Media and the politics of gun control

Coverage of the Sandy Hook tragedy


This is a rush transcript from "The Five," December 18, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GREG GUTFELD, CO-HOST: So in times of tragedy, I know that opinions or even facts don't help the suffering. Saying gun violence dropped over 40 years or that schools are safer than ever -- that means very little to people in shock. It's just noise. To me, it's like gun-free zones. They sound really great, but only among the media who worked in gun-protected zones. It's easy to champion gun free behind a Glock.

Fort Hood, the dead weren't children but they were warriors. But they were killed in a gun-free zone in Army base. You think the coward Hasan didn't know that.

I wonder if those who believe in gun-free zones would announce their habitat as gun-free. Evil seeks the vulnerable. It looks to kick between the armor.

And so, I ask, why can't a school be protected as 30 Rock? Is a talking head more valuable than a child?

But what do I know? I'm a talking head. I know nothing.

As rare as these horrible events are, evil will always be. Addressing mental health issues helps, as well as our culture's obsession with evil. What's up with that?

And maybe the media eggs this on, whispering immortality to the loser. Each creep has the same M.O., yet we report it like it's new. Maybe it's time to ponder instead of pontificating. Nobody is listening anyway, because they've heard it all before.

And tragically, we'll hear it all again.

So, Dana, here's my question. It seems like we're all recycling the same arguments when something like this happens. Do you think we'll ever make progress on this, or is still always going to be us versus them?

DANA PERINO, CO-HOST: I think this one might be different. I think that the innocence of the lives who were taken, the young tenderness of the age has made people think, OK, what can we do? Aside from some places where the talk has only been about gun control, there has been a building sense of anxiety about what we are not doing to help provide for families that have a loved one that is mentally ill and needs serious help before they do harm to nobody else.

So, I hope and I think and I'm prepared to help out, that I think that this one could be different. That there might actually be something that we can do, not all the answers, but certainly about the piece of helping prevent this from happening again.


Andrea, there seems like, finally, we are talking about different variables -- everything from mental health issues, to school security, to areas of gun control where previously we were only focused on gun control. Does that mean there's progress?

ANDREA TANTAROS, CO-HOST: I don't know. As hopeful that I am that Dana is right it seems we have one side shouting their point, the other side shouting their points. You have the comedians then making fun of one side, usually conservatives for trying to defend their points after there's a waiting period.

I do think so that there should be a waiting period. They joke about waiting period for guns. There needs to be some time before everybody starts jumping up and down about this.

And I do think, you know, Congress is there to do a lot of things. Not just handle the fiscal cliff. Mental illness is an issue that they rarely talk about.

This is an opportunity. We know that it never happens. Someone will say, this is a great opportunity to talk about mental illness, and then we move to gun control.

I do hope this time -- I know it's Christmas time, but I do hope in the weeks that follow up after the New Year, people will actually start to have a discussion -- and listen, not yell at the other side.

GUTFELD: Bob, you talk about guns, and mental illness and alcoholism, and how there should be some kind of screening. Do you think that because we use mental illness, the topic, so generally, that it spreads so thin that we don't actually catch the people that really need help?

BOB BECKEL, CO-HOST: Well, I don't know. But I think in this instance, more than any of the others that I can recall, the topic of mental health has been more much prevalent than it had been before.


BECKEL: It was generally gun control. And I am one that pushed that very hard.


BECKEL: But the mental health question is one that's serious and real. And we know that the funds have been cut back in the state -- local and the federal level for that. It's got to be part and parcel of this.

And this is also a time when people are starting to raise questions about the video games --


BECKEL: -- and the way people communicate, the way young people communicate what they're seeing.

So maybe this is a broader conversation. How that ends up though being something that's tangible is where I have a hard time figuring out.

GUTFELD: Yes. And I think everybody does.

Eric, what do you -- what do you make of this? I mean, I look at this and I see that every -- there is one linkage to all of these catastrophes as they get more and more gruesome, is that they tend to build up on each other. And they tend to involve these loners.

I mean, you know --


GUTFELD: -- I don't like talking about them because to me, they are losers. But we cannot avoid that.

BOLLING: Right. I made the point last night. And I'm not going to mention the guy's name. Let's call him the shooter.

I made a point last night, I said I don't think this is the time or the place for the gun discussion. I'm going to stand by that.

It's a whole host of things. It's mental health, it's guns, it's video games. It's the culture around what our children are brought up, the way the children are brought up, that the violence is OK. You can blow away a bunch of people if you do it on TV, or if you do it on a video game.

