down by gun advocates.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Second Amendment shall not be infringed.


MORGAN: My exclusive interview with that grieving father, Neil Heslin.

Also the Connecticut senator who says the NRA is not as powerful as you think. And he's standing up to them.

And lord of all sheriffs says this --


SHERIFF DAVID CLARKE, JR., MILWAUKEE COUNTY, WISCONSIN: Calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option. You can beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed or you can fight back.


MORGAN: But the mayor says this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To have him do that was just so irresponsible.


MORGAN: They go head-to-head tonight.

Plus out of bounds. The controversy surrounding an NFL ref just days before the Super Bowl.


Good evening. We'll get to America's battle over guns in just a few moments. We begin tonight with another item on President Obama's agenda -- immigration. With more than 11 million undocumented immigrants already in this country, the president says those who want to become citizens should pass background checks, learn English, pay a penalty, and then, in his words, get in the back of the line.

He also said if Congress doesn't work fast enough, he'll propose his own immigration bill.

Listen to what the president told the crowd of a high school in Las Vegas today.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reason I came here today is because of a challenge where the differences are dwindling, where a broad consensus is emerging, and where a call for action can now be heard coming from all across America.

I'm here today because the time has come for commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform. The time is now.


MORGAN: Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has been one of the president's most harsh critics on immigration. She's here to tell me now what she thinks of this development today.

Welcome to you. How are you?

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: I'm just fine, Piers. Thanks for having me on.

MORGAN: Always a pleasure. Now we've seen you on tarmacs jabbing your finger at the president in the past over this very contentious issue. What is your verdict on what he announced today?

BREWER: Well, you know, I'm just absolutely thrilled that we've got the president talking about solutions and also I'm very grateful that we've got a bipartisan effort in the Senate to try to address the issue that America, the United States has been facing. Bottom line is I'm very, very encouraged with the ideas, particularly with the Senate proposing that we move forward and that we will get our border. We will, you know, have our border secured. Then we could deal with these other issues that have been results of -- from an unsecure border. So I think that we should all be pleased and claim victory.

MORGAN: Well, the optimist in me is thrilled at this remarkable display of bipartisanship from Washington's politicians, and we should all celebrate this great moment. The cynic in me says that the reason that so many of the Republicans have softened their position including, dare I say it, your good self, is that you realized after the recent election that the Latino vote was disappearing from the Republicans and may never return. And it was precisely the hard line position over issues like immigration that was to blame.

How do you plead to that charge?

BREWER: Well, you know, I'm not going to plea to any charge. But I will answer. You know, I know that there have been politicians saying that it was all because of the illegal immigration issue. You know, that's your opinion or other people's opinion. I think that overwhelmingly people understand we have an issue with an insecure border and we want operational control.

And once we get that, which now we have bipartisan support for, I'm pleased that the Republicans and the Democrats agree that we need to get our border secure, and then we can deal with those issues. People understand that we have a very porous border, and we are facing a lot of problems with that. But I am very grateful that the discussion is there, that we're seeing movement and, of course, like lots of people have been saying, the devil's in the details, but what they lined out, it looks -- sounds to me, at least in the Senate, that is very, very promising.

I don't think that the president actually went into that kind of detail, but we're talking. The president's talking, the Senate is talking and now we'll see what they come up in a bill and then we can have that debate in the proper setting where the debate takes place in Congress. And hopefully together collectively we can resolve all the issues, but I'm very encouraged that we get our -- that they're talking about the -- you know, the border being secure.

MORGAN: Good, well, I'm encouraged, too. And I think it'd be churlish to be too cynical. So I salute you all for actually getting to a position where you can agree on things. It's a rare occasion in Washington recent history. Let's turn to a more contentious issue, gun control. Arizona has a lot of its own issues in relation to this. What is your position on where we are with the gun control debate, and what do you think may actually be done to try and deal with America's burgeoning gun violence?

BREWER: Well, you know, it is terrible, unimaginable tragedy has taken place in the United States in regards to people, I believe, that have mental health issues that have created terrible tragedy. But I'm a strong proponent and supporter of the Second Amendment. And I think we have to look at the mental health situation and how we're delivering those services. And we've done that in Arizona.

