Notes from the December 16, 2012 Broadcast of Meet The Press
Today’s Meet the Press focused exclusively on the tragedy at Sandyhook Elementary School. After much media speculation and inaccuracy, more concrete information on how this tragedy unfolded is finally available. There are no details yet on what drove the shooter to this act, but NBC’s Pete Williams reported that computers have been recovered from the shooter’s home which might leave clues.
Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D-CT) offered a few new details the situation. When asked how he would like society to deal with this problem, he focused on the need for better mental health programs and a new look at how we regulate assault weapons.
Next up was New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. When asked about comments made by President Obama immediately following the shooting, where he called for “meaningful action,” Bloomberg said the president is the commander-in-chief in addition to the consoler-in-chief. “He called for action two years ago,” said Bloomberg
Bloomberg said, “It is time for the president to stand up and lead, not go to Congress and ask. ‘What do you guys want to do?’”
“If he does nothing during his second term, something like 48,000 Americans will be killed with illegal guns, roughly the number killed in the whole Vietnam War,” added Bloomberg.
Host David Gregory suggested Democrats might pay a price for supporting stronger gun laws. Mayor Bloomberg called the power of the NRA a “myth.” He said that the NRA’s number one goal in this last election cycle was to defeat President Obama. Therefore, “The myth that the NRA can destroy political careers is just not true,” he said.
Bloomberg said he endorsed Barack Obama for president because Obama has the right views on these issues, but now the president has to put those views into action.
Gregory reported that Meet the Press reached out to all 31 pro-gun rights members of the new Senate and invited them on the program. He said, “We had no takers.”
In the roundtable conversation, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said on day one of the new Senate session she will introduce new legislation banning assault weapons and large assault ammunition clips. She said, “We need to get weapons of war off our streets.”
New York Times columnist David Brooks, former Secretary of Education and Drug Czar Bill Bennett, and former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge all focused on mental health issues and on inferior mental health services nationwide. They were joined by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Georgetown Professor Michael Eric Dyson.
Bennett said he might to see one armed, trained person in each school to prevent this kind of massacre. Weingarten responded, “We need to stop this routine view that having more guns will make us safer.”
Brooks said the battle over gun laws is often seen as a rural versus urban issue, and he said that maybe having Michael Bloomberg as the gun-control spokesperson might be counterproductive.
There was a brief discussion about the role graphic violence might play in tragedies like this. Brooks says that over hundreds of these cases, there appears to be no connection with graphic video games.
Michael Eric Dyson concluded that when people don’t have access to mental health services, they will often self medicate. But he was quick to add, it is “…the ready access to guns that led to this devastation.”
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