For the second week in a row, Lou Dobbs avoided his normal Ralph Nader like anti-corporate pitch and provided some very telling statistics on gun control. On the April 24 edition of "The Early Show," the CNN anchor noted that crime rate has fallen in recent years "irrespective of gun control laws." When Washington, DC banned hand guns in 1976, its murder rate tripled by 1991. When California imposed stricter gun laws in 1975, it’s violent crime rate rose significantly. Dobbs noted the Constitution and the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right to bear arms.
Host Hannah Storm appeared surprised that Dobbs would call gun control legislation "irrational." She did get assurances from Lou that he does support a national "database" system. The entire transcript is below.
HANNAH STORM: Welcome back to the CBS "Early Show". I'm Hannah Storm. After 32 people were murdered last week on the Virginia Tech campus, many asked questions about the gun laws in the state of Virginia, and why the killer could buy guns so easily. This morning, CNN's Lou Dobbs looks at those questions in his weekly early show commentary "Take Lou."
LOU DOBBS: Hannah, thank you. And good morning. The calls for gun control are, as Hannah said, rising. While appealing emotionally, a contest now over gun control ignores far more powerful causes of tragedies such as the one last week at Virginia Tech. Failure of discipline and socialization in our schools, a failure to provide treatment for the mentally disturbed, and, too often, the alienation of the individual from neighborhood and community. The fact is, crime has been declining across our country, irrespective of gun control laws, government and independent studies all find no evidence whatsoever that gun control reduces gun violence in crime. Washington, DC banned hand guns in 1976. And by 1991, its murder rate had tripled. After California imposed a 15-day waiting period in 1975, that state's violent crime rate was 50 percent higher each year on average. Without empirical evidence that restrictive gun control laws reduce gun violence, calls for gun control are simply irrational. Just last month, a federal appellate court ruled that Washington, DC's 30-year ban on handguns was unconstitutional, saying clearly and loudly, there is nothing ambiguous about the Second Amendment. And whether we support the right to bear arms, gay rights or a woman's right to an abortion, we must insist first upon unambiguous commitment to our ultimate law, our Constitution. Hannah.
STORM: Well, Lou, you say calls for gun controls are irrational. Let's take a look at the Virginia Tech case, because shooter had been declared by a court in Virginia to not only be a danger to himself but also to seek psychiatric treatment. And under federal law, there are those who say the state of Virginia did not comply with federal regulations. Do states need to be held more accountable and closely aligned with federal regulations in this area?
DOBBS: Accountability in government today, whether the state level or at the federal level, is almost impossible. Virginia Tech did everything right, except follow up on its own decisions. And its responsibility to the individual who turned gunman and protection of the Virginia Tech community. That's the difficulty.
STORM: What about this bill in the House that would approve databases in order to conduct criminal background checks on gun purchases? Would you expect that to get more traction?
DOBBS: I would think so. Yes, absolutely.
STORM: And at least one presidential candidate, John Edwards he has called for measures to restrict gun sales. He says he is in support of the Second Amendment, the right to bear and keep arms. Now, how do you see this issue playing out? Do you think it will be an even larger issue now with the presidential race on the horizon?
DOBBS: Oh, without question. There's 70 million gun owners in this country, Hannah, and the idea that the political candidates running for -- their party's nomination in 2008 will be able to escape taking a position is almost unthinkable. Although all of them have, including Senator Edwards, who's talking for--- talking about more restrictive, but not dealing with the absolute issue of gun control.
STORM: Is there anything schools can do in this huge university system about individuals?
DOBBS: Bring discipline back to the classroom. Engage their students and pay attention and to restore community to every institution beginning with public education.
STORM: It will be hard to find a tangible and practical solution. Hopefully this will spur some work towards that.