We are moving forward with expanding funding for that particular population and trying to put resource officers into the schools, and it is something that across the United States that we need to deal with. But I don't believe -- and I'll make it perfectly clear that taking guns away from law-abiding citizens is the answer.

MORGAN: Right. But as you know, nobody is suggesting taking a single gun away from anyone. There's not a single proposal that removes a gun. All they're talking about is removing a certain type of weapon from future purchase. So when people say, you want our guns, that's not true.

BREWER: Well, you know, Piers, you know, I guess everybody interprets it differently. And of course, there -- again, there's no legislation written, so we don't really know what they're going to do, but we know that they are classifying certain guns that are used for different types of things, competition, family guns, that -- you know, that some people find or have discovered that they would like to call them assault weapons, and not all of them in a lot of people's minds are not categorized like that. So again I, you know, I assume --


MORGAN: How did you feel, though, if I --

BREWER: -- based on a federal level. And if they would come to some kind of --


BREWER: -- solution, if there is a solution, but I truly believe it's the mental health issue that we really need to adopt and we need to be sure that we have safe zones. I've always been a proponent of safe zones.

MORGAN: Let me just ask you one question before I let you go, Governor, if I may.

BREWER: Thank you.

MORGAN: How did you feel on a human level, when you saw the testimony last night of the Sandy Hook father, Neil Heslin, who lost his son Jesse, his only child. And members of the audience who were gun supporters, when he asked them to give him one reason why any civilian needs an assault weapon, an assault rifle of a type that killed his son, they began shouting out, Second Amendment, infringement, and my rights.

How did you feel on a human level about that moment?

BREWER: Piers, I didn't see that interview. I'm not aware of that show. I can just tell you that I think that any mother, me being one, or a father, that has lost a child -- and I have lost a child. It's a tragedy. It's a tragedy. Your heart breaks. There is no answer. And there is no answer.

Mental illness, if we can get our arms around that, I think that is going to help a whole lot, but you know, children have been lost because of knives, they've been lost because of not protecting them around swimming pools. It's horrible when you lose a child. But you've got to be realistic and you've got to find the solution that addresses the issue.

And I think in efforts to try to solve this problem with the terrible gun tragedies that we've seen, that those people, generally speaking, and I think overwhelmingly people agree, that it truly is a mental health problem. And we need to deal with that. We need to be sure that we --


MORGAN: I mean, I do hear that a lot. I don't disagree with you. But --

BREWER: To those people -- MORGAN: But there are many -- right. But there are many, many countries around the world that have similar mental health issues and have similar violent video games, similar Hollywood movies. What they don't have is the gun murder rate of America which is 20 times that of any of the other civilized so-called rich countries.

Let me just ask you one final question --

BREWER: Well --

MORGAN: -- which is -- well, let me ask you --

BREWER: Let me -- can I answer that, though?


MORGAN: Do you honestly -- Governor, Governor.

BREWER: In Mexico, guns are illegal and they -- they have all kinds of crimes and murders in Mexico and they're illegal in Mexico. I mean, just take one country for example.

MORGAN: Right. Let me just ask you one final question which is, do you genuinely not believe --


MORGAN: Because you are, you know, a well-established governor in America. Do you genuinely not believe that America's gun crime rate would fall if you removed guns from circulation rather than increased the volume of guns in circulation?

BREWER: I don't. I believe that the bad guys, irresponsible people will always find a way to have guns. And we see that in other countries. We see it happening in places where there is high restrictions on gun ownership. But law-abiding citizens aren't the ones that are committing those crimes.

MORGAN: Governor Brewer, it was pleasure talking to you again. Thank you very much indeed.

BREWER: Thank you. Thank you, Piers. Appreciate it.

MORGAN: I was talking there about Neil Heslin. He lost his 6- year-old son in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He spoke movingly about it, most recently at a hearing in Hartford, Connecticut, last night where he's interrupted by gun advocates. And he joins me now exclusively along with Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

Welcome to you both.


