Thursday on AC360: Guns under fire
January 30th, 2013
05:10 PM ET

Thursday on AC360: Guns under fire

Since the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary and the start of President Obama's second term, one of the most divisive issues testing legislators today is how the country approaches gun laws. On Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, Anderson Cooper will gather important voices in the debate to talk about what must happen to achieve a common objective: less gun violence in America.

The conversation will focus on many arguments, the facts on gun injuries and deaths, how pop culture fits into the equation, the meaning of the second amendment, and why it seems so difficult to find common ground.

The town hall at George Washington University will feature gun rights advocates like Sandy Froman, former NRA president and a current board member for the organization. And Sarah McKinley, a young mother who used her shotgun to protect her baby and defend against intruders. Those pro-gun voices and others, along with proponents of stricter laws, will be on the program. One of the panelists is Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey who has been on the front lines of the battle to reduce crime in America for decades.

Those deeply affected by gun violence will join the discussion to share their experiences and expectations for legal reform. Colin Goddard was shot four times in the Virginia Tech shooting. Amardeep Kaleka's father was murdered during the attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Veronique Pozner buried her 6-year-old son Noah in Newtown, Connecticut, in December. Their personal stories, and those of all victims, are why a dialogue is crucial and urgent.

CNN's Jeffrey Toobin will provide insight on how the Constitution applies to the current laws, and those proposed by the White House. 360 MD Sanjay Gupta offers his expertise on mental health issues related to gun safety.

There will be many contributing to the town hall, and we want your perspective too. Tweet your views on gun laws using #gundebate360 and tune in at 8 and 10 p.m. ET on Thursday, January 31.

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soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    Youth gun violence is out of control in this country and we should look long and hard at how easily kids in America get prescribed with powerful psychotropic pharmaceuticals. Drugs like Prozac, Ritalin, and others are frequently connected with these shootings.

    February 2, 2013 at 9:05 am |
  2. Wes Loroff

    Newa flash people. Criminals DON"T CARE about laws!!! Just like the war on drugs, it don't matter what law you put in place, they WILL find a way around it.

    January 31, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  3. Larry Adams

    Can anyone truly say that they are a " responsible gun owner" if they do not have their firearms secured by a gun safe? A gun not in a safe, is not a safe gun.
    Some people will not break in to your home if they know you have a gun and some people will break into your home if they know they can steal a gun. They are a hot commodity for thieves

    January 31, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
  4. enrique

    It's amazing how the gun issue has divided people. I read somewhere that drunk drivers kill as many of not more people a year than do guns. Let's ban both guns and alcohol!!!!!!!!! Umm I forgot, even people who are for gun control like to drink.

    January 31, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
  5. George J

    Lets see some talk about our military culture, and the military industry, the militarization of police, and the hero worship of our military. When we are the most violent nation in the world it is no wonder we have so much gun violence.

    January 31, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
  6. Rick

    Everyone that signed the constitution favored slavery...might as well bring that back too if the reason for owning guns is because the constituion says so. Still waiting for one good reason why anyone other than military and law enforcement needs a gun. Just 1 good reason....lets hear it...only one

    January 31, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
  7. John MacKenzie

    Anderson, as a law abiding citizen, and gun owner/advocate, I am deeply troubled by the current debate, and the possibility of me/us loosing any of our rights to purchase any guns we choose to want to purchase and own. Please know that I deeply greeve for the loss of the 20 children at the Sandy Hook Elementry shooting, and all of those who have lost their lives to gun violence, but simply put, limiting the purchase and ownership of any firearms will NOT solve the senseless killing of our citizens as I see it. Like the NRA spokesman stated, "why should law abiding gun owners be be punished for the actions of others". As I have heard it stated also, gun rights are in place to protect this country's citizens from the tieraney of government, and others. Again, as commented by another law abiding gun owner, I too want to take into my own hands my personal security and safety, from those that would want to do harm to my family and me. When the riots begin in this country begin in this country, as in parts of Europe, because of economic chaos, and possible collapse, I want to be able to defend myself and my family, while waiting for government (police) protection, and assistance. Thank you

