PBS: Amanpour and Two Guests See Racism in Gun Buys, Argues For ‘Right Not to Be Shot’

Political News

Amanpour & Co. host Christiane Amanpour brought on two liberal guests pushing restrictive gun control measures in the United States, suggesting the existence of a phantom constitutional right “not to be shot” while bemoaning the actual 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. Who needs a debate when you can have unanimous liberals? 

On the Friday edition, broadcast both on CNN International and tax-funded PBS, the sophisticated international journalist, who favors arming Ukraine to the hilt, was concerned why America won’t join other countries who crack down against individual gun ownership, while declaring herself “hopeful” that American youth will fix the problem.

As one can imagine, no actual debate resulted, with her two guests both calling for gun restrictions and being cheered on by Amanpour.

After two recent mass shootings in Serbia, Amanpour applauded the resulting anti-gun crackdown in what Freedom House determines is a “semi-free” country.

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Busse said he didn’t approve of such “reactionary, over the top actions,” leading Amanpour to pose one challenging question to her other guest, whether gun-confiscation programs like the ones in Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K. were perhaps “too draconian for the United States?”

Amanpour threw out a stat claiming “something like one in five Americans say they’ve been threatened by a gun, 44 percent say they know someone who’s been shot. How come the gun lobby, the NRA, for instance, still has that much power then?”

Here we go again: it’s a threat to democracy that someone gets to advocate for gun ownership.

Amanpour brought up the surge in gun purchases during Covid pandemic and gave Busse a chance to cry racism, which he has previously done when asked about gun-buy surges.

The host’s questions to her other guest betrayed Amanpour’s wish to downgrade the Second Amendment.

Amanpour & Co

5/19/23

AMANPOUR: Now, that operate epidemic here is giving away to gun violence at the top of American’s public health concerns. Even some foreign countries are giving their citizens traveling here a shooting advisory. On Monday, and 18-year-old with an AR-15 killed three people in New Mexico after a spate of recent killings, like in Missouri, 16-year-old Ralph Yarl was shot when he went to the wrong house to pick up his brothers. In New York, Kaylin Gilli was killed after her car turned into the wrong driveway. In Texas, two cheerleaders were shot when they got into the wrong car after practice. And yet, passing any significant gun laws still seems to be an unachievable task in the United States unlike a host of other nations overseas that have reacted swiftly to mass shootings. My next guest won’t stop trying here in the United States, Ryan Busse is a former insider in the gun industry who now is working for sensible gun control. While Kelly Sampson is director of Racial Justice at Brady United Against Gun Violence. Welcome both of you to the program. Can I just start with Serbia where, in the last month, there were two mass shootings, and at least a dozen people killed, including children? There have been really big protests against gun violence, including today, and we’ve got incredible pictures. But it just took two shootings for Serbia to act swiftly. The United States has done nothing despite of 200 this year. So, Ryan Busse, from your perspective as a former insider in the gun industry, what is it going to take, and why is this still such an extraordinarily difficult situation?

RYAN BUSSE, FORMER FIREARMS INDUSTRY EXECUTIVE AND AUTHOR, “GUNFIGHT”: Well, thank you for having me on, Christiane. I don’t know exactly what it’s going to take. I think that we’re not likely to see here, and in many ways, I don’t want to see the sort of reactionary over the top actions that you might see in a country like Serbia. That being said, a freedom like owning guns, which we have in America, I’m a gun owner still, I hunt and shoot was my boys, I’d like to continue that. I value the right to self-defense, but I think it’s pretty obvious that we cannot maintain that sort of immensely powerful freedom and ignore the need for immensely powerful responsibilities, either through social norms or legislation at the same time. And this is part of living in a democracy, where you have to balance freedoms and responsibilities and kind of the messy gray space of governance. And I think this is case in point for how our governance is really, really broken right now because we cannot rebalance. We have far too much focus on one and far too little focus on the other, and we’ve got to figure out a way to fix that.

