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ABC "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" - Transcript


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STEPHANOPOULOS: So, Congressman, what is the government's responsibility here?

CHAFFETZ: Well, I wish there was one thing that we could do to make sure that this never, ever, ever happens again. And God bless those families who are dealing with a situation I can't even -- I can't even imagine.

But we -- we have to deal with the mental health aspect. I think it's fair game. I think we absolutely should talk about the intersection of a lethal weapon and it relates to -- to mental health. Absolutely. We got to have that discussion in this country.

And we also have to deal with the new social ramifications of the bombardment and the immediacy of social interaction between violence, the realism that you find in games and movies. Some people, young people, as they're making this transition from their teen years into adulthood, aren't able to mentally make that transition. And there does need to be help.

But we're also going to need to look to families and communities and churches. It's not just a government solution.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Picking up on what you said, you know, there have been some reports, Congresswoman Edwards, that this young man was, you know, playing a lot of those very violent, very realistic games.

EDWARDS: Well, I mean, I think that, you know, there are multiple things that we have to do here and use this circumstance, the tragedy in Newtown, to create both policy solutions, but also cultural solutions.

I -- you know, I think that it -- while it is true, we have to rebuild or build a fabric for mental health services, especially for young people, to give parents the resources that they need and wrap our (inaudible) this community will need and the surviving families and children.

But we also -- we've got to get the guns. I mean, we just do. There were assault weapons used here, weapons that are used by military and law enforcement. And it seems to me that there can be a bright line for removing those kinds of weapons. There can be a bright line for background checks that don't just cover 60 percent of the guns, that come through gun shows and individual sales. We regulate cars in that respect, knowing who transfers a car more than we know who transfers a weapon. There are real things that we can do, and we have an obligation to. And if this doesn't call us to action, George, I don't know what will.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, well, then that's one of the questions we're going to find out an answer to soon, I suppose. But, George, about -- on that point exactly, you know, kind of striking you read in the 24 hours after this that this -- a very similar incident happened in China, a man in an elementary school with a knife, not an assault weapon, almost two dozen kids injured, but not killed.

WILL: In 1996, a man went into a gym class in Scotland, killed 16 5- and 6-year-olds and the teacher. A few years ago in Norway, a young -- deranged young man killed, what, 69 people on an island, mostly teenagers. Connecticut has among the toughest gun laws in this country. Didn't help. Scotland and Norway have very tough gun laws. Didn't help. So...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Didn't stop, but it does lessen the occasion of violence, doesn't it?

WILL: Yeah, why don't...

EDWARDS: And, George, since Columbine, there have been 181 of these school shootings.

WILL: We did -- remember, we did -- we did have a ban -- we did have a ban on assault weapons. When we put the ban in place, these incidents did not really decline in a measurable way. And when we took it off, they didn't increase in a measurable way.

KLEIN: There were five guns in that house. The shooter chose two semiautomatic pistols and one semiautomatic rifle. He did not choose the two deer-hunting rifles. It seems to me that the congresswoman is absolutely right. There is a bright line here that we should be able to, you know, to hunt -- you know, hunters should be able to go about their sport, but there's no need to hunt with a semiautomatic rifle. There's none.


CHAFFETZ: Well, look, I'm a conceal carry permit-holder. I own a Glock 23. I've got a shotgun. I'm not the person you need to worry about. And there are millions of Americans who deal with this properly. It's our Second Amendment right to do so. But we have to look at the mental health access that these people have.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So is there a Second Amendment right to any kind of weapon, any capacity...

CHAFFETZ: No, there are prohibitions on lots of -- gun rules are -- are very stringent. There's a lot of conjecture out there that -- that I don't think necessarily would solve this particular problem. And I want to look at anything that we think will solve all the problems, but we have to, I think, look at the mental health aspect.

EDWARDS: We do have to look at the mental health aspect, but the complex problems require complex solutions. And it isn't one thing. It's all of these things. And some people would like to deflect the conversation only to the mental health problems that are severe and we need to deal with, without dealing with the reality that we have.

