New CNN Host Lectures Post-Newtown Gun Buyers, Accuses NRA of Lying

In the latest episode of CNN's Inside Man, new host Morgan Spurlock attacked those who bought guns in the wake of the Newtown shootings, and told Americans they don't "need" AR-15 rifles or high-capacity magazines. The episode "Guns" featured Spurlock working at a Virginia gun store.

"I'm completely blown away by the response that people have had to Newtown. That on the heels of a tragedy like this, that they feel that they have to arm themselves," Spurlock arrogantly lectured the gun customers. He also accused the NRA of lying to the public and cast some NRA members as gullible and paranoid.

"The NRA is really good at defending the Second Amendment, and some of its members are persuaded by all the talk about home invasions, Chinese hackers and a post-apocalyptic America," Spurlock quipped.

"They [NRA] launched a misinformation campaign to derail any legislation by willfully misleading their members into thinking a national gun registry was possible even though it was against the law," Spurlock insisted after quoting President Obama that the gun lobby "willfully lied" about the gun  bill that failed in the Senate.

In his push for stricter gun laws, Spurlock innocently cast himself as a gun owner who wanted to report on the "centrist attitude of Americans." Yet he still attacked the spike in gun transactions after the Newtown shootings.

And he tried to portray the absurdity of the gun bill failing in the Senate by drawing simplistic analogies:

"The failed legislation included universal background checks, something 90 percent of Americans favor, which makes you wonder how often do 90 percent of Americans agree on anything? Not too often, it turns out. According to an online poll of Americans, background checks were more popular than apple pie, kittens, and child labor laws."

Spurlock ended the episode by implying that high-capacity magazines and AR-15 rifles should be outlawed:

"The majority of the population is for universal background checks. Do we need 120-round magazines for target practice, an AR-15 for home protection? Actually, no, you know. When the Second Amendment was created, nobody could have envisioned the types of weapons we have today and the sheer firepower that they have. So, you know, at some point we have to say we should do what's right, you know, rather than just what's easy."

Below is a transcript of the segments, which aired on CNN's Inside Man on June 30 beginning at 10:02 p.m. EDT:

MORGAN SPURLOCK: As an American, I myself own guns. When I was 12-years old, this is a true story, I was given my first rifle, a .22, that my grandfather hand-made the stock for me, gave to me as a present. And on the first day of he and I out shooting it, we were in my backyard shooting it at a target, and at some point while we were shooting at the target and walking back to where we were shooting from, my dog went and hid behind my target. And on my 12th birthday, I shot and killed my dog. True story. Terrible story. It still doesn't stop me from owning guns.

But I'm somebody who even as a gun owner believes there should be some sort of change to gun policy, you know, that there should be certain people that shouldn't have the ability to get, you know, high-powered firearms, you know, et cetera. And I do believe that there's people out there who are just like me. But if you turn on the television, you get one side who's basically saying there has to be this overwhelming revamping of gun policy in the country. And then on the complete inverse of that are people saying we can't touch it because it's in the Constitution.

You know, and as a gun owner, I really don't believe those two polar opposites represent America. So what I want to do is go out and talk to some people who I think are representative of much more of what's going on in kind of the centrist attitude of Americans.

(Voice over) In November, just one week after the reelection of President Obama, gun sales were reaching record highs in the U.S. I wanted to know who were the people buying these guns and why were they doing it. So I figured taking a job in a gun shop would be a good place to start.

(...)

[10:33]

SPURLOCK: I got to tell you. I'm completely blown away by the response that people have had to Newtown. That on the heels of a tragedy like this, that they feel that they have to arm themselves. And what's really surprising to me is it's not people who already own guns that are coming in, but it's people who have never owned a gun in their life that are coming in for the first time and saying I've got to get one, I've got to get one now.

You know, you have to believe that part of this fear that's being generated is also coming from kind of the gun manufacturers themselves. You know, in the middle of a crisis like this, in a middle of tragedy is just this incredible boom of opportunity for them, you know, to kind of capitalize on. And it's – it's terrible.