It's religion. It's a breakdown of the family values. It's the nuclear family. It's a whole host of things. And there has to be meaningful discussion, not all of it, including guns.

I just can't do it right now and it's just not time. We have two more burials going on today. When we are through with some of these things and it's time to move on to the discussion. Bob and I and you -- the left will have this massive discussion over what is right. Whether the Second Amendment should stay intact the way it is, or that things should change from the Second Amendment.

BECKEL: Well, one thing we agree on is these schools could use some protection. But, you know, I ran a numbers today. If you put one policeman on every school in America, it's 56,000 bucks on average to put them in there.


BECKEL: The question is where do these resources going to come from?


BOLLING: I brought this up last night. We protect our money. Banks are protecting our money, more than the schools protecting our children. There has to be a source.

It can't be a federal source, because then, the right is going to say, well, what are you doing? You're putting federal agents in the school, that's going to look bad. Conspiracy theorists are going to say, what are you doing -- President Obama, why are you doing this?

It's got to be at the state level. I'll tell you one -- a great piece of news today is Governor McDonnell has said, in Virginia, has said he is looking in to the state level putting some sort of trained officer at all the schools. That's the way to go.

GUTFELD: Freedom costs money, though. For our freedoms, we have -- I mean, at the state and local level, it's worth it, right?

TANTAROS: We did it on planes after 9/11. There's talk about putting secret air marshals. Although, this school, they do say, was extremely secure and you had to be buzzed in when you got in.

So, I know a lot of schools have metal detectors. They have all these other things to protect the students.

What I do hope, though, is that maybe the discussion on mental illness is less stigmatizing.


TANTAROS: So, you're reading these blogs about I am shooter's mother. Did he have Asperger's? Was he on the autism spectrum?

Whatever the case, the mother knew there was something wrong.


TANTAROS: He was burning himself. Put yourself in the shoes of that mother. It's very stigmatizing for her and for the shooter, all his life, because maybe he knew he was different to handle that. And no mother wants to rat out her son and have him incarcerated or put him away.

So, we don't know what's going through her mind. But I just hope it's less stigmatizing for mental illness on any scale for people who are suffering.

GUTFELD: There are events, and I'm not talking specifically about these kinds of things like the Aurora, Colorado thing, that law enforcement actually hate to discuss for fear of copycats. There are suicidal events, for example, that they don't like to bring up because that fosters suicidal thoughts in other kids.

Are we culpable in that sort of thing and the fact that we delve into details of what this person is, when perhaps we shouldn't.

PERINO: Well -- so Eric has the good point about not naming the shooter. And a lot of people called for that, saying, please don't name him because it glorifies it. Of course, it doesn't matter to him. He's gone. He's dead. He killed.

But could it help prevent somebody who had those tendencies or feeling or was about to snap to think this could be my one shot at glory?


PERINO: Even if they're not going to be there to see it. They know what the media coverage is going to be.

So I don't know how then we don't cover the story. It's a tough balance.

BECKEL: You know, you say about the mother -- now, some facts we know. That he used guns that she owned, that were registered to her.


BECKEL: We know that he obviously shot his mother and those guns were available to him, one way or another, in that house. If you know that your -- you got somebody who's disturbed as she clearly did know, why do have guns available to him in the house? Maybe she had them locked up or maybe he had the combination, I don't know.

GUTFELD: She really did. She was a terrible gun owner. I mean, that stuff was available. That was --

BECKEL: And, then, of course, the question is, if he didn't use guns, would he had taken some bomb or something, you know?


BOLLING: Like your favorite terrorist Timothy McVeigh --

BECKEL: Right.

BOLLING: -- who pulled a truck outside the building, a federal building, and blew it up with fertilizer.

BECKEL: Right.

TANTAROS: I don't want to blame the mother because at the same time, he maybe showed no signs of the actual violence, maybe just against himself. But it was probably the furthest thought from her mind that he would go to the gun closet and shoot somebody. If he could --

PERINO: That's why the investigation is really important. I mean, the police officers are going through line by line, because they want to unravel the story. The families of the victims deserve it. They're going to want answers.

And so, I guess in the days and weeks ahead, just as we have in the Colorado shooting found out more about it. And one of the keys to that was people who knew him said we were worried about something happening.

GUTFELD: Yes, there's always --

PERINO: But I haven't heard that about this one. It seems to me the community made a wide berth around the community and they were alone. Not that the community was bad. But it doesn't happen in life where you just try to avoid the situations that are just uncomfortable, if there was not a lot of social interaction.

Content and Programming Copyright 2012 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.