Did America learn anything from Newtown tragedy?
December 4th, 2013
09:27 AM ET

Did America learn anything from Newtown tragedy?

Watch Global Lessons on Guns, a Fareed Zakaria GPS primetime special, this Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on CNN

Next week marks the one year anniversary of the Newtown shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which more than two dozen people were killed, including 20 children. The shootings reignited the debate about gun control in the United States, and have prompted many to ask whether the U.S. could learn any lessons from other countries.

But what lessons have the U.S. learned at home in the 12 months since the tragedy? What should and could America be doing differently on gun policy? CNN host Piers Morgan answers GPS readers questions on the issue.

What kind of guns, if any, should civilians be allowed to own in the United States? 

I understand why, in a country which has over 300 million guns in circulation, people feel the need to protect themselves and their families from armed attacks in their homes. So I’ve never argued against ownership of a regular handgun or shotgun for that purpose. Though I would implement comprehensive background checks for all gun purchases, and introduce heavy punishment for not keeping firearms 100 percent secured in the home. But I see no reason for any civilian to own assault rifles – I would ban all of them. If you did that, there would still be over 2,000 different types of gun still legally available to Americans.

What would you like to see in addition to gun control? Do you think the media could be play a more responsible role in the debate? Is there an inconsistency, for example, in that many feel they need to be armed because of fear, but the media’s coverage of crime helps create a climate of fear?

To blame the media is to the blame the egg, not the chicken. The fear is generated by the NRA, which comes out after each mass shooting and says if every teacher, movie theatre worker, mall store owner etc were armed, it wouldn’t happen. This ruthless, cynical strategy sells millions more guns, and encourages the grateful gun manufacturers to donate millions more dollars to the NRA. It’s a vicious commercial cycle.

There are many things that contribute to gun violence in America: Millions of people with mental health issues, yet very little federal or state research into those issues; the potential impact of violent video games and movies on an unstable mind. Many of the young, male, mass shooters we’ve seen in recent years were obsessed with them; a clear breakdown of family structure in places like Chicago, leading to young men being attracted to gangs, and gang leaders in particular, for the paternal leadership lacking in their lives. But the single biggest contributory factor in gun violence in the United States is…guns. There are just too many of them, and it’s far too easy to buy one. Even for felons or mentally ill people.

Is gun violence simply a symptom of bigger problems the U.S. faces? Shouldn’t the government focus on issues like poverty rather than gun control?

There is poverty in many countries, like India and China, but most don’t have the gun violence America has. More than 100,000 Americans get hit by gunfire a year, of which around 30,000 die from murder, accident or suicide. If a new disease took that toll on civilian life, there would be immediate and drastic action to deal with it. Why not with guns?

What has surprised you most about the debate over gun control in the U.S. since Sandy Hook?

That absolutely nothing has been done about guns in the year since it happened. How can you allow 20 elementary schoolchildren to be blown to pieces in their classrooms and do absolutely NOTHING to try and prevent another such atrocity occurring? It shames America, and in particular it shames the cowardly politicians in Washington who refuse to take on the NRA because they’re terrified of losing their seats. I also think President Obama has been dismal on this issue. He promised the Sandy Hook families he would take action. But he has achieved precisely zero new gun legislation. If he’d made it a genuine priority, he could have kept his word. But he didn’t.

How did the discussion compare with the U.K. after events like the Dunblane massacre in 1996?

It was never political in Britain. Left and right converged in agreement with a united media and public that something dramatic had to be done. And it was. We banned all assault weapons and handguns from civilian ownership. And as a result, there hasn’t been a school shooting in Britain since, and we have hardly any gun crime.

Shouldn’t the government focus on enforcing existing laws, rather than introducing new ones?

It should do both. It’s ridiculous that 40 percent of all gun sales go through without a background check. It’s like the Wild West out there. And nobody can give me a single good reason why any civilian needs an assault rifle other than “they’re fun to shoot.” Well, so are Bazookas, but they are banned. The Supreme Court ruled there should be “reasonable restrictions.” Enforce that ruling.

Why do you keep comparing Americans and America's issues to other countries? Why would you want to disarm the people when clearly America is a more violent place to live?

It’s not about disarming the people. It’s about trying to prevent so many Americans being killed by guns. The reason I compare to other countries is because places like Britain, Germany, Australia and Japan all had long histories of gun violence, yet all introduced strict gun control, and all now have very little gun crime. America can do the same, there just has to be the will to do it.

