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February 13th, 2013
11:27 AM ET

EXCLUSIVE: Pendleton parents say Congress has to do something on guns, vote would be 'a start'


(CNN) - The two men suspected of shooting to death a Chicago teenage girl are facing murder charges and will not get bond.

Kenneth Williams, 20, and Michael Ward, 18, went before a judge Tuesday in their first courtroom appearance concerning the killing of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old who performed at a brunch before the January inauguration of President Obama.

Police earlier said that Ward, who allegedly shot Pendleton, was on probation for unlawful use of a firearm.

Hadiya's story has become a national example of the gun control issue in this country, and First Lady Michelle Obama invited parents Cleopatra and Nathaniel to the State of the Union Address last night, where President Obama strongly urged greater action.

This morning on "Starting Point," Cleopatra and Nathaniel talk in their first sit-down interview with Soledad O'Brien and John Berman to talk about the President's gun control goals, and the legacy of their daughter.

READ MORE: No bond for men accused in Chicago teen's shooting

Filed under: Gun control • Gun violence
February 7th, 2013
08:27 AM ET

Actress Anna Deavere Smith discusses push for gun control legislation

If you don't know her for her award-winning one-woman stage shows, you might recognize actress Anna Deavere Smith from one of her many recurring television shows, such as the Emmy-winning Showtime series "Nurse Jackie."

Deavere Smith joined fellow celebrities Chris Rock, Adam Scott and Tony Bennet on the Capitol yesterday to speak out about gun violence and to urge members of Congress to act on the president's plans to tighten gun regulations.

On Starting Point this morning, the actress explains why she's become involved in the gun control movement and discusses the power of celebrities as advocates.

"I feel it’s important to come forward and take advantage of this dark moment to remind Americans that ... we need to find ways to get automatic weapons off of the street and to campaign for background checks and to make gun trafficking a federal crime," Deavere Smith says. "This is a chance when the nation is looking and understands how tragic this is that we ought to be able to make something happen."

Filed under: Celebrity • Gun control
February 6th, 2013
11:06 AM ET

Reps. Cummings, Rigell on House bipartisan gun control bill, say Americans are 'begging' lawmakers to do something'

This morning on "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) & Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) discuss a new House bipartisan gun control bill.

Transcript available after the jump.


Filed under: Gun control • Gun violence
February 5th, 2013
12:17 PM ET

Sen. Heller says US needs broad gun discussion, would not support filibuster for Hagel nomination

On "Starting Point" this morning, Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) weighs in on President Obama's push for legislation on gun control, Chuck Hagel's nomination for Secretary of Defense and the "Stop Fighting, Start Fixing" campaign to promote bipartisanship in Congress.

Filed under: Bipartisanship • Gun control • Gun violence
January 31st, 2013
11:24 AM ET

Sen. Grassley (R-IA): Senate will not pass assault weapon ban

This morning on "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) weighs in on Wednesday's hearing on gun control and gun violence.

Grassley, who voted against requiring background checks on all firearm sales at gun shows, says the issue of background checks is “something that’s going to get a good look and it ought to have a good look. But expanding it...I’m not sure that we know where we’re gong in that direction.”

He adds that there are several other areas where Congress will be legislating regarding the prosecution of straw purchasers, beefing up the database in Washington D.C. and doing more in the area of mental health.

Regarding assault weapons Grassley says he does not believe a vote to ban them will pass due to the Second Amendment, noting that the Columbine High school shooting took place while the federal assault weapons ban was enacted. He adds that the stolen guns used in recent high-profile shooting tragedies in Tucson and Newtown would not be covered by the ban.

During the hearing, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin cited the death of a 15-year-old Chicago teenager killed just a week after she performed in President Obama's inauguration as more evidence of the need for stronger gun control. But Grassley says the focus in Chicago should be on “the issue within our society of black violence on blacks.”

Filed under: Gun control • Gun violence • Guns
January 31st, 2013
08:29 AM ET

Sen. Blumenthal: The case for background checks is 'irrefutable'

Democrats face a tough road ahead if they are going to convince Republicans to support new gun control laws, a reality that President Obama acknowledged in an interview with Univision yesterday.

