This busy holiday travel weekend, we sit down with Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on how to protect the homeland in the wake of recent terrorist attacks across the globe.
Feinstein, Johnson debate stricter gun control; Netanyahu on dangerous times in the Middle East
Written by Fox News Sunday / Published July 22, 2012 / Fox News Sunday
Special Guests: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Ron Johnson, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," July 22, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace.
It was the largest mass shooting in American history and there are still plenty of unanswered questions.
WALLACE: What happened? Why did the shooter do it? And is there any way to stop these massacres?
We'll get the latest from the crime scene and we'll talk with Senator Dianne Feinstein, a strong supporter of gun control, and Senator Ron Johnson, a gun rights advocate.
And then, civil war rages in Syria, while a terrorist targets Israeli tourists.
We'll discuss dangerous times in the Middle East with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu live, only on "Fox News Sunday."
And a campaign calls a brief truce in the wake of the Colorado shootings.
We'll ask our panel if gun control will now become an issue in this election.
All right now on "Fox News Sunday."
And hello again from Fox News in Washington. We'll talk with our guests in a moment. But first, here is the latest from Aurora, Colorado.
Authorities have cleared the suspect's booby trapped apartment. They are gathering evidence, which includes 30 explosive devices and a computer hard drive. Police say 12 people are dead, while 30 are still hospitalized, seven of them in critical condition.
Twenty-four-year-old James Holmes is in solitary confinement and will be represented by a public defender when he's arraigned Monday.
For more on all this, including President Obama's trip to Colorado today, let's bring in our Fox News colleague Jon Scott who was at the theater where the attack occurred -- Jon.
JON SCOTT, FOX NEWS: Chris, we have new and eerie photos of the suspect, 24-year-old James Holmes, and they show him with his hair dyed red. Now, that's significant because after the New York City chief was briefed on what happened here. He told reporters that the suspect, the shooter, had red dyed hair. He also told arresting officers that he was the Joker, a nemesis of the Batman character.
Apparently, the dye job photos went up on a dating Web site in the days immediately before the shooting. Along with the question, will you visit me in prison? A couple of the clues police are looking at right now.
But they also have a mountain of new evidence, they say, after successfully neutralizing the incendiary threat in Holmes' apartment.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
SCOTT: Using small explosive charges, they dismantled what they call a sophisticated booby trap left behind in the suspect's home, a nest of trip wires, flammable liquid and other devices designed, police say, to kill the first person going through the door and then set a raging fire in the apartment. Because that fire did not occur, the investigators were able to comb through place.
Last night, we saw them bringing out bags of potential evidence, including a computer tower. Police believe these attacks were planned for months, and they will be searching for further confirmation.
Across this grieving community, memorials and vigils are now a daily occurrence, remembering the 12 dead, praying for the scores of wounded.
President Obama has decided to make his way here to meet with the victim's families to offer some words of comfort and we hope and expect to lift up a grieving nation -- Chris.
WALLACE: Jon Scott -- reporting from Aurora, Colorado -- Jon, thanks for that.
Joining us now discus what happened in Colorado and whether there is any better ways to protect Americans from a twisted mind are Senator Dianne Feinstein, a longtime advocate of stricter gun control, and Senator Ron Johnson, a strong supporter of gun rights.
Senators, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-CALIF.: Thank you, Chris.
SEN. RON JOHNSON, R-WIS.: Good morning, Chris.
WALLACE: Senator Feinstein, let's go with the big picture. Another case of someone slaughtering innocent people on a college campus, in a restaurant, now, in a movie theater. What are your thoughts?
FEINSTEIN: My thoughts are these -- pure and simple -- weapons of war don't belong on the streets. This is a powerful weapon. He had a hundred round drum. This is a man who planned it, who went in and his purpose was to kill as many people as he could in a sold out theater.
I think -- you know, we've got to sit down and really come to grips with what is sold to the average citizen in America. I have no problem with people being licensed and buying a firearm. But these are weapons that you are only going to be using to kill people in close combat. That's the purpose of that weapon.
You can put a hellfire switch on it. You can fire semi-automatic very rapidly. This drum was huge. He had a hundred bullets in it, and he went out to kill a lot of people. I think that these weapons ought to be stopped. I think the sale and transfer. That's what my bill did for 10 years and since my bill expired. What happened was, there have been --
WALLACE: The assault weapons ban.
FEINSTEIN: The assault weapons ban. There have been 452 instances, 650 people have been shot, 300 have died of those 650. And it's unnecessary.
WALLACE: Let me bring in Senator Johnson.
The Supreme Court has spoken. The Constitution means when it says -- when it says that Americans have a right to bear arms.
But let's look at this case. Does the suspect James Holmes -- does he have a constitutional right to buy an AR-15 assault rifle, along with a magazine that holds a hundred rounds that makes it so easy to commit this kind of slaughter?
JOHNSON: First of all, Chris, this is a horrible tragedy and our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and the community of aurora.
