NYT’s Kristof Admits Gun Control Probably Wouldn’t Have Stopped WDBJ Shooter

During a discussion on the Thursday edition of MSNBC’s The Last Word, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof briefly admitted that gun control would not have stopped the shooter who shot dead two local news reporters in Roanoke, Virginia on Wednesday, but continued to nonetheless argue that more gun restrictions are needed.

The slip came near the tail end of a panel discussion featuring host Lawrence O’Donnell, Mother Jones’ David Corn, and The Boston Globe’s Shira Center in which Kristof was discussing some common characteristics of shooting incidents when he stated that “you know, it may well be that no measure could have prevented the killer in this case from actually acquiring that gun.”

Immediately, however, he pushed forward with advocating the gun control agenda, hyping that “if we did have much greater controls as Canada, as Australia has, as any other modern country has, then if we could reduce the toll by one third, there’d be 10,000 less deaths.”

Moments before that, Center reminded any 2016 Republican candidates listening that “taking on” late reporter Alison Park’s father Andy “is not a winning argument.” In addition, the liberal report shockingly took issue with Republican proposals to invest tax dollars in mental health programs: 

What I'd really like to see for the Republican candidates talking about mental health as the root of the problem for this? And what policy will they do that doesn't include expanding government spending to solve this? What do they think is the solution to this in terms of it as a mental health problem?

While Center tried to argue that Republicans don’t have a concrete plan, Republican Representative Tim Murphy (Penn.) has actually been working on House legislation referred to as the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act since 2013 that has extensive support on both sides of the aisle and in the medical community (but has yet to pass Congress).

As for Corn’s contribution to the discussion, he sarcastically argued that gun control will need to be addressed “[u]nless the Republicans are going out there with a mental health police squad to find people...and be kind of, you know, the worst type of government, you know, jack booted thugs they ever talk about.”

He added that “[y]ou have to look at doing something to make it harder to get guns, whether it’s registering guns, that maybe a disincentive for some people to use them the wrong way” or “the gun supply even if you can't get rid of every gun.”

Concerning the pleas for a conversation on mental health, Corn claimed that the Republican Party’s “mental health policies are nonexistent and the ones that would have any impact go against conservative libertarian principles that they espouse.”

In one final note about Kristof, he also appeared in the 10:00 p.m. hour on CNN Tonight (through the magic of television and taping The Last Word) and partnered with host Don Lemon to promote the argument that “there are ways that we can approach guns” as a “public health issue make them safe” compared to that of car safety and regulations for homes with swimming pools. That line of thinking was offered a few hours after the CBS Evening News had a report putting forth similar points.

The relevant portions of the transcript from MSNBC’s The Last Word on August 27 can be found below.

MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
August 27, 2015
10:05 p.m. Eastern

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: Nick, we saw this chorus, it started to development in certain corners of the media yesterday about, “it’s horrible to talk politics in the aftermath of these events.” There’s some kind of decent interval, apparently, Republicans think is supposed to exist after these events before anyone dare say the words gun control and then very much to their surprise last night on Fox News, this grieving father was the one who led this this time. 

NICHOLAS KRISTOF: And Andy Parker is exactly right that this is not about just one double murder. This is about a larger problem in America where we are off the charts globally. 92 Americans die every day of gun violence. American kids are 14 times as likely to die of gun violence as kids in the industrial world as a whole and why is that? It is complicated. It's not just because we have so many guns but that is one major reason for it and there are steps we can take that aren't going to solve the problem but can reduce that toll considerably. 

(....)


SHIRA CENTER: Yeah. They don't want to mention Andy Parker. Obviously, he's at the center of this right now and he's among many things. He is, at his core right now, a grieving father, so taking on Andy Parker and is not a winning argument for a lot of Republican candidates. What I'd really like to see for the Republican candidates talking about mental health as the root of the problem for this? And what policy will they do that doesn't include expanding government spending to solve this? What do they think is the solution to this in terms of it as a mental health problem?

O’DONNELL: Oh, well, Scott Walker said today “the common thread we see in many of these cases is a failure in the system to help someone suffering from mental illness,” but when he was Milwaukee County Executive, Scott Walker cut mental health case managers. He cut treatment, mental health treatment, he cut several hundred thousand dollars out of the budget there. David Corn, and so, it’s not like the Republicans have found something they actually want to do about this. It sounds like they want to use the phrase mental health to suggest there's no government responsibility. 

DAVID CORN: Well, as a distraction, in some ways, Jeb Bush, too. When he was the Governor of Florida vetoed several line items for programs that help people with substance abuse and mental health issues. So, it's not just Scott Walker. Part of the issue here, too, is you can talk about having greater mental health services across the country, but a lot of these people who are committing these foul deeds often are walking in without a history – they are not having sought mental health, so unless the Republicans are going out there with a mental health police squad to find people like the fella who shot up the journalists in Virginia and be kind of, you know, the worst type of government, you know, jack booted thugs they ever talk about, the other – you have to look at the supply of guns. You have to look at doing something to make it harder to get guns, whether it’s registering guns, that maybe a disincentive for some people to use them the wrong way. There are all of these things you have to do about the gun supply even if you can't get rid of every gun and otherwise, their mental health policies are nonexistent and the ones that would have any impact go against conservative libertarian principles that they espouse. 

(....)

O’DONNELL: This is going to happen again. We have not seen our last shooting in a school. We have not seen the last shooting on a college campus. We have not seen the last shooting in a movie theater because there is a repetitive pattern to these incidents and now we have seen someone try to do this on live television with a live crew out there in the field, we have ever right to expect, at some point in the next years, we don't know when, someone else to try to use this same method again and so they’re saying, what do we do about our news crews when we send them out there? 

KRISTOF: Absolutely and of course, some of these incidents then beget more incidents, but I would say that we focus on news incidents, particularly [INAUDIBLE] incidents. The great pattern that 33,000 gun deaths every year in the U.S., you know, most of these are people who know each other. They’re spouses. They’re friends. Two-thirds of them are suicides. Suicides are much more likely to be effective if a gun is involved and you know, it may well be that no measure could have prevented the killer in this case from actually acquiring that gun, but if we did have much greater controls as Canada, as Australia has, as any other modern country has, then if we could reduce the toll by one third, there’d be 10,000 less deaths.

NBDaily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Guns Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats MSNBC Other MSNBC The Last Word Video Government & Press Gun Control Lawrence O'Donnell David Corn Nicholas Kristof
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