    January 31, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
  8. Denise

    Anderson, I would like to see more participation by members of the NAACP and other groups that work with inner city kids. There is a horrific problem in our inner cities as demonstrated by the killing of the beautiful, innocent, responsible girl from Chicago who was gunned down. It appears that the major focus of cause and affect being discussed is mental illness and not the distruction of our inner city youth through drugs and gun violence. Surely there are existing programs that could be more widely funded to curtail this cycle of violence. I wonder why the NAACP has been silent in this debate? Why are they not stepping up and taking a role in the discussion about inner city problems? The NAACP has programs that support victims and decreasing violence but I think they should have a seat at the table.

    January 31, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
  9. Mannie

    By reducing the size of the magazine on high power rifle and/or getting rid of it will not reduce gun violence. But what it will do is prevent someone from shooting and/or killing alot of people all at once. More bullets in a magazine more people will and can be shot and/or killed. Use Common sense people, common sense.

    Marine Corp Vet.

    January 31, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
  10. Zelma

    I am 84 years old. Every home had guns when I was young.The problem is the way our children afe being raised to think if it enters thier mind they have the right to do it. We knew our problems were ours to solve and we were not angry because everyone was not solving them for us.

    January 31, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  11. jessica

    Dealing with guns is NOT the solution... We need to deal with the issues leading up to the event.. Whats going on that these kids are even wanting to pick up a gun to shoot someone??? If we raised our children to be loving and respectful of others, then to me the mojority of the problem is solved!

    January 31, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  12. ed

    I don't understand why our government is starting to look more and more like the britsh one we left in the 1700's
    guns don't do anything that they are made to do. people shoot people,. the person that was respocible for the shooting was the young man's mother. she left the gun in such a state that he could get them. our taxes are going up, our pay is not and now we will not be able to protect what we have.

    January 31, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  13. Mary

    I really don't think that when our constitution was written, they had assault riffles in mind. Yes we have the right to bear arms, we also need to exercise common sense.

    January 31, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Thomas

      When the constitution was written, the musket WAS the assault rifle. If you had a musket, you had equivalent firepower to any British soldier.

      That was the whole damn point of the second amendment!

      February 2, 2013 at 9:02 am |
  14. andy

    I agree that gun violence is out of control.how many people in the world have been attacked? I think people should reduce gun violence to save more people.

    January 31, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  15. Zoeyj

    "The right to bear arms" doesn't mean the majority of the American public must suffer, we as non-gun owners have rights also............a right to safety and a right not to live in fear, because others wish to have weapons which they are unable to guarantee will not harm others. Our choice not to bear arms does not harm others. The right to bear arms does and can impose harm or even death on others.
    If the right to bear arms is for "personal protection" how often are Americans positioned in situations where they must use these weapons? Then why the need for guns, leave that to law enforcement.
    We as Americans have many rights..........are they good for us? The right to over eat, smoke, hate, etc. and what are the outcomes........cancer, death, heart disease.
    God gives us the "right" to choose........do we always make the right choice ?

    January 31, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  16. Mike B

    I thought of an interesting frame with which to consider the idea of background checks: TSA. The public begrudgingly accepts the stringent checks at airports because we understand that the potential for airplane-based terrorism is quite real, if small. Most people understand that this is an important barrier that has very likely prevented additional acts of terrorism. Nearly 10 times as many people die every year to gun violence than died on Sept 11, yet gun enthusiasts maintain that stringent background checks and limitations would be an unacceptable infringement of our liberty. I submit that the large majority of gun owners would understand the logic of mandatory background checks and limitations on fire power and magazine sizes and would begrudgingly accept them. It's time for our leaders to have the courage to propose and enact such legislation!

    January 31, 2013 at 11:38 am |
  17. Curtis Stavedahl

    It doesn't matter what argument people give against gun ownership. We all have to adhere to the 2nd Amendment. Yes, the 2nd Amendment is to protect us from tyranny. And today with what weapons the government has, I'm pretty sure an Assault Rifle would be necessary to protect us from them.

