From the 9PM EST/8PM CST Special Hour of AC360:
COOPER: We should keep in mind there's been nothing to clearly link the shooter to any of this rhetoric. In fact, he's registered as an independent. You heard Drew Griffin saying that a teacher actually described him as a liberal pot-smoker.
We're joined by Dana Loesch, Tea Party organizer and St. Louis radio host, and David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst and a former presidential advisor.
Dana, in the past, a lot of conservatives have blamed violent acts -- whether it's, you know, shooting up a school, on something like video games or music or certain teachings. If one can blame those things, why shouldn't one be willing to blame heated or violent political rhetoric?
DANA LOESCH, ORGANIZER, NATIONWIDE TEA PARTY COALITION: Well, and Anderson, I don't think that it was correct for anyone to blame any of the past violence in schools on music or on anything that they see in film because it -- it immediately passes responsibility of the parents to assume responsibility of their children and for the people who carry these acts out to assume responsibility.
And I apply the exact same thing to this instance. There's a lot of stuff that's said on both sides, but I don't -- both sides aren't speaking in literal terms. Both sides are free to make metaphorical analogies. And I think that they're also free to not be blamed when someone of their own will decides to commit a heinous act such as what we saw in Arizona.
COOPER: David, what about that? You served in White House when passed presidents, you know, have faced this kind of tragedies. Is examining political discourse in the wake of an incident like appropriate or without any evidence he was a follower of anyone in particular? Is it premature?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think we have to exercise great care here, Anderson. As you remember, there were many times during the election campaign, even going all the way back to the town halls, when we lamented on this program the incitements that were there.
People showing up with guns. Someone yelling out at a Palin rally, you know, kill him, kill him. And to his great credit, John McCain put a stop to that. But we worried about would this eventually lead to some sort of violence. And I think there's a continuing concern about that.
But having said that, which is very important, we need to deal with it. There is no connection, clear or vague, between that rhetoric and what this deranged fellow did. And in that sense, I think it's inappropriate to point fingers and make accusations, trying to link the rhetoric to this rampage.
If anything, the accusations and all of this name-calling is only further poisoning the discourse in this country and further polarizing us as a people. President Obama had it right today. We need to pull together as a people.
COOPER: We're going to have Bill Maher on in a moment for a couple of blocks. And he frankly does point the finger at the rhetoric and at the vitriol and at Republicans in particular.
Dana -- and we're going to have Dana and David on afterward to get to respond to what he said. But it does seem like some on the right now may be trying to score political points by accusing people on the left of trying to score political points.
I mean this whole thing, it's interesting in the last couple of days how quickly it became politicized.
LOESCH: Oh, it's very -- it's kind of shocking to sort of see it. And it's interesting to think that simply a conservative defending themselves against the charge of being called a murderer, as I've seen done with Sarah Palin, I've seen done with more people than I can count, including myself.
I myself have received threats in e-mail and been called a murderer from people who are trying to condemn this vitriolic rhetoric while also engaging in it at the same time. It makes no sense to me.
But the bottom line is that all of this is completely obscuring two massive points. Those two points are the fact that five people are dead including a child. And the second point is that this is in a long line of -- this is a trend. We see these lone wolf sort of antagonists over and over again. And nothing preemptive is done.
We find out after the fact that all these warning signs are there. Confessions all over the Internet, people from like -- with Jared Lee Loughner, the community college, his parents, friends were saying that he's been this -- been this way for incredibly long time. Nothing was done.
And so I think we need to just kind of start focusing on what can be done preemptively to identify this kind of stuff. He's been stalking her for three years and he's made a death threat before. Why was this allowed to happen?
COOPER: David, it does seem like in the wake of these things --
COOPER: -- that a lot of questions are always raised about whether it's on gun control or the mental health system. And yet it doesn't seem like much changes.
GERGEN: It doesn't. And I just wanted to ask, and you say something needs to be done. How is it possible that someone who is this unhinged, when so many people understood that he was in mental deterioration, that he could still walk into a gun store and buy, you know, .9 mm semiautomatic Glock handgun? And also then carry it concealed?
I mean that's -- if there's some cultural insanity here, it is the fact that we haven't put a stop to the capacity of these deranged young people to buy guns and then spray at people. It's just unbelievable.
LOESCH: It's not the -- I have to --
LOESCH: I have to disagree with you, Mr. Gergen, on that. It's not the gun law. It's the fact that he was refused from the military. He made a death threat before. And he had problems and was removed from community college. None of this was reported.
GERGEN: Do you think --
LOESCH: That has nothing to do with the gun laws on the book.
GERGEN: Do you think it's appropriate that he was able to buy a gun?