Is there a difference in deaths where countries have a complete ban compared to the U.S. or other countries that don’t? America has 35 gun murders a day. Britain has that number a year. Do the math.

How would you deal with organizations like the NRA, with their significant financial and lobbying influence in Congress, to allow for significant changes to gun management in America?

I would stand up to them, and say enough is enough. They represent 5 million Americans. That leaves 310 million Americans who are not members of the NRA. The day a large number of those people vote with their conscience at the ballot box, in favor of politicians who support gun control, and against those who don’t, is the day this all changes. The big question is: do Americans care about guns enough to actually do this? I see little evidence so far that they do.

In Chicago they outlawed the carrying of concealed guns for self defense, but saw an increase in gun related deaths. Does this show that stricter gun control doesn’t work?

Gun laws have to be federal or they are pointless. Half the guns seized by police in Chicago came from out of State. In New York, that figure rises to 70 percent. It’s not difficult to see the problem. Criminals aren’t stupid. They’ll go where they can easily get the guns. So make it very difficult everywhere for criminals to get guns.

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Topics: Gun Control

soundoff (127 Responses)
  1. rightospeak

    My comments were removed because the rabid gun control advocate, Piers, needs to beat his drum of gun control.

    December 5, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  2. rightospeak

    For a minute, I thought that the Thought Police censors at CNN removed the above comment-good , it got through.

    In my earlier comment I gave some historical background for the need to arm any populace to prevent government tyranny. It was just too politically incorrect to be included in these comments. It contradicted the Pier's PROPAGANDA . Piers is determined to take arms away from the American people so they can be enslaved – he is going to play and replay tragedies till cows come home.

    December 5, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  3. Koryr

    No one gets anything remotely dangerous. This includes words, sharp metalic objects, things that cause chocking hazzards, opinions, things potentially sharp like pieces of wood, political parties, books, kindles, ipads, cars, trains, beds, trans fats, and anything else that could possibly cause harm to another human being, animal, plant, surface, material, concept, or structure. These will all be replaced by nothing that can guarentee anyones saftey or that will mitigate the risk of probability. Problem solved, next issue.

    December 5, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • ben hogan

      FYI – "Each year we lose more small children to drowning in backyard swimming pools, than by guns."

      December 6, 2013 at 7:51 am |
    • Jacob

      Piers left the UK because he was under great scrutiny because he was a dishonest joke. If anyone watches his shows or reads anything from him you are a joke yourself simple as that due to the fact you gobble up the untrue garbage he promotes.

      December 11, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
      • Raul DJ

        well said!

        December 14, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • the Mayor of Medinah

      If a new disease took that toll on civilian life, there would be immediate and drastic action to deal with it. Why not with guns?

      If this is true none of us would be driving cars. nearly 1000 people have died in Illinois alon so far this year due to automobile accidents.

      the real issue is mental illness, gangs, and truth in sentancing laws for the convicted crininals. why is it that a mutilple offender gets out in less than 3 years for mutliple violent gun crimes?

      December 12, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • minnie mouse

      Or we could try deporting all NRA members [and their congressional pimps] for 5 years and see if our gun-death statistics get any better. Hey, I'm just a scientist trying to solve a problem.

      December 13, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
  4. Mark 5

    No nothing. They continue to promote mentally ill people like Piers Morgan who blames guns instead of people. Very sad as these kinds of tragedies will continue.

    December 5, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • minnie mouse

      people WITHOUT guns are less likely to mass murder.

      December 13, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
  5. Texas TopCat

    Why would anyone publish something that this fool would say? None of his points have any merit or logic.
    The "no one needs an assault rifle" argument is a classic failure of logic. First of all the MSR out sells all other rifles by a very large margin, so buyers think they need (or many just want) one. Also, when we look at the best home defense weapon the MSR in .223 REM comes out to be a good choice. Consider, the light weight high speed bullet used in this rifle, it is designed to tumble when it hits something, preventing damage to unintended targets further on the bullet path.
    Hunting rifles, shotguns and even most handguns do not behave was well in this feature. Again, just repeating anti-gun statements with no understanding is just not honest or ethically correct.

    December 5, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  6. pc487

    In Chicago they outlawed the carrying of concealed guns for self defense, but saw an increase in gun related deaths. Does this show that stricter gun control doesn’t work?

    Gun laws have to be federal or they are pointless. Half the guns seized by police in Chicago came from out of State. In New York, that figure rises to 70 percent. It’s not difficult to see the problem. Criminals aren’t stupid. They’ll go where they can easily get the guns. So make it very difficult everywhere for criminals to get guns.