(Voice-over): But some people took a different type of action after Newtown. People whose lives have been affected by gun violence saw their opportunity to be heard too, on an issue that they know is literally a matter of life or death.

(...)

SPURLOCK: The NRA was founded in 1871 as a sportsman's organization aimed at educating and building marksmanship as a skill among its members.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can become a part of this great heritage simply by calling now.

SPURLOCK: Today the NRA has nearly five million members, and considers itself the voice of the American gun owner. But here is the thing. About 70 million Americans own guns. That makes around 65 million who aren't card-carrying members of the NRA. So the NRA doesn't really get its power from its membership dues. It gets its power from the deep-pocketed corporations that have contributed nearly $52 million to the organization in the last eight years alone.

And the NRA's spent that money pretty well. They've ushered in expansive conceal and carry laws, sensitive government data about gun crime, tied up federal regulation, and effectively blocked the renewal of the 1994 ban on assault weapons with high capacity magazines. In spite of numerous polls that show not only most gun owners but even most NRA members actually that support tighter restrictions on gun ownership, the NRA has strong-armed legislation to loosen restrictions and aggressively expanded the sales base for gun manufacturers.

The NRA is really good at defending the Second Amendment, and some of its members are persuaded by all the talk about home invasions, Chinese hackers and a post-apocalyptic America. But the main thing the NRA is defending is the bottom line for gun makers. But if the NRA doesn't speak for gun owners, who does? I figured I'd just let them speak for themselves. So we are at the nation's gun show, which is the largest gun show in the state of Virginia.

(...)

SPURLOCK: In spite of all the talk about change and the deaths of so many victims of gun violence, the U.S. Senate voted against a range of gun control measures. The failed legislation included universal background checks, something 90 percent of Americans favor, which makes you wonder how often do 90 percent of Americans agree on anything?

Not too often, it turns out. According to an online poll of Americans, background checks were more popular than apple pie, kittens, and child labor laws. Only 81 percent have a favorable view of apple pie, 76 percent can agree on liking kittens. A mere 71 percent support child labor laws. But there was one big winner in the poll, ice cream. It came out on top with a tiny 3 percent edge over comprehensive background checks for gun sales. So how in the world did the one thing Americans virtually like as much as ice cream still manage to fail? You can thank the hardworking NRA for that one.

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States: The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill.

SPURLOCK: They launched a misinformation campaign to derail any legislation by willfully misleading their members into thinking a national gun registry was possible even though it was against the law.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, executive vice president, National Rifle Association: This is not universal background checks. This is universal registration of all of your firearms and all people like you all over America.

OBAMA: Those lies upset an intense minority of gun owners, and that in turn intimidated a lot of senators, even though the bill did the opposite. This legislation in fact outlawed any registry, plain and simple, right there in the text.

To all and all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.

SPURLOCK: But just because the NRA's lobbyists are shouting in the ears of Washington's politicians doesn't mean the conversation is over.

Sen. HARRY REID (D-N.Y.), Majority Leader: This is just the beginning. This is not the end.

SPURLOCK: Just last year, even talk of gun legislation was considered political suicide, not so now. People everywhere are demanding action. There has been a seismic change in the political landscape. We're ready to battle it out. And we aren't going to back into our corners without a fight.

After traveling around and meeting all these different people, the one thing that you start to realize is that we're much closer than anyone would really like to believe. You know, we all want this nation to be a safer place. We do want to keep these guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them. But at the same time, we all do have to give something up to make that happen. But I think there is a way to do this that is going to be better for everyone.

The majority of the population is for universal background checks. Do we need 120-round magazines for target practice, an AR-15 for home protection? Actually, no, you know. When the Second Amendment was created, nobody could have envisioned the types of weapons we have today and the sheer firepower that they have. So, you know, at some point we have to say we should do what's right, you know, rather than just what's easy.

(End Video Clip)

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014