Politicizing Mass Murder
by Brad Wilmouth
Issue 208 – July 25, 2012
CNN anchor Piers Morgan devoted a considerable portion of his program reporting the mass shooting by James Holmes in Aurora Colorado to pushing for more gun control, breaking with those who have advised delaying such talk until after a period of mourning for the shooting victims.
Morgan not only began Piers Morgan Tonight with a “Piers’ Special Commentary” calling for more gun laws, but, later in the program, he included three guests who argued in favor of more gun control, with only one to argue against, with whom the CNN host ended up becoming agitated as Denver University Professor David Kopel scolded Morgan for not waiting longer before launching into a divisive political debate.
Shortly after beginning the show, Morgan played a clip of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg advising the presidential candidates to talk about the gun control issue, and then began his commentary:
I agree with Mayor Bloomberg. I fully respect the Second Amendment and every American’s desire to defend themselves in their homes. But I simply don’t believe the Framers of the Constitution would have ever envisioned a disturbed young man utilizing his right to bear arms by legally buying four guns including an assault weapon capable of firing hundreds of rounds a minute, specifically to murder fellow Americans.
There are now almost as many guns in America as there are people, and this can only surely lead to more senseless deaths. Something has to be done, and that debate will start tonight.
A bit past 9:30 p.m., after a press conference on the Aurora shootings had aired, as he interviewed a couple who witnessed the massacre, Morgan raised the issue of gun control with them:
When you heard – I don’t know if you heard the police just now revealing some of the details of the armory that this killer had built up – 6,000 rounds of ammunition he bought on the Internet, four weapons, including this assault rifle. What is your reaction to that?
There’s a huge debate going on all around America today about gun control and so on. What is your reaction to the fact that this young man was legally able, in the last two months, to obtain four weapons, including an assault rifle, and so much ammunition and commit this atrocity?
At 9:45 p.m., Morgan brought aboard liberal Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe who argued in favor of more gun laws and slammed the National Rifle Association as an obstacle. At one point, Tribe complained:
There’s no reason in the Constitution why we, as a civilized society, couldn’t get our hands around a problem like that. The reason is the National Rifle Association and all of the people who, frankly, make a living out of restricting the political possibility of gun control. We have to do something about it. I don’t know how many killings, how many slaughters it’s going to take before the nation wakes up to the need to address the problem.
The CNN host ended up lauding the Harvard professor’s presentation as “eloquently put.”
Morgan then turned to a segment in which two guests supporting gun control, plus Morgan himself, outnumbered Professor Kopel as the only dissenter. After Kopel criticized Morgan for getting political so soon, the CNN host ranted:
Let me challenge you on what you’ve just said. A lot of people have said that today. A lot of people who don’t want strengthening gun control have said this is not the day to debate it. I tell you the day to debate it, it would have been yesterday.
Morgan then demanded:
You tell me a good reason why we should not strengthen the law now to stop another young man like him going into a store tomorrow, buying four more weapons, 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet, and killing and shooting another 70 people in America.
After Kopel was then given some time to speak, he ended up bringing up the topic of delaying political talk until next week, leading Morgan to interrupt him:
PROFESSOR DAVID KOPEL, DENVER UNIVERSITY: Let’s wait till we find out the information instead of rushing the country into this pro, con thing that I know sells a lot of commercials on TV, but it’s inappropriately divisive now. Nobody’s stopping you from having this segment on Wednesday. Can you give people a little bit of breathing room-
PIERS MORGAN: Okay, you made your point on that. Let’s move to Dan Gross from the Brady Campaign because I’m not interested in having a debate about whether we can debate gun control.
Morgan then turned to Brady Campaign president Dan Gross and gun control activist and Virginia Tech survivor Colin Goddard to push their views supporting more gun control. So much for waiting for the facts.
Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.