CNN First to Pursue Gun Control Angle With Virginia Tech Murders

April 17th, 2007 5:26 PM

It’s not surprising that the mainstream media would quickly jump on the question of gun control in the wake of the mass shootings at Virginia Tech on Monday. On Tuesday, the second day for its new hosts, CNN’s "American Morning," broadcasting live from the Virginia Tech campus, jumped almost immediately on the gun control angle, citing from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, one of the leading gun control groups in America.

CNN correspondent Greg Hunter did two live reports on the guns that were used in the massacre during the competitive 7-9 am Eastern time slot. The first report, which came a mere 6 minutes after the top of the 7 am hour, cited that Virginia is "a state that is pretty easy to get a handgun, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence." Hunter then cited the reasons for this "finding" by the Brady Campaign, which included Virginia’s lack of a waiting period and no license requirements. He also cited the Brady Campaign’s advocacy of a "three-day background check."

In his second report, Hunter characterized one of the weapons used in the shootings, a Glock, as a "paramilitary weapon." He then repeated the Brady Campaign’s talking points about Virginia. He also contradicted what he had said earlier about gun shows in Virginia, stating that "there’s no checks at gun shows," when he had said in his first report that instant background checks are performed at gun shows. There was no mention of any gun rights group in either report.

A partial transcript of Greg Hunter’s first report, which started at 7:06 am EDT:

JOHN ROBERTS: I have read some reports that he may have purchased at least one of the guns on Friday the 13th, last Friday. Anything to confirm that?

GREG HUNTER: Nothing to confirm that, but this is a state that is pretty easy to get a handgun, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. You'll remember Jim Brady, who was shot in the head by John Hinckley at that failed assassination attempt in the early '80s. They say this is an easy state to get a gun in, only second only to the state of Georgia.

And the reason why, there's no waiting. You can walk in and get a gun that day. There's no license requirements, there are no -- where they have gun shows down here in the state, they don't really have any kind of background checks. At gun shows, they do have instant background checks to keep felons from getting guns. And also, someone from out of state with the right I.D., like me, can go out and buy a rifle. Not a handgun, but I can go out and buy a rifle today if I want."

ROBERTS: Right. But he had handguns.

HUNTER: He had handguns, that's correct.

ROBERTS: Right. Yes, I've been to a couple gun shows in the state of Virginia. I live here, and they always say, hey, it's easy to get the gun. Just a quick instant check.

Authorities say that gun dealers say that the insta-checks are enough to identify if anyone has a background of felonies. But what could they do to identify someone who perhaps had a grudge or had some reason to go commit violence as this person did yesterday?

We don't know if he had any kind of a felony background, but perhaps he didn't. Is there anything to stop a person like that from buying a gun in this state?"

HUNTER: That's just a great unknown. That really is a great unknown. And they tried to do the background checks, but who knows. It's one of those things.

ROBERTS: Yes. We should point out, too, the Bradys were advocating the three-day background check.

Also, the key part of Hunter’s second report, which started at 8:25 am EDT.

ROBERTS: Do we know more about how this student got a hold of these weapons or how he could in the State of Virginia get a hold of them?

HUNTER: Well, the State of Virginia has some pretty easy gun laws - that's according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Now, just a little bit about the Brady Campaign. That is Jim Brady and Sarah Brady founded this. Jim Brady, of course, was the White House press secretary shot in the head by John Hinckley, and they say this is the second easiest state to get a gun, a handgun or a rifle. In this case, a handgun. There is no waiting. There's no license required. But if you get a license, you can buy more than one gun. That's the caveat there. Also, there's no checks at gun shows, and somebody from out of state could buy a rifle. That's neither here or there.