MORGAN: Neil, I want to talk to you first, if I may. We've spoken several times. And I feel like I've got to know you reasonably well and know the appalling impact of losing your only child, and I found the scenes that we watched today from last night's encounter between you and the gun advocates very powerful.

And I don't want to put any words in your mouth. I don't want to frame how you felt about this because I know that you've been pretty decent about it. You didn't view what happened as heckling. You respect, I believe, the rights of those advocates to express an opinion. They were answering a question that you put to them.

I've got to say, though, from my point of view watching it, I found it repulsive that people would respond to your call for the assault rifle that killed your son by shouting out Second Amendment, infringement, and my rights.

Now what was your reaction as it was happening?

NEIL HESLIN, 6-YEAR-OLD, JESSE LEWIS, DIED IN SANDY HOOK: It didn't really faze me and it was no more and no less than I would have expected. It wasn't the answer to my question. It was a response. You know, I'm still in favor of restrictive gun regulations. That hasn't changed my thoughts on that. Federally regulated licensing and background checks and the ban on certain guns and certain weapons with the capacity, the large capacities and the magazines.

I don't see a need for them. And certain types of weapons that are categorized as assault weapons or military weapons.


MORGAN: How did you feel, Neil --

HESLIN: All the massacres and this killing.

MORGAN: Neil, when you heard fellow Americans -- when you heard fellow Americans saying that the reason they need the weapon that murdered your son, the AR-15 military style assault rifle, the reason they need it is because of their Second Amendment rights.

As an American, what do you feel about the fact that they believe that right supersedes anything else including, you know the rights of your son to not be murdered by that weapon, if you take it to its logical conclusion?

HESLIN: Well, I want to make it very clear. I'm in favor and I support the Second Amendment, and I'm not in favor of taking anybody's weapons or guns from them. I am in favor, and I do want to push for stricter regulations on certain type of weapons. As I said, like the military style weapons and the assault rifle weapons. So I am in support of the Second Amendment, and I think the people do have a right to bear arms and have the guns. And that wasn't what I'm asking for or pushing for.

MORGAN: And Neil, that's an -- it's an -- right. And I totally get that and I understand that distinction very firmly. It's a distinction I've tried to talk about on this show repeatedly.

Let me turn to Senator Murphy, if I may.

Senator, this is clearly a highly emotive issue. And, you know, you can see that other families involved in the Sandy Hook tragedy have a different view. Some of them have said they don't see any need for any further gun control. And I respect all the opinions, I really do. I didn't respect the behavior of those who shouted out at Neil Heslin, my rights, infringement, Second Amendment, because I felt it was demeaning, I felt it was insulting to him, and I thought it didn't answer his question.

Because the bottom line about Second Amendment is, as he rightly says, you know, you can still honor the Second Amendment, but why can't you remove these killing machines? After all automatic machine guns are all banned and nobody seems to mind that.

MURPHY: Yes, first of all, I just stand in awe of Neil and frankly of all of the families who had the courage to come out and speak, whether it be in Washington, D.C., or in Hartford. I can't imagine the strength that it takes to do that.

And I think you're right. I mean, it just isn't an answer to the question. I'm a supporter of the Second Amendment just like Neil is, just like Governor Brewer is, but Neil and I are supporters of the real Second Amendment, not the imaginary Second Amendment. The Second Amendment has always allowed people through their elected leaders to decide what weapons are reserved for the military and what weapons can be in the hands of private citizens.

And the fact is that the gun that was used in Newtown, that was used in Aurora, in other mass shootings is a derivative of a weapon ha was used to kill people. And to me that's kind of a line that we should draw. If the design of a weapon is for sport or for hunting, then put in it private hands, but if the design of a weapon is to kill more people, then maybe we should reserve that for the military.

MORGAN: I completely agree.

Let's take a break. Let's come back and talk about the NRA in particular. Because I know, Senator, you've got strong views about the supposed power that they wield over politicians.



