Anderson Cooper's lone guest to talk guns on Thursday night was the anti-gun New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), echoing CNN's ridiculous disparity of pro-gun control guests and gun rights advocates on its newscasts.
Cooper pitched him a fairly easy interview, first asking, "your impressions of the President's proposals on gun control. Are you happy with them?" He later teed up Bloomberg to bash the NRA. "What do you think of the NRA, of how they have been fighting this?" he questioned.
Bloomberg predictably scoffed at the NRA. "I don't think their strategy makes any sense at all. The other day, to bring in the President's kids was just bad PR. It was also an outrage, it really was. You don't do that."
Cooper even offered some strategic advice for gun control legislation:
"You know, there is a school of thought of why try to go for so much? Why not go for something which, as you said, has more support, like more stringent background checks rather than try to throw in assault weapons as well?"
Cooper did offer two Republican "rebuttals" to Bloombeg's argument later in the interview, quoting Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) that Obama's proposals wouldn't have stopped the Sandy Hook shooting and citing Newt Gingrich's claim that Chicago has a high gun murder rate despite having strict gun control.
NewsBusters reported that on Monday, CNN hosted 13 gun control advocates for segments on the gun issue, compared to just 2 Republican guests who either opposed gun control or defended the gun lobby. Mayor Bloomberg is one of the leading gun control advocates in the country, so it is telling that Cooper made him the lone guest for Thursday's gun segment.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on Anderson Cooper 360 on January 17 at 8:30 p.m. EST, is as follows:
ANDERSON COOPER: First of all, your impressions of the President's proposals on gun control. Are you happy with them?
Mayor MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, New York: Yeah. You're never going to have everything you want, but I thought it was reasonably comprehensive. It outlined things that he could do by executive order and it outlined things that he has now got to, with help from the Vice President, help from lots of other people, convince Congress to do. There's two kinds of problems and he addressed both of them.
COOPER: You said earlier today that there are some things that he's not going to be able to get legislation on. He's not going to be able to get through –
BLOOMBERG: Well, I think some things are tougher than others. I think there's a general consensus in the country that background checks before you buy a gun should apply to everyone. Right now, it applies only to gun shows. To, I'm sorry, to gun dealers.
COOPER: Right, licensed dealers.
BLOOMBERB: Licensed dealers, but most people would be in favor, and I think that's easier for Congress to get done. You have to explain it to them, they have got to hear from their constituents. And I think they will do that rather easily, compared to getting rid of assault weapons. That is a tougher sell and that's what we've really got to work on. I'm optimistic, but it's tougher.
COOPER: You know, there is a school of thought of why try to go for so much? Why not go for something which, as you said, has more support, like more stringent background checks rather than try to throw in assault weapons as well?
BLOOMBERG: Look, there are lives involved here. And if you can stop -- if you can save one life, isn't that worth trying? And I always thought that you should address issues when they're on the public's conscience, when they're being covered by the press, and you should try to do a complete job so you don't have to come back again and again and again for the same thing.
COOPER: Marco Rubio yesterday was quoted as saying, nothing that the President is proposing would have stopped the massacre at Sandy Hook. Do you agree?
BLOOMBERG: That's probably true. A woman had guns, it wasn't her son that – I don't know if she went through a background check, but her son certainly didn't. He took his mother's guns and killed people. But that doesn't mean that having fewer guns around isn't a better idea. It's like, you know, there are people who run through traffic lights, they just run a red light. Does that mean we should get rid of all traffic lights? No, in macro sense, these laws do work. And there's an awful lot of evidence that if you have fewer guns, things are better. In New York, New York State has very good or strong gun laws, so we have fewer guns on the streets. Our murder rate is one of the lowest murder rates of any big city.
COOPER: You look at -- Newt Gingrich brought this up on the show the other day. You look at a city like Chicago which has very tough gun legislation, yet also has a very high murder rate.
BLOOMBERG: Yeah, New York has tough gun legislation and a low murder rate. It's not a panacea for everything. You still have to have a very good police department, have it well-funded, have it well-led, have it diversified, deploy it where the problems are. You have to be very aggressive with the kids who are most likely to carry guns to make sure they think they're going to be stopped and if they have a gun on them, they're going to get arrested. That keeps them from carrying guns.
Because otherwise it's a macho thing. There's no one solution this. This is, however, a very important step. Fewer guns means fewer murders, fewer guns means fewer suicides. Fewer guns means you and your children are safer.
COOPER: What do you think of the NRA, of how they have been fighting this? Just recently since the Newtown –
BLOOMBERG: I don't think their strategy makes any sense at all. The other day, to bring in the President's kids was just bad PR. It was also an outrage, it really was. You don't do that. They made a big deal back, the day, or a few days after the Connecticut shooting, that the cause of all this wasn't guns, It was the video games that are so violent. And one month later, they came up with their own video game, which was violent. I mean, you know, you're shooting at the shape of a coffin, for goodness sakes. What are we trying to teach our kids? The original thing that happened would have been right on that.
These games, I think, are teaching your kids, you know, you hit a button. You can blow somebody away. And you hit the reset button, they come back. That's not the real world. I know a lot of parents who don't let their kids play these games, but to have the NRA criticize, blame it on them and then do their own is just ridiculous.
COOPER: They say more security in schools, security in every school. Is that something –
BLOOMBERG: You really want your kids to go to school in an armed camp, number one? Number two, more guns means more murders. How do you know the person in the school isn't mentally deranged? How do you know some kid doesn't get the gun in the school? Bringing guns into schools where there's a bunch of kids is not a smart thing to do. I have said to our police officers, everyone I talk to all the time, don't take your guns home at night.
COOPER: What do you make of – the problem isn't just Republicans in Congress who are opposed to this. There are a lot of Democrats who are opposed to this –
BLOOMBERG: This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. You go back in the first two years of the Obama administration. The Democrats had the White House, the Senate and Congress, and they did nothing. And I've blamed both of them, and I went during the presidential campaign, I pointed out that Mitt Romney had championed a assault weapon ban in Massachusetts when he was governor, signed the bill, got it passed and signed it.
President Obama, when he was running four years ago, he championed an assault weapon ban, said he'd put it in if he got – try to get in if he got elected, and neither did anything. I criticized both of them. This is not a partisan thing. Somehow or other, Connecticut children, you know, suburban, nice, Norman Rockwell kind of image in your mind. Somehow or other, that's touched the American public's heart.