CNN Goes After Arizona's Gun Laws as Major Factor in Shooting


On Monday's Newsroom, CNN treated Arizona's gun laws as a significant contributor to the shootings in Tucson. Correspondent Jessica Yellin prompted the local prosecutor to spout her pro-gun control views. Anchor Brooke Baldwin highlighted a local Republican's gun-toting ad and the infamous clip of an anti-Obama protester carrying a semi-automatic rifle outside a 2009 presidential event in Arizona.

Yellin interviewed Pima County, Arizona Attorney Barbara LaWall, a Democrat (though Yellin didn't identify her as such), 15 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour. Midway through the segment, the correspondent raised the gun control issue. LaWall immediately replied by touting her liberal stance:

YELLIN: There's some talk about, possibly, a push for some change in the gun laws- not, it's- cracking down on ownership of guns, but, maybe, [a] different kind of background check, or the fact that he had an extended clip. Do you see any potential for changes in those things in the environment in Arizona now?

LAWALL: Through the Arizona legislature? Doubtful- I mean, we have, probably, the most liberal gun laws in the nation in this state, and I have fought continuously to get much more strict, much more stringent gun laws and background checks, and have repeatedly come up against total stoppage and block.

Twenty-two minutes later, during an interview of former Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe (a Republican), Baldwin played clips of congressional candidate Pamela Gorman shooting a Thompson sub-machine gun and of "Chris," an pro-open carry activist who bore his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to a rally outside an August 2009 event in Phoenix where President Obama spoke, and was featured in many anti-Tea Party segments by the mainstream media. The CNN anchor incorrectly identified the AR-15 as an "automatic rifle," and used the clips to go after Arizona's gun laws:

BALDWIN: Congressman, I want to show you two clips, and I want to get your response. So, first clip- let's roll this- this is going to be- congressional candidate Pamela Gorman- and there she is. She has a submachine gun, and that is how she ran for office. Okay, clip number two: this is an opponent of the President armed with an automatic weapon. This is outside an event in Arizona where Mr. Obama was speaking. This is August of 2009. So, Congressman Kolbe, I guess my question is, some of the rest of country may see that and they really worry about some of these images. Do you understand those worries?

KOLBE: Well, sure. I mean, I am concerned when I see that kind of thing. Nobody wants to see an automatic weapon around the President or any other candidate or any other officeholder, but- you know, that can happen in any state. I don't think it's necessarily just worse in Arizona than any other place. But, sure, I'm concerned about that. But Gabby Giffords was a strong supporter of gun rights, as I was when I was in Congress, and I think that this kind of thing can happen in any place. It's a person misusing a weapon. It's not the matter of the weapon itself. We always get that confused, I think, as somebody misusing the weapon. Look, Mexico, our state- a country right next to our state, has some of the strongest gun laws in the world, and 11,000 people died there last year in these cartel wars, gun- mostly from gun shots.

BALDWIN: So, you wouldn't agree though that- you know, the accusations that your state, that Arizona, is lenient on guns- the fact that- you know, it's one of three states which allow people to carry concealed guns without permits or any kind of training?

KOLBE: No. I don't think that's the- I don't think that's the issue at all here, and I don't think- what would changing those laws would have to do with this individual who is accused of this crime? I don't see the connection.

On Saturday's coverage of the shootings on CNN, Yellin raised how "we don't know the motive" with the shootings, but then noted how "on Twitter and Facebook, there is a lot of talk, in particular, about Sarah Palin," due to her "don't retreat- instead reload" Tweet just before ObamaCare was passed by the House of Representatives.

-Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.