HESLIN: If there's anybody in this room that can give me one reason or challenge this question why anybody in this room needs to have one of these assault-style weapons or military weapons or high capacity clips? Not one person can answer that question.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Second Amendment shall not be infringed.

HESLIN: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, please, no comments while Mr. Heslin is speaking or we'll clear the room.


MORGAN: A dramatic moment last night when Neil Heslin was shouted down by gun advocates at a hearing in Hartford, Connecticut. He's back with now along with Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy.

And let me turn again to you, Senator, if I may, first. This situation with the NRA. You have done a lot of investigation into the genuine effectiveness of their political strategy because there is the perception that they are well armed with cash and they go off to politicians who are potentially against their commercial interests and they get them ousted. In reality, how successful are the NRA at doing that?

MURPHY: Well, they're much less successful than they used to be, and that's the point that I'm trying to make to my colleagues. Because I have a feeling that there are a lot of Republicans and Democrats that know exactly what the right thing to do is here. They know that if they want to make it less likely that there's a school shooting in their district, that they should join us, that they should join the parents of Newtown and pass a strong gun reform measure that gets these assault weapons, the high capacity magazines off the streets and puts mandatory background checks for every weapon that's sold in this country.

They know that's the right thing, but they fear the political power of the NRA. The issue here is that the political power of the NRA just isn't what it used to be. Take the 2012 election. In the 16 contested Senate races that the NRA put money into, they lost 13 of those races. A 20 percent return on their investment. That's not t the kind of political muscle that the NRA tells members that they have.

In fact, you'd be better off being against the NRA in the 2012 elections than you would be being with them and that was even before Newtown happened. So I just think that we need to wake members up to the fact that if they want to do the right thing here and join us on common sense gun reform there's not really a political price to pay at the hands of the NRA like there may have been a decade or two ago.

MORGAN: Tomorrow the NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence.

Back to you, Neil Heslin, if I may. What is your view on the NRA? And I ask you because I know that before this appalling thing happened to you and your family, you didn't have such strong views necessarily about guns or assault weapons. You hadn't given it a lot of thought.

Do you think that people's views would change if they, too, had to go through what you've been through?

HESLIN: I most certainly do. As you said, I never did give it much thought before. I was a supporter and I still am of the Second Amendment. But I had never had it thrown in my face or was put in a position I was last month with the loss of my son Jesse in a school massacre that was carried out with an assault weapon, assault-type weapon. And it just made me realize and take a better look at what had happened and realize that there's no place, there's no need for that type of weapon.

And it's a weapon of mass destruction. It's a weapon that was designed for military use. And it was made to put a lot of lead out on -- the battlefield quick. And that's what it did in Sandy Hook. It put a lot of lead out, did a lot of damage in a very short period of time.

MORGAN: Senator Murphy --

HESLIN: And I just feel very strong that we --

MORGAN: Sorry, Neil.

HESLIN: I just feel very strong that we need to take steps and measures to make sure nothing like that ever happens again. And that's one of the steps I feel will help accomplish that is a ban on certain type of weapons and the capacity of those weapons and the characteristics of them and along with mental health and better background checks and federal regulations on firearms.

MORGAN: Senator Murphy --

HESLIN: There's a number of things that need to be addressed.

MORGAN: Right. And I think we all agree with those.

Senator Murphy, when you hear Neil Heslin speaking, somebody who lost his only child, I just can't understand why anybody hearing that would not just want to do something to prevent other parents going through this kind of thing. And when they say, well, assault weapons don't take up most of the gun crime in America and so on, I say, but yes, but the last five mass shootings all involved AR-15s.

At what point do you do something? At what point do you try and stop this mayhem continuing? And Wayne LaPierre is going to stand up tomorrow. I've seen the speech he's going to make. He's actually even going to attack background checks saying they're pointless. They won't stop criminals. Never mind ridiculing the assault weapons ban, saying, it never worked before, it will never work again.

He doesn't want to see a single gun removed. What he wants is to see more guns sold, more ammunitions sold. He wants all of America armed. And you know why? Because the gun manufacturers that help finance his organization will make more money. And it's as simple as that.