    Way to dodge the answer. Could it be that only people that follow the law were prevented from carrying concealed weapons and that outlaws didn't care about the gun control law. Of course that doesn't fit the narrow view of a perfect world where nobody has guns and means to do you or your family harm.

    December 5, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • banasy©

      Well, just look at Chicago upping the cigarette tax all the time. 13 bucks a pack; people get around this by buying their cigarettes in Indiana.
      Sane concept.

      December 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • letmeeatcake

      ...the government has guns... the police have guns...the criminals have guns...in other words, all the scuzy dirtbags have guns...the only people who can't have guns are the law abiding citizens...

      December 6, 2013 at 6:12 am |
  7. Jeremiah

    Just because there is less "gun violence" does not mean less violence. Britain is one of the most violent of the European countries. Does it make any difference if you are killed by a bullet or a cricket bat?

    December 5, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  8. Carlos

    Whenever a liberal, Democrat (really a Socialist) mentions the term "Assault Rifle", they are about to discuss something they know absolutely about, ala Mr. Morgan. There is no such thing as an "Assault Rifle", the term is a misnomer. The term was created by the Democrats back in the 90's before Clintons 1994 Assault Weapons Ban to define a rifle that had two or more "evil" features. Those features were, a protruding pistol grip, a detachable magazine, a collapsible stock, a bayonet lug, a threaded barrel, or a flash suppressor. So if you had a rifle with only a protruding pistol grip, and a detachable magazine, it was not considered an "Assault Weapon". But if you had the same exact rifle with a protruding pistol grip, a detachable magazine, a collapsible stock, a bayonet lug, a threaded barrel, and a flash suppressor, it was considered an Assault Rifle. Same exact rifle, which does the same exact thing, which is fire one round each time the trigger is pressed. (Sarcasm on ) Makes sense, right? Two rifles that operate in the same exact manner, but one has more features than the other, so the one with more features is more evil. How many bayonetings have there been that the Mainstream media has talked about in the past 20, 30 40, 50, 60 years? None, 0. Flash suppressors are used to reduce the amount of flash someone sees when a round is fired. How is this dangerous?

    December 5, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • banasy©

      So all Democrats are socialists? Every one of them? Ever? Or just since 2009?

      December 5, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
      • Carlos

        banasy,

        Yes, every Democrat is a Socialist. Shall I give examples?

        Obama – Obamacare, forcing people to buy health insurance, so that the young healthy people can cover the cost of providing health insurance for older people, who use health insurance more frequently. Also, there is .9% additional medicare tax for those people who earn more than $200,000 per year. So you are penalized and have an additional tax imposed on you for being successful in your career. Lets not forget that our dear leader himself has said himself in the past, that he does believe in redistribution of wealth, aka Socialism, taking money from people who have money to give it to people who do not.

        Lyndon Johnson – Medicare tax, taking money from people who work via the Medicare payroll tax, to provide health insurance for people who don't work.

        FDR- Social Security tax, taking money from people who work via the Social Security payroll tax, to provide social security payments to people who don't work.

        December 5, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
      • The Real Tom Paine

        So, based on your " proof", can we safely conclude that all conservatives are closet fascists? Richard Nixon put in wage and price controls, the income tax level on top earners in the Eisenhower adminsitration was over 70%, Reagan agreed to letting low-income earners not pay taxes so they would have more disposeable income, W pused through huge, unfunded mandates in Education and Medicare....shall I go on? What you deplore as " socialism" is good politics and often ( not always) good policy. Can we also assume, based upon your nom de plume, that your hatred of any sort of social programs comes from being raised in Latin America, where a tiny, rich, oligarchy preferes to use military force and the threat of arrest and torture to keep people in line, or would that be a gross over simplification like the one you tried to pull?

        December 16, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • letmeeatcake

      ...if i had to settle for only two evil features, i would opt for flash suppressor and detachable magazine...