A lot of weapons out there, and people have access to them, and we have to figure out a way that we can protect our children in their kindergarten and first-grade classrooms.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to bring this to Donna Brazile. And as I do this, Donna, you know, the politics of all this generally shows -- I want to show this Pew support -- support for gun control generally does not go up after these major shootings, whether it was after Aurora, Colorado, went up about 2 percent after the Gabby Giffords shooting in Tucson, went actually down 4 percent, Virginia Tech, it went up a little bit, as well, back in 2007.

And the president has been reluctant to take this on in the past. You saw him on Friday say it is time for, quote, "meaningful action." What do you expect? And do you think now that the president is not going to face election again, he will address these matters in a different way?

BRAZILE: Well, I hope so, George, because I think there's expectations now -- not just from the families, but others who would like to see the president take some concrete steps. He's talked about it before after Aurora, where he said that we need to have tighter restrictions on people with mental disabilities from having access to these guns. He spoke again at the National Urban League about this.

But clearly there's -- there's a time for this. And hopefully the time is sooner, rather than later. You know, I'm a -- as a southerner, I'm a big advocate of the Second Amendment. I grew up with guns. I grew up with people who understood how to use guns responsibly.

I did not grow up with people with assault rifles and all of these other semiautomatic guns. I do believe that we need a conversation, a real, deep conversation, and this cannot be stopped simply because people are afraid of the politics.

WILL: You also grew up to be the campaign manager of Al Gore, who lost the home state of Tennessee, the myth is, at least, in part because he supported gun control. This is a political, not a jurisprudential problem.

The most important case in Second Amendment jurisprudence, the Hiller case, concerning an absurdly restrictive D.C. law, is really much more permissive than people realize. And I'm not sure that there'd be a Second Amendment impediment to banning a category of weapons. There would be a political one.

BRAZILE: Sixty thousand murders -- sixty thousands murders since Columbine, gun murders...


EDWARDS: But the large capacity of the (inaudible) used in these weapons that allow -- allowed this perpetrator to go into a school and each of the victims suffering multiple gunshot wounds. This is just not acceptable.

KLEIN: There's a -- you know, I think that we -- we can't think about this in terms of eradication. These incidents are always going to happen.


KLEIN: We can -- we can think -- the mental health piece is obviously important. I think there's a bright line on gun control, as well. But there's a third piece, and that is the celebration of violence. We not only have a Second Amendment in the country. We also have a First Amendment that protects, you know, Sylvester Stallone's right to fire thousands of bullets in any given movie.

But I think that the -- you know, that what we need to do in this society is treat people who create violent movies and violent video games with the same degree of respect that we accord pornographers. They need to be shunned.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, I want to bring -- and I want to add to that. We're getting a lot of response on Facebook, as well, about how all of us covered this in the media in the wake of these shootings. I want to show some of that right now.

Scott Lamarche: "Media sensationalism contributes more to this than guns. It's always the person who pulls the trigger, not the gun that kills. We need to stop making these killers famous."

Bill Cotton: "Stop the wall-to-wall coverage. You are helping drive this."

Darla Reigel: "Stop glamorizing the killers. Keep them with no name."

And I have to say, we've actually tried in this case to talk a little bit less about the killer, but, Congressman, this is also something -- you know, Joe brings up and those viewers bring up, as well, how do we talk about this in a way that doesn't encourage the contagion?

CHAFFETZ: I don't know that the news coverage that I've seen is glamorizing the killer as much as allowing the rest of the country to grieve. As a parent, we all shed a tear. I do agree with Joe that you put violence and death and gore in a movie, you're not going to get an R rating. You do something else, OK. But I've got to tell you, I think the movie ratings are terribly misleading when it comes to violence, death, gore, and glamorizing it.

EDWARDS: And all of those things are true because we do have a culture that celebrates violence, but it doesn't take away our responsibility. And I want to urge and challenge my colleague to work with me, to work with us on this so that no parent has to experience what these parents and families do in Newtown.

The bright lines between those who are hunters and shooters and outdoorspeople, but they don't need an assault rifle. They don't need high-capacity magazines that create havoc and viciousness and death. And we can do that. Background checks, we can do that. We can close that up. And then we allow ourselves to have -- to enjoy the Second Amendment rights that are so important, but also we respect human life.


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