CNN Touts 'Outrage' Over New Campus Concealed Carry Law in Texas

Friday's Erin Burnett Outfront on CNN ran a report by correspondent Ed Lavendera focusing on negative reaction to a new law in Texas that will allow concealed carry permit holders over age 21 to bring their guns onto college campuses to enhance security.

The report was heavily slanted toward airing the views of those who wish to keep colleges as gun-free zones as Lavendera included six soundbites totaling 44 seconds from opponents of the law, with only two soundbites totaling 12 seconds from those who want to allow guns on campus. One of the only two soundbites on the pro-gun side was only about one second long.

Before a commercial break at 7:41 p.m., host Erin Burnett plugged the story:

Upfront next, outrage over a new law that will allow students and teachers to carry guns on campus. I'm going to talk to one teacher who is so scared, he just quit.

Lavendera's report began by focusing on the University of Texas student body president, Xavier Rotnofsky, who opposes guns on campuses, giving him a bizarre soundbite in which he asserted that "gorillas are just as dangerous as guns":

ED LAVENDERA: In his basement office in the University of Texas campus, you'll find Xavier Rotnofsky, an editor of the university satirical magazine and student body president.

XAVIER ROTNOFSKY, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT: We're talking about allowing guns in classrooms. Gorillas are just as dangerous as guns. Would we allow gorillas in our classrooms?

The CNN correspondent then related Rotnosky's view that it is "ridiculous" to allow gun on campus, paired with another odd soundbite of the student body president who turns to his right bicep and kisses it as he makes his point:

LAVENDERA: Rotnofsky thinks the highly controversial campus carry law which allows students 21 and older with a concealed weapon license to carry a handgun into campus buildings is ridiculous. He attacks the best way he knows how: with a heavy dose of sarcasm.

ROTNOFSKY: I and a lot of students still feel that the only guns that should be allowed on campus are our biceps. (Turns and kisses his right bicep) That's all the protection that we need.

Lavendera then shifted to focus on more criticism of the law, this time from the University of Texas systems chancellor and former Navy SEAL Bill McRaven:

LAVENDERA: The campus carry bill was approved a few months ago by the Texas legislature and was strongly opposed by none other than Bill McRaven, the UT system chancellor. But you probably know him best as the commander of the Navy SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden.

BILL MCRAVEN, UT SYSTEM CHANCELLOR: I like guns, but I just don't think having them on campus is the right place.

After another soundbite of McRaven voicing his concerns, the CNN correspondent recounted the infamous UT Tower sniper attack from 1966, and then showed a couple of brief sounbites of activists on opposite sides of the issue:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a nutjob problem, not a gun problem.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: More gun on campus will not make us safer.

Lavendera finally gave a moment of direct attention to the point of view favoring the concealed carry law as he turned to a pro-gun student activist but only gave her one soundbite:

LAVENDERA: Allison Peregory organized a group called Texas Students for Concealed Carry. On her 21st birthday, she plans on getting a concealed handgun license and carry her firearm on campus.

ALLISON PEREGORY, TEXAS STUDENTS FOR CONCEALED CARRY: Knowing that you're empowered to make that decision you can make that for your own personal liberty and your own personal right to self-defense is an empowering decision, in my opinion.

Concluding the report, the CNN correspondent returned to McRaven for a third soundbite complaining about the new law.

Below is a complete transcript of the report from the Friday, October 9, Erin Burnett Outfront on CNN:

ERIN BURNETT, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 7:41 P.M.:Upfront next, outrage over a new law that will allow students and teachers to carry guns on campus. I'm going to talk to one teacher who is so scared, he just quit.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: President Obama in Oregon today meeting with victims of last week's campus massacre. (PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA) There were supporters there, but there were also protesters angry at the President's comments that he plans to politicize such shootings and fight for stricter gun control. At the same time, tonight in Texas, a new law expanding gunowners' rights moving ahead. It allows students to legally carry guns on college campuses. Now, some are fearing for their safety. Ed Lavendera is out front.

ED LAVENDERA: In his basement office in the University of Texas campus, you'll find Xavier Rotnofsky, an editor of the university satirical magazine and student body president.

XAVIER ROTNOFSKY, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT: We're talking about allowing guns in classrooms. Gorillas are just as dangerous as guns. Would we allow gorillas in our classrooms?

LAVENDERA: Rotnofsky thinks the highly controversial campus carry law which allows students 21 and older with a concealed weapon license to carry a handgun into campus buildings is ridiculous. He attacks the best way he knows how: with a heavy dose of sarcasm.

ROTNOFSKY: I and a lot of students still feel that the only guns that should be allowed on campus are our biceps. (Turns and kisses his right bicep) That's all the protection that we need.

LAVENDERA: The campus carry bill was approved a few months ago by the Texas legislature and was strongly opposed by none other than Bill McRaven, the UT system chancellor. But you probably know him best as the commander of the Navy SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden.

BILL MCRAVEN, UT SYSTEM CHANCELLOR: I like guns, but I just don't think having them on campus is the right place.

LAVENDERA: He can't change the law now. McRaven says he is working on figuring out how to best implement the law. He says some parts of campus will remain gun free, but even that won't keep teachers from being on edge.

MCRAVEN: And now are the faculty going to be concerned about raising controversial issues for fear of somehow alienating or making mad somebody who does have a weapon?

LAVENDERA: Nearly 400 UT Austin professors have joined a protest group called Gun Free UT. One professor has withdrawn from teaching on campus. The University of Texas has seen firsthand the terror of a campus massacre. In 1966, Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the UT Tower and fired on fellow students -- 14 people were killed. So the campus carry law brings intense debate across this campus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a nutjob problem, not a gun problem.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: More gun on campus will not make us safer.

LAVENDERA: Allison Peregory organized a group called Texas Students for Concealed Carry. On her 21st birthday, she plans on getting a concealed handgun license and carry her firearm on campus.

ALLISON PEREGORY, TEXAS STUDENTS FOR CONCEALED CARRY: Knowing that you're empowered to make that decision you can make that for your own personal liberty and your own personal right to self-defense is an empowering decision, in my opinion.

LAVENDERA: But Bill McRaven still isn't convinced that guns on campus is the solution.

MCRAVEN: Were going to have to figure out the best way to do that to maintain the appropriate campus climate, to keep our faculty and our students and our visitors as safe as possible, and we're going to do that.

LAVENDERA: Public colleges across Texas will have until next year to figure out how to implement the campus carry law. It starts on August 1, 2016, which is exactly the 50-year anniversary of the UT Tower sniper shooting.

Crime Guns CNN Erin Burnett OutFront Texas Erin Burnett Ed Lavandera


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