      December 6, 2013 at 6:18 am |
    • William

      Great points Carlos... Americans are absolutely uneducated in so many matters... Also I'd like to ad the fact that the weapon most commonly associated with "Assault Rifles" is named as such based on a lack of understanding. An AR-15 weapon system is a gas powered, closed bolt, magazine fed, semi-automatic platform, and although many americans think that the "AR" within its name stands for assault rifle it actually doesn't. It stands for Armalite, which is the name the first manufacturer of the weapon. The AR-15 typically a .223 caliber weapon has been catching so much flak in the media for being an assault rifle, and over kill in regards to home defense. I think this is nonsense. I am in the Military and I have the Military issue of the exact same weapon. Therefor I have extensive training with this type of weapon. The 5.56mm or .223 round typically fired by the weapon produces a projectile about the size of a .22LR, and is designed to tumble upon entering it's target, that means over-penetration is minimized. Also its light weight and relatively small recoil (in regards to stopping power) makes it usable by even smaller users, something shotguns cannot tote. This makes the AR-15 THE PERFECT WEAPON FOR HOME DEFENSE. Americans fear what they don't understand, so I urge americans to educate themselves.

      December 6, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • minnie mouse

      Really. I never realized that the Colorado shooter pulled the trigger each time he fired those 65 shots (or whatever the specific number of shots was)

      December 13, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • minnie mouse

      Technically (so they are rendered immune from legal liability if they fail/are unable to protect someone) law enforcement is not Required to protect. But, in actual practice, they do protect people on a routine basis. I have family in law enforcement and know this first-hand. I also was protected myself on 2 separate occasions by law enforcement who interrupted 2 home invasions where I was alone with children at night. (In nice homes in nice suburbs.) One team of heroes were local police – the other case involved my being rescued by 2 County Sheriff Deputies. I know this was sheer luck because 911 got them to me in time. So I wanted to state that I know that law enforcement does indeed protect people where possible.

      December 13, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
  9. Jack Christaopher

    What we learned is that there is a ready attack group of radical leftists in the media, willing to exploit dead children for their political agenda. They see nothing wrong with this. Truth is suborned to propaganda. It must be the approved, POLLITICALLY correct spin on reality. Keep it up long enough, and you are exposed as liars, but you also fool yourselves into believing your fiction. How can anyone have a discussion when you have renounced logic and reason in favor of groupthink?

    December 5, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
  10. dan

    I thought this idiot promised to deport himself..

    December 6, 2013 at 11:50 am |
  11. krehator

    Because he knows that the majority of citizens support the 2nd.

    December 6, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • minnie mouse

      This isn't about the 2nd amendment. Who doesn't support the right to own [some] weapons? And you know this.

      December 13, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  12. pete terrazas

    He has been dismal on more issues than gun control.–Glaringly his two speak on jobs. All the while he talks jobs he continues to undermine American citizens buying power, He tacitly permits mega Corporations mergers which dilute the labor market and diminish personal buying power. He also is in accord with the Fed feeding inflationary measures which drive prices up.. Obama is our worst presidential nightmare. He was our savior from Bushes excesses-but has only continued Bush policies while covering up his true methodology by talking Liberal smack.

    December 7, 2013 at 1:03 am |
  13. mark

    The gun issue is a loser for Democrats. It fires up the GOP base, and results in money streaming into pro-gun groups coffers. It does little to fire up Democrats or gain them support.

    Poll after poll shows that a large majority of Americans support further background checks and even an assault weapons ban, but its not an issue that sways the way they vote. It galvanizes opposition, and the people who support it are pretty wishey-washey. So..., don't expect much push on the gun thing.

    December 7, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • minnie mouse

      In other words: voters are distracted, weak, and irresponsible. The children of Newtown made a fateful mistake - they trusted that American adults would do whatever it takes to protect children. These kindergartners didn't realize that American adults do whatever it takes to protect their gun collections.

      December 7, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
      • Let's put all our guns in one big bonfire

        Thank you minnie mouse............ awesome comment.......... the NRA gun lobby has completely taken over every iota of common sense in America....... and has taught us all to put our brains permanently on vacation....... so that they can continue to profit from the sale of guns............ sickening and sad huh??????????.................. It is going to be a long and hard battle, to bring extremely strict gun control laws to America, but somebody's gotta do it.............

        December 7, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
      • Carlos

        You will typically almost immediately see democrats call for a push for further gun control after a heinous act of violence such as Newtown The problem is further creation of new gun laws will do nothing to prevent these heinous acts from happening. Why? Because criminals do not obey any of our laws. That's why they are criminals! Let me give some examples. The Navy yard shooting down in DC was in a gun free zone. The Newtown school shooting was in a gun free zone. The Aurora Coloroda theatre shooting was in a gun free zone. Remember the Columbine school shooting? That was in a gun free zone. Do you see a common denominator in all these incidents? They all happened in gun free zones.

