On Saturday evening, CNN host Pamela Brown showed a classic double standard in her combative treatment of a Republican guest in contrast with her sympathetic reaction to a Democrat an hour later as she presided over segments to discuss possible new gun restrictions by Congress. According to Brown, the Second Amendment deprives us of our "right not to be shot."
Speaking with Kentucky Republican Congressman James Comer -- who is also chair of the Congressional Second Amendment Caucus -- the CNN host spent the entire 10 minutes challenging him over his opposition to more gun laws. At one point, she suggested that his support for the Second Amendment was depriving others of a right to not be murdered:
You brought up the gun owners' rights -- and they do have rights under the U.S. Constitution -- at what point are you valuing the philosophical concept of liberty of gun owners before actual lives, prioritizing the right to buy a deadly weapon over life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that we were all guaranteed -- what about the right not to be shot?
As Congressman Comer argued that cities that have tried to ban guns made their violent crime rates worse, Brown interrupted him to make the lame argument that states with less gun control are to blame for high crime in states with stricter laws. Without divulging a source, she recounted:
But I did look at the numbers for crimes in cities and states with strict gun laws and saw what you had said repeatedly. Nearly two-thirds of crime guns recovered in states with strict gun laws were originally sold in states with weak gun laws. So if gun laws don't matter, why are criminals going to states with weaker gun laws, bringing that gun back to a state with stronger gun laws, and committing crimes?
As Comer reiterated his general point without addressing the specifics of whatever source she was reading from, she jumped back in to reiterate: "But I'm looking at the data right here. I'm looking at the data right here showing nearly two-thirds of crime guns recovered in states with strong gun laws were originally sold in states with weak gun laws."
It is unclear what source Brown was citing, but, a few years ago, the city of Chicago released a similar study divulging that, out of the guns taken from criminals that police managed to trace where they were originally sold, 60 percent originated outside of Illinois, with 20 percent coming from Indiana (which is notably just 28 miles from Chicago).
Liberals have cited the report to blame the states with less strict gun laws for Chicago's problems, but nearly all of the nine states listed have per capita murder rates lower than that of Illinois -- which, in 2019 was 6.6 murders per 100,000 residents. By contrast, in Indiana, it was 5.6.
Only two states -- Tennessee and Alabama -- had a higher murder rate, both coming in at 7.3 per 100,000 residents.
Brown went on to bring up one of the poll claiming that about 90 percent of Americans want universal background checks, even though such polling was discredited years ago.
In the next hour, when Brown spoke with California Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier, the CNN host spent the segment asking her guest about the chances Republicans would compromise with Democrats, and repeatedly declared that she found it "frustrating" that there was a lack of action by Congress after each mass shooting.
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CNN Newsroom with Pamela Brown
April 17, 2021
7:09 p.m. Eastern
CONGRESSMAN JAMES COMER (R-KY): From a congressional standpoint, we need to be less divisive in Washington. I think the (inaudible) rhetoric --
PAMELA BROWN (jumping in to interrupt): And I agree. And that's why I keep asking you: How can Republicans and Democrats come together and say, "Hey, we agree that these mass shootings are unacceptable -- let's figure this out. Let's get together and figure out the mental health and the gun aspect"? And I want to ask you, very quickly: You brought up the gun owners' rights -- and they do have rights under the U.S. Constitution -- at what point are you valuing the philosophical concept of liberty of gun owners before actual lives, prioritizing the right to buy a deadly weapon over life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that we were all guaranteed -- what about the right not to be shot?
CONGRESSMAN JAMES COMER (R-KY): Well, we've got laws on the books to make it illegal to shoot someone. I think it was very clear that the framers of our Constitution made gun ownership a priority. It was the Second Amendment, and if you look at the states that have banned guns and the cities that have banned guns -- Chicago, Washington, D.C. -- they have some of the highest rates of gun violence, so just passing laws banning guns doesn't solve the problem. We have a problem in America, and I think Republicans realize that. We want --
BROWN: Okay, I'm sorry, I don't mean to interrupt. It's just -- sometimes different points are made, and I just want to make sure that we look at the numbers and facts when you make -- say something. But I did look at the numbers for crimes in cities and states with strict gun laws and saw what you had said repeatedly. Nearly two-thirds of crime guns recovered in states with strict gun laws were originally sold in states with weak gun laws. So if gun laws don't matter, why are criminals going to states with weaker gun laws, bringing that gun back to a state with stronger gun laws, and committing crimes?
COMER: Well, I can't answer that, but I can tell you that in the states that have -- that we see like in Kentucky where you have a strong belief in the Second Amendment -- overwhelming support for the Second Amendment, it seems like you have less instances of gun violence. I think if a criminal really sits and thinks about it, and they want to go in and create havoc, they know that in areas where there's more gun ownership, they're less likely to achieve their goals. That's a terrible example to use, but I think that's really what the data would show, and I'm really open to try to solve these problems.
BROWN: But I'm looking at the data right here. I'm looking at the data right here showing nearly two-thirds of crime guns recovered in states with strong gun laws were originally sold in states with weak gun laws. But let me just ask you before we let you go, Congressman Comer -- and, again, we appreciate your time on this issue -- and it is complex.
BROWN: You talked about how your concern is these laws are infringing on gun owners' rights. That is a big concern for Republicans like yourself. But if you look at polls and you look at polls as they relate to the House bill on background checks, the latest poll found 89 percent of all Americans -- 84 percent among Republicans -- 85 percent among gun owners -- and 84 percent among rural residents. So with all of this support, how can you say that this would be a bad thing? Isn't it Congress's job to represent the will of the people?
CONGRESSWOMAN JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): And we know that gun sales jump after a mass shooting or in the incidents of COVID. When people feel insecure, they buy guns. I don't want to buy a gun. I want to be able to go to church, and I want to be able to go to the grocery store, and I want to be able to go to a movie and not be afraid that I'm going to be slaughtered.
BROWN: I think every American wants to be able to do errands and live their lives and not worry about getting shot, which is why it is so frustrating to sit back and see these mass shootings happen and nothing get done in Congress. And I know -- as a Democratic congresswoman who has supported gun legislation -- the House bills who want to get something done -- it's frustrating for you -- what -- do you think Democrats and Republicans need to be talking more? Do you think that that would do anything if Democrats reached across the aisle and talked to their Republican colleagues and said, "Hey, you know, let's talk about this -- let me hear your views -- I'm going to give you mine -- let's figure something out"?
SPEIER: I think it is so embedded now in the Republican party that Republicans who want to do the right thing, who know we should be doing something are afraid to do anything out of fear of the primary. It's all about self-preservation. I mean, I can't tell you how despondent I am now. When I was in the state legislature in California, I carried the assault weapon ban on the Assembly side. It was passed by both houses, went to then-Republican Governor Pete Wilson, and was signed into law.
We have lost the rationality that used to exist between Republicans and Democrats to do the right thing. So what people are saying -- even though 90 percent of the American people, when you explain to them what we're trying to do, appreciate it and want to have that safety, want to know that a felon can't get a gun. But they can get a gun.
BROWN: Yeah. It's just so frustrating, and, as a journalist who has just covered these mass shootings time and time and time again, has had these conversations time and time and time again, it is just frustrating, and I imagine I am echoing the frustration of people at home, too, whether it's, you know, the gun reform legislation and mental health reform, all of that together. It needs to be looked at -- something needs to be done.