Anderson Cooper asked President Barack Obama several pointed questions during Thursday’s town hall discussion on the issue of “gun control” in America, for which the CNN anchor served as host.
Cooper premised the first question on previous statements made by Obama, which the CNN personality asserted had led Americans to distrust the President’s claims of respect for the Second Amendment.
“There’s a lot of people out there who don’t trust you, obviously, on the issue of guns. You keep saying you don’t want to take away everybody’s guns, but there’s a lot of people out there tonight watching who don’t believe you. There’s a lot of people, frankly in this room, who don’t believe you,” said Cooper.
“And it’s not just that you don’t really have personal experience having owned a gun, but it’s the things you’ve said, support for Australia’s tough anti-gun policies. They banned semi-automatic assault rifles. They banned even shotguns in Australia. You praised their policies over and over. Back in 2008 you said, you talked about bitter Americans clinging to their guns, even now these executive actions that have caused a lot of concern among a lot of people,” said Cooper in prefacing his question.
“What can you say to somebody tonight to convince them that you don’t want to take away everybody’s guns, that you’re not coming for their guns?”
"There’s a lot of people out there who don’t trust you, obviously, on the issue of guns. You keep saying you don’t want to take away everybody’s guns, but there’s a lot of people out there tonight watching who don’t believe you."
Obama essentially ignored the question, inadvertently reinforcing Cooper’s premise by joking that his presidency has been “very good for gun manufacturers.” Sales of firearms have continually been breaking national records at various stages of Obama’s presidency, when measured by the volume of background checks.
The President then shifted the subject to speaking about criminal gun violence in Chicago, whose mayor is his former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
“Vast majority of criminals get their guns either illegally or from family or friends, so background checks is not something that’s gonna affect them, is it?” interjected Cooper, attempted to realign Obama’s focus towards an analysis of his proposals and their effectiveness in reducing criminal violence involving firearms.
Obama repeated his previous claim that he respected the Second Amendment. No explanation was provided as to the philosophical underpinnings of this declared respect.
Obama lamented that firearms were unique in what he described as their absence of regulation similar to automobiles, medications, or children’s toys. No mention was made of their unique status in the Constitution when compared with the other aforementioned goods.
Following the event, Cooper told his colleague Don Lemon about his views of political dialogue.
"I'm a big believer in more discussion, rather than less discussion," said Cooper.
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