In the wake of the tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut, many all over the country have been up in arms renewing gun control debate. The National Rifle Association addressed it in a statement on Friday and on the Sunday shows.
Doubling-down on its controversial statement following the mass shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School, the group's CEO, Wayne Lapierre, did not budge on his assertion that all schools should now have armed police. Richard Feldman is the former Political Director for the NRA. He's now the President of The Independent Firearm Owners Association, and joins “Early Start” live from West Palm Beach, Florida this morning.
Dana Bash asks Richard Feldman if he was surprised that Wayne Lapierre did not advocate banning high capacity clips. Instead of answer directly, he answers that we all need to “take a little step back and start being nicer to one another” in this country. “Let’s lower the rhetoric. We’re all Americans. We’re all in this. And we all want to resolve the problem. No one wants to see the kind of horrific massacre that occurred last week.”
Feldman also suggests there are several ideas as to how to combat the issue other than gun control. “There are many things that we can do as a nation, without Congress, without regulation. We can go ahead and harden those schools. We can put ballistic doors into our schools. It only costs money.”
The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary has been raising a lot of questions about media coverage of the tragedy and the general tone of journalism today. This is especially because the victims, and many of the affected, were six and seven year olds who attended the school. The coverage has also led to painful questions about gun legislation and questions about how exactly one should go about covering a tragedy and if certain coverage is good or bad for the victims and the town. This morning host of CNN's Reliable Sources Howard Kurtz and Daily Download Editor in Chief Lauren Ashburn join “Starting Point” to discuss the coverage and its impact on the victims and gun laws.
Ashburn says, “It wasn’t until I saw President Obama get a tear in his eye that that was almost a signal to journalists everywhere that it’s ok to show your emotion.”
On the topic of gun legislation CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein says, “It doesn’t meant that you’re necessarily going to pass legislation. There are lots of barriers to that but I think you’re going to have a more robust debate than we’ve had in the last few years about what the options are.”
Kurtz says the possibility of new gun legislation is unknown but “I do think… journalists all thinking about their own kids – all deeply affected by this. For some reason this cut to the core.” He adds, “That’s why I think that emotions will help power a debate. It’s a debate where we have to be fair and we can’t push and agenda.”
On Tuesday, after the Winthrop Eagles Men’s Basketball team lost to the 7th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes their coach took the opportunity to focus on a much bigger loss. Coach Pat Kelsey gave a fiery post-game speech talking about the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting and asked for change. In his speech Kelsey said he did not vote for President Barack Obama but challenged the president, the Speaker of the House, parents, teachers, rabbis, priests, coaches and everyone to step up because “this has to be a time for change.” This morning, Men’s basketball Winthrop Eagles Head Coach Pat Kelsey joins “Starting Point” to discuss his passionate speech about the Sandy Hook victims.
Kelsey says the national change that he wants to see from leaders is very similar to his business. He says, “The fights not in the locker room – the fights on the court.” Kelsey says that while he and his coaching staff might argue behind the scenes when the team takes the court they are all on the same page. On the same token he stresses that bipartisanship amongst politicians is important.
Kelsey says moving forward he plans to invest more time in looking into issues like gun control and mental health as well as talking about “the deterioration of the core values of what it means to be an American…right and wrong.” He adds that for “a massacre of these proportions to happen under out watch is scary,” referring to the shooting in Newtown.
On the topic of leadership Kelsey says every parent can set a positive example for their children. He goes on to say, “everybody in a leadership position and everybody to some extent is a leader, whether you’re a parent, whether you’re a boss of a company... Set a positive example of the right ethics, the right values, the right way to carry yourself.”
Today children in Newtown, Connecticut are headed back to school today to a different world than the one they left last week after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. Students at neighboring schools are receiving counseling along with teachers and administrators who are expected to discuss the tragedy with students in an age appropriate manner, according to the teachers' union. Classes however for the young children of Sandy Hook Elementary are not resuming just yet. A new facility in neighboring Monroe, Connecticut is currently being prepped for their arrival. This morning Principal and Founder of Capital Predatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut Steve Perry joins a special edition of “Starting Point” to weigh in on the Newtown Massacre which occurred less than an hour’s drive away from his own school.
Perry says in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, one of the first things he did was ask his colleagues if they were ok. He says that knowing this was important, “because the teachers have to feel good before they can go in and make the students feel good.” Perry adds that while it’s important to get back into the flow of the regular curriculum it is also important to, “take a couple of minutes to pull together some kids and have some conversations.”