"My suspicion is we're seeing more bipartisan discussion on the immigration issue, than on the gun issue," Obama said.

These remarks came after a tense hearing on gun violence in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords urged legislators to act. "Americans are counting on you,” Giffords said.

Senator Richard Blumenthal joins Starting Point this morning to discuss the hearing, noting that Giffords' statement was "one of the shortest but most powerful public statements before any congressional hearing I've ever heard."

Calling the case for background checks "irrefutable" and noting that that the country "needs more rigorous and vigorous enforcement of existing gun laws," Blumenthal expresses confidence that gun control legislation will pass because the "American people are on the side of the sensible."




January 28th, 2013
11:02 AM ET

Milwaukee Co. Sheriff says law-abiding citizens should take firearms classes, argues personal safety is individual responsibility

One sheriff in Wisconsin is encouraging citizens to "get in the game" and learn how to use a gun. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. says you can't count on local law enforcement because of cutbacks.

On "Starting Point," Sheriff Clarke explains to Soledad why a citizen would be better off handling their own personal protection rather than relying on police officers.

"There are certain situations, and I think most people get that where 911 is going to be of no use," Sheriff Clarke says. "And in those situations, there are certain things that you can do to protect yourself. It's a public safety message, and I'm just here to let the people know, give them the information as to what's going on and to give them options, if you will, as to how to defend themselves in those situations."

"My message is for law abiding citizens in certain situations, not to go out and enforce the law," he adds. "There are certain things that you can and should do to protect yourself. It's always been my belief that personal safety is an individual responsibility."

Filed under: Gun control • Gun violence • Guns
January 25th, 2013
07:40 AM ET

Feldman: 'Senator Feinstein is resorting to the old politics of the gun issue'

In a few hours, Vice President Joe Biden will be in Richmond, Virginia to make the case for a ban on assault weapons, and President Obama is also set to hit the road to promote the plan.

This move comes on the heels of the introduction of a new bill by Senator Diane Feinstein that would renew the ban on assault weapons, including the AR-15s, the type of weapon used to kill children in Newtown.

Feinstein's bill is likely to face a stiff battle on both sides of Congress, a reality that the California Democrat acknowledges.

Richard Feldman is the president of the Independent Firearms Owners Association and he joins Starting Point this morning to explain his opposition to the legislation, stressing that "instead of focusing on the gun, we need to be focusing on the problem which is always who’s hands are the guns."

"It really is the animal house approach to legislating policy," Feldman says of the proposed assault weapons ban. "We outlawed these guns 20 years ago. It didn't work then. Why do we think that by putting American gun owners on double secret probation that we’re going to have any different impact this time around?"

January 18th, 2013
07:58 AM ET

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly: Armed guards in schools are 'not a wise idea'

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new package of firearm and mental health regulations into law on Tuesday, marking the nation's first gun control legislation since the Newtown massacre.

The laws strengthen the state's existing assault weapons ban, limit the number of bullets allowed in magazines and strengthen rules that govern the mentally ill.

The move comes as President Obama also outlines a federal package of gun control measures that include universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who has been pushing for stronger gun laws with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, sits down with Starting Point this morning to discuss the various proposals laid out by the president.

"Each of these actions are a move in the right direction," Kelly says. "Every little bit helps and I think the large capacity magazine have no place in a civilized society."

Kelly also responds to individuals and organizations calling for armed guards to be placed in schools in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, saying that he doesn't think armed guards are a "wise idea."

January 17th, 2013
11:35 AM ET

Rep. King: Obama gun orders move may be effort to garner base support, Algeria rescue 'would be complex'

This morning on "Starting Point," Rep. Peter King (R-NY) admits that though he's in favor of President Obama's executive orders on gun control, he believes the move is politically motivated.

"I basically support what the president is trying to do," Rep. King says. "I'm an outlier on that. Having said that, I think he built up great expectations about the executive orders."

"I think the president is trying to get political support here from his base, maybe he feels it strengthens him going into negotiations with the Republicans on - or the fiscal issues," Rep. King says.

Rep. King also weighs in on the hostage situation in Algeria. See his comments in the video below.

Filed under: Gun control • Gun violence • Kidnapping
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