MURPHY: I think that's right. And I wish that weren't the case, but the fact is that the NRA is funded in part through gun purchases. They have a program by which certain gun purchases across this country are rounded up and that money is sent to the NRA to fund their activities. In addition to the millions of dollars that the manufacturers send the NRA directly.

And what we know is that the NRA really doesn't represent commonsense responsible gun owners out there because gun owners do support mandatory background checks. Gun owners do support reasonable restrictions on the Second Amendment.

I know that because I talked to them in Connecticut. So we've got the separate the NRA and its legislative agenda which I think is -- these days is largely driven by the gun manufacturers and the money they send that organization, and gun owners in general who are willing to support these things.

Listen, I'm the father of a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old. And I am like millions of parents out there who would do anything to make sure that we don't have to go through what these families are going through. And I think there's going to be a political price to pay if Republicans bow to the NRA and stand in the way of measures that are going to keep our kids safe across this country.

MORGAN: And Democrats, I might add.

I just want to say one thing to you, Neil. I think you're a man of extraordinary grace and dignity. Not many people could come out and talk in the way that you do. I think the way you behaved last night was totally indicative of the kind of man you are. You didn't react badly to that scene when people were shouting at you about their rights and so on. And I commend you for that.

I just want you to know that you're not alone. People are going to continue to fight so that your son did not die completely in vain and to try and stop other families from going through what you went through, and it's a vital issue in America right now. And I applaud you for just having the courage to continue speaking out about this and I urge you to continue.

HESLIN: Thank you very much, Piers.

MORGAN: Neil Heslin and Senator Murphy, thank you both very much.

MURPHY: Thank you.

MORGAN: Later this week, Anderson Cooper hosts a town hall, "Guns Under Fire," that's Thursday night. And coming up, facing off for the first time a sheriff who says you need a gun to protect your family and the mayor who calls his rhetoric irresponsible.



SHERIFF DAVID CLARKE JR., MILWAUKEE COUNTY, WISCONSIN: With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option. You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed or you could fight back. But are you prepared? Consider taking a certified safety course on handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family. We're partners now. Can I count on you?


MORGAN: That's certainly getting all the attention tonight, the new ad from Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke Jr. telling people to arm themselves and not wait for the police to respond. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett calls his words irresponsible. And both now join me.

Welcome to you both. Let me start with you, if I may, Sheriff Clarke. Very contentious this commercial that you produced. Why did you do it?

CLARKE: Well, a number of factors led to this. There's an emerging situation in the Milwaukee area. Fewer and fewer law enforcement resources -- and I'm not going to be afraid to engage the citizenry in imminent circumstances, not in all circumstances -- and I gave examples in that ad -- to take their personal safety as an individual responsibility. And if there are certain things they can do when 911's not available to them -- and those are decisions that they have to make.

MORGAN: Mr. Mayor, you're the mayor of Milwaukee. You don't agree with him. Why?

MAYOR TOM BARRETT, MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN: Well, first, let me make it very, very clear that the sheriff is not the law enforcement officer that has jurisdiction over the Milwaukee Police Department. In fact, the Milwaukee Police chief and I agree that if there's an emergency, that individuals should call 911. And the fact is that that ad implies that the sheriff and the sheriff's forces are going to come to residences when they call 911. That simply isn't true.

The Sheriff's Department has jurisdiction over our freeway, over the airport, over the court. But it's the police officers, not only in the city of Milwaukee but in the 18 other municipalities, that respond to these calls. To have a sheriff basically imply that it's not going to help you to call 911 I think is irresponsible.

MORGAN: I mean, sheriff, listening to the way that you phrased yourself in that ad, the kind of Hollywood voice you put on, the deep tones, making it all sound terribly exciting and dramatic, it sounded like some kind of John Wayne movie. How on Earth does that kind of rhetoric to the American people serve any kind of sensible, rational purpose?

CLARKE: Well, first of all, I object to the Hollywood voice. This is the way I talk. This is my voice. And that ad was recorded at a studio. But let me get back more to your point.