AMANPOUR: Well, I’m going to delve into the fixing in a moment. But first, to you, Kelly Sampson. Draconian is how Ram Basi (ph) described what some foreign countries have done. Serbia, and I’ll just list a little bit, basically, the president promised general disarmament of the country.There’s an amnesty program for illegal weapons, a moratorium on new weapons permits, review of current gun licenses, and also psychological background checks. And also, we’ve seen in the past, how it’s happened in Australia, in New Zealand, in the U.K. Is that too draconian for the United States?

KELLY SAMPSON, SENIOR COUNSEL AND DIRECTOR OF RACIAL JUSTICE, BRADY: UNITED AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE: It’s not. And I appreciate the question. And one of the things at Brady that we’ve been able to do is we work with gun owners and non-gun owners. And one of the things that we’ve learned is that, despite the gun industry’s skewed version of what the Americans want, Americans want background checks. Americans want the capacity to make sure that people who are going to misuse guns won’t be able to misuse them.There’s a lot of support among the people in the country for background checks, for assault weapons bans. The problem is that there’s a small coterie of individuals who are supposed to represent us but who really are more concerned with representing the gun lobby than our own views.

AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you then, Ryan Busse, how — we’ve heard a lot of reporting about, you know, problems within the biggest organization, the NRA. You know, and as Kelly says, that there’s so much popular support for sensible gun control. How much — clearly a lot of strength then, despite the numbers. I mean, something like one in five Americans say they’ve been threatened by a gun, 44 percent say they know someone who’s been shot. How come the gun lobby, the NRA, for instance, still has that much power then?

BUSSE: Well, and I want to say, I completely agree with Kelly, for instance, on the background checks, right. This is a thing, a policy, that has polled well above 80 percent for over 25 years, and yet, hasn’t passed. And this sort of leads into the answer about the NRA. And is the NRA weakened from its high point as an organization? Perhaps. Is NRA-ism in the sort of all or nothing-ism that they infected our politics with? I think not. And just look at background checks, if you don’t believe me. This should pass. It pulls at 85 percent. That means a huge number of Republicans also support background checks. Yet, it doesn’t. Why is that? And I think it’s because the NRA forced sort of the central beam of the right side of our politics, the radicalized right side of our politics, the central beam of that political house is guns — radicalized gun — this radicalized gun thing. And so, you know, you could have asbestos chipping off that beam all day long and have 85 percent of the people agree that is going to give us cancer, but the right side of the aisle says, don’t touch that beam in the house, if we pull it out, the whole thing is going to crumble. And I think that’s what the radical right has made and really formed up by the NRA, that’s what they’ve made guns into for this slice, for this radicalize slice that Kelly talks about on the right, and it’s very dangerous. It not only threatens our day to day lives, but it threatens our democracy.

AMANPOUR: Well, talking about a democracy then, Kelly, you’re the general counsel, the legal counsel, listen to what Ryan Busse says that that amount of people, I think you said 85 percent, obviously including a lot of Republicans, thinks there need to be certain controls. How does, in a democracy, then a minority hold sway on something as big as this and as deadly as this?

SAMPSON: Well, part of it just has to do, when you’re talking about the federal level, some of it is just — it’s a structural issue, right? And so, you have the Senate where a small group can hold sway over what the majority wants. Similarly, you have issues around the way the courts are set up. But that being said, we definitely have seen a change at Brady over the past decade or so where now you’re having more and more people animated about gun violence and preventing it. And so, we’ve started to see over the past decade states passing laws. And even last year, the federal government passed the bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was the first federal law in over 30 years. So, things are changing, but I think what we really need is that cultural change at the ground level, where the everyday Americans who care, and they may say, I’m a Republican and I care. I’m a gun owner, and I care. But as more and more of those people take that care and make it into action, then we can really push to overcome that small minority.

