CNN Headline News

CNN Headline News host S.E. Cupp used her cable news platform this weekend to push for several gun control laws, describing herself as someone who defended the 2nd Amendment, spoke out against gun control, and spoke up in support of the NRA and its members in the past. After the recent attacks in California, Texas, and Ohio, however, Cupp now says we must do “something about guns”.

In front of a TV screen reading “United States of Hate”, Cupp said it’s time to be honest about “the role that guns play in this culture of hate in America.”

“It is too easy for too many sick people to get their hands on guns. People with the kind of hate in their hearts like the El Paso or Dayton shooters, the Sutherland Springs and Charleston church shooters, Las Vegas, San Bernardino shooters, I could go on and on, they’re not going to be cured of their hate by taking away their guns, but we also don’t need to just hand them a killing device and a hundred rounds of ammo and say ‘please don’t do anything bad with this.'”

Cupp went on to detail the kinds of gun laws she says she now supports, and believes would disarm or prevent killers from obtaining firearms.

“Universal background checks, gun violence restraining orders, raising the age to purchase a firearm to 21, banning 100-round drums, fixing our NICS system, investing in mental health inside our schools, things things cannot wait. I am so sick and tired of participating in this predictable cycle of politics where a mass shooting happens, the Left calls for new gun laws, some meaningful and some unproductive, and the Right yells ‘slippery slope’ and hides behind the Constitution.”

What exactly is “hiding behind the Constitution”? Is Cupp saying it’s preferable to treat the Constitution as just words on an old piece of paper, able to be ignored or disregarded whenever we want? Yeah, actually that does sound like what she’s saying.

“Look, I love the Constitution but it’s still a document. It’s meant to protect human beings. Real people. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What happiness are we protecting if our kids are afraid to go to school? What liberty are we protecting if we don’t feel safe at the mall or walking down the street? What lives are we protecting when we arm a 21-year old white supremacist with 100 rounds of ammo only so he can go shoot up dozens of people at a Walmart?”

Cupp also accused gun owners, Republicans, and the NRA of not being emotional enough about these active assailant attacks.

“This is an emotional issue. How could it not be? In fact, it should be more emotional. And to my friends in the Republican party, at the NRA, on the side of gun rights, if you’re not emotional about this, join me, won’t you? Let’s start with emotion. There’s a lot we can accomplish if we start as humans, not NRA lobbyists or gun control lobbyists. Not special interest groups or politicians but as humans. Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, friends, colleagues, because we have everything to lose if we don’t.”

To say that if you don’t support gun control laws you must not care isn’t just an emotional argument, it’s emotionally manipulative. Ironically, as Cupp talks about coming together as humans, she dehumanizes those not on board with gun control laws.

Back when Cupp was speaking up against new gun control laws, was it because she didn’t care about the victims in these attacks, or the victims of gang violence on the streets of Chicago, Baltimore, St. Louis, and Detroit? When she was attending the NRA Annual Meetings (full disclosure: I’ve met Cupp at several NRA meetings and we’ve always had good conversations), was it because she didn’t give a damn about the victims of domestic violence? Or was there some other reason why she didn’t jump to support every new gun control law as it was introduced?

I am a husband, and a father, and I first became aware of the problems with trying to combat evil with a bunch of gun laws when I fell in love with a single mom in Camden, New Jersey back when it was the murder capitol of the United States. There was an evening fairly early on in our relationship when we were speaking on the phone one night; me in Oklahoma City and she in her apartment in Camden. I heard gunshots ring out on the other end of the phone as we were talking, and then silence. Even as I screamed her name into the phone, I heard nothing in response. I spent a sleepless night wondering if she was okay, not knowing her address and unable to contact police in Camden to check on her. The following morning I called her work, intent on asking a co-worker or anyone who answered to go check on her. Instead, she answered the phone.

As a wave of relief washed over me, I asked her what had happened. She said she had fallen asleep while we were talking. How on earth could she fall asleep while people were shooting right outside her apartment, I asked her.

“This is Camden,” she replied matter-of-factly. The sound of gunfire in Camden was as common as the sound of crickets in the countryside. She said she didn’t even consciously hear them for the most part.

I didn’t know much about guns, the 2nd Amendment, or gun control at that point, but I did have the feeling that New Jersey had a lot of gun control laws on the books. As it turns out, those laws didn’t do squat to prevent gang members and bad actors from having a gun, but they made it realistically impossible for the woman I would marry to get a gun to protect herself and her kids.

She relied on public transportation back then, which meant taking entire days off from work to take the bus downtown and try to get a pistol purchase permit or a firearms identification card in order to legally purchase a gun. Even if she had been able to do that, she would’ve broken the law if she had taken public transportation to a gun store, bought a gun, and then tried to take it home on the bus. The subsidized housing she lived in banned the possession of firearms, so she would have been risking eviction if her gun had been discovered. And there’s no way a single mom in Camden would have received a concealed carry license so she could have protected her kids as they walked to and from the bus stop. The laws on the books were insurmountable barriers for a single mom like her, but they were no impediment at all for the guys in her neighborhood willing to ignore them.

I can assure S.E. Cupp that it is possible to live in a place where the average citizen can’t exercise their 2nd Amendment rights and still have their kids afraid to go to school, to walk down the street, or to go to the store. Go talk to good people in bad neighborhoods in states like New Jersey, Maryland, California, and Massachusetts and they’ll tell you about living in fear. Go ask David French about the threats to his family by white supremacists, and ask him if he thinks sweeping gun control laws will help or hurt his ability to protect his family. Go ask the family of Carol Bowne if New Jersey’s gun control laws stopped a domestic abuser from being violent, or prevented a good woman from protecting herself.

The truth is the gun control debate is inherently an emotional one, no matter how many facts, figures, data points, or legal citations either side might make. One side believes that more gun control laws will prevent these horrific incidents of violence from occurring. The other side believes that more gun control laws will more likely prevent good people from protecting themselves instead.

Neither side wants to see violence. The debate isn’t between one side that wants to stop these active assailant attacks and one side that wants to see them continue. The debate isn’t between one side who loves their children and one side who loves their guns. The debate isn’t about who cares more, or who grieves more. The debate, for me anyway, is over whether or not these gun proposals are constitutional, enforceable, and effective at stopping bad actors without also stopping good people like a single mom in Camden from protecting herself and her kids. If S.E. Cupp wants to have that conversation, I’m more than willing to be a part of it.