    January 31, 2013 at 11:11 am |
  18. caty

    Those with the high power guns say they have them for protection from the government. I worry that with the influence of the NRA they may try to overtake the government. Why can't all guns be registered and pay a yearly fee to register the gun as we do cars and trucks. This way we will be able to follow a gun especially if it is stolen or sold.

    January 31, 2013 at 7:02 am |
    • Abbey

      People who intend to commit a crime with a gun would not register that gun. They would buy a gun from the black market and use it to commit the crime. So requiring people to register their guns would not do anything to stop gun violence. Why would a law-abiding gun owner want to register his or her guns? So he or she can be taxed? No thank you. So the owner can be put on a list? No thank you. To help the greater good of society? We've already determined registration will not help society.

      February 1, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
      • caty

        the gun would have been registered with the frst sale. A gun on the black market had to be started or made some where. Black market means probably stolen. If stolen guns would be reported and registered it could be tracked. Black market is not a good excuse for not registering a gun.

        February 2, 2013 at 10:53 am |
  19. Lee Vacaro

    Why no talk in of the ATF's role (or lack there of) in gun oversight in this gun debate? Why are we not talking about the provision inserted into a Patriot Act by rep. Sensenbrenner in 2006 making the director a senate confirming position and thus leaving the job to "acting" directors who already have full time jobs? Why are we not talking about the Tiahrt Amendment which all but hogties law enforcement to find, track and seize illegal guns and to shut down dealers violating the law? Shouldn't these be the questions at the heart of this debate?

    January 31, 2013 at 5:06 am |
  20. Marjorie Boettcher

    All the talk from gun advocates frustrates me because by constantly defending the use of these semi-automatic firearms they seem to be dismissing the deaths of all those victims shot in Conn. That is not acceptable.
    Another issue that I have not heard addressed is the future of firearms development. Research is always going on and I hate to think of the next great weapon. Plan for more destructive guns to be designed and how can we be protected.
    The callousness of the NRA and gun manufactures is shameful. Why don't they ever accept any responsibility?

    January 30, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
  21. Conrad

    Thank you AC for putting out what I finally consider objective news and debate about gun violence and control, and really trying to expose the heart of the problem which is: why the current system is failing.

    @gary, even if we have to pay for background checks (which we don't – that's just the service fee the FFLs charge _us_), I consider the $50 a small price to pay for keeping a gun out of the hands of a current or would-be criminal, and really small compared to what we would normally spend on a shooting trip anyways.

    @ben, I've suggested it also, and it would be a _lot_ more flexible than a universal background check. However, one of the problems is "State's Rights", as states are the ones that issue licenses, and it'll be a struggle to force the states to give up one of their cash cows.

    January 30, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • mike

      Hadiya Pendleton, was shot in killed in Chicago... In Chicago it is against the LAW to own even bullets, yes just bullets, unless you have a CFP. (Chicago Firearms Permit) That takes a background check, training course and affidavits. THEN.... the bullets you own must match the gun you own.... So, this poor girl is a good example of why MORE laws simply don't work. Criminals and crazy people DON'T follow laws. She was NOT killed with an AR-15 and the new LAWS that are being submitted would NOT have prevented her death. By the way.... I'm NOT an NRA member. I also like to note that Gabby Giffords and her husband own guns.

      January 31, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
  22. G Teslovich

