Ever since Reverend Al Sharpton was given his own MSNBC show, PoliticsNation, many have questioned if a prominent liberal activist should even be allowed to promote his liberal causes under the guise of cable news.
Take Sharpton’s latest advocacy efforts on gun control, for example. As MSNBC's Thomas Roberts reported on Thursday: "MSNBC’s Reverend Al Sharpton joined NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly in signing the New York Daily News’ petition to ban assault weapons." [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]
And Sharpton isn't done. "Now the Reverend says that he’s going to organize a protest against the NRA and gun manufacturers at a rally coming up in Washington next month," added Roberts.
However, Roberts then brought Sharpton on to promote his liberal agenda. "But when we talk about what you're trying to do next month to take a rally to Washington, what are your hopes there?" he asked, bringing up Sharpton's upcoming rally.
Sharpton continued to self-promote:
My hope is to raise with the teachers, Randy Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers and others, we are all talking about how we raise the point that when Mr. LaPierre and the NRA had the opportunity to say let us deal with some sane gun policies, let's talk about how people don't need a magazine with 100 rounds in it, that's not self-defense, that's not hunting.
See relevant transcript below.
December 27, 2012
11:14 a.m. EST
THOMAS ROBERTS: Nearly two weeks after the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, gun control advocates across the country are vowing to step up pressure on Washington to ban assault weapons. MSNBC’s Reverend Al Sharpton joined NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly in signing the New York Daily News’ petition to ban assault weapons. That’s the cover of the paper from yesterday. Now the Reverend says that he’s going to organize a protest against the NRA and gun manufacturers at a rally coming up in Washington next month. Meanwhile, public opinion on gun control remains mixed. A new USA Today/Gallup Poll shows 58 percent of Americans favor stricter gun laws that’s up from 43 percent in October of last year. But when it comes to banning assault weapons, 51 percent are against it with 43 percent supporting it. Now numbers relatively unchanged from what we’ve seen from a year ago. The Reverend Al Sharpton is the host of PoliticsNation, the President of the National Action Network and joins me in studio. Reverend it’s great to see you. We have a copy of the paper right here, the front page yesterday. And as we look at the efforts that you want to do, what is the strategy to try to curb the gun violence, especially when you team up with Commissioner Kelly here. People might look at this and say here's two big city city slickers that are trying to take the guns out of our hands.
AL SHARPTON: Well, first of all, Commissioner Kelly and I have disagreed. This year we had major marches against his stop and frisk policy. So what we wanted to show on Christmas Day, he came out to our headquarters, the National Action Network feeds the homeless and seniors and we stood together to say despite our differences, and we still disagree vehemently on stop and frisk, we agree on banning assault weapons, and we agree that there must be gun control, hoping to use that as a model, saying that there must be bipartisan agreement about gun control in Washington. If we can get unlikely people to stand together, we can maybe lead to some sane gun policies in this country.
ROBERTS: Alright, certainly you're no stranger to the fight to end gun violence as we’ve seen. But when we talk about what you're trying to do next month to take something, a rally to Washington, what are your hopes there?
SHARPTON: My hope is to raise with the teachers, Randy Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers and others, we are all talking about how we raise the point that when Mr. LaPierre and the NRA had the opportunity to say let us deal with some sane gun policies, let's talk about how people don't need a magazine with 100 rounds in it, that's not self-defense, that's not hunting. And how we can back up-- yes, people have a right to protect their family, but you don't need all of this to protect your family. He did the opposite. He said let's put armed guards in the school, let's arm teachers. Now let's remember now, we have seen this year education budgets cut. We don't have money to give teachers raises. We had a teachers strike in Chicago. We don't have money to do things that teachers need, but we’re going to find money to arm them, to train them, to buy them guns, to buy them ammunition. What are we saying? So we can arm teachers, but we can't give teachers money that would give them the ability to be better educators. That’s to me, the wrong message to send.
ROBERTS: There are two sides though that are looking for meaningful contributions to this conversation. We have in L.A. and I want to show this to everybody the fact that there was a gun buy-back program yesterday, the day after Christmas and 1500 rifles and handguns were taken back by police in exchange for groceries and a cash back program there in Los Angeles. I mean hugely successful. Meanwhile, when we look at what we’re talking about with the teacher issue, Arizona's Attorney General is proposing a voluntary program where schools would arm at least one staff member. Meanwhile, there's this gun group in Utah offering a free concealed weapons course to public schoolteachers today. As we look for federal solutions for this, and answers from our elected leaders, is it really the onus being on the local school districts right now to protect the kids and this is the best they can come up with?
SHARPTON: I think that the buyback programs are good. We’ve done them in National Action Network. But I think when you start talking about voluntary training, the question becomes, if you're going to do that, one, are you making it more targeting of teachers? If you have a madman like you had in Connecticut, and we went to Newtown, we went and rallied right outside of Newtown at churches there. When you have a mad man come in and he feels the teacher is armed, they become the first target because you're dealing with people with automatic and semiautomatic weapons. A teacher is not going to be able to stop that with a regular gun or even if they had an automatic gun. And again, who’s going to mandate that for all schools? Who’s going to pay for that? It is not the solution. The solution is the way you stop a bad guy with a gun is take the gun, not try to have a good guy with a gun. You take the gun. Then he's just a bad guy and we can deal with him being bad differently than we deal with a bad guy with a gun with 100 rounds of ammunition.
ROBERTS: The Reverend Al Sharpton. Sir, great to see you. Thank you sir.
SHARPTON: Thank you.