Joe Lieberman: If Obama Can 'Do Something' About Guns by Executive Order, 'God Bless Him'
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) told CNN on Monday that the Connecticut shooting was a "tipping point" and added that if President Obama wanted to take action on gun laws by using an executive order, "God bless him."
"This is all about trying to limit access to guns by people who shouldn't have them. Based on their records. And to keep military weapons off of the commercial market," Lieberman said of his proposals.
"I think this murder of 20 pure innocent little children is a tipping point," he insisted, adding that his proposed "national commission on violence" should not prevent action from Congress or President Obama on guns. "If the President can do something now by executive order, God bless him. If Congress can get together soon and get something done, God bless Congress," he said.
CNN's Carol Costello only helped to prod Lieberman as she hit Congress from the left for inaction on guns. "Senator, I think a lot of people out there think, you know, these tragedies happen. We hear big talk from politicians, but they don't have the political will or the courage to really change things," she fretted.
"But even after Gabrielle Giffords, one of your own, who is still damaged to this day because somebody got a hold of a gun who shouldn't have, nothing happened even after that," she challenged the senator.
[Video below. Audio here.]
A transcript of the segment, which aired on CNN Newsroon on December 17 at 10:04 a.m. EST, is as follows:
CAROL COSTELLO: Okay, well Don after what happened in Newtown, schools are certainly struggling with gun control, guns in general and how to keep kids safe. One way, armed school security guards. According to the Pittsburgh Gazette, at least two Pittsburgh area school districts will allow armed guards to patrol their schools. The superintendent Michael Strutt told the paper, quote, "It was our intent to do this anyway. The Newtown shooting caused us to think about it and work over the weekend to expedite that process. Gun advocates are all for it, in fact Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert wishes the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown had been armed.
Rep. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-Tex.): I wish to God she had had an M4 in her office locked up, so when she heard gunfire she pulls it out and she didn't have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands, but she takes him out.
(End Video Clip)
COSTELLO: He mentioned an M4, he wished the principal was armed with an M4. And if you're wondering what an M4 is, here's a picture of it. It's an assault rifle used by the U.S. military. Joining us now is Connecticut Senator Joe Liebermann. Good morning, Senator.
Sen. JOE LIEBERMAN (I-Conn.): Good morning, Carol.
COSTELLO: I'm just going to cut right to the chase. Is that the answer, Senator, more guns?
LIEBERMAN: I don't believe it is. Obviously security at school buildings is important. But this, as the President said very eloquently last night is a very complicated problem. But the fact that it is complicated doesn't mean we can't do something about it, and I thought the President really issued a call to national action preceded by discussion when he said that it's time for these tragedies to end. I mean, clearly part of it has to be to make it harder to -- for people who shouldn't have guns to have them. And to keep some guns that are really military guns and not hunting or sports guns out of the hands of most people in our country.
But it is more than that. It's about violence and the culture. It's about mental health services. It's about spotting these kids who fit the profile, troubled young men, who everybody in hindsight says I should have noticed this. How we make sure we notice it before they strike and get them help so they never strike and hurt anybody.
COSTELLO: Senator, I think a lot of people out there think, you know, these tragedies happen. We hear big talk from politicians, but they don't have the political will or the courage to really change things.
LIEBERMAN: I don't blame people for thinking that because that's the record. You know, the last time we really adopted a law on guns, for instance, was in 1993 or '94, the Brady Act named after Jim Brady, President Reagan's press secretary, who was disabled by gunfire when Hinckley tried to kill President Reagan. That took seven years to pass. We had an assault weapons ban that passed at about that time, had a ten-year life as a statute and there was not a consensus to reauthorize it. That's why I think what the President said last night is so important because I think he was saying that he wants -- he's committed to doing something about violence in our society and this second term. It is why I'm proposing a commission to make – once you appointed commission, they hold hearings. They talk to people. And eventually they produce a report with recommendations. And that's some small guarantee that we won't walk away from this.
COSTELLO: I think when people listen to that and say that's great, you want to appoint a commission and we're going to talk about these things. But oftentimes, nothing comes of it. I want to ask you about the NRA because the NRA remained silent on this issue. We haven't heard word one. The Facebook page is down. Why do you think that is? Why isn't the NRA coming out and standing up for itself when so many out there are blaming the NRA for what happened in Newtown, Connecticut?
LIEBERMAN: Yeah. Well, I mean, obviously you'd have to ask folks from the NRA. Let's just hope it's out of respect for this tragedy. But, you know, from the President on down, we all have to engage the NRA and people we know who have guns and want to keep their guns and remind them just as Don Lemon said a moment ago, none of these proposals will take guns out of the hands of people who have them now. This is all about trying to limit access to guns by people who shouldn't have them. Based on their records. And to keep military weapons off of the commercial market. That shouldn't inhibit anybody's right to hunt, target shoot, or even to defend themselves with a gun. I think this murder of 20 pure innocent little children is a tipping point. And so I'm proposing this commission so we don't lose the anger and the hurt we have now before we really get something done about this. I don't want the commission to be an excuse for not doing something. If the President can do something now by executive order, God bless him. If Congress can get together soon and get something done, God bless Congress. But I fear that –
COSTELLO: But even after Gabrielle Giffords, one of your own, who is still damaged to this day because somebody got a hold of a gun who shouldn't have, nothing happened even after that.
LIEBERMAN: You are absolutely right. I mean, I go back to Columbine in 1999. I actually proposed after that a commission very similar to this. John McCain and I and others did. Got adopted in the Senate and was dropped in a conference committee. Never even convened. But we have all got to be angry. This is not us and them, us against the NRA or us against the entertainment industry. This is all of us. This is a question of how we all protect ourselves from wanton violence and most fundamentally how we protect our children. And again, I want to say I was heartened by the President's words last night. They were strong and he was moved. I happened to be at a bill signing at the White House Friday morning when he first learned about how extensive the slaughter was in Newtown. And he was so visibly moved. And I think he's struggled with this over the weekend. And I think this is going to be a centerpiece of his second term. And when you think about it, 12,000 people killed in this country every year with illegal guns, wow. If we can do something about that to reduce that number, that'll be a tremendous legacy for President Obama and anybody who supports these efforts.