First of all, as it relates to the mayor, the mayor is completely wrong. I'm the top law enforcement agency in Milwaukee County. And we are a full-fledged law enforcement agency. We respond to everything.

But that's not the point. Because the citizens could care less what uniform the officer's wearing when in fact they call for the police. Now, the mayor submitted a budget this year that furloughs 1,500 police officers three days each. That's 4,500 fewer officer hours to be spent patrolling and responding to calls for service.

My agency itself, the county, I had to lay off 42 officers last year. On top of that, there is an increasing demand of 911 calls, calls for service that are going unanswered or in a delayed fashion, not through any fault of the street officer but because of the fact that they don't have the proper amount of resources. Plus they've been operating at a --

MORGAN: Let me ask you a question.

CLARKE: -- about 200 officers short.

MORGAN: Let me ask you a question.

CLARKE: They have fewer and fewer resources.

MORGAN: In your time as the sheriff, how many people in Milwaukee, to your certain knowledge, have defended themselves and their family at home by firing a firearm?

CLARKE: I don't have those statistics.

MORGAN: Well, give me a ballpark.

CLARKE: I don't think we need to go there, to be honest with you. The fact is --

MORGAN: You haven't got a clue, do you? You haven't got a clue.

CLARKE: Wait a minute.

MORGAN: No, I won't wait a minute. You want to arm everybody in Milwaukee. You do these racy, Hollywood-style adverts. You want them all out there armed and shooting. I'm told over the weekend, a 36- year-old Milwaukee woman was approached by police after firing a gun in front of a neighborhood house when she heard a rowdy neighbor. And she explained herself by saying Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. -- that's you -- had said it was OK for her to arm herself.

What you're creating is a return to the wild west in Milwaukee.

CLARKE: If I can answer the question.

MORGAN: So I think it's actually relevant that you don't have any idea how many people ever need to actually fire a firearm at home to defend themselves.

CLARKE: Are we going to have an honest exchange here? Or are you just going to continue to talk over me? MORGAN: I'm not sure how honest it can be if you haven't got a clue about any of the statistics involving people defending themselves with firearms at home in Milwaukee.

CLARKE: Well, again, first of all, personal safety is an individual responsibility. It's not up to me to decide who should or should not own a firearm.

MORGAN: No, no, no, I'm not going to let you get away with that.


CLARKE: If you go back to the ad --

MORGAN: We will discuss this after the break. But no, no, no.

CLARKE: -- circumstances --

MORGAN: You will not get away with that. I'm sorry.

CLARKE: -- options.

MORGAN: It is not a personal issue.

CLARKE: I said you can hide under the bed. I said you can do a number of thins including taking a firearm safety course in the use and handling of a firearm. Those are responsible things to do.

But Piers, those are choices that the individual has to make, not law enforcement, who may be minutes and miles away.

MORGAN: Well, we'll get the mayor's reaction. What I was going to say to you is, of course, it is not a personal choice when a sheriff in Milwaukee makes an advertisement directly telling the people of Milwaukee to go arm themselves. That becomes a law enforcement mission statement.

Let's take a break. Let's come back and get the mayor's reaction.


MORGAN: I'm back now with Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. If you want to join the conversation, then Tweet me @PiersMorgan.

Mr. Mayor, look, I get frustrated with this because I don't think it's the job of a sheriff to be going on producing advertisements urging --

BARRETT: Let me make a couple quick --

MORGAN: No, let me go to the mayor -- to effectively be ignoring a first response call to the police. What is your reaction to what the sheriff was just saying? BARRETT: Let me make a couple of quick points. The sheriff talked about furloughs. We talked to the police chief. The police chief has assured us that there will be absolutely no reduction in coverage as a result of furloughs. We have three furlough day so that we can make a pension payment of 29 million dollars for our police and have no layoffs.

Second, the sheriff said that he can respond to all calls in Milwaukee County. He didn't say that he does respond to all calls. The calls -- the 911 call that come from residences in the City of Milwaukee are responded to by the Milwaukee Police Department.

