Don't Count Contessa Out: Brewer Gives Fair Hearing to 2nd-Amendment Arguments

MSNBC host Contessa Brewer [file photo] has taken some deserved heat here, as when NewsBuster Scott Whitlock caught her here, seemingly rooting for the entire Democratic presidential field.

But for at least one brief shining moment this afternoon, Brewer gave the pro-Second Amendment side of the VA Tech argument fair treatment. The fair Contessa's guests were University of Missouri law prof Kris Kobach, a former senior aide to former AG John Ashcroft, and Dennis Henigan of the Brady gun-control group.

Brewer began by expressing skepticism as to how additional gun control laws could have helped: "Dennis, let me put you on the spot here. What possibly have been done to keep Cho from buying a gun? We now know he didn't have a criminal record."

Henigan switched the subject to the firepower of the guns Cho had, complaining about the expiration of laws limiting the number of rounds in a magazine.

Kobach pointed the finger at VA Tech's complete ban on all firearms on campus, observing that "the only thing that stops a determined, cold-blooded killer is someone else with a gun."

When Henigan asserted that "parents of the students at Virginia Tech would be appalled that people are suggesting more guns on that campus," Brewer interrupted:

Brewer: There's a student at Virginia Tech who wrote an op-ed piece in the Roanoke Times last summer criticizing the fact that the campus was a gun-free place. People who know how to shoot guns say if any one of those people in those classrooms had been packing heat, Cho wouldn't have gotten as far as he did."

By the enthusiasm with which she expressed the argument, one sensed that Brewer herself was not hostile to its logic and indeed might have been embracing it

Henigan responded with an airy argument: "You can't simply talk about this shooting and what might have happened, that kind of speculation. You have to evaluate what would be the 'net social cost' of a policy allowing people to carry weapons." He predictably concluded that "it's absurd to think that the net social cost would be good."

Contessa ended with an observation underlying the futility of gun control laws: "The bottom line is that obviously, the fact was that Cho broke a whole slew of laws, not just by bringing a gun on campus, but by opening fire and murdering 32 other people." Kobach nodded his head in agreement as Henigan sputtered.

UPDATE - Contessa vs. the I-Man: as NB Managing Editor Ken Shepherd has brought to my attention, before acceding to her host spot, Brewer toiled as a newsreader on the Imus show, at one point engaging in a major-league slanging match with him, as documented here by Outside the Beltway.

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Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.