ABC, NBC Fret Over Gun Show in Tucson, ABC Surprised Crowds ‘Aren’t Protesters, They’re Customers’

 On Saturday, both ABC and NBC ran stories fretting over the Crossroads of the West Gun Show that was held over the weekend in Tucson, Arizona. On ABC, at one point, correspondent David Wright seemed surprised that the large number of people showing up at the event were customers instead of protesters. After relaying that some members of Congress want more gun control laws and cautioning viewers that they should not "hold your breath for them to pass," he continued: "If you wonder why, just check out the crowd at today's gun show. These aren't protesters, they're customers."

Over on the NBC Nightly News, correspondent Kristen Welker noted that it is legal to carry concealed weapons in Arizona, "just as Loughner did last Saturday," as if a person with homicidal intent would decide to obey a law against carrying concealing weapons:

KRISTEN WELKER: Guns are permissible almost anywhere in the state, including many public buildings, and it is legal for people to conceal those weapons and carry them around, just as Loughner did last Saturday.

PAUL HELMKE, BRADY COMMISSION PRESIDENT: Arizona is only the third state in the country to allow people to carry loaded, hidden guns without any permitting process at all.

Below are transcripts of the relevant stories from the January 15 World News Saturday on ABC, followed by the same day’s NBC Nightly News :

#From the January 15 World News Saturday on ABC:

DAVID MUIR: And part of the town hall did tackle the issue of guns and background checks for mental illness. And as we held that town hall today, a gun show just a few miles away. And we asked, are there any checks for people with mental illness? David Wright on that part of the story again tonight.

DAVID WRIGHT: Today, the flags were at half staff at the Crossroads of the West Gun Show, a tip of the Western hat to the victims of Saturday's shooting.

BOB TEMPLETON, CROSSROADS OF THE WEST GUN SHOW: Gabrielle Giffords was a friend of gun rights, gun rights people-

WRIGHT: Gun owner herself.

TEMPLETON: Right, gun owner herself, and an advocate for Second Amendment rights.

WRIGHT: Who knows if the Congresswoman’s experience last week will change her views on gun control. In the wake of the shooting, some of Giffords' colleagues in Congress are proposing new ways of safe guarding lawmakers, of keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, and banning high-capacity magazines like these. But don't hold your breath for them to pass.

SCOTT KEETER, PEW RESEARCH CENTER: It's hard to imagine, given the current constellation in Washington, we're going to see meaningful gun control legislation in this Congress.

WRIGHT: If you wonder why, just check out the crowd at today's gun show. These aren't protesters, they're customers.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I like guns, you know, so why wouldn't I want to carry?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Gun show has nothing to do with what he did.

WRIGHT: Gun control advocates say gun shows make firearms far too easy to get. After the Virginia Tech shooting, we were there as a victim's brother came out of a gun show with a carload of weapons. Since this shooting, dealers here and in other states say Glock pistols and high-capacity clips are flying off the shelves. In Arizona, one-day handgun sales jumped 60 percent after the shooting. Nationwide, they're up 5 percent from last year. It's not that these people are insensitive to the shooting.

DAVID DAUGHTRY, PIMA COUNTY SHOOTING INSTRUCTOR: I talked to a gentleman this morning at the range. He said I went to school with Gabrielle Giffords, my children have gone to the same schools that we went to, and said this makes my heart ill.

WRIGHT: They just don't buy that stricter gun control is the answer. David Wright, ABC News, Tucson.

#From the Saturday, January 15, NBC Nightly News:

LESTER HOLT, IN OPENING TEASER: Guns for sale: Just miles from the site of the massacre, a gun show draws crowds and questions.

...

LESTER HOLT: Meantime, the tragedy in Tucson has heated up the national debate over guns, especially in Arizona, where the laws make it easy for most people to own and even carry a gun. NBC’s Kristen Welker is also in Tucson for us where the gun culture was on full display at an event there today. Kristen?

KRISTEN WELKER: Lester, organizers thought about postponing that event but decided it should go on. And thousands turned out, many of them talking about gun legislation. Gun control has reentered the national conversation since last week's shooting spree. The topic was on the minds of many as they lined up for the Crossroads of the West Gun Show in Tucson today.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: We’ve had the right to bear arms for a long, long time, you know. Yeah, it's just part of the way things are around here.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: There's absolutely no need for people on the street to be owning assault weapons.

WELKER: Gun show owner Bob Templeton says people are the problem, not the laws. He thinks Loughner, who had been rejected by the Army and suspended from college, should have never been permitted to buy a gun.

BOB TEMPLETON, CROSSROADS OF THE WEST GUN SHOW: It's an issue of making sure that we don't have guns in the hands of the wrong people.

WELKER: Gun control advocates say the laws need to change nationwide and in Arizona.

PAUL HELMKE, BRADY COMMISSION PRESIDENT: The gun laws in that state are basically nonexistent.

WELKER: Guns are permissible almost anywhere in the state, including many public buildings, and it is legal for people to conceal those weapons and carry them around, just as Loughner did last Saturday.

HELMKE: Arizona is only the third state in the country to allow people to carry loaded, hidden guns without any permitting process at all.

WELKER: Shooting victim Representative Gabrielle Giffords supported legislation that favored gun owners, but now members of Congress are renewing calls for reform. New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg plans to introduce legislation that will bring back the assault weapons ban which expired in 2004 and which outlawed high-capacity round clips.

SENATOR FRANK LAUTENBERG: The shooter in the case of Congresswoman Giffords had 33 bullets in the clip. The destruction that he was able to cause hitting 18 or 19 people and killing six should never have happened.

WELKER: But many disagree.

TEMPLETON: There's no evidence that any, that any stiffer gun laws would have made any difference.

WELKER: But in a state like Arizona, guns for many are a part of life. And while the nation remains divided over guns, Tucson residents say they are united by their grief over everything that happened here just one week ago. Lester?

HOLT: Kristen Welker, thank you.