LOESCH: I think it's inappropriate the fact that you had his parents that knew about his behavior, the community college and the military --
GERGEN: Well, just answer the question. (CROSSTALK)
LOESCH: Well, do you think that those people are able to orchestrate the -- do you think those people should be able to decide who can and cannot get guns? These -- why wasn't this reported? If these had been reported, he wouldn't have been able to get one in the first place.
So the argument that there's some -- a problem with the law is irrelevant. The fact that if his behavior had been reported, he would not have been able to purchase a firearm. End of story.
COOPER: We're going to have more with David and Dana coming up. We'll talk more to both of you shortly.
COOPER: Welcome back to this special 9:00 edition of 360, the Terror in Tucson. We're joined again by Dana Loesch, Tea Party organizer and St. Louis radio host, and David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst, and a former presidential adviser.
Dana, you heard Bill Maher there. Obviously very pointed opinions. What did you think?
LOESCH: Well, I wasn't -- didn't Bill Maher -- wasn't he the one who was saying that said Obama wasn't gangster enough? I'm curious as to where that speech went.
Just a couple of quick thoughts that I got from listening tot his. First of all, if we're going to talk about Arizona gun laws, let's actually talk about it. In Arizona, you can't just give a mentally ill person a gun. It's called the prohibited possessor. It's part of the law.
If there's a person who presents a danger to themselves or someone else, pursuant to a court order, they can't get a firearm. So, no, the laws haven't been loosened.
Then let's talk about the gun culture as being respective to just Republicans. Harry Reid almost won an NRA endorsement over Sharron Angle in Nevada. In fact, the NRA took so much heat for it, it split conservatives in two. And it actually drove a lot of people to leave the NRA for the Gun Owners of America. He did photo ops at a huge gun range in Nevada and --
COOPER: You feel nothing needs to change in gun laws in the United States?
LOESCH: I think that there needs to be something different in terms of reporting people like this instance with Jared Lee Loughner. If he had been reported, if they had had a court order, he would not have been able to go in there. You don't change the laws. You be more alert and aware.
COOPER: David Gergen, for you, what did you think?
GERGEN: Well, Anderson, I'm not here to carry water for conservatives or Republicans. But that was so one sided, a few points have to be made on the other side. I'm very much for toughening the gun laws. And in fact, the Arizona law was loosened with regard to concealment. And Governor Brewer signed that into law.
But I also think for Bill Maher to call it the Assassin's Lobby is pretty deeply offensive to a whole lot of people. The idea that this guy was out on the streets because we cut back to a small government, that's not true. A lot of people today -- we changed our whole approach to institutionalization of people who are mentally unbalanced because we thought it was oppressive to have so many people locked up.
And there are going to be people walking around our streets -- they shouldn't have guns, but there are people walking around our streets. As long as they're not dangerous, we have come to accept that as a society.
But I also thought to paint the Republicans with a broad brush and say they're all conservative loonies, in effect, and where are the moderates? Where are the adults? Give me a break. Come on. I just think that's unfair. Back in the '60s, people used to argue that about the Democratic party when there was all the unrest in the streets. There were a lot of good people who were trying to tone things down. There are a lot of good people in the Republican party who want to tone things down here as well.
COOPER: Dana, it seems like after Virginia Tech, schools made a better effort and a more concerted effort to look at the mental health of their students. It seems like the community college in this case did see this guy -- see the problem and rectify it. They got him off campus. They got him out of the classroom.
But it seems like after that -- and his parents were notified of that. They were in the meeting where they were told he has mental health issues. We don't know their response. We don't know if they sought help. We haven't heard from them. But it seems like after the school got out of the picture, he kind of dropped off the radar.
LOESCH: Right. I have to say how much I appreciate Mr. Gergen's comments there. It was spot on and I agree with everything he said. I agree. This is -- the community college really should have -- they honestly -- when you have students that are so terrified of this guy, and they write about his disruptiveness and how they are absolutely fearful of him, and the teacher even had some fear of the guy -- that should have been reported, especially when you were all they would have had to do is --
Look, all they would have had to do was look at him. They could have looked -- do a simple Google search. Look how many bloggers found that stuff easily.
COOPER: We're out of time.
LOESCH: This would have been found out.
COOPER: We're going to have more with Dana, more with David Gergen in the 10:00 hour. Guys, thanks very much.
From the 10PM-12AM EST/9-11PM CST edition of AC360:
COOPER: Well, the tone of political rhetoric in general is something that Congresswoman Giffords herself has been concerned with. The night before she was shot, she sent an e-mail to Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, a Republican, congratulating him for being named director of Harvard University's Institute of Politics. This line was in the e-mail. Quote, "We need to figure out how to tone our rhetoric and partisanship down."
Earlier, I spoke with Dana -- excuse me, Dana Loesch, Republican -- radio host and Tea Party organizer, and senior political analyst David Gergen, as well as political analyst Roland Martin.
