CNN forced gun control into the headlines just hours after Friday's tragic Aurora shooting, and five days later it continues to pressure Democrats into pushing for more gun regulation. On Wednesday afternoon, CNN's Brooke Baldwin asked this question of a Colorado state Democrat:
"I have to challenge you, why hasn't your party, the Democratic Party, done more to legislate guns, because as you know that Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004?" Baldwin asked the same question of Philadelphia's Democratic mayor on Friday.
"So why hasn't your party, the Democratic party done more to legislate guns?" Baldwin asked Mayor Nutter, after citing a Pew poll showing only 27 percent of Democrats favor protecting gun ownership over gun control. She threw the same poll numbers at Fields, but didn't add that 55 percent of Independents favored protecting gun ownership over gun control – a reason why Democrats may have abandoned a prominent push for gun control.
"Not everyone in Colorado wants more guns in the hands of its own people," Baldwin introduced Rep. Fields. And Baldwin teed up the Democrat with softball questions like "What is your strategy? How do you combat this [gun violence]?"
Appearing shocked by the spike in gun sales after the shooting, Baldwin asked Fields to respond to those citizens who are legally purchasing firearms.
"[T]his is a quote coming from an employee at a gun shop. He said 'A lot of people are saying 'I didn't think I needed a gun, but now I do'.' Representative Fields, if this person was sitting right there next to you, what would you tell him?" Fields called that a "reactive" response that people need to "move beyond."
A transcript of the segment, which aired on July 25 on CNN Newsroom at 2:55 p.m. EDT, is as follows
BROOKE BALDWIN: I wake up, of course, we read the papers. And I just want to point out something. This is an item that caught my eye this morning, take a look. In the days following the Aurora shooting there was a big, big spike in the number of people trying to buy guns in Colorado. So between Friday, the day of that shooting and Sunday, Colorado authorities approved the background checks of 2,887 people who wanted to buy a gun. Folks, that's a jump of 43 percent over the same three days the previous week.
There are also reports of people lining up outside gun shops Friday morning. Not everyone in Colorado wants more guns in the hands of its own people. State representative Rhonda Fields is one of them. She's live, now I can see, in front of that theater where that horrific shooting happened on Friday. Representative Fields, thank you for joining me. And it was the Denver Post article --
Rep. RHONDA FIELDS (D), Colorado State House: Thanks for having me.
BALDWIN: It was the Denver Post article – I'm sure you saw it this morning – that really caught my eye. And I just want to quote – this is a quote coming from an employee at a gun shop. He said a lot of people are saying I didn't think I needed a gun, but now I do. Representative Fields, if this person was sitting right there next to you, what would you tell him?
FIELDS: You know, I just think those are just reactive kind of issues that people have. I understand that people want to be able to protect themselves. But we have to move beyond just being reactive and we need to be proactive. And we need to come up with some policies and some strategies to prevent gun violence.
BALDWIN: What is your strategy? How do you combat this?
FIELDS: You know, I think that it's already happening on the Hill. Congresswoman Diana DeGette has already called for a ban on high capacity clips. And those are just some measures that we can do to kind of curtail the violence. As you can see, there's no need for someone to have this magazine clip that allows them to do 60 rounds of firing of bullets per minute. There's just no need for that. I think we should ban that.
BALDWIN: Representative, I just want to point out some numbers, just to put this whole story sort of in context. And this is from the Pew Research Center. They did some polling on gun control, this was back in April. And here's what they found. 72 percent of Republican voters think it's more important to protect gun ownership than to control guns. Only 27 percent of Democrats agree. So, and I know you're on the state level and we're talking nationally, but I have to challenge you, why hasn't your party, the Democratic Party, done more to legislate guns, because as you know that Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004?
FIELDS: Right, and I can't speak for them. I can only speak for myself and my constituents in this district. I think it's time that we have to talk about gun violence. We have to do something. Because to do nothing, I think we get more of the same. So I think that we need to be doing some bold leadership on both sides and we need to come up with some measure to kind of close the gaps where there's holes.
BALDWIN: But specifically, what can you do? I mean, everybody sort of knows that this is not a winnable political topic on both sides of the aisle. It's an election year. We're not going to be hearing too much when it comes to gun control from either Mitt Romney or President Obama, but for you and Aurora and in Colorado, what do you do?
FIELDS: You know, and that really hurts me when I hear people saying we can't touch this issue because this is campaign season, and we're going to need to be re-elected. What's happening right now is we had 70 people get shot here in the state of Colorado. 12 are dead. We can no longer push this issue under the rug. We need to convene all of the right players together to do what is right. I don't have all the answers. But I think we need to be doing something and we need to be doing something right now.
BALDWIN: And finally, Representative Fields, this is so personal for you. Can you tell me about your son?
FIELDS: Yes. I lost my son due to gun violence in 2005. So I understand what it's like to have someone suddenly be snatched from your life and have to deal with the trauma of burying someone and then going through the trials. That's what's going on right here, right now in our city, as now people are having to bury their loved ones and then we're also having to see this person be charged for the crimes he committed.
BALDWIN: Colorado –
FIELDS: It's hard.
BALDWIN: I cannot even begin to imagine.