AMANPOUR: OK. Then again, the question is, how does one do that? Apparently, in COVID, there was a massive increase in the sales and the purchases of guns. It looks like Americans bought 60 million guns almost during the pandemic, and the ownership rose from about a third of U.S. households to almost a half. Ryan, why would that be? And again, I know that you live out there in Montana, you’re a proud gun owner, a responsible one, it’s for hunting, et cetera. What happened in the COVID pandemic?

BUSSE: Well, the truth is, and the NRA stumbled onto this 25 years ago, one of the most effective motivators for humans, both politically and in gun purchases, is the use of fear. And I don’t think — you know, the NRA has been exceptionally good at both creating and then stoking sort of irrational fears about things.

In COVID, there were lots of — everybody had all kinds of fears. We didn’t know what tomorrow was going to look like. Racial fears were stoked. We had George Floyd. We had Black Lives Matter. We had — I mean, none of us are going to remember a more tumultuous time than in and around 2020. And as you mentioned, just in that one year, just in that 12 months, we had almost 23 million new gun sold in the United States. And so, when fear is used as a singular sort of irrational motivator to purchase guns, you’re going to have a bunch of ugly, dangerous spillover effects, because it’s not a healthy rational decision, and that’s what happened.

AMANPOUR: So, let’s just also point away a little bit from these mass shootings and get these other terrible statistics that, in fact, the majority of people who were killed in the United States — I’m going to remember it, I think it’s like 50,000 people are killed not in mass shootings, but in, you know, handgun, in suicide, in other things like that. That’s a whole other epidemic that we don’t really see, but that’s a huge number of people. Again, Kelly, how is that — is that just what this country is going to live with?

SAMPSON: Absolutely not. And I would point to Brady has a program called End Family Fire, where we are directly reaching out to gun owners to talk about things like safe storage, which can help save lives. But to go back to something Ryan was talking about in terms of the fear, there is a lie under the gun industry has been perfecting and perpetuating for decades where they tell people that the only thing that’s going to keep you safe is not the rule of law, but a gun. And they downplay the risk of bringing a gun into your home, which is that that gun is more likely to be used against you or someone in a home will use it against themselves rather than the fantasy they create, which is that, with this gun, you’ll be able to take on the stranger danger. And the suicide issue is an example of the reality of what it looks like when you have a gun in your home, which is that it ends up being a risk to you and your family. That’s not to say that people can’t own guns. Well, one of the things at Brady that we’ve seen is that people need to know the risk and understand the responsibilities associated with it. And we’re not stuck with it. We are working to make sure that if people are going to bring a gun into their home that they are conscious of the risk, that they practice safe storage, and that they really make a sober and clear decision about having a weapon. Because the idea that a gun is going to keep you and your family safe does not line up with the statistics and it doesn’t line up with the reality of what we know about far arms in the home.

AMANPOUR: And again, I mean, come from the U.K., and there are special storage places that hunters or anybody with guns have to have in their houses, and they’re checked regularly. They’re locked and checked regularly, you know, by security people, by the police. So, you’re saying that that — there should be more of that here. What about these laws? In our introduction to you, we talked about the stand-your-ground laws, essentially, the three instances in which people were killed being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Is that a law that has any chance of any kind of bipartisan effort that could actually ended or is it a law that is still very popular amongst the majority of people, Ryan?

BUSSE: Well, I think the stand-your-ground laws are sort of indicative of our out of balance situation right now. If we’re going to be a country — we now have 415 million or so guns in the United States. I think everybody who drives up and down the roads every day sees a lot of vehicles, we have about 267 million vehicles. So, if you think you have a lot of cars, there’s 150 million more guns than cars. If we’re going to have guns like that in our society, and again, I am a gun owner, it cannot be without proper restriction. It cannot be without proper social norms. It — and at the same time, we’ve increased this gun ownership and gun sales, which you mentioned. Many states have actually reduced the level of permitting of, you know, the requirement to learn safe storage or to require safe storage. So, our arrows are going in the wrong direction both ways, right? We can’t be a democracy that functions with this sort of immense freedom and reduce regulation at the same time. It’s — we should not be shocked that these things happen, whether it’s Ralph Yarl or whether it’s a young girl in north of Albany. It’s going to happen. We have to figure out a way to govern ourselves. That’s what this is about.