The fact of the matter is, though, he's sick and demented, you know, evil individual. And, unfortunately, I don't think society can keep sick and demented individuals from obtaining any type of weapon to kill people. I mean, somebody who wants to purposely harm another individual is going to find a method of doing it.
Case in point, if you wanted to kill people in that theater what was the first he did? He walked in the doors and he threw some incendiary devices. He could have made some other explosives.
This isn't an issue about guns. This is just really an issue about sick, demented individuals. And it's a tragedy and I don't think there is a solution here in Washington to solve this problem.
WALLACE: I was going to ask you about that. I mean, what -- is there anything that we as a society can do to protect ourselves from these kind of twisted minds?
JOHNSON: Unfortunately, I believe so. I mean, I wish there was, I wish I could wave a magic wand and make this tragedy go away. I wish I could wave a magic and pass a law to prevent something like this from the future.
But the fact of the matter is, I really don't think there is, other than look to our families, look to our communities, starting with our education system. You know, we've got to re-instill values in what we're teaching our children.
WALLACE: Senator Feinstein, you were a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors back in 1978 when one of your former colleagues and we have some of the horrific film here, one of your former colleagues shot and killed the mayor, as well as fellow supervisor Harvey Milk, and you have been a strong supporter of gun control ever since.
But most of your fellow Democrats have deserted you on this issue over the last 20 years. How come?
FEINSTEIN: Well, it's a hard issue because the gun organizations go out to defeat people in states where they can and they pour a lot of money in. And some people lost office after they voted for the legislation before.
But, you know, I have respect for Senator Johnson, but let me say I believe that people use these weapons, because they can get them. I believe that a revolver and a rifle and shot gun isn't going to do the damage. It's the big clips. It's a hundred rounds. You cannot get him to dislodge the gun because he fires so rapidly and has so many bullets.
Why do you need this? You don't need it for hunting. Most states have limits on the number of bullets you can have for a clip. You don't need it for self defense.
Why do you need it? Why do we make it available?
WALLACE: It's a very good question. Let me --
FEINSTEIN: Why can't we go into a gun show and buy any of these .50 calibers?
WALLACE: Let me let Senator Johnson answer it. Why do you need those?
JOHNSON: First of all, criminals will always get whatever they want.
WALLACE: Answer the specific question.
JOHNSON: I mean, for example, the left used the term assault rifles. They're really talking about semi-automatic weapons that really are use in hunting. That's what happens in Wisconsin. These are rifles that people use in hunting.
And just the fact of the matter is, is that this really is not an issue of guns. Again, we are talking about sick people doing things that you simply can't prevent.
It's really an issue of freedom. I swore an oath to defend the Constitution. And part of that Constitution is the Second Amendment that guarantees the right to bear arms. These types of laws infringe upon that right and I just -- I don't agree with them.
WALLACE: Let me ask you, we're not talking about hand guns. Does something that would limit magazines and carry 100 rounds, would that infringe on the constitutional right?
JOHNSON: I believe so. People will talk about unusually lethal weapons. I mean, that could be potentially a discussion you can have.
But the fact of the matter is, there are magazines, 30-round magazines that are just common all over the place, and you simply can't keep these weapons out of the hands of sick, demented individuals that want to do harm.
WALLACE: Let me --
JOHNSON: And when you try and do it, you restrict our freedoms.
WALLACE: Let me flip around though here, because I've heard more and more people, surprising number of people, to me in the last couple of days, say the problem isn't too many guns, it's too few. And if somebody in that theater had been armed, they could have stopped the shooting --
FEINSTEIN: Well --
WALLACE: Let me -- stop carnage, taken down the shooter and defended themselves. Do you agree with that?
JOHNSON: Well, it's certainly one of the rationales behind conceal and carry, where criminals actually have to be a little concerned before they commit a criminal act that maybe somebody could stop them. And I think that is the truth. That somebody, a responsible individual had been carrying a weapon, maybe -- maybe -- they could have prevented the death and injuries. I mean, that's just the truth.
FEINSTEIN: And maybe you could have had a firefight and killed many more people. These are people in a theater. This is a --
WALLACE: You had a massacre as it with him undefended, Senator.
FEINSTEIN: That's right. That's right, because he had such a big clip.
WALLACE: Now, what if someone had a gun and been able to stop him.
FEINSTEIN: I would be very surprised if hunters in your state hunted with a 100-round ammunition feeding devices. In the bill I did, we exempted 375 rifles and shot guns by name so that no weapon used for hunting was affected at all. It just the military style assault weapon.
WALLACE: OK. Go ahead, Senator.
JOHNSON: But the result of that ban, it didn't solve many problems. I mean, we've had bans here in Washington, D.C. We've had bans in Chicago.
And you can argue statistics, but I take statistic and I say it has no measurable affect. You could actually argue this made matters worse.
FEINSTEIN: I don't agree.
JOHNSON: I don't want to get in to statistics. We are talking about basic freedoms in the Constitution Second Amendment, and I am a strong defender and believer in that Constitution.
WALLACE: I want to talk about the politics of this, get back with you, Senator Feinstein. The Brady gun control campaign named after James Brady, Reagan's press secretary who was shot in the assassination attempt in 1981, has given President Obama an F for his failure to lead on this issue. And on Friday, the day of the shooting, Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, came out and said he is going to offer no new policy as a result of this shooting.
Are you disappointed in the president?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I would hope there would be a sane national conversation on guns.
WALLACE: Has the president right on this?
FEINSTEIN: President Bush said he supported the continuation of assault weapons legislation. President Obama, Mr. Romney, I think they should give it a lot of consideration.
I think this is a bad time to embrace a new subject, but there has been no action. There has been no action because there is no outrage out there. People haven't rallied forward.
They -- when I did the legislation, I had Lloyd Bentsen, secretary of the treasury, standing with me, chiefs of police, police officers, sheriffs, because one out of the five police officers is killed with an assault weapon. There was a tremendous amount of support and even then, it was very tough. So it's a lot tougher now because the gun organizations have become so strong.
WALLACE: I'm going to give you the final word, Senator Johnson. Are these massacres horrible as they are and people here in Washington are looking for solutions, are they just a fact of life and death in America?
JOHNSON: Well, I hate to say it, but they probably are. Listen, I understand Senator Feinstein has seen gun violence up close and personal. I don't doubt her sincerity for a moment.
But I also, I really would hate to see a tragedy like this used to promote a political agenda to reduce American's freedoms. Enough have been taken away and we don't want to lose anymore.
WALLACE: We're going to leave there. Senator Feinstein and Senator Johnson --
FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: -- I want to thank you both very much for coming in today to discuss unfortunately another one of these terrible massacres. Thank you both.
Up next, we'll talk with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the civil war in Syria and how his country will respond to that terror attack on Israeli tourists.
WALLACE: With civil war raging in Syria and Israel charging Iran was behind the terror bombing that killed five tourists, we are joined now live from Jerusalem by the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mr. Prime Minister, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: Good to be with you, Chris.
WALLACE: Let's start with the civil war in Syria. How much control does President Assad have over his country at this moment?
NETANYAHU: Well, before I answer that, let me just offer my condolences on behalf of all the people of Israel to the bereaved families from this massacre in Denver and to the United -- entire American people. I think if any people on Earth that empathize with the Americans at this time, it's the Israelis because we've been through so much of this and you've always stood by us in our grief and we stand with you.
Now, you ask about, does Assad have control. Look, I think the regime will go. I think it's a question -- I don't know if its days or weeks or months, but I don't think it's sustainable and I think it will go, and less concerned with what replaces it. But I am more concerned with the seam line (ph) of what could happen to those stocks of chemical weapons and those deadly rockets and missiles when there is no government in Syria. That's my principal concern.
WALLACE: Well, let me follow up on that because your defense minister, Ehud Barak, said the other day that Israel is prepared to seize control of those weapons if there is chaos in Syria. How will you decide whether it is time for Israel to intervene, cross the border into Syria and seize those weapons?
NETANYAHU: We hope we don't have to and I didn't necessarily -- we didn't necessarily consider seizing those weapons. There are other possibilities.
But I think this is a real problem. Can you imagine Hezbollah, the people who are conducting with Iran all these terror attacks around the world -- can you imagine that they would have chemical weapons? It's is like al Qaeda having chemical weapons. It's something that is not acceptable to us and not acceptable to the United States and to any peaceable country in the world.
So, I think that this is -- something will have to act, to stop if the need arises. And the need might arise if there is a regime collapse, but not a regime change. That is you go into chaos and all of these sundry sites are left basically unguarded. Hezbollah can come and pick it or some other terrorist organizations or groups can come and pick at it. And that is something that is a great concern to me, as I'm sure it is to the United States.
WALLACE: Would you prefer that the United States and other Western powers act to secure these weapons? Do you feel that Israel is going to have to protect itself?
NETANYAHU: I think this is a common concern. We have to see if there is a common action to address that concern. But in any case, we certainly don't want to be exposed to chemical weapons falling in the hands of Hezbollah or other terror groups, because that's something we can't be indifferent to. It's a great threat. We'll have to consider our action.
But do I preclude, do I seek action? No. Do I preclude it? No.
WALLACE: Let's turn, Mr. Prime Minister, to the terrible terror bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists this week.
WALLACE: Have you been able to identify the bomber and have you been established clear links between that bomber and Hezbollah and Iran?
NETANYAHU: The answer is yes to all those questions. That is certainly to Hezbollah yes. We do know who it is. I mean, the whole world can see who it is.
We do know that it's Hezbollah. We would have known that, you have known, or been able to surmise that. But you know from Cyprus a week ago, Hezbollah operative was caught preparing exactly the same attack, exactly the same time. You know, going to an airplane to attack, collecting information for an impending attack on Israeli tourist who get off of the plane and are about to board a bus.
So, exactly the same modus operandi and was exposed in Cyprus. Fortunately there, the terrorist was caught and he admitted he worked in behalf of Hezbollah, Iran's long terror arm as you know. Now, that you could have surmised intelligently from the proximity of these two events and the identical nature of the planned attack and the executed attack.
Here, I'm not surmising. I am giving you something that I know as the prime minister of Israel, because I know, based on absolutely rock solid intelligence, this is Hezbollah and this is something that Iran knows about very, very well.
WALLACE: Do you know -- you say we all know who the bomber was. Yes, we have seen a picture of the bomber, but do you know specifically his identity?
NETANYAHU: Well, that's being pieced together right now. But we know with absolutely certainty, absolutely certainty and not a thread of doubt that this was a Hezbollah operation.
WALLACE: If I may ask -- if I may ask, sir, there is a question on the part of the Obama administration, can you give us any of that evidence, hard evidence?
NETANYAHU: We certainly give it to the appropriate agencies, friendly agencies in the world.
WALLACE: You have called this an Iranian terror attack and said that Israel will respond with force. Will the retaliation be linked to Israel's possible action to stop Iran's nuclear program? Or are those two separate matters, retaliation for the response, the terror attack, and any action that you might take to stop Iran's nuclear program?
NETANYAHU: You just asked me several questions, so let me put them in context and I'll each one as best as I can.
The first is the context of the unfolding terror attacks that have taken place over the last two years, led by Iran, sometimes using -- very often using Hezbollah, its terror proxy from Lebanon which it arms and funds and equips and so on. And instructs by the way.
So, what they have done over the last two years and increasingly in the last year, and in increasingly in the last few months, is to either carry out attacks -- most of which have been foiled -- or lay the ground, the foundations for future attacks in five continents and about 24 countries that we count, and the numbers might be bigger and that's a worldwide terror campaign, directed at us and often including others. For example, there was an Iranian attack, planned attack on the Saudi ambassador to the United States. They have taken away several senators with them. They don't particularly care. It's very brazen.
How could Iran be doing this and getting away with murder literally? It's because nobody names and shames them.
So, the reason I'm on this program, Mike, is to name and shame, because Iran is using terror the way anybody uses terror. You use it in stealth. You hide behind somebody else, in order not to be given responsibility for the heinous acts. And the same is done with Hezbollah.
Well, we now have five Iranians in custody, we have two Iranians -- two Hezbollah operatives, I believe, in custody. Some of them were found with explosives across the myriad of countries. It's them. We know it.
And it's time for all countries to point the finger at the country behind these attacks and the group that helps them and that's Iran, with Iran's proxy Hezbollah. That's the first thing you have to do. Expose those who stand behind the terror.
The second is the question that you asked is exact a price for terror, because terrorism continues as long as terrorism pays. So, you have to make sure terrorism it doesn't pay. Exposing it is the first step to make it not pay.
And the last thing you asked about their nuclear program. I think -- I think these acts, these attacks on a busload of tourists, including a pregnant mother, tells you what kind of people we are dealing with. Now, imagine these people who are capable of doing anything, imagine them possessing nuclear weapons. People who gun down innocent people, will send suicide bombers who could block the straits of Iran, who threaten to annihilate Israel, who murdered diplomats, who have taken over your embassy, you want these people to have atomic bombs? I think -- I think this is a reminder, this wave of terror attacks, that the world's most dangerous regime must not be allowed to have the world's most dangerous weapons.
WALLACE: But the question is this -- you've got the West, the United States and our allies working with this regime to try to make a deal to stop the nuclear program. If they stop the nuclear program, would you be satisfied with a deal that leaves this regime, that this leaves the mullahs in power? Is that good enough?
NETANYAHU: Yes, if you stop the program. But so far, all these talks and this round of talks in the last few months follows the previous round of talks that hasn't stopped the regime one bit, not an inch. I mean, since the previous rounds of talks.
They have enriched material for five nuclear bombs, five nuclear bombs, that is 70 percent of the enriched material that they need, which is low grade uranium enriched. They are continuing to enrich with one bomb. They're getting very close to the 20 percent. That's the higher enrichment necessary to get 90 percent of the way to the first bomb.
So, they are basically thumbing their nose at the international community, the leading powers that are called P5-plus-1. And they are basically saying, we can talk, we can delay and we can deceive and while we continue to race towards atomic weapons. So, that's effectively what's happening.
WALLACE: Presidential candidate Mitt Romney travels to Israel next week. You have known each other since 1976 when you both work for the Boston consulting group. He says you two almost speak in short hand because you have such a close relationship.
He has promised to do exactly the opposite of President Obama when it comes to security in the Middle East. Do you understand what that means?
NETANYAHU: Well, you are not going to draw me into your politics because I have enough of mine. We can exchange notes about my politics as you want to off camera, but I'm not going to get drawn into that.
I will say this, President Obama said Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, that he said that containment is not an option, and that Israel must have the capacity to defend itself, by itself against any threat. Well, these are obviously principles that I agree with and I think that the -- it's in our common interest to make sure that Iran doesn't get nuclear weapons.
But the jury is out on all of us, because the real thing -- the real question is not stated policy but actual results on the ground.
WALLACE: Briefly, what do you think of Mitt Romney? And what do you think of his trip to Israel?
NETANYAHU: I think that you're far too wise a journalist to think that I'm going to get into your field of American politics. But I will say that I will receive Mitt Romney with the same openness that I received another presidential candidate, then-Senator Barack Obama, when he came almost four years ago, almost the same time in the campaign, to Israel. We -- Israel has -- enjoys bipartisan support, both Democrats and Republicans, and we extend bipartisan hospitality to both Democrats and Republicans.
WALLACE: Well, you are a skilled interviewee on television. So, I'm going to tell you, you have two minutes for this final answer.
Israel has always lived in a tough neighborhood. There's no question about that. But at least it was stable. And you knew who Assad was and his father and Mubarak.
When you look at the changing landscape in the Middle East now, is the so-called Arab Spring good or bad for Israel?
NETANYAHU: Well, the question is what kind of season is this? Because in fact, what is happening is there have been a tide of -- mostly, not always -- there are some exceptions, for example in Libya, it's a welcome change, welcome exception. But in general, there's been this cascade of Islamic regimes that conduct the first election but you're not sure about the next election and what's in between, because democracy -- real democracy is something that is not particularly known here and not particularly well-observed.
If we had that, we would have nothing to fear because I think that that would be very good for peace. It would reflect the needs of all the people.
I can't tell you where the Middle East is going. Probably, the years of stability, the decades of stability that we had with Egypt, you can't guarantee that they'll continue. I appreciate the fact that the United States demands, or expects, as we do, that the peace treaty will be maintained.
Syria -- I know that Iran and Hezbollah, who were supporting Syria, including in the act of killing, really don't want to see a regime change, and who knows what will happen when that happens.
But I can tell you this, Mike. The Middle East is unstable because it doesn't have the political philosophy of the liberal democracy that would underpin the Arab Spring. So we may be in for a rougher ride, and we'll have to rough it out and be very strong, very resolute and very, very steady. And I think we'll be all that.
WALLACE: Mr. Prime Minister, I want to thank you so much for talking with us. You probably don't realize you mistakenly call would me Mike a couple of times in this interview. I want to say he did many interviews with you over the years, so...
NETANYAHU: Did I say that?
WALLACE: So have I. But let me just say, these days, it warms my heart. So...
... thank you very much. Always good to speak with you, sir.
NETANYAHU: It's the passing of generations and something that I've experienced, too, so forgive me. I hope I haven't offended you.
WALLACE: Oh, no, not at all. And as I said to you, I'm so sorry about the loss of your father as well.
Prime Minister, thank you. Please come back.
NETANYAHU: Thank you.
WALLACE: Up next, that horrific movie theater rampage in Colorado. We'll talk with our Sunday group about the shootings and whether anything can be done to try to stop these massacres.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN OATES, CHIEF OF POLICE, AURORA, COLORADO: If you think we're angry, we sure as hell are angry, about what has happened to our city, what has happened to these wonderful people who live here, and also what he threatened to do to one of our police officers.
WALLACE: Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates is leading the investigation into the movie theater massacres, showing his emotion Saturday.
And it's time now for our Sunday group, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh, Fox News analyst Liz Cheney, and Kirsten Powers of The Daily Beast website.
Well, with all the around-the-clock, 24-hour coverage of this terrible event, it's still important to keep it in context. And let me put up some stats. More than a billion movie tickets were sold in North America last year. Less than 1 percent of homicides involved five or more victims, and it has stayed below that rate for decades.
Having said all that, Bill, what are your thoughts about the rampage?
KRISTOL: I don't think I have any very brilliant or original thoughts. I was struck by the acts of heroism by apparently three young men who seemed to have saved, in each case, actually, their girlfriend or fiance's lives by, you know, sort of, pushing them down and covering them and, in each case, lost -- they each lost their own lives.
And that seems to be characteristic of several of these terrible acts, you know, the Holocaust survivor, the elderly professor at Virginia Tech in 2007, Professor Librescu, I think his name was, Librescu, who barred the door and let some of his students escape.
So that, I suppose, if one wants to look for something heartening in a terrible story, I think that is.
WALLACE: Senator, this has understandably reignited the debate over gun control. And I want to pick up on some of the things I was discussing with Senators Feinstein and Johnson in the first segment. Some gun rights activists say the answer isn't fewer guns but more, that if somebody else in that theater had been armed, he could have stopped the shooting. Your reaction?
BAYH: Well, it's possible, Chris. But I think the bottom line is, whether everyone in the theater was armed or not, tragedies like this are bound to occur from time to time. It's not human nature to acknowledge that, but that's the likelihood. We have 300 million handguns or firearms in the country. Evil people who are dedicated are going to find a way to get their hands on them. When we had the assault weapons ban in place, I don't think there was a perceptible decline in shooting incidents.
