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.”
As the U.S. continues to grapple with its gun laws in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Christiane Amanpour, host of CNNi’s “Amanpour,” joins “Starting Point” Wednesday to discuss international gun policies and how changes have been made around the world to decrease gun-related murders.
“Remember in 1996 in Scotland, children the same ages as those in Sandy Hook Elementary School were massacred," Amanpour explains. "In that case, they banned the easy access to handguns. They also put in a buy back scheme. They also then backed that up with penalties and fines for any violations.”
“The fact is that it worked,” she adds.
The ABC Global Affairs anchor also notes that in Japan stricter laws than those in the U.S. have brought the gun-related murder rate down significantly.
“In order to have your basic air rifle [in Japan], you have to have a skills test, you have to have a license, you have to have a drug test, a mental evaluation, and you have to have police background check, file with the police, all sorts of fines,” Amanpour explains. In 2008, there were 11 gun-related deaths in Japan. In the same year, there were 12,000 gun-related deaths in the U.S.
Amanpour argues that the link between tighter gun laws and fewer gun-related deaths is not “brain surgery.” She adds that the United States needs to have a serious discussion about how to get “sensible laws.”