Perry stresses the importance of listening to the kids because he says, “A lot of kids have fatigue over this. It’s freaking them out. They can’t sleep and so they’d actually like us to pump the breaks and talk about something different.”
On the proposal of arming school faculty with guns Perry says that is, “absolutely absurd.” He adds, “You could have had Navy [SEALS]… there are schools that have absolute substations … police substations in them but that wouldn’t have saved these children.” Perry says the “deranged” shooter “shot his way into a school. There’s not much you can do about that. It was a secure school.” He says, “Our children are frightened to go back to school because we have this lawlessness… in our country because so many children are afraid somebody’s carrying a gun.” He urges gun rights advocates to, “step back and realize that not everybody thinks that carrying a gun is cool.”
As schools in Newtown reopened Tuesday, students began piling in for the first time after last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. Classes however for the young children of Sandy Hook Elementary are not resuming just yet because the school that students once felt safe in remains an active crime scene. As a new facility in neighboring Monroe, Connecticut is prepped for their arrival many students, parents, teachers and Newtown residents are asking, “why?” and looking for answers and guidance from friends, family and religious leaders. Rev. TD Jakes is the pastor of Potter's House, a Dallas-based nondenominational church with 30,000 members. This morning he joins “Starting Point” to discuss how a community heals from this kind of tragedy.
Jakes says when it comes to grieving it is important to remember that, “we are unique. We’re not a monolithic society at all. People respond to emotions differently.” He adds, “For some people it would be rather difficult to utter a sound. For other people it’s rather cathartic to be able to open up to express your love and devotions and to have the final words over someone that they love.” For this reason Jakes says he tries, “not to tell people how to manage their emotions and their relationships and how they choose to commemorate and honors the persons that they deeply love.”
Jakes says, “Just because a question is raised does not mean you have to provide an answer to it. There are some things that are handed to us in life that we do not know. That we do not understand.” The Reverend goes on to say, “its better not to give an answer at all than to give one inappropriately. That’s why we have faith for those things that we can not explain.”
On the topic of forgiveness Jakes says, “Today is not the day to embark upon such a huge mission as forgiveness. Today is a day to honor the victims that were slain, to process, to commemorate them, to take out pictures to hug, to hold hands, to bring around the people that you feel secure with and reaffirm your circle of love.” He says by doing this people can sort out their feelings and plan a, “new normal because the old normal is gone.”
On Tuesday, Newtown students returned to schools marking the beginning of a new reality after last week's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. Students at neighboring schools are receiving counseling along with teachers and administrators who are expected to discuss the tragedy with students in an age appropriate manner, according to the teachers' union. Classes for the young children of Sandy Hook are not resuming just yet, as a new school in neighboring Monroe, Connecticut is prepped for their arrival. A tragedy of this magnitude for many brings to mind other senseless acts that claimed innocent lives like the Oklahoma City bombing at the federal building downtown in 1995 that killed 168 people – 19 of them children. Frank Keating was the governor of Oklahoma when that bombing occurred. He joins “Starting Point” this morning to discuss the Newtown tragedy and weigh in on the renewed gun control debate.
Keating who won national acclaim for his compassionate and professional handling of the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing says for Newtown the climb out will be long, searing and very difficult. He adds that 17 years after the bombing, “with private funds we are still putting children through college, providing counseling – particularly the first responders, firefighters and police officers and even proving medical care for the number of the badly injured.” Keating goes on to stress the importance of the community putting together a plan to address certain problems like long term counseling, particularly for the first responders who were some of the first to see the victims.
On the topic of gun control, Keating who received his first shotgun at the age of 11 says the question of whether people should, “be able to access, to purchase semiautomatic weapons with these clips, these magazines that provide for... unlimited firepower” needs to be debated and discussed. He adds, “We did once. I think we should do it again to ban those assault weapons.”
Keating says mental health, divorce, video violence and movie violence should also be topics of discussion moving forward. Reflecting on his own childhood he says, “We had guns. We went hunting after school, but none of us slaughtered out classmates.”
Gun violence is on the rise in several American cities. Out of the nation’s 10 largest cities, Philadelphia has the highest homicide rate. This year’s death toll is up to 277.
But Scott Charles, a local educator and a trauma surgeon, has created an innovative program to save lives of potential victims even before they arrive in the operating room. CNN Correspondent Sarah Hoye has this week’s “Black in America” report.