New Day's Chris Cuomo interviewed Kansas Congressional Candidate Tyler Tannahill on the CNN morning show on Tuesday, who has decided not to suspend his raffle of an AR-15 in the wake of the mass shooting in south Florida last week. Cuomo seemed to imply that Tannahill deserved the threats he was receiving on his Facebook page because he is "provoking" people.
Tannahill, a Republican contender for the open seat in Kansas’s 2nd Congressional District, announced his AR-15 giveaway on his Twitter page the day before last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Cuomo opened the interview by saying “You figure that would go away, that’s insensitive at a minimum, right? No.”
He then proceeded to ask Tannahill why he would “want to give away the same weapon that was used to kill all those kids.” Tannahill gave the politically incorrect answer, saying “We could take the typical Republican response was let’s hide in our hole, let’s say thoughts and prayers and move on with it or we could get on front of this issue and actually have a meaningful discussion and dialogue.” The candidate made it clear to Cuomo that he firmly supports the Second Amendment.
At one point, Tannahill talked about the threats made against him and his family on his Facebook page. Cuomo seemed to justify these threats, saying, “But you’re provoking them” and later said that the raffle comes as “a slap in the face” to all of the families who lost loved ones in the shooting.
Cuomo warned Tannahill not to “deceive” people by saying that the gun control debate is about controlling people rather than guns, using his signature phrase of “B.S” to describe that argument. Cuomo’s co-host Alisyn Camerota had previously “deceived” the New Day audience by authoritatively claiming that the Douglas High School students demonstrating on behalf of gun control have not received any help from outside anti-gun groups.
As the explosive exchange that took place on New Day between two former GOP congressmen demonstrates, the debate over gun control shows no signs of going away anytime soon. Gun control advocates will hold a “March for Our Lives” in the Nation’s Capital on March 24 to demand that lawmakers take action. Those liberal activists can feel quite confident Cuomo and Camerota will root for them every step of the way.
CNN's New Day
CHRIS CUOMO: All right. So the day before a gunman used an AR-15 style rifle to kill 17 people in a Florida high school, a congressional candidate in Kansas announced a contest to give away an AR-15. So then the massacre happens, you figure, well that would go away, that’s insensitive at a minimum, right? No. The candidate says he’s going ahead with the raffle. That candidate is Kansas Congressional Candidate Republican Tyler Tannahill. Mr. Tannahill, thank you for taking the opportunity.
TYLER TANNAHILL: Appreciate it, Chris. Thanks for having me on today.
CUOMO: All right, so help me understand, brother. Why after something like this would you want to give away the same weapon that was used to kill all those kids?
TANNAHILL: Yeah so, when we sat down with my staff and we talked about it, you know, we had two options. We could take the typical Republican response was let’s hide in our hole, let’s say thoughts and prayers and move on with it or we could get on front of this issue and actually have a meaningful discussion and dialogue to say we do have a problem, we have to protect our students, we have to protect our teachers. How are we going to do that? We have a Second Amendment that I fully believe in but there’s a solution out there that upholds the Second Amendment and as well protects our schools, protects our churches and protects people going to concerts. So that’s why we went forward with it.
CUOMO: I don’t get that though as a natural consequence of that thought process. If you wanted to figure out how do you stop the school shootings, someone like this gunman getting access to that kind of weapon has to be part of the conversation. How does giving away the same kind of weapon show any kind of resolve to make it less likely to happen again?
TANNAHILL: Look, the whole point of it is this. We have to have the discussion, which we are right now. Like, we’ve put forward a solution to the table. Not a lot of candidates, not a lot of my people in the Republican Party are doing that. A lot of people are shying away from it. And I understand what you’re getting at. But we are here, we’re talking about it. We’ve put forward a solution called the faster saves lives program. We need to look at their data. They’ve trained over 1100 teachers to conceal carry in the classroom. Is it the solution? I don’t know. But it’s something to look at.
CUOMO: But you really believe that teachers, you really believe that teachers are supposed to be in the business of taking on gunfire and knowing how to lead a tactical assault against somebody who is trying to kill kids in the school? Is that the job now?
TANNAHILL: If a teacher so chooses to, they should have the option. If they so choose to, they should have that option. But we also have to look at do we have the proper funding and training for teachers, nurses, counselors to look at these students and find those students who need help, need mental health care access, need special attention. Those are things we all have to talk about. And all these people on the Facebook page and are calling me, threatening myself, my family, that’s not part of the solution. And that’s why I’m here.
CUOMO: But you’re provoking them though. But you’re provoking them.
TANNAHILL: I’m not running for office...
CUOMO: Look. I get it. I get it. The two sides, they...