And the final thing I would say is there's just not the political support for voting for things that are only going to affect this problem at the margins. The senators touched upon that a little bit.
You know, I remember Bill Clinton mentioning very prominently, following the 1994 debacle for the Democratic Party, that, in his opinion, it wasn't the tax increase or the health care bill that had failed or even the controversy over gays in the military that cost the Democrats most of the seats. It was the gun control measures they enacted, particularly in the purple and red areas of the country.
So it's a tragedy. It's unlikely that there's a whole lot that can be done about it.
WALLACE: Let me just, before I bring in, Liz, is that why Democrats seem to have just gone missing on the issue of gun control, added gun control?
And I was struck by the fact that, for a liberal president, Jay Carney came out the day of the shooting and said there's going to be no new policy.
BAYH: Well, there's no Republican support for this whatsoever, so you're not going to get anything passed through the House or the Senate, where...
WALLACE: What surprises me is how little Democratic support.
BAYH: And I think the reason the president probably didn't say anything about it is, again, channeling what Bill Clinton had said, when you look at southern Ohio, for example, northern Florida, Iowa, some of these places that are going to be swing areas in the presidential election, congressional elections, this is just a very bad issue for Democrats.
So these moderate Democrats find themselves in the position of do they sacrifice themselves for a bill that probably won't have much impact, and it means, when they lose, they won't be able to do anything on health care, the environment, all the other issues they care about. There's just not political support for doing anything.
WALLACE: Liz, can you support -- can one support the right to bear arms and still question whether somebody like James Holmes, obviously disturbed, is able to get a semiautomatic rifle and a magazine that can carry 100 rounds?
CHENEY: You know, I think that Senator Bayh is exactly right. You know, there's a human instinct here to want to say, what is the solution; what's an immediate answer?
You know, and if you look, just for example, at what's happened in Chicago, the president's hometown, it's the murder capital of the country, right now, some of the strongest gun control laws in the country.
So, you know, restricting the rights of individual Americans to bear arms is not the answer here. And, you know, I think we all look at this and understand what a huge tragedy it is. And because we're in a presidential campaign year, the inclination is to move immediately to politics and should we argue about gun bans, no gun bans. And people we have seen is that gun bans are unconstitutional accord to the Supreme Court and ineffective. And we need to do a better job of being able to find and identify the kinds of behavior potentially that might indicate someone has a propensity to snap, although in this instance, if you look at this guy's background and record, there seems to be very, very little to lead anybody to anticipate he could have done this kind of this horrific act.
WALLACE: Kirsten, I want to ask you about the politics. But first I want to ask you about the substance. Do you agree that there's no sign that gun control works?
POWERS: No, I don't. And I think that when people say the assault weapon's ban didn't work it's because the assault weapons ban had too many loop holes. And in fact it only banned new assault weapons, it did not ban old ones. And there were all sorts of other loop holes that people could get through.
And I would just ask people, if you are sitting in a movie theater and a man can walk -- these are your only choices, you can walk in with a semiautomatic with a magazine with 100 rounds on it, or he can in with handgun or a hunting rifle, which one are you going to choose. It is fairly obvious.
The reason you are able to mow down all of these people is because you have a semiautomatic weapon.
I would also say, you know who else is against assault weapons, the police department all across this country. They're very dangerous for them. It's very hard for them when they're in a firefight with somebody who has a semiautomatic weapon.
So the idea that a criminal will always get it -- well, we ban machine guns. I mean, we do have limits on our freedoms. And I think that this is a reasonable place to put it is to say you just can't have a gun that you can walk around with hundred rounds on this.
CHENEY: This theater, in fact according to several news reports, did have rules in place against carrying weapons into the theater. And I think that's where you need to think about, you know on one level you can say there should be these rules. They are unconstitutional in my view. But I think you really have to ask the hard question whether a rule like that, whether a piece of legislation could stop somebody bent on mass murder.
POWERS: Well, do you think it is unconstitutional to ban owning military -- should someone be able to own anything that the military can get their hands on? Is that unconstitutional?
CHENEY: I think that the Supreme Court has spoken about the individual right to bear arms. And I think that what you have got to balance here is the state's interest in ensuring the safety of its citizens, but in upholding the constitution.
And when in fact -- you know, I think that it is unrealistic to believe that legislation will stop, for example, the gangs in Chicago from getting a hold of weapons, or stop mass murders.
POWERS: I agree with that, but I don't think that is what we are talk being here.
WALLACE: Let me pick up on the other side of it now, the politics, because I think you would agree 15 or 20 years ago Democrats would have been all over this issue. There would have been demands for stricter gun control. And my guess is at that time, a president in the White House would have enjoyed those demands as we saw President Obama is now.
I want to put up perhaps one of the reasons why Democrats have taken a walk on this. In the early 90s, the Gallup poll that 78 percent of Americans supported stricter gun control regulation. That's now down to 44 percent. Isn't Senator Bayh right here, Kirsten, that the Democrats have given up on gun control.