AMANPOUR: And I think that is what is so extraordinary about it, especially as we head into a presidential campaign, the idea of how to govern ourselves and how to be a society where everybody has their rights, including, as you’ve written, Kelly, a book called — I think it’s called “The Right Not to Be Shot.” Again, you argue that that is a constitutional counterweight to gun rights laws like stand-your-ground. But that’s not making any inroads, really, except obviously, as you say, with the general public, but not with the politicians. What more does the public have to do? They’ve done their marches, they have the — you know, they have the vigils, they — you know, the tragedies of what happened in schools and workplaces and sports places that get, you know, mowed down like this. That constitutional right seems yet not to be able to punch through the other one of the Second Amendment.

SAMPSON: Yes. And I think there is a tension here. And one of the things that we’ve seen that kind of keeps us going is that we live in a country where we have the federal system and then we have the state and the local system. And it’s true that the federal system has been quite challenging,

but where we’ve seen a lot of progress from the public coming out and marching is in the states.

And even just in the past five years or so, so many states like Virginia, places that you wouldn’t necessarily think of, have passed gun laws in response to the popular up swell support. So, to answer your question in terms of what the public needs to do, I mean, I think we kind of have to put ourselves here for the long haul. And one of the things I always think about is my own heritage, right? I’m a black woman. And so, I am sitting here today, an attorney, because I am descendent from people who had all the odds against them. You want to talk about, you know, being written into the constitution as three fifths of a person, right, but they kept marching, they kept resisting, and they kept demanding change and they got it. And I think when it comes to gun violence prevention, we’re going to need a similar sort of attitude where despite the odds we’re going to have to just keep pushing, because we’re making progress, we need more progress, but the bipartisan Safer Communities Act, I think, is one example of the ways in which we can get things done, but it will take some determination, and it will take us not giving up, not getting discouraged, and continuing to kind of push on and fight. And I wish that I could snap my fingers and change this, because people are dying, children are dying, but we can’t. We have to keep pushing and changing. And we’re making progress, it’s just it needs to happen faster.

AMANPOUR: Let me end by asking Ryan, because Kelly obviously talks about children and the young generations and the future generations. Your own sons, I read, and I’m absolutely fascinated by it, have — and let me get this absolutely straight, they have taken up a lawsuit, right, in terms of their right not to be affected negatively by the climate. And this is happening in Montana. Do you see any link there, Ryan, between that kind of citizen action and even gun control?

BUSSE: I actually do. And thank you. Yes. I’m very proud of my boys, they’re part of — there are 16 kids here in Montana who, for the first

time ever, will go to — in the nation — will go to court to fight for their climate rights, for their –there is a portion of our constitution, a beautifully written constitution, 1972, that says every citizen has the right to a clean and healthful environment, and my boys are part of 16 kids that are fighting for that. But I think it’s very indicative. This class of citizens coming up, my oldest son is 18, my youngest is 15. They have lost patients with us, with our nation, with inaction on things that are important. And I’ve warned people many times that if we do not fix this, these kids will fix it and they have little patience, whether it’s on climate, whether it’s on reproductive rights, whether it’s on gun stuff. And my kids, they hunt and shoot and own guns and shoot it and, you know, trap and skeet competitions, and yet they have lost patience for being in lockdown drills at school. They’re done with it.

AMANPOUR: Yes.

BUSSE: So, yes, I do see a connection.

AMANPOUR: I think that’s so hopeful. Both of you have talked about how the younger generation are going to have to fix this and are motivated to do so. So, thank you both so much for being with us. Thanks a lot for joining us.

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