    From today's gun regulation Senate hearings come three observations:
    First, was the overbearing paradigm thinking (a bias in selecting and interpreting information in order to confirm one's values). It usually starts early in life only to later become cemented in areas such as religion, politics, beliefs, questioning, self-talk, etc. Expected from the hearing's invited groups (NRA & conservative "Independent Women's Forum") both present to protect their beliefs. The disappointment is to see elected officials (Senators) cemented to their own paradigm questioning. Psychological studies, including fMRI, consistently show the rigid, inflexible, not see others' points-of-view, as an attribute of the conservative brain which is why a reasoned resolution to gun legislation is unlikely.
    Second, the NRA's solution is identify and incarcerate all the "mentally ill". Not that we don't already have the highest incarceration numbers in the world, but even if we could agree on a legally enforceable definition of mental illness (I've used the DSM and it has many problems) can you imagine incarcerating up to 10% of our population (it will have to be for life, because they become less functional the longer they're in) to give some level of protection, but only for that group. The NRA list would have us include some of our chart topping singers and pro athletes with dyed/spiked hair, a landscape of body tats and bizarre interests.
    Third, unlike the incorrectly/mistakingly stated, single example of home gun protection by the Independent Women's Forum's Ms. Trotter & supported by the NRA what is needed are replicated and well designed studies and a commitment by legislators to endorse them no matter what the results. Not hopeful since they're already in paradigm denial from what the rest of the developed world can show us about gun control.

    January 30, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
  23. Doug

    Anderson, I have been watching the gun debate for some time now, and keep wondering why I have not heard a proposal to make gun owners responsible for what happends with a weapon they own. It is hard to understand how any "responsible" gun owner can allow a gun to be stolen, much less fall into the hands of a known mentally unstable son. There are several things we can do to help prevent a Sandy Hook, one of them is to hold gun owners responsible for security of their weapon..(to include law enforcement).as well. Additionally, owners who sell weapons that continue to "show up" at crime cenes. This "new law" should have serious teeth, at a minimum these names should show up when background checks are conducted, sale denied.

    January 30, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Alex Garcia


      Every gun owner IS ultimately responsible for what occurs with their firearm. Local and federal law enforcement does not need some special legislation to seek penalties against the owners of a firearm that is used to injure or kill another. Perhaps I don't understand your assertion?

      January 31, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Jacob Rowley

      The simple answer to your question is...Why make someone responsible for what someone else steals and uses? If I steal a car, a knife, a chamical....etc and hurt someone with it, why should the owner be resposible for it? That is besides the fact, that firearms have been traded by the millions for a long time so what would you do with all the firearms out there?

      January 31, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  24. BB

    Thanks to the NRA, we now have the best gun lobby politicians that money can buy.

    January 30, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
    • J A Caldwell

      LOL !! You are absolutely right about that !

      January 31, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  25. suresh

    Anderson: Please consider my point on gun problem. It is as follows:
    I choose not to own a gun. The 2nd amendment does say that I must own a gun to protect myself. So for a non gun owner like me, it is my right to be safe in this country and I demand that my government provide me that safety. Now if the proliferation of A-15 type assault weapons is endangering my safety, the the government has the right to ban such weapons from our streets to keep people like me who do not own guns safe. Therefore the argument of NRA that everybody must get guns to protect themselves does not jive with the 2nd amendment.

    January 30, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • Dave

      I would encourage ALL people to read and understand both their State and the U.S. Constitution. In addition read the Federalist Papers. Once you have completed this, I’m certain we will not see things like, “it is my right to be safe in this country and I demand that my government provide me that safety”. Or “the government has the right to ban such weapons from our streets to keep people like me who do not own guns safe”. Not only will help you understand what a “right” is, it will help you understand what it is not. With that said let me close with this statement.
      Those who would give up ESSENTIAL LIBERTY
      to purchase a little TEMPORARY SAFETY,
      deserve neither LIBERTY nor SAFETY

      January 31, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • jim

      "I demand that my government provide me that safety."

      The gov't cannot, does not and will not provide for your individual safety. A citizen can call 9-1-1 and the authorities do-not have to respond. It's fair to say (IMO) the authorities for the most part are very good at responding but everyone's first line of defense for "their" safety is themselves. This has been established by court rulings since the 1800's.

      January 31, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • Rick


      January 31, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • Craig

      I really like to logic of this post. Most people who do not own guns, don't ever want to own guns are the victims a lot of times of this violence. It would seem to me their right's are just as important if not more important than those who are fighting to have unlimitied access to something that can harm more innnocent people than the criminals they claim they need the protection for. If guns were indeed needed for protection I would think all a well trained gun owner would need is one bullet. So he should have more than enough to protect himself with six, anything more than that is unncecesary and clearly the issue that needs to be addressed. Hopefully, the NRA would realize this and support simple and real gun control laws that allows them the right to own their guns, but also maximizes the safety of citizens who choose their constitutional right to not own guns nor be threatened by those who do own them law-abiding or not!

