On Monday's Newsroom, CNN's Martin Savidge teamed up with guests Rachel Sklar and Nick Ragone to oppose a proposed bill in Texas that would allow college students with concealed carry permits to carry handguns on campus. Savidge only had conservative talk show host Ben Ferguson on to voice his support for the bill during the segment, who faced off against the three.
The anchor brought on Sklar, Ragone, and Ferguson 48 minutes into the 2 pm Eastern hour for a panel discussion on the Texas legislation. He first turned to the former Huffington Post editor: "Rachel...what do you think of the idea of Texas allowing students to carry guns?" Predictably, Sklar ripped the idea:
SKLAR: Well, let me start off by saying I'm from Canada, so the whole Second Amendment culture is already something for me to get used to. But I can't see how students would feel safer knowing that students around there might have guns with them. I just- I think that if the issue is wanting to make college campuses safer, that, you know, we must be permitting guns, that this, at the very least, be unconcealed handguns, and we should be, like, everybody should know who has a gun, and there should be a very high threshold before you are permitted to carry a gun.
Savidge then sought Ferguson's take, who raised how he was almost murdered in a gang initiation, and survived, in large part, to the fact that he was packing heat: "You've had 231 innocent people die in school shootings since 1966 with the Texas massacre, where this all started....I've had a gun put to my head...if I didn't have a permit to carry, and didn't have a gun with me that day...I wouldn't be sitting here today....I'm living proof that it can actually make the problem go away by protecting yourself."
When the CNN anchor asked Ragone for "his thoughts" on the issue, the author sided with Sklar:
RAGONE: Well, look, I'm an advocate for the Second Amendment, but I agree with Rachel on this. I think the idea of mixing the stress of college life and tests and social circles with, you know, obviously, the drinking and occasional drug use that goes on in college, with then carrying concealed guns, just seems like an awful, awful recipe. I mean, it sounds like a terrible idea, and I agree with Rachel as well. I think there's other ways to make campuses safe- I mean, through having stronger social services, intervening when it looks like students are troubled or struggling. But just carrying a concealed weapon on a college environment does not sound like a recipe for success.
Savidge picked up where Ragone left off in his next question to Ferguson, and for the reminder of the segment, he and Sklar tag-teamed the conservative talker:
SAVIDGE (to Ferguson): The one thing I will point out is that we- college campuses are notorious for wild behavior. We know about the problems of binge drinking. We do know about the problems of drug abuse.
FERGUSON: But not in the classroom, not in the classroom. You're talking about extracurricular, after- activities after school at eleven, twelve, one, two, three o'clock in the morning. I mean, you could say the same thing that there could- you could claim there's violence with adults or young adults with domestic abuse, but it usually doesn't happen at work or in the middle of the day in front of their kids. So, I mean, look at Utah. Has there been a school shooting since they allowed kids to take school- guns to school after they got a permit? The answer is unequivocally no. It didn't happen there, and it's not going to happen probably in Texas-
SKLAR: I think that's-
FERGUSON: And you're certainly not going to have a massacre because of this.
SKLAR: (unintelligible) I wouldn't call that statistically valid (unintelligible) your example. I think that, you know (unintelligible)-
FERGUSON: It's the one place where we haven't-
SKLAR: It's a scary cocktail-
SAVIDGE: Hold on, Ben. Hold on. Let Rachel speak here. Well, Ben, let me ask you this, because we do know that you're obviously quite strong in this. You mentioned that the kids are going to have it, or they'll have the guns, apparently- what, in the classroom, but what- they won't take them when they go partying? Am I supposed to believe that?
FERGUSON: Let me say this- if they're going to take the guns when they go partying, they're the same kid you're talking about around in this country that would have a permit to carry. I mean, you can't have it both ways here. If you have a permit to carry, how often does a person that has a permit to carry go out and party, or do drugs and kill people? Trust me, we'd hear about it every time it happens, and guess what? It doesn't happen. Crazy people, however, do get a gun and crazy people get guns without going to get a permit.
SKLAR: There's a lot of gun violence (unintelligible) I'm just going too out on the limb and say that without actually looking at the statistics at my fingertips.
SAVIDGE: All right. You know what? We're going to have to pretty much- we're going to have to end it there. I have to thank all three of you because we're just about running out of time. It's a subject, you know, gun control is one that always brings up a lot of discussion, and we never have enough time. Thanks to all three of my panel members for talking about it.
This isn't the first time in 2011 that CNN has had such a blatant slant against gun rights. On the January 10 edition of CNN Newsroom, a mere two days after the Tucson shooting, correspondent Jessica Yellin prompted local prosecutor Barbara LaWall to spout her pro-gun control views. During the same segment, anchor Brooke Baldwin highlighted an Arizona Republican candidate's gun-toting ad and an infamous video clip of an anti-Obama protester carrying a semi-automatic rifle outside a 2009 presidential event in Phoenix.
— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.