On a day where politics was supposed to take a back seat to "prayer and reflection" in the wake of a deadly Colorado shooting, CNN let liberal mayors drive the debate about gun control on Friday afternoon.
"[W]hy hasn't your party, the Democratic party done more to legislate guns?" anchor Brooke Baldwin pressed Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. CNN also played a clip of Mayor Michael Bloomberg calling on President Obama and Mitt Romney to speak out about guns. [MP3 audio here; video follows page break]
President Obama had called for "prayer and reflection" on Friday morning and stated "there are going to be other days for politics." Both presidential campaigns had canceled political ads in Colorado, but it was too much to ask of CNN to not drag gun control into the spotlight less than 24 hours after the shooting.
"And speaking of guns, after every incident like this gun control eventually comes up in conversation. In this case it took only a matter of hours," Baldwin explained CNN's coverage. However, CNN was not forced to air the liberal gripes of the mayors; neither Obama nor Romney had addressed gun control in their Friday speeches.
Baldwin even pushed for the reinstatement of the Assault Weapons Ban, which expired in 2004. "But the thing is, Mr. Mayor, neither, neither men mentioned gun control in their statements," she said of Obama and Romney. "And my question to you is what has to happen for Washington to reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban which expired back in 2004?"
She also pulled from a Pew poll from April showing that just 27 percent of Democrats favor protecting gun ownership over controlling guns. Baldwin asked Mayor Nutter why Democrats haven't "done more to legislate guns" – ignoring that 55 percent of Independents in the poll favored protecting gun ownership.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on July 20 on CNN Newsroom at 3:08 p.m. EDT, is as follows:
BROOKE BALDWIN: And speaking of guns, after every incident like this gun control eventually comes up in conversation. In this case it took only a matter of hours. I want you to listen to what New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said just this morning.
New York City Mayor MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I): Soothing words are nice, but maybe it's time that the two people who want to be President of the United States stand up and tell us what they're going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country.
(End Video Clip)
BALDWIN: Bloomberg is the co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which has more than 600 members and that includes the mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, who joins me now. Mayor Nutter, welcome. There are so many people out there, I know, who will think it is just too soon, too early after this tragedy to start talking gun control. You don't agree.
Philadelphia Mayor MICHAEL NUTTER (D): Well Brooke, first, let me send out, on behalf of the City of Philadelphia and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, our deepest sympathies to the families of those who were killed, and certainly all who were injured. The impact on Aurora and Aurora Mayor Steve hogan and certainly Denver Mayor Mike Hancock, I cannot imagine what they are going through now. And we will keep our prayers and thoughts on those families who lost loved ones and those who are injured.
Unfortunately, and maybe not on the news every day, but the issue of gun violence is ever present with us every day in virtually every city across the United States of America. It is – this is a great tragedy and again, we need to keep the focus on those who are killed or injured. But you can't really escape the fact that more reasonable gun regulations and procedures need to be in place. A strengthening and tightening of the national background check system. I don't know why any civilian would ever be able to purchase an assault weapon or the parts that go with it. We're told again, listening to your report, body armor. Numerous weaponry. We're talking about 12 people killed, 59 injured. That's a lot of fire power in a very short period of time. This is a national crisis and a national issue and it needs to be addressed.
BALDWIN: I think a lot of people agree with you. But the thing is, we heard from President Obama and Mitt Romney very, very early this morning releasing their statements. We saw them giving public addresses with regards to this tragedy. Their hearts and of course, prayers going out to the people of Aurora. But the thing is, Mr. Mayor, neither, neither men mentioned gun control in their statements. And my question to you is what has to happen for Washington to reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban which expired back in 2004?
NUTTER: Well it's evident that on the gun issue and a number of other issues, Washington and certainly in the Congress, specifically, has been quite dysfunctional. I'm not going to give the President or Mr. Romney specific advice today about what they should be saying but I do believe that statements at an appropriate time, maybe when the funerals have taken place, both I would encourage to speak out specifically on this issue. And as your graphic maybe of the previous show demonstrated, there have been a number of – multiple people killed in assaults like this just in 2012.
So Washington, all elected officials at the local, state and federal level, need to get much more serious about guns. This is not a trip down the Second Amendment trap door. This is about reasonable regulations to protect people. Children were killed early this morning. Adults were killed. And this violence takes place on our streets in America every day. And we just need to come to grips with it and make the tough call to save people's lives. I thought that's what public service was all about.
BALDWIN: Yeah, it's interesting the word you use to describe Congress is dysfunctional. I just want to share a few more numbers, Mayor Nutter. This is the Pew Research Center did some poll on gun control. This was just back in April. And they found 72 percent of Republican voters think it's more important to protect gun ownership than to control guns. Only 27 percent of the Democrats agree. So why hasn't your party, the Democratic party done more to legislate guns?
NUTTER: Well, I think that whether at the state level or certainly at the federal level, this is purely a recognition of, at times, the fear that many feel from primarily the NRA. Any right-thinking regular citizen wants to be safe. Again, I'm a big supporter of the Second Amendment. But I think I have a First Amendment right not to be shot. One has no relationship to the other. And so the NRA has a disproportionate level of influence with regard to, in some states. The state general assembly, and with the Congress at the federal level. We're in the business of saving people's lives. We're going –
BALDWIN: But people would disagree with you, Mr. Mayor, because –
NUTTER: – work within the Constitution – work within the Constitution --
BALDWIN: – in terms of saving people's lives, I was at Virginia Tech, I covered that horrendous school shooting. You have what happened to Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, there are so many in between –
NUTTER: Absolute – Columbine.
BALDWIN: Columbine, which is 22 miles away from Aurora. I mean, this has to stop.
NUTTER: It must stop. And the American people, their voices need to be heard. Many members of Congress are not representing the interests of their constituents. They are representing the interests of special interests. And until we can break that stranglehold that primarily the NRA has on our elected officials, regardless of party, Democrat, Republican, Independent, regardless of whether you're in the House or in the Senate, the people of America need to speak up We took extraordinary measures to make ourselves safe as a result of 9/11. You almost have to take everything off to get on an airplane. We know what it takes to sacrifice in order to be safe. But we – as a country, seem not to be able to deal with the issue of guns and gun violence and whether it's who gets them, how they get them, are they legal, are they not legal? These are serious issues. And the American people, their voices must be heard. I don't know what it will take, ultimately. We know that 12 people were killed and 59 were injured in a variety of levels by someone who maybe should not have had those weapons in the first place. Who maybe, if we would strengthen the national background check system, and of course we would have to get more information on all of this. But the American public needs to speak up. Mayors across the country have been dealing with these issues. I recognize and appreciate the work of Mayor Bloomberg and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. the U.S. Conference of Mayors has spoken up on this issue as well –
NUTTER: It's time for the American public to be heard, also.