But let me tell you what's really going on here. What he doesn't want to do is he doesn't want to talk about the issues that are before the American people right now. You've had a long segment on what happened in Newtown. In Milwaukee, we've had similar incidents. And I want to talk about one in particular where we had an individual who had a restraining order against him because he could not -- because of the threats he made to his wife.

Once that restraining order was issued, he went out, posted on the Internet and bought a gun, went and killed her and two others in a spa. Now I would not sell a gun to an individual who has a domestic order against him. I would not sell a gun who has an involuntary mental judgment commitment. I would not sell a gun to someone who has a criminal record.

Right now, he is defending laws that have a loophole that allow those individuals -- those individuals who have criminal record, mental health records, that are involuntary or domestic violence orders, to go buy guns on private sales. I need our sheriff to support the initiative that says that individuals who sell guns insure that those guns are not being sold to criminals, they're not being sold to people of domestic violence orders, and they're not being sold to people of involuntary mental judgment commitments.

And I need that because 40 percent of the sales are occurring outside of gun dealers.

MORGAN: Sheriff, what's your response? It all seems imminently reasonable.

CLARKE: Mayor, that's easy to say. You have an armed security staff that follows you around that the average person doesn't have. Several summers ago, you were involved in an incident where a tire iron wielding suspect beat you within inches of your life. I'm sure that if you had a gun and a plan that day, the outcome would have been a little different.

I'm asking -- the reason I raise that --

BARRETT: let me make sure I understand this.

CLARKE: I'm asking that law abiding citizens, who make the decision that they see their personal security as their individual responsibility, in a like situation, can respond as they see fit. And that's an exigent situation. I in no way, shape or form advocated for everybody to do that in every situation.

I pointed out an exigent situation. When the wolf is at the door --

BARRETT: Would you support the background check, sheriff? Sheriff, do you support the background check?

CLARKE: I didn't interrupt you, mayor. I didn't interrupt you. Let me make my point. We have a burglary and a robbery problem going on in the city of Milwaukee. I live in the City of Milwaukee, by the way. And the response was what? That's been going on for quite some time. Some of those are home invasion robberies and home invasion burglaries.

Recently this summer, we had a woman -- actually last summer, a pregnant woman with her 15-year-old son. She was gunned down in a holdup on the street. That's one of those exigent situations where she couldn't call 911. We also had a grocery store owner --


CLARKE: -- who was shot and killed in a robbery attempt. He didn't get a chance to call 911.

MORGAN: Let me ask you, sheriff -- let me ask you sheriff the question the mayor asked you, very quickly. Yes or no, do you support the idea of background checks for all gun trades?

CLARKE: What I support is a prosecutor's office and a judiciary that hammers the people who illegally use a firearm in the commission of a crime.

MORGAN: OK. Can you answer the question?

CLARKE: -- start by enforcing the laws that are on the books first before we start penalizing law abiding citizens. Because I trust law abiding citizens.

MORGAN: I asked you a simple question and you couldn't answer it. We'll leave it there. Sheriff and Mr. Mayor, thank you both very much.

CLARKE: It might not be the answer that you wanted, but it was an answer.

BARRETT: Thank you very much.

MORGAN: The answer's normally to the question I posed, which was about background checks. You chose not to answer it.

Anyway, next, did the NFL cook the books so a black referee would be on the field for the Superbowl? My exclusive interview with the man who broke the story coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MORGAN: There's a big controversy tonight surrounding the Superbowl. It's all about one of the top referees picked for the game. Contentious allegations are that Jerome Boger was chosen to lead the crew because he's black. The charges come after grades that were given by supervisors were changed apparently to make him look more qualified.

Ben Austro is the editor of He broke the story and he joins me exclusively. Welcome to you.


MORGAN: So I get this right, there have been, I think, in the history of the NFL three black head referees, and there have been two black head referees at Superbowls. Jerome Boger clearly, by common consent, is a very good referee. But your story suggests that he should not be the head referee at the Superbowl because his performance over the season has been -- how would you phrase it? Misinterpreted or deliberately changed? I mean, what is the nature of the specific allegation?

