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Dan Rather Declares 'There's No Excuse to Have an Assault Weapon'

On his Tuesday night town hall-style show, CNN's Piers Morgan openly pushed for more gun control and liberal journalist Dan Rather chimed in that "there's no excuse to have an assault weapon."

Morgan determined that civilians don't need high-capacity magazines. "So what do you need them for? You don't need them to defend yourself. You're going to spray gun people who come to steal a television set, is he?"

[Video below. Audio here.]

"Are you going to go hunting with 100 bullets in a magazine, blow a deer to smithereens?" Morgan sneered.

Conservative guest Grover Norquist quickly found himself on an ideological island later in the show, as Rather and guest Bishop Nikkieli Demone joined Piers Morgan in pushing for more gun control.

"I agree with you, Dan Rather. And I agree with you. There is no need to have these high-powered assault weapons," Demone maintained.

"What many Americans don't realize is many countries around the world have brought in tough gun control, Japan, Australia, Britain and others. And the statistics for gun murder and for gun suicide dramatically come down when you have it. It's just a fact," Morgan insisted.

And Morgan even admitted that his "town hall" audience was slanted towards Independents and Democrats:

"At the top of the show, I asked my studio audience, who I will say from the top are pretty skewed towards Democrats and Independents – not many Republicans in the house tonight, apart from Grover who I think speaks for thousands of them anyway."

He then asked his "slanted" audience to grade President Obama's first term. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of the grades given were "B" or above:

"And I just asked them all to put a grade up on how the President's doing, as if he was back at college, A, B, C, D or F. And here are the results. I've got them here, actually. So As 13, Bs 32, Cs 10, Ds 1, F 3. So not bad. But I guess probably representative of the whole country, really, where even a Democrat-skewed audience thinks, you know what, he could do better. It's probably what the overriding theme is."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on Piers Morgan Tonight on January 23 at 9:34 p.m. EST, is as follows:

[9:34]

PIERS MORGAN: And again, I repeat, I have no problem with the self-defense element of this. Do you believe – and I've had lots of gun rights people on the show of varying degrees of intellect, I guess, about this debate. Some choose just to abuse me. Others I found, actually present good arguments. Do you believe that there's compelling evidence that an assault weapons ban, if it removed the loopholes that were there last time, would have no effect, zero effect?

GROVER NORQUIST: Well, the government studies – the Justice Department studies about the previous gun ban said it had no effect. So we actually have some social science on this –  

MORGAN: But it was riddled with loopholes, as everybody knows. When you see, as has happened, the last five mass shootings in America all involving an AR-15 style military assault rifle – that's what they are. They are almost the same as an M-16. When you see that happen, do you not think there's a compelling argument to say, you know what, civilians don't need these things? And if it means that crazy people are going to get their hands on them easily, go to Wal-Mart or whatever they do, it's just time to take a humane action and remove them. I'd love the NRA to say something like that and say not the handguns, not this, but those, those killing machines we agree don't belong.

(...)

DAN RATHER: I want the record to show I have my great grandfather's shotgun, is the gun that I own. Look, this is one of those things. We have a cultural divide about a lot of things in this country. Big country, 320 million people, multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-religious. The good book says let us come reason together. This is what we need to do on the gun business.

Wide divergences of opinion. But with an assault rifle, with all due respect, I disagree with Grover. For an assault weapon, there's no excuse to have an assault weapon. And if President Obama wants to get serious, and I think he does about this, he's going to be limited to what he can pass. But some limit on assault rifles and some limit on the extreme magazine capacity that can go into those –

MORGAN: Nobody needs a 100-bullet magazine.

(Crosstalk)

MORGAN: A magazine alone, surely. The NRA could just say, we agree. Are you going to go hunting with 100 bullets in a magazine, blow a deer to smithereens?

(Laughter)

MORGAN: That's not sport. It's not hunting. So what do you need them for? You don't need them to defend yourself. You're going to spray gun people who come to steal a television set, is he? This is where I think the NRA missed a trick in terms of the debate. They could just give a bit that's obvious. Let me bring in somebody here now, Bishop Nikkieli Demone. You're one of the organizers of the march on Washington for gun control taking place on Saturday. You have a personal interest. Tell me about your family.

NIKKIELI DEMONE, senior pastor, Family of Faith Full Life Center: Thanks for having me here. I'm Bishop Nikkieli Demone. And this takes a personal turn for me because my father, shortly after I was born, was shot to death in a case of mistaken identity.

MORGAN: And you were shot, too?

DEMONE: I was not shot. I was not shot. My father was. My father was. I never got to know him. That's one. As a bishop and as an actor, in both instances, I've presided over funerals of children who have killed other children, 18 to age 13. The 13-year-old was just sitting on his front porch reading a book and was just hit by being in the right place –  

MORGAN: So what is the answer?

DEMONE: What is the answer? I agree with you, Dan Rather. And I agree with you. There is no need to have these high-powered assault weapons. There is no need for regular citizens to walk around with weapons that would decimate a body just by the bullet entering. Bullets that shatter upon impact? There's no need.

(...)

MORGAN: What many Americans don't realize is many countries around the world have brought in tough gun control, Japan, Australia, Britain and others. And the statistics for gun murder and for gun suicide dramatically come down when you have it. It's just a fact.

-- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center