      January 31, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Carol Hanson

      Wow, that is truly insane. If you choose not to look both ways before crossing the street, should we ban cars as well? I have the right to protect myself. If you don't choose to protect yourself, the government (your fellow citizens footing the bill) does NOT have the responsibility of doing YOUR job. You can't protect yourself from an invading country. That's why we have a military. You CAN protect yourself from a home invasion, and if you don't choose to do so, the police won't necessarily be able to help you. Do you lie down and wait for the firemen when your home catches fire? Or do you get your butt OUT first? If you don't get out, you will be a crispy critter by the time the firemen get there. Do what you can to protect yourself, and stop trying to prevent others from protecting themselves.

      January 31, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • Benji

      Yet when the government takes all these guns cause we all know it won't stop with assault rifles who and what will be used to protect us from those who have taken them. Im not saying the government would do something but I refuse to put my faith in them when their trying to take our protection away. Everyone has an option.

      January 31, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  26. Ross

    You sound more and more like MSNBC. It is truly disheartening. You were the most trusted name in news, but now your opinions and left leaning slant is becoming more and more obvious. To hear Anderson say that they want to represent all sides of the gun debate sounds like a joke to me. In very disappointed, and have been more and more since last year. Please turn it around. Remember your responsibility as the press. Please.

    January 30, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
  27. gary

    I think there should be some changes made too gun control. But no one should be able to tell someone else that they can't own a certain type of weapon. I own an Ar15 because i have loved them since i joined the military in the 70's. I will be using it for hunting and target shooting.. I am not opposed to smaller capacity magazines or back ground checks on transfers of weapons. But it can cost up to 50 dollars or more per transfer because you have to go thru a ffl dealer to do the check. Just depends on what they want to charge at the time. The one thing that bothered me the most about this whole debate is the politicians using half truths ,partial information to aid their campaign . When Sen Feinstein had the Police commissioner state that if an animal were shot with an AR15 nothing would be left . that is a total lie.One round of 223 ammo would never do that much damage to a deer. It is nearly the smallest high powered round there is. Not much larger than a .22 long rifle projectile. and much smaller than most big game rifles. But they want to make it sound like it is the worst thing ever designed. But most people who do not know about weapons would believe his words because his is a police commissioner.

    January 30, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
  28. Robert Brogden

    Here's the new gun control law just 1 if your registerd gun is used in a crime by you or anyone else you will be held responcible just like the person that committed the crime ! outcome there wont be anyone losing trac of their firearms anytime soon ! so if you sell to a privet party with out the proper paper work guess what ? its still your gun !!! I hope someone reads this and brings it up on the show !!!! Thanks !!

    January 30, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • Doug

      Yes, my point as well, this should also apply to someone who has a gun "stolen"...A "responsibly" stored firearm cant be stolen......

      January 30, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • Rick

      I like it...definitely assigns more accountability and responsibility

      January 31, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
  29. Ben Harrison

    Why can we not have a license to own a gun. It could be like your drivers license, with restrictions and what you may own. You could have to take a class to own a pistol, and a more intense class to own an assault weapon, a suppressor could be a different class. You could make people wanting the more dangerous weapons, weapons not used for animal hunting, get a psychological evaluation before their licensed to get the more deadly weapons.

    I don't understand why we can't make the rules more easily enforce and make more sense.

    January 30, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • Jacob Rowley

      Ben – Please tell me when the constitution became a priveledge?

      January 31, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Rick

      I keep hearing about the AR-15, it is a hunting rifle, I have one, I use for Ground Hog Hunting, and I also use it for Coyote hunting, you can also get the AR in a 308 to use for deer hunting. Its no different then other guns. It is not a military weapon.

      January 31, 2013 at 3:45 pm |