On Tuesday's Amanpour & Co., the PBS show not only did its part to spread anti-gun misinformation, but also to demonize Republicans who dispute the value of more gun control. Host Christiane Amanpour and her guests made several blatantly false claims about the significance of background checks and the prevalence of so-called "assault weapons." She also allowed one of her guests to sneer that Republicans "don't have a conscience" when it comes to guns.
As she interviewed gun control activist Dave Cullen, Amanpour played a clip of Republican Senator Ted Cruz correctly stating that the laws Democrats keep pushing after high-profile mass shootings would not have prevented the attacks. She then overstated the frequency of AR-15s being used in such massacres:
I have been listening today to security and law enforcement experts who have, you know, joined the dots from the terrible names that we can, you know, enumerate the sites of mass shootings over the last several years, and the one constant is actually a gun -- the AR-15. it is the only weapon that is designed to kill, not just wound. It is designed to kill. It's been used in just about all of these terrible mass shootings.
She then posed:
President Biden is now saying that there should be a ban on assault -- assault rifles, and expanded background checks. Why is it that politicians don't get it about AR-15 and the assault weapons? Why do they conflate that with the legitimate right of the Second Amendment under the Constitution -- under the legal provisions to bear guns?
An examination of the more deadly mass shootings in the U.S. from the past decade shows that handguns are often used in such attacks.
In fact, the third most deadly mass shooting of all time -- the Virginia Tech attack of 2007 -- was perpetrated using handguns, leaving 32 dead.
Cullen responded that Senator Cruz and other Republicans "don't have a conscience."
A bit later, Amanpour brought up the issue of background checks, and played a clip of Colorado's Democratic attorney general, Phil Weiser, claiming that his state's background check laws are undermined by bordering states where he hinted that Colorado residents could go to to avoid background checks:
After dismissively quoting an unnamed Republican from Wyoming, the PBS host then shifted to Chicago's crime problem, and suggested that it is legal for Illinois residents to travel to Indiana to buy weapons:
But isn't it a fact that the reason you need a federal law is because no matter what each state does, they're all different? And you can have Illinois saying something -- some of the strictest gun control laws in the country -- and yet half an hour across the border, they can go and buy stuff and bring it back and use it to kill and mass shootings.
Even though it is already a violation of federal law to transfer a weapon to a resident of another state without conducting a background check, Cullen went along with her premise and claimed that it is legal for Illinois residents to get their guns in Indiana without a background check and take them back.
This fact-challenged episode of Amanpour & Co. was paid for in part by the the Anderson Family Fund and the Straus Family Foundation. You can fight back by letting advertisers know how you feel about them sponsoring such content.
PBS & CNN International
Amanpour & Co.
March 23, 2021
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Let's get back to the Republicans who are consistently opposing this. You know, here's one. I'm going to play you what Senator Ted Cruz said in the Senate today, pushing back against Democrats who are saying, "Okay, now -- now, can we do something about it?" Take a listen to Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
SENATOR TED CRUZ (R-TX): What happens in this committee after every mass shooting is Democrats propose taking away guns from law-abiding citizens because that's their political agenda. But what they propose -- not only does it not reduce crime, it makes it worse. The jurisdictions in this country with the strictest gun control have the highest rates of crime and murder. When you disarm law-abiding citizens, you make them more likely to be victims. If you want to stop these murders, go after the murderers.
AMANPOUR: So that's interesting -- "Go after the murderers." You know, the NRA says -- I think it says, "Guns don't kill -- people kill," right? And yet I have been listening today to security and law enforcement experts who have, you know, joined the dots from the terrible names that we can, you know, enumerate the sites of mass shootings over the last several years, and the one constant is actually a gun -- the AR-15. it is the only weapon that is designed to kill, not just wound.
It is designed to kill. It's been used in just about all of these terrible mass shootings. President Biden is now saying that there should be a ban on assault -- assault rifles, and expanded background checks. Why is it that politicians don't get it about AR-15 and the assault weapons? Why do they conflate that with the legitimate right of the Second Amendment under the Constitution -- under the legal provisions to bear guns?
DAVE CULLEN, GUN CONTROL ACTIVIST: Yeah, because they're, you know, people like Ted Cruz don't have a conscience.
AMANPOUR: There's the guns and then there's the background checks. And, again, President Biden is all for expanded background checks. And the last I checked -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- you know, the majority of American people are for sensible gun control. ... Overwhelmingly, exactly. Colorado's attorney general said this about background checks.
PHIL WEISER, COLORADO ATTORNEY GENERAL: We in Colorado have a background check law, but if people go to surrounding states, they can get a weapon without getting a background check. That is a common sense measure that's supported by overwhelming majorities. The fact that we didn't get such a law after prior mass shootings is hard to understand. We need a federal law. We know that our members of Congress in Colorado have run on this issue -- are committed to this issue. We need a national background check law.
AMANPOUR; So, again, making a statement that is supported by, as you say, the overwhelming majority of the American people. But a surrounding state -- if I'm not mistaken -- is Wyoming where there are, you know, less stringent laws. And here's what the Republican Senator from there says: "Every time there's an incident like this, the people that don't want to protect the Second Amendment use it as an excuse to further erode Second Amendment rights."
So that's their mantra. But isn't it a fact that the reason you need a federal law is because no matter what each state does, they're all different? And you can have Illinois saying something -- some of the strictest gun control laws in the country -- and yet half an hour across the border, they can go and buy stuff and bring it back and use it to kill and mass shootings.
CULLEN: Exactly. I'm so glad you said that because I was really itching -- I didn't want to get off the subject we were talk -- fact checking what Ted Cruz said about that -- that is -- what he said is the most misleading statistic out there. So Chicago is a good example, but it's true of almost every urban center -- well, quite a few of them. Most of the guns from Chicago come from Indiana, which is just across the state line just outside of Chicago. Most of the guns in New York City come from out of state.
Let's just take Chicago as an example, and then we can extrapolate this truthfully. A city like Chicago has a problem, so they pass very strict gun legislation that doesn't solve anything, especially when the guns are coming from Indiana. But then if you're Ted Cruz, you look at statistics, okay -- you've got Chicago which has got really high murder rates and really strong gun safety legislation -- therefore, his logic is like, "Look, it's counterproductive -- it's causing the deaths." No, the murders were already happening. It was an attempt to fix it that probably brought them down some, but as long as the back door is open in Indiana -- and probably Wisconsin, I'm not actually sure -- ... so you've got a really big opening so it doesn't do what you need exactly. We need federal legislation so you can't just ship from one place to another. That happens in so many different cities.
And, obviously, cities are where a lot of the murders are happening, and, in response, they had strong gun legislation. And so it's easy for the other side to twist the facts and pretend the causality -- pretend that the gun safety laws have caused the murders. Well, of course they didn't -- the murders were already happening.
AMANPOUR: Loopholes are also a very, very dramatic and consequential issue, isn't it? I mean, going back to your son's killing, it was a loophole that led to his killers being able to buy those guns?
TOM MAUSER, FATHER OF COLUMBINE MURDER VICTIM: That's right. And, in fact, what's amazing is it was just two weeks before the shooting in Columbine that my son Daniel asked me at the dinner table if I knew about the Brady -- the gun show loophole that was related to the Brady law that requires background checks. And then, two weeks later, he was killed with a gun that was purchased through one of those loopholes in the Brady bill. And that's what led us to close that loophole here in Colorado, We need to close that across the whole nation. We're not going to get a handle on this problem of gun violence if we're not even willing to close loopholes.
AMANPOUR: It is a huge job. Let's see what happens under this new administration and under the fact that, you know, their party controls the legislature as well.