TANNAHILL: I’m not running for office to deal with the easy issues. This is a tough issue to tackle.
CUOMO: Right but how you deal with it matters. How you deal with it matters. Let me point out two things on it. I think one of them is personal. One of them is policy. Okay? The personal one really should be obvious. I mean, unless you were just looking to provoke a situation to get some attention, you’re going to get it and I’m not sure you’re going to like it because God forbid you knew somebody who was in that school. And then, right on the heels of it, when you’re trying to get your mind around this madness, there’s a guy giving away the same damn weapon that just took your loved one’s life. You think that would be seen as a constructive step forward in a conversation about how to stop it or a slap in the face and somebody just shaming you with what you just had to live through?
TANNAHILL: Chris, look, I am a Republican candidate. I do support the Second Amendment in the hard times and the bad. What I’m saying here today though is we can have a constructive dialogue to find a solution. I don’t want anymore school shootings to happen just as much as you don’t so let’s have a conversation moving forward with realistic possibilities on how we can stop those and prevent those and, you know, we have this Second Amendment, we have a 2008 Supreme Court case that backs up that citizens have a right to own firearms. So moving forward, the solution isn’t to take away an AR-15. The gun isn’t the issue. I firmly believe that. We have a deeper issue we have to deal with in this society and my colleagues up in...I’m sorry, the Republicans up in D.C. aren’t doing that so I’m a Republican candidate putting my name out there to say let’s find the solution.
CUOMO: But why isn’t it both? The only...Look, look, I applaud the idea of looking for a solution. Your leadership in your party down there hasn’t even asked the fundamental question about what we can do to stop these school shootings. So that’s a necessary step. But if you look at it, okay, the data leads you to a very simple and troubling conclusion. The only thing that we have that’s different than other places in the world is more weapons. That’s why we have more school shootings. We have the same mental health issues, we have the same types of demographics in terms of where these happen and why they happen. It’s the guns that you have to look at. And I’m not saying to take guns away from everybody and please don’t deceive anybody who’s thinking of voting for you to think that this is about controlling people, not controlling guns. It’s B.S. and it’s counterproductive. Look at your own state, Kansas. You’re going to give away this weapon, you say well the person has to meet the Federal background checks. Irrelevant. In your state, they don’t have checks for person-to-person sales and you know this. So God forbid, someone who wins this AR-15 winds up transferring it to somebody else who’s mentally unstable and they don’t know and they go out and use it. How would you feel then?
TANNAHILL: And Chris, I’m here to have this discussion. Do we need to look into that? Let’s put it on the table.
CUOMO: But you’re giving away the gun. You’re giving away the gun in a state where you can have private transfers.
TANNAHILL: Do we have a problem with looking at who can own guns or not? Let’s talk about it. I’m here trying to find the solution.
CUOMO: But why would you give away a weapon? But you can’t want to talk about a solution while you’re also exhibiting the problem. If you were going to give away a weapon in a state where you don’t have to have a background check on a person-to-person transfer, how do you know where that weapon’s going to wind up? You don’t. Am I wrong?
TANNAHILL: Look, we’re not giving the gun away person to person. That individual has to go to the gun store and pass all legal background checks that you have to own a gun legally in the state of Kansas.
CUOMO: And then what? And then what? And then who can they? They can give it to anyone they want without a background check.
TANNAHILL: Well, Chris, you’re just trying to make your point and your point is that. Okay, fine. That’s not helping us get to the solution. We need to protect our students, we need to protect our teachers. There’s a sticker on the window that says no guns allowed. Is it a tag line? Yes. Is it working? No. It’s proven. So how do we go forward? Do we need metal detectors in school rooms? I don’t know. Let’s put it on the table and talk about it. Do we need to look at how people are reported to the authorities to possibly not be able to own a firearm? Yeah, let’s put it on the table and talk about it. Why is there always looking back when an unfortunate event like this happens, some moment that says well, somebody dropped the ball. How are they dropping the ball? Why? Let’s fix it. And you know, Chris, I do, I appreciate you having me on because I truly do want to fix this. This is a tough issue. We have to uphold the Second Amendment, we have to keep our children safe. And what is the answer? Let’s find it out, let’s have that dialogue and let’s protect these students and teachers and move forward.
CUOMO: Well, Mr. Tannahill, then at least do this. If you’re going to give away a weapon in a state that allows person to person transfers without a check, you better follow up and know where that weapon is, know where it winds up and make sure you understand who the end user is. If you want a solution, your state is a good place to start. You got to have checks on all these different kinds of transfers or you just don’t know what happens. But I appreciate you taking the opportunity. It’s a conversation worth having.