CNN's Costello Wonders Whether Gun Control Would Have Prevented California Murder Spree

Carol Costello surprisingly raised pro-gun rights points during an interview of Senator Richard Blumenthal on Tuesday's CNN Newsroom. Costello noted the "renewed calls for stricter gun control laws" after Friday's murder spree in California, and pointed out that the Golden State "has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. The shooter in this case abided by a background check....How would any gun control law prevent this particular shooter from buying a gun?"

The anchor, who has forwarded gun control in the past, also zeroed on the fact that the deceased murderer began his rampage by stabbing three people to death: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]

CAROL COSTELLO: ...The shooter, [Elliot] Rodger – he used a knife, too. He used a knife to kill three people, and then, he used a gun to kill three more. Some argue if a deranged person wants to kill, they will find a way. It's the argument that gun control advocates cannot seem to win with those who – who passionately believe in gun rights. So, how do you compromise?

Costello led the segment with a clip from an interview of Richard Martinez, who lost his son in the Friday murder spree. Martinez slammed Congress for their failure to pass new gun control in the wake of the Newtown massacre. She then turned to Senator Blumenthal and asked, "Is Mr. Martinez right?" The liberal politician replied, in part, that "he is right that Congress's failure to act is shameful and disgraceful....But I am absolutely determined that we will achieve common-sense, sensible measures – including a focus on mental health, which, I think, is common ground to bring us together."

The CNN journalist then brought up California's strict gun control laws. Senator Blumenthal conceded that "there is no single solution. There's no panacea to the problem of gun violence, and not every death – even every mass shooting – can be prevented." But he added that "very soon, everyone will have known someone who has suffered from gun violence – or will know someone among the 32,000 every year who are victims of gun violence, either by their own hand or others....we need to continue this effort, even if it doesn't eliminate every death."

When Costello brought up that Rodger used a knife to murder three out of the six, and that "some argue if a deranged person wants to kill, they will find a way," the Connecticut senator doubled down that the path forward was to reintroduce the gun control bills that failed to pass through Congress after the Newtown massacre: "What's needed now is a renewed commitment to organizing – to bringing these bills back, which I hope will happen; and to making sure we have a will to make our streets safer."

Near the end of the segment, the CNN anchor wondered if a renewed push for gun control was a "waste of time." Senator Blumenthal replied that "far from wasting time, this effort is about law enforcement – about protecting our police, whose lives are on the line; our children who are victims every day in our streets and neighborhoods; about keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous or severely mentally-ill people, such as this young man in California."

The full transcript of Carol Costello's interview of Senator Richard Blumenthal from Tuesday's CNN Newsroom:


CAROL COSTELLO: The shattered community of Isla Vista, California will come together today for a day of mourning and reflection. Classes have been canceled at the University of California at Santa Barbara, which saw six of its students killed, and another nine injured in last Friday's rampage. A memorial service will be held this afternoon on campus, while flags will be lowered to half-staff across the UC system through this Sunday.

The tragedy has sparked renewed calls for stricter gun control laws in this country from grieving parents, who call Congress's inability to come to some sort of compromise a dereliction of duty.

[CNN Graphic: "Call For Congress To Revisit Gun Control"]

KYUNG LAH: Politicians after Sandy Hook swore that they would do something.

RICHARD MARTINEZ, FATHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM CHRIS MARTINEZ: We're all proud to be Americans, but what kind of message does it send to the world when we have such a – such a – such a rudderless bunch of idiots in government? These things are going to continue until somebody does something. So, where the hell is the leadership? Where the hell is this – these people we elect to Congress and we spend so much money on? These people are getting rich sitting in Congress, and what do they do? They don't take care of our kids. My kid died because nobody responded to what occurred at Sandy Hook.

[CNN Graphic: "Father Of Shooting Victim Slams Congress, Asks 'Where's The Leadership?' On Gun"]

COSTELLO: Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut joins us now. Good morning.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Good morning. Thank you, Carol.

COSTELLO: Thanks for being here. Is – is Mr. Martinez right?

BLUMENTHAL: He is right that Congress's failure to act is shameful and disgraceful. That day in April of last year, when we had 55 votes, but failed to reach the 60 needed to pass a comprehensive measure was, in fact, a day of shame and disgrace in the United States Congress. But I am absolutely determined that we will achieve common-sense, sensible measures – including a focus on mental health, which, I think, is common ground to bring us together.

The majority leader, Harry Reid, has pledged he will bring these bills back when we have the votes. And I think we need to pursue the organizing and mobilizing at the grassroots level that we saw so necessary in the wake of that failure back in April of last year to pass these common-sense measures.

COSTELLO: Senator, California – California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. The shooter in this case abided by a background check and waiting periods. He had never been charged with a crime or voluntarily committed. How would any gun control law prevent this particular shooter from buying a gun?

[CNN Graphic: "Should Mental Health Be A Factor In Crafting New Gun Legislation?']

BLUMENTHAL: There is no single solution. There's no panacea to the problem of gun violence, and not every death – even every mass shooting – can be prevented. But health professionals going with those police who spoke to Mr. Rogers (sic), after he was reported as being suicidal, might have helped them to detect and even to treat the very severe mental illness that made him so dangerous to himself and others. Mental health initiatives are part of the common ground – perhaps, the point of consensus – that can bring us together on both sides of the aisle. It should be bipartisan.

And what we have to remember, Carol, is that very soon, everyone will have known someone who has suffered from gun violence – or will know someone among the 32,000 every year who are victims of gun violence, either by their own hand or others. And we need to remember that our community is filled with the parents of people, like the parents of Javier Martinez or Erica Robinson – two young people in the city of New Haven – whom we continue to grieve; those 26 great educators and young children in Sandy Hook. Every one of us will be touched by this problem, and we need to continue this effort, even if it doesn't eliminate every death.

[CNN Graphic: "U.S. Senate Failed To Pass Bill With Stronger Background Checks Last Year"]

COSTELLO: Well, in focusing on the case in California – because this is the latest event, right? The shooter, [Elliot] Rodger – he used a knife, too. He used a knife to kill three people, and then, he used a gun to kill three more. Some argue if a deranged person wants to kill, they will find a way. It's the argument that gun control advocates cannot seem to win with those who – who passionately believe in gun rights. So, how do you compromise?

[CNN Graphic: "Congress Under Pressure After Rampage"]

BLUMENTHAL: There are compromises that will save lives. That's, very simply, the undeniable truth. Keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people – whether they're severely mentally-ill, or felons or drug addicts – background checks will help stem and stop gun violence. That's an irrefutable truth. And the myth that that will mean taking guns away from law-abiding people is absolutely incorrect. The Second Amendment continues to be the law of the land, and what's needed now is a renewed commitment to organizing – to bringing these bills back, which I hope will happen; and to making sure we have a will to make our streets safer.

COSTELLO: Well, Senator – Senator, I will – I will say this – and I mean no disrespect – but I can tell you right now the majority of my viewers thinks this conversation is a waste of time or worse. Can you really look them in the eye and tell them it's not a waste of time?

BLUMENTHAL: I can look anyone in the eye and say, far from wasting time, this effort is about law enforcement – about protecting our police, whose lives are on the line; our children who are victims every day in our streets and neighborhoods; about keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous or severely mentally-ill people, such as this young man in California. Not every law will solve every problem. Enforcement is an issue. Mental health is something that can bring us together. Mental health resources – training for our professionals who go out to interview people who may be mentally ill, and trained professionals to go with them – so as to protect people better.

[CNN Graphic: "Victim's Father: Leaders Are 'Gutless Bastards'"]

COSTELLO: Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, thanks so much.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

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