POWERS: Well, the ABC News Poll it's 49 percent say we need to protect gun rights and 45 say tighter gun control, which I think goes with that. That's 4 points. I mean, there are a lot of people in this country who support gun control.
WALLACE: But it used to be 80 percent, now it's 40 percent.
POWERS: It used to be, that's fine. That's fine. But there is it a simple reason that the Democrats are not supporting Senator Feinstein, bless her heart, for the hard work she's done on this.
WALLACE: Which is?
POWERS: The NRA. The gun control organization that she kept referring to are called the NRA and they own the congress. The Republicans, they own the Republicans and the Democrats cower in fear of them.
WALLACE: Bill, I will give you a last word.
KRISTOL: I am a squish on gun control. I agree substantive with Kirsten, you can -- the reason those numbers have changed in that poll is originally in 1968 after Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, gun control made controlling handguns. That is unreasonable. I think people have a right to handguns and hunting rifles. I don't think we have a right to semi-automatic machine -- quasi machine guns which can use -- shoot 100 bullets at a time.
And I actually think the Democrats are being foolish as they're being cowardly. I think there is more support for some moderate forms of gun control if they separate it clearly from the desire to take away everyone's handguns or hunting rifles.
WALLACE: All right. Good luck with that, though.
KRISTOL: I'm just giving out free advice to people.
You can put more pressure on moderate Republicans. It's not as if Republicans from New York and Illinois and California couldn't be -- that President Obama couldn't do what President Clinton did in the 90s and put pressure on them.
But it is -- President Obama at least on this one is just unwilling to take a strong stance.
WALLACE: All right. We have to take a quick break. You're just stealing from yourself in the next segment, when we come back where the shooting in Colorado leaves the presidential race.
WALLACE: Check out Fox News Sunday for behind the scenes features and special Monday preview of the week ahead. You can find it on FoxNewsSunday.com. And be sure to let us know what you think.
Stay tuned for more from our panel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I stand before you today not as a man running for office, but as a father, and grand father, a husband and American.
OBAMA: There are going to be other days for politics. This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: President Obama and Governor Romney putting politics aside to focus on the victims of the terrible shooting in Colorado. And we're back now with the panel.
Well Bill, the White House has announced that after his trip today to Colorado, the president is going on tomorrow to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Nevada, does that mean political truce is over and we are back to the nasty back and forth that we saw before Colorado?
KRISTOL: I suppose so. I mean, watching those two clips I was struck by how much more attractive they when they do put politics aside. Maybe they'd be better off. And I mean this serious, better off being less political, less partisan, less petty, less every day being, oh, here's a gotcha quote and I'm now going to obsess about this for the next three or four days. Are we really running intelligent campaigns?
We decide that they are uninspiring and just generally depressing if you're an American citizen to watch these two campaigns so far. Is it even wise for them to be so petty and so negative in the kinds of campaigns they're running?
WALLACE: So Senator Bayh, let's go to the petty and depressing campaign looking at the petty and depressing campaign. The Obama campaign has been hammering Romney for a period of time now for his refusal to release more than two weeks of tax returns. Let's look at an Obama campaign ad. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Makes you wonder if some years he paid any taxes at all. We don't know, because Romney has released just one full year of his tax returns and won't release anything before 2010.
ROMNEY: You know what, I put out as much as we are going to put out.
ANNOUNCER: What is Mitt Romney hiding?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Is that a good issue for the Obama campaign?
BAYH: It is a helpful issue, Chris. But I should point out our friend Bill Kristol has also been hammering Mr. Romney to release his tax returns. And you do release them if you can. So that raises a question, you know, there must be something that they don't like.
BAYH: My guess is it's just more of the same. It plays into the narrative, obviously a wealthy individual, had some bank accounts overseas, had some tax shelters --
WALLACE: And is there anything wrong with that?
BAYH: I think the American people get that. And does it bother some in the middle class? I think it does. I think they've already processed that. I don't think this is dispositive. I think it all comes back to that 4 percent or 5 percent or undecided in the swing states to the economy. Is there some unexpected data over the next three months? Probably not.
If not, then it comes down to the debates. And that's where they each need to elevate their game. Who can present a plausible case that they can create jobs, grow this economy, and appeal to people's aspirations of a better America.
I think these debates are going to be as critical as the last one between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, when Reagan finally crossed the threshold -- I am not saying Romney will. But he finally crossed the threshold of people looking at him as a plausible president.
WALLACE: Liz, what do you think of the tax issue?
CHENEY: You know, I think it is Washington as usual. I think that you've got a situation there where it looks like the president's opposition researchers have sort of run out of material to use as a distraction from the returns that have already been released. They want more returns released.
I think everybody around this table, even Bill who seems to have gone a little squishy on me this morning, would admit --
WALLACE: Even bill?
CHENEY: -- yes -- would admit that --
WALLACE: Margaret Thatcher would say he is (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- after the show.