        So where we're the police to protect the 20 children that were killed in Newtown, The 12 people killed in the Navy yard, the 12 people killed in the Aurora theater, and the 13 kids killed in Columbine?They were not around to protect these people from being killed. Why not? Because it is not the job of the police to protect us as individuals. Let me repeat that for you, IT IS NOT THE JOB OF THE POLICE TO PROTECT US!!!! There job is law enforcement, not crime prevention. There job is to clean up the mess that is us after something bad has happened to us. Don`t believe me? Well this is according to the United States Supreme Court, which have ruled in 8 different cases that it is not the job of the police to protect us, the most recent cases being Jessica Gonzales vs Clark County, CO. But you will never hear a control advocate make this statement, because this something those who are against guns do not want the average American citizen to be aware of.

        December 8, 2013 at 7:47 am |
  14. Let's put all our guns in one big bonfire

    We love you Piers Morgan......... keep on truckin' my friend.......... we need you to teach us about gun control laws and guide us towards a more civilized existence....... God bless you!

    December 7, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Bribarian

      satire?

      December 7, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
      • Jeff

        That came from Piers' computer.

        December 8, 2013 at 7:13 am |
  15. minnie mouse

    The NRA is now nothing more than gun-pushers who sleep with Congressional members.

    December 7, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Let's put all our guns in one big bonfire

      Very very good comment!!! Thank you so much minnie mouse........... yes, indeed, what all of us Americans need to understand is that money can truly be a huge motivator, which can cause an entire Nation, or group of people, to lose their way......... unfortunately, the NRA has led America into the sewer........... we have sunk way way low and become a Nation that silently condones the brutal slaughter of innocent kindergarteners, so that the NRA and gun manufacturers can make billions.............. 🙁

      December 7, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  16. Bribarian

    I thought we were deporting Piers?

    December 7, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
  17. Bribarian

    I want Piers to keep doing interviews. Nothing was funnier than watch LaPierre absolutely clown him several times nationally. Watching him get red faced and bitter.

    December 7, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
  18. Jeff

    Is that clown still on T.V.? Ooops, I meant to say puppet.

    December 8, 2013 at 7:20 am |
  19. Chris

    Hey Fareed, you are not an American, noone cares what you think. Go back where you came from you globalist piece of filth.

    December 8, 2013 at 8:36 am |
    • minnie mouse

      Wow. You're heavily invested in this topic.

      December 13, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
  20. Austin

    I would like to encourage Mr. Morgan to at least spend a paragraph telling us how to cure the depravity of the human heart which is the cause of our grotesque violence, not some piece of metal that he personally despises. That's the discussion we need to have.

    December 8, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • minnie mouse

      Maybe part of the cause is American parents training their children to kill from a young age via "video games"?

      December 13, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
  21. Tom

    Who cares what this clown things about anything. Piers Morgan just wants to spread the English Liberal Cancer to America. He should go home.

    December 9, 2013 at 1:07 am |
  22. Larry Hass

    Carlos – shall I give you an example of a conservative moron? Obamacare – a health care system needed to prevent millions of Americans from going bankrupt due to hospital bills incurred without insurance (the current system of CHOICE preferred by the rich), Medicare – the govt health care system for the elderly and disabled (who you care nothing about), Social Security – a retirement system paid for by the dollars of working people (including the employer share negotiated as part of the workers compensation package). All are needed badly by the American people so you are going to pay in just like the rest of us – don't like it? Too bad.

    December 9, 2013 at 6:42 am |
  23. what1ever

    Wow, way to go CNN! This is one of the best thought out opinion pieces that you have published in a while. It doesn't include any silly catch phrases like "guns don't kill people, people kill people" or "when guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns" that have no real foundation in the world that we live in but are designed to control the argument and assuage simple minded people that don't really understand the issues. Thank you for adding a little civility and intelligence to the gun control debate!

    December 9, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  24. Mark Bulmer

    Great Britain and other countries are making us look like a bunch of clowns with their well-functioning gun control.

    December 9, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  25. L MORRIS

    PIERS BLAME THE PRES OBAMBA FOR EVERYTHING , EVEN THOUGH THEY BEEN HAVING SHOOTINGS BEFORE THE PRES. WAS BORN. PIERS BELIEVE HE IS SUPERIOR TO AMERICANS AND ESPECIALLY THE PRESIDENT, WHY DONT HE GO BACK TO ENGLAND, HE CAME HERE FOR A JOB. HE HAs a way of talking down to people , like HE THINK HE IS THE WAY , THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE NO PIERS YOU ARE NOT GOD

    December 10, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
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