COOPER: Roland, the local sheriff in Arizona pointed a finger at political rhetoric. A lot of Democrats have been echoing that since the shooting. A lot of Republicans pushing back.
Given there's no evidence this kid was particularly political but plenty of evidence he was mentally unstable, is it appropriate to be using this shooting to blame politicians?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it is appropriate for us to examine the kind of rhetoric we have in this country right now. Here's what I found to be interesting. Americans always want for something to happen before we react. I think, even though there's nothing directly related to the political rhetoric in this particular case, we should be saying, "Wait a minute. How hot is it right now when people are getting death threats? You get people are going after folks' families? When you see the kind of letters and e-mails?"
So I think the opportunity to examine ourselves is appropriate, even though there's no direct correlation.
COOPER: Dana, is this an opportunity to examine ourselves? Is that what's been happening?
DANA LOESCH, RADIO HOST/TEA PARTY ORGANIZER: Well, I think that the rhetoric -- the rhetoric has been the same as it has always been. Nothing has changed from now from the '60s until now. Everything has always been the same.
What we have to realize is that people can say what they want to on both sides, but we cannot excuse the fact that someone chooses to willfully interpret or perceive things how they want to. And again, there's no evidence at all whatsoever that this guy listened to talk radio or watched news programs on the right or the left.
COOPER: David, what about that? I mean, Dana raises the point that it's always been the same kind of rhetoric. I mean, if you look back to history going back to, you know, Revolutionary War days, politics has always been a rough-and-tumble business in the United States.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It has been rough-and- tumble, Anderson, but I think it's time to call (ph) the finger- pointing and the accusations about this particular incident.
But there might be a silver lining here. And that is I do think it's an opportunity, to go to Roland's point, an opportunity for President Obama and the Republican leadership to come together and jointly try to sort of see if there are ways they can get everybody to calm down, to tone down the rhetoric in our political discourse.
We ought to be doing that, regardless of whether Tucson happened or not. It would be healthy for the -- for the governess of this country and for a sense of pride again, once again, and a sense of unity.
And I do think that John Boehner, just like President Obama, they both handled this well so far. And I do think they could come together from both sides of the aisle. This will be a moment for real bipartisanship, to try to get us pulled together.
COOPER: Dana, a lot of people have raised the issue, again, about gun control in this. Should this guy have been able to get a gun? A guy with a -- you know, people in his school -- he gets kicked out of school, mental instability. He's able to pass an instant background check. LOESCH: I go -- I go to my original point, what I said earlier, Anderson. And that is, again, if his behavior had been reported, there's no way he was going to walk into a firearms store and purchase the firearm. It's not going to happen.
But there -- the ball has been dropped, and it doesn't have to do with the law. Because the laws are incredibly strong enough already. The problem here is the fact that there's no awareness. There's no alertness. People should -- there was ample opportunity for people to say something about this kid's behavior or this young man's behavior, rather. But nothing was done. Nothing...
MARTIN: There was a process. The university had a process, but the question then becomes what do they then do? Who do they call? According to our system, unless a judge declares this individual mentally ill...
COOPER: Yes, seems like...
MARTIN: ... it's easy to say, Well, report it. He can't get a permit.
LOESCH: Then pursue it.
MARTIN: Not true.
LOESCH: If it's important enough to change the law about it, it's definitely important enough to pursue it.
COOPER: David, where do you come down on the gun issue?
GERGEN: I think it's insane that people like this are able to get guns. How many incidents does it take like this for us to realize that people who should not have guns are able to get them too easily?
I'm sorry. The law has been loosened in Arizona, unfortunately. And he could carry a concealed. What are we doing allowing a 22 year old to carry a concealed weapon around like this? He would be able to walk into a bar. I'm sorry. The laws are too loose. They are not too tight.
LOESCH: No. No, no, no, no, no.
GERGEN: We have lowered the standards. The NRA has been behind this.
GERGEN: And I understand the need for hunters, and I'm all for that.
LOESCH: I reject that.
GERGEN: But I'm sorry, Dana, there are people who disagree with you. If it takes licensing to... LOESCH: No, statistics show that when you enact concealed carry, the crime rate plummets. Show me a county, prove to me, show me a county where concealed carry has been implemented where the crime rates haven't dropped. I put the burden of proof on you.
GERGEN: ... Tucson, Arizona.
COOPER: David, I want you to give the final thought. But then we've got to go.
GERGEN: Tucson, Arizona, if that doesn't make the case, I don't know what does.
COOPER: David Gergen, Dana Loesch, Roland Martin, appreciate it. Thank you.
MARTIN: Thank you.
From the 01.10.2011 edition of Anderson Cooper 360: