During a segment on Friday’s Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull program, CNN tried to perpetuate left-wing stereotypes about gun owners, and sent mixed messages about whether or not President Obama and his administration is pushing for gun control. Correspondent Sean Callebs interviewed two Texas professionals who owned guns and concluded, “A nurse, an attorney -- not the usual portrait of Second Amendment diehards.” After asking a gun store owner if he was “profiting on this fear” of new gun control measures, Callebs expounded on the concerns of gun owners: “In fact, it may not be rational at all. It might even be paranoid. But one thing is certain. Many gun owners believe this president is somehow out to curb their rights and they’re stocking up just in case.” [audio available here]
Both Callebs and CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin tried to assure their viewers that gun control was “way off the agenda right now” of the Obama administration, despite the fact that a graphic on the news crawl stated plainly that President Obama “wants to make expired Assault Weapons Ban permanent.”
The CNN correspondent traveled to Tyler, Texas, “one of those places all over America where a kind of quiet call to arms is getting louder and louder,” as he put it. Besides interviewing the lawyer and the nurse, he visited a local gun store, where he skeptically asked one of the employees of the store, “Why would someone own a semiautomatic weapon like this? I mean, is saying it’s my right, is that enough?”
Despite concluding that gun owners “might not be rational” in the concerns, Callebs had also detailed how Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that she thought “these assault weapons, these military-style weapons don’t belong on anyone’s street,” contradicting President Obama’s message that he “will not take away your guns.”
After Callebs report, anchor Campbell Brown turned to Toobin for a “reality check” and asked, “What are the president’s views on gun control, and given what is on his plate right now, is this anywhere on his priority list?” Toobin skipped answering the first part of her question and answered, “It’s zero....the Democratic Party has given up on gun control, with the possible exception of certain assault weapons, but even that is way off the agenda right now.”
Brown followed-up by asking about the concerns of gun owners: “So why are we seeing this kind of thing?” The legal analyst echoed Callebs in his answer, and threw the Timothy McVeigh card: “I think there is a kind of whipped up frenzy that is completely not based in reality....The extreme version -- not these people -- was the sort of Timothy McVeigh militia movement, but, you know, that is always part of American life. It has no basis in what this administration is trying to do.”
No basis in what this administration is trying to do? Toobin must either be ignorant or is trying to be deceptive. Besides the statement from Mrs. Clinton, Obama’s own attorney general, Eric Holder, is on the record as saying, “As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons.”
The full transcript of the segment, which began 40 minutes into the 8 pm Eastern hour of Friday’s Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull program:
CAMPBELL BROWN: As drug violence on the Mexican border rages out of control, administration officials warn that the flow of drugs isn’t the only problem. They are pointing to the flow of illegal guns as well. And that has some American gun owners fearing a ripple effect, that by clamping down on guns heading south into Mexico, the government will try to take away Americans’ guns -- gun rights. Our Sean Callebs tonight has a revealing look at the freedom they say is under fire right now.
SEAN CALLEBS (voice-over): This is Tyler, Texas, one of those places all over America where a kind of quiet call to arms is getting louder and louder. Just ask attorney Sean Healy and Jimmy Moore, who’s a nurse.
CALLEBS: (on-camera): A show of hands here. Who thinks President Obama wants gun control, wants to restrict the kinds of guns you can get? (Both men raise hands.) Really? Why?
SEAN HEALY, ATTORNEY: If you look at what he said in the past and look at his actions, that if he and the people in control of Congress right now could have what they want, they would heavily restrict or eliminate guns from this country.
JIMMY MOORE, REGISTERED NURSE: He voted for a 500 percent increase on the tax on guns and ammunition -- doubling, basically, the cost of my hobby and my passion.
CALLEBS (on-camera): So here in Tyler and other parts of the country, there’s been a run on ammunition. One man ran into a Wal-Mart and said, sell me all the ammo you have. Guns -- they’re also flying off shelves. Those highly prized semiautomatic rifles are becoming more and more expensive.
This is $2,200. Why is it so expensive?
STEVE PRATER, LOCK N’ LOAD MANAGER: Well, right now they’re just about impossible to find. They’re just hard to get. Everybody kind of got scared, the market got depleted.
CALLEBS: A run on guns because of President Barack Obama. But since he has been president, he has said -- quoting here, ‘I will not take away your guns.’ It couldn’t be more clear, but listen to his secretary of state. She sounds as though she has a different message.
CALLEBS: (voice-over): This is what she said in Mexico when asked why the administration isn’t fighting the sale of semiautomatic guns.
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: I’m not going to, you know, sugarcoat it. It’s a very heavy lift. I think that’s a mistake. I think these assault weapons, these military-style weapons don’t belong on anyone’s street.
PRATER: It is her intent to see gun legislation passed.
HEALY: It’s a little bit ridiculous to blame Americans for the fact that people in foreign countries are trying to ship illegal drugs into our country and they’re committing violence against each other.
CALLEBS: Back in the gun store --
CALLEBS (on-camera): Why would someone own a semiautomatic weapon like this? I mean, is saying it’s my right, is that enough?
PRATER: Yeah, I believe it is. Yes, I believe it is. It’s what sets us apart.
CALLEBS (voice-over): Remember Jimmy Moore -- he owns an AR-15.
MOORE: I’m not a freak. I’m a registered nurse. I’m a responsible individual. I’m a law-abiding citizen. I’ve been one my entire life.
CALLEBS: A nurse, an attorney -- not the usual portrait of Second Amendment diehards. And the man who owns the Lock N’ Load gun shop, he’s a cardiologist who moved here from New York.
CALLEBS (off-camera): Are you kind of profiting on this fear right now?
SCOTT LIEBERMAN, LOCK N’ LOAD OWNER: I think we are. Again, I don’t know how rational it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon, Lock N’ Load.
CALLEBS (voice-over): In fact, it may not be rational at all. It might even be paranoid. But one thing is certain. Many gun owners believe this president is somehow out to curb their rights and they’re stocking up just in case. Sean Callebs, CNN, Tyler, Texas.
BROWN: And let’s get into this a little more right now. We’ve got CNN senior legal and political analyst Jeff Toobin joining me right now. And set the record straight for us. What are the president’s views on gun control, and given what is on his plate right now, is this anywhere on his priority list?
JEFFREY TOOBIN: It’s zero. In fact, in the ‘90s, James Carville and others said to the Democratic Party, look, if you ever want to win a national election again -- if you want to win Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan -- you’ve got to give up on this gun control stuff, and the Democratic Party has given up on gun control, with the possible exception of certain assault weapons, but even that is way off the agenda right now.
BROWN: So why are we seeing this kind of thing?
TOOBIN: Well, I think there’s a tradition of skepticism about the Democratic Party on guns, and I think there is a kind of whipped up frenzy that is completely not based in reality, but it happened under Clinton, it’s happening under Obama. The extreme version -- not these people -- was the sort of Timothy McVeigh militia movement, but, you know, that is always part of American life. It has no basis in what this administration is trying to do.
(CNN GRAPHIC: “Pres. wants to make expired Assault Weapons Ban permanent”)
BROWN: All right. A reality check from Jeff Toobin, appreciate it. Good to see you.