CNN's Johns on Gun Provision: 'How Did the Credit Card Bill Get So Hijacked?'

CNN correspondent Joe Johns included a seeming lament in his report on Friday’s Situation Room about the inclusion of an amendment to the so-called credit card reform bill which expands gun owners’ rights in national parks: “How in the world did the credit card bill get so hijacked?” He also only included one pro-gun rights sound bite in his report, as opposed to three from proponents of gun control [audio clips from the report are available here].

Johns introduced his report by juxtaposing beautiful imagery of Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Mount Rushmore with a picture of a handgun on a rack: “Just imagine: along with the sweeping views of natural beauty at Yellowstone and Yosemite, mixed in with history at Mount Rushmore, that some of the tourists toting diaper bags and binoculars might also be packing heat.” He continued by labeling this juxtaposition, and outlining how congressional opponents of the provision felt about its inclusion and passage: “Extreme perhaps, but absurd is in fact how it looks to some congressional Democrats -- they’re almost apoplectic about how the gun lobby slipped a provision into, of all things, the credit card reform bill, a provision that really has nothing to do with the rights of credit card holders, and a lot to do with the right to bear arms.”

The correspondent then played sound bites from Democratic Representative Sam Farr, a critic of the gun rights amendment, and Larry Pratt from the Gun Owners of America. Johns’s “hijacked” question followed the clip from Pratt, and he continued by explaining that “Senator Tom Coburn, who gets kudos back home in Oklahoma for standing up for the rights of gun owners, is the guy who put it in, with help from lots of Democrats who’ve learned the hard way, that opposing gun rights can be a bad career move.”

Johns did not include any more bites from gun rights supporters, and played an additional clip from Representative Farr, along with another Democrat, Representative Carolyn Maloney from New York. He further explained that “the White House never threatened a veto. The president doesn’t want to set off gun owners who already fear he’ll take away their weapons.  So if you can’t beat them, join them.”

The CNN correspondent concluded with a “keeping them honest” analysis: “Democrats are crying about being outmaneuvered by the gun lobby, but you should know this: the amendment was supported by 105 House Democrats. After all, it’s not like someone put a gun to their heads on how to vote.”

The full transcript of Johns’ report, which aired at the bottom half of the 5 pm Eastern hour of Friday’s Situation Room program:

JOHN ROBERTS: The credit card reform bill that President Obama signed today includes a measure that will allow loaded guns in U.S. national parks and wildlife refuges. The Interior Department says that won’t take effect for another nine months. CNN’s Joe Johns reports on how Congress found a way to connect loaded guns with credit card reform.

JOE JOHNS (voice-over): Just imagine: along with the sweeping views of natural beauty at Yellowstone and Yosemite, mixed in with history at Mount Rushmore, that some of the tourists toting diaper bags and binoculars might also be packing heat. Extreme perhaps, but absurd is in fact how it looks to some congressional Democrats -- they’re almost apoplectic about how the gun lobby slipped a provision into, of all things, the credit card reform bill, a provision that really has nothing to do with the rights of credit card holders, and a lot to do with the right to bear arms.

REPRESENTATIVE SAM FARR, DEMOCRAT, CALIFORNIA: I think this is the most embarrassing amendment Congress has ever been passed. To be -- to take a credit card bill and have the NRA use that as a vehicle to allow people to carry guns in national parks -- it’s ridiculous. It makes no sense. It’s not the purpose of national parks.

JOHNS: NRA -- the National Rifle Association, and the rest of the gun lobby, are naturally, pretty happy about it. They say guys with guns have been getting locked up for years on parklands, and that it’s just not right.

LARRY PRATT, GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA: This is something that’s been an ongoing harassment, and it’s an immoral policy -- telling people you shouldn’t have a gun. You shouldn’t be able to protect yourself.

JOHNS: But how in the world did the credit card bill get so hijacked? Senator Tom Coburn, who gets kudos back home in Oklahoma for standing up for the rights of gun owners, is the guy who put it in, with help from lots of Democrats who’ve learned the hard way, that opposing gun rights can be a bad career move. Plus, the president wanted the credit card reform bill quickly approved.

REPRESENTATIVE CAROLYN B. MALONEY, DEMOCRAT, NEW YORK: It’s regrettable that a dangerous and totally unrelated provision was added to a very important consumer protection bill, and you should not pass a consumer bill in the barrel of a gun. It’s really wrong. But that’s the way the system was.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And our approach to (fade-out) --

JOHNS: And the White House never threatened a veto. The president doesn’t want to set off gun owners who already fear he’ll take away their weapons.  So if you can’t beat them, join them.

Meanwhile, a lot of people on the Hill are now expecting more attempts to push through the pro-gun wish list.

FARR: I expect we’ll see gun amendments in almost every major bill. I think it’s the failure of the leadership in -- the Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate to allow these amendments to get adopted. It’s -- it’s embarrassing.

JOHNS: But taking a step back in keeping them honest -- Democrats are crying about being outmaneuvered by the gun lobby, but you should know this: the amendment was supported by 105 House Democrats. After all, it’s not like someone put a gun to their heads on how to vote. Joe Johns, CNN, Washington. 

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center