NBC Touts Dem Calls for Gun Control as Shooting Unfolds

During NBC’s live breaking news coverage of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California on Wednesday, correspondent Ron Allen reported from the White House on President Obama’s push for gun control: “We well know that the President is very concerned about this issue of gun violence in the United States....And we have heard from him and his staff that they are still trying to find ways that the President can use his executive authority to try and make changes to the gun control legislation in this country.”

Talking to NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, Allen lamented: “You know that he has tried to do things and met a lot of opposition in Congress over the years that he has been here at the White House.”

Minutes later, Holt turned to correspondent Luke Russert on Capitol Hill, who touted other Democrats politicizing the tragedy:

Hillary Clinton tweeting out, “I refuse to accept this as normal. We must take action to stop gun violence now.” Representative John Lewis here on Capitol Hill reflecting that message, “How many more innocent people must be shot and killed by madmen before we do something about gun violence?” So our nation's leaders starting to weigh in.

Minutes after that, former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt veered into political commentary while analyzing the ongoing situation: “Is it a mental health issue? Is it a gun issue? And how do we bring this country together when we've got 315 million people and perhaps 300 million guns in this country, how do we legislate morality and common sense? That’s still going to be our challenge.”

Allen returned about 40 minutes later to again promote White House talking points:

The President still waiting for word about what happens as these events continue to unfold. We know that the President has been very, very concerned about this issue, speaking out on it as recently as yesterday in Paris at that climate summit, where he made the comparison to the enormous effort that this country makes to stop terrorism and the carnage that, that causes. Yet at the same time, he says, that we do less and certainly should do more, he says, to stop these kinds of mass shootings.

We know that the President and his team at the White House have been looking through various executive actions that he might take, administrative actions that he might take in the interest of gun safety. But at this point, the last guidance from the White House, I believe, was that there’s nothing imminent on that front. But again, this may drive that conversation. The President hoping that this will spark more conversation, and mostly, some action to try and stop this carnage in the United States.

Here are excerpts from the live 3 p.m. ET and 4 p.m. ET hour coverage on NBC:

3:25 PM ET

(...)

LESTER HOLT: Ron Allen is at the White House right now. Ron, has the President been informed about what's going on here?

RON ALLEN: Yes, Lester, we’ve just have gotten word that he was briefed by Lisa Monaco, his Homeland Security adviser. Obviously the President is very concerned about all this. He is here at the White House, conducting business, monitoring the events, and he's asked for his staff to give him regular updates on what's been happening. We well know that the President is very concerned about this issue of gun violence in the United States.

Just the other day in Paris, at the climate talks, the issue came up in the context of the Planned Parenthood shooting, and the mantra from the President that we've heard is, “This is not normal,” is what he's been saying. And we have heard from him and his staff that they are still trying to find ways that the President can use his executive authority to try and make changes to the gun control legislation in this country. You know that he has tried to do things and met a lot of opposition in Congress over the years that he has been here at the White House.

But of course, this is going to get his attention. He's been here all day. He'd been very focused on the events in Chicago and the killing of a young man there and the pressure on his former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, with those events. But now, obviously, his attention is focused on this. He has been briefed. And again, the President, we expect, may speak out once this situation has stabilized perhaps.

We know that he is very concerned about this issue, that he has a lot to say about it. So I would expect, Lester, that perhaps in the coming hours or as soon as we can, as soon as the President can, we may hear from him. Because again, an issue of very deep concern for him. As I said, just yesterday, he was saying again that this is not something that is normal. This is something that the United States should and must confront.

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3:39 PM

HOLT: Luke Russert is on Capitol Hill. Luke, I take it this news is spreading there quickly, as it is everywhere.

LUKE RUSSERT: It is indeed, Lester. And I can tell you that the leadership from both sides has been briefed and what we are really waiting to hear on Capitol Hill, I think, is what everyone around the country is waiting to hear, is whether this was an act of terrorism or whether or not this was someone who was disturbed with a firearm. And while those details come forward, I think that will really formulate what the response to this will be.

We can, though, report the tweets from Representative Pete Agular, he of course represents this district where the shooting took place. He said, quote, retweeting the San Bernardino County Sheriff, “Please lock your doors and stay inside.” Also saying, “My deepest sympathies and prayers for the families affected by this horrific attack and for an end to this violence.”

Also, we're seeing politicians weigh in from the campaign trail, Lester. Hillary Clinton tweeting out, “I refuse to accept this as normal. We must take action to stop gun violence now.” Representative John Lewis here on Capitol Hill reflecting that message, “How many more innocent people must be shot and killed by madmen before we do something about gun violence?” So our nation's leaders starting to weigh in.

But I go back to that first point I made, Lester, is as this story develops and as a motive becomes known, we'll really see a, I think, strong response here on Capitol Hill because these issues have been at the forefront of the discussion in light of what happened in Colorado at that Planned Parenthood shooting, in light of what happened in Paris with that act of terrorism, we're starting to see responses now because the public is demanding it much more so from their leaders than they have in the past, Lester.

HOLT: Luke Russert, thanks very much.

(...)

3:56 PM

CLINT VAN ZANDT: We know from Tom Costello's reporting that we've seen 375 people in America killed in mass shootings, and there's obviously going to be a hew and cry once we get our hands wrapped around this and understand it. But Lester, we're going to be back at the same position again. Is it a mental health issue? Is it a gun issue? And how do we bring this country together when we've got 315 million people and perhaps 300 million guns in this country, how do we legislate morality and common sense? That’s still going to be our challenge.

(...)

4:36 PM

HOLT: Let’s go to Ron Allen right now, he’s at the White House. Ron, we have noted the President has been notified, have we heard from him yet?

RON ALLEN: Yes, we have, Lester. He happened to be doing an interview with our colleagues at CBS News as the events were unfolding. He said that still a lot not known, the situation very fluid, but here's more of what the President just said.

BARACK OBAMA [CBS NEWS]: You know, my hope is that we're able to contain this particular shooting and we don't yet know what the motives of the shooters are, but what we do know is that there are steps we can take to make Americans safer, and that we should come together in a bipartisan basis at every level of government to, you know, make these rare as opposed to normal. We should never think that this is something that just happens in the ordinary course of events, because it doesn't happen with the same frequency in other countries.

ALLEN: The President there sounding like this was a shooting incident, a mass shooting incident, not necessarily a terrorism incident, but again, we don't know the detail of that as of yet. The President still waiting for word about what happens as these events continue to unfold. We know that the President has been very, very concerned about this issue, speaking out on it as recently as yesterday in Paris at that climate summit, where he made the comparison to the enormous effort that this country makes to stop terrorism and the carnage that, that causes. Yet at the same time, he says, that we do less and certainly should do more, he says, to stop these kinds of mass shootings.

We know that the President and his team at the White House have been looking through various executive actions that he might take, administrative actions that he might take in the interest of gun safety. But at this point, the last guidance from the White House, I believe, was that there’s nothing imminent on that front. But again, this may drive that conversation. The President hoping that this will spark more conversation, and mostly, some action to try and stop this carnage in the United States.

(...)

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