CHENEY: No, there will never be enough, no matter how many years of returns the governor releases people won't --
WALLACE: So, what, Romney should just say no?
CHENEY: I think he is good where he is, frankly. I think the -- if the Obama administration focused on this is because they don't want to have to talk about the economy.
They don't want to have to talk about the fact that the president doesn't believe that if you have got a small business or any kind of a business, you built it yourself. They don't want the American people to actually look at this failed record and these failed policies.
WALLACE: OK, Kirsten, let's pick up on that. Romney has been trying desperately to get off defense this past week. He's gone after the president's comment about, you didn't build your own business, and also on his economic record. And let's take a look at Romney on the stump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the last six months he has held 100 fundraisers and guess how many meetings he's had with his Jobs Council? None, zero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: How effective is that for Romney?
POWERS: It is good. He needs to focus on the jobs issue. I think he needs to focus on what Obama does regarding jobs and what his record is regarding jobs.
And in terms of the tax return issue, I'm afraid I'm agreeing with Bill again to confirm that he is being a squish this morning. But I think that he does need to release the tax returns and it does look suspicious if he doesn't.
However, in the end, I don't think there's very much people who wouldn't vote for Romney because he didn't release the tax returns versus people who might not vote for him if there's something in there that really bothers them.
WALLACE: -- there is no indication that it's going to be anything other than, yes, he invested in other tax shelters.
POWERS: Or that he paid very, very, very low taxes, which I think for some people is very offensive when they look at the tax rate that they pay and they say, look at this really rich guy.
WALLACE: -- Americans who pay more taxes than they have to. POWERS: No, that's correct. But I think the issue is that he's not somebody who thinks there's a problem with it. You know, if he said, look, this is the tax rate --
WALLACE: You don't think there's a problem that since I'm not paying enough taxes?
POWERS: I have a problem with the fact that somebody as wealthy as him is only paying maybe a 15 percent tax rate when I'm paying --
WALLACE: Is that not what the law is?
POWERS: It is, but he should say that it is not right and I'd change it as president.
WALLACE: But he was not the president, so he was paying what he owed.
POWERS: He's running for president, so I'm saying if he came out and he said, yes, this is what I paid because this is all that was required of, but I would change it.
WALLACE: Bill, it was at this point, almost exactly this point -- I looked -- four years ago that you came on this panel and you said McCain should and will pick Sarah Palin as his running mate. When you look into your -- and I phrased this carefully -- crystal ball -- and I think you could actually trademark that, Kristol ball -- get it?
KRISTOL: That would be very effective.
WALLACE: Who do you come --
KRISTOL: I would become as rich as Mitt Romney with that.
WALLACE: Who do you see and when will they -- when will he announce it?
KRISTOL: I think he will announce the pick after he gets back from this trip he's taking to London, Israel and Poland, probably announce it the week after he is back, so August 6th or 7th, I would say. So you should be ready to come in early to FOX that morning.
KRISTOL: To provide live commentary.
KRISTOL: I think he should pick someone young, exciting and forward-looking, so he can run a young, forward-looking and exciting campaign for the last few months. So that would be Paul Ryan. Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, someone like that. I think he probably will make a safer pick, maybe Rob Portman, the senator from Ohio, or Tim Pawlenty , the former governor -- WALLACE: Liz, 20 seconds, the Cheneys know something about vice presidential searches. Who should he pick?
CHENEY: Well, based on the Cheney record it is going to be Beth Myers.
WALLACE: We should experiential, Cheney was the head of the search team for Bush. And he ended up being the -- anyway. OK. Google it, folks.
Thank you, panel. See you next week. Don't forget to check out Panel Plus, where our group picks right up with the discussion on our website -- she was ready for that -- foxnewssunday.com. We'll post the video before noon Eastern time.
And make sure to follow us on Twitter @foxnewssunday.
Up next, a look back at the savagery and heroism in Aurora, Colorado.
WALLACE: The Washington Post ran a chart Saturday of the deadliest U.S. shootings. The massacre in Aurora ranked ninth. But if these attacks have become almost routine over the years, one good thing is we are still shocked and outraged when one of our fellow citizens acts so savagely.
We still find it almost impossible to believe. We leave you now with some of the sounds and images of the rampage and the response in Colorado. And we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need rescue inside the auditorium, multiple victims.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is (inaudible). I've got seven down in Theater 9! Seven down!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have got a child victim. I need rescue in the back door of Theater 9 now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. And we need cars outside. (Inaudible) gas mask.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were on scene within a minute or a minute and a half and we immediately arrested the suspect in the back of the theater.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were explosions behind me . And there was just -- but I thought it would just be -- it was just a normal practical joke, you know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) exit and I see a cop jumping up and down in the door. And that's when I knew something was going on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was shot right below her knee, yes, and we moved outside and, thankfully, several young men who had been in the military helped us tremendously.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I need to make sure she is at least OK. I've lost the rest of my family.
CROWD: Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom and power and glory forever and ever, amen.
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