AUSTRO: From what I've been hearing from referees that are on the field -- and everybody is off the record because they don't want to -- they fear retribution. They really cannot speak openly about this. But consistently I'm hearing eight downgrades. So one play if it's a missed call or wrong call, it will get marked down as a missed grade or a ding, they sometimes call it.

And he's been dinged eight times this season. And all eight of them have been appealed. And so they were all successful appeals, and gave him a perfect record, as the result.

MORGAN: Now one anonymous official told Yahoo Sports Diversity it was a reason for signing Boger to the Super Bowl, saying this is a way to take care of that. And this lent sucker, I guess, to the point of your story, which is that there is, you know, a sort of race element to this, that he's only being picked as head ref because of the color of his skin.

AUSTRO: Well, I mean, I have heard that. It seems to be a multi-layer reasoning. I can't ignore the diversity angle because there have been officials that have said that there -- that's part of it. And yes, it does take care of it, in the words that were quoted in the Yahoo article. Also Sam Borden of "the New York Times" today was saying that also he found some officials that said race.

But I think there are other things that are in play. We just came out of a labor dispute with the officials. Some of them were a little more outspoken. And it seems coincidental that some of those officials are not in the big games, when they had been in previous years.

And they also want to get some new faces in there as well.

MORGAN: OK. Well, Ben Austro, thank you very much for joining us.

We turn now to Ray Anderson. He's the EVP of football operations for the NFL. Welcome to you, Mr. Anderson.


MORGAN: Pretty serious charge, if true, which is that this referee, Mr. Boger, shouldn't really be the head ref, and that you guys have cooked the books to make sure that he can be.

ANDERSON: Patently false. Whoever Mr. Austro's anonymous sources are have really misled him and misrepresented the facts to him. And it is particularly troubling to us that Jerome Boger, who is graded the same way as any of our other referees, and always has been -- he ranked number one out of our 18 officials this season in his performance.

He deserves to be in the Superbowl. He has earned it. To think he has anonymous former and current referees trying to denigrate his performance this year, when he's about to really accomplish the pinnacle of his officiating career, is really to us quite pathetic.

So his information is inaccurate. It's unfair. And frankly, I don't know what's motivating it . But it certainly is unfair to Jerome Boger and certainly not at all what happens in the NFL. We are about diversity, that is true. But to suggest that him being black got him into the Superbowl, that's insulting and that is offensive on multiple levels.

None of us in the NFL appreciate that.

MORGAN: Tell me this, the mere fact that there's speculation of this nature, which is particularly hurtful, I would imagine, to Mr. Boger, given what you have just said, does it mean the system is flawed? Is there a better way of doing the grading system, a more transparent way, perhaps, so that you can avoid this kind of innuendo and smearing?

ANDERSON: There's always a way of getting better. We are constantly striving to improve our grading system. And we'll do that going forward. But the system that we have in place and the standards that we have in place for progressing to the playoffs and into the Superbowl, everyone knows what they are.

So to have this year, all of a sudden, those standards and that grading process to be questioned, it makes you wonder why. So we will always get better. But Jerome Boger was graded on par with all of his referees and ranked number one and deserves to be here, and will do a tremendous job on Sunday, with the support of all of us at the league office.

Hopefully, some of his other officiating colleagues who don't choose to talk anonymously behind the black curtain.

MORGAN: Ray Anderson, thank you very much, indeed, for joining me.

ANDERSON: My pleasure.

MORGAN: We'll be right back.


MORGAN: Tomorrow night I sit down for an exclusive interview with Joe Jackson, Michael Jackson's father. He opens up about his relationship with his famous son, including the last days of Michael's life.


MORGAN: There was a sense that he was surrounded by people that were kind of keeping the family away, and that the family couldn't get to him how they wanted to.

JOE JACKSON, FATHER OF MICHAEL JACKSON: That's very true. You know, it was they treated him like Howard Hughes. They couldn't -- Family couldn't get to him like they should have.


MORGAN: Fascinating interview with Joe Jackson, that's tomorrow night at 9:00 eastern. That's all for us tonight. Anderson Cooper starts now.