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CNN Hits Democrats from the Left on Gun Control

CNN pushed for more gun control on the very day of the Aurora shootings – to the dismay of media critic Howard Kurtz – and host Candy Crowley continued the fight on Sunday and Monday.

In her Monday report, Crowley stressed the lack of "courage" – borrowing from a one gun control advocate – in today's Democratic Party to pursue firearms regulation. And when Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) noted the lack of outrage over gun violence, Crowley agreed, "She's right." 

She pulled from disgruntled gun control advocates to round out her report. In scrutinizing Obama's record on guns, Crowley cited the anti-gun Brady Campaign's "F" grade for the President in 2010. She also quoted Democrats Rep. Ed Pearlmutter (Colo.) and Senator Diane Feinstein (Calif.), and Philadelphia's pro-gun control Police Chief Charles Ramsey.

While Crowley also quoted Mitt Romney and Colorado's Governor John Hickenlooper, who questioned the effectiveness of an assault weapons ban, it was clear that the crux of her report hinged on the "courage" of Democrats to pursue gun regulations.

[Video below. Audio here.]

"Now about the courage thing," she prefaced her report on the rise and fall of the Democratic fight for gun control. Since the Democrats abandoned the issue as politically risky, Crowley hit them for their lack of "courage."

She also had referred to Charles Ramsey's complaint that "many of our legislators, unfortunately, at the federal level, lack the courage to do anything."

"And there has been no action because there's been no outrage out there. People haven't rallied forward," lamented Senator Feinstein, to which Crowley responded "She's right. Even in the face of mass shootings – Virginia Tech in 2007, Fort Hood 2009, Tucson 2011 -- public support for gun control has dropped."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on July 23 on CNN Newsroom at 10:56 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN: In the wake of the last tragedy in Colorado, gun control is once again a hot issue for politicians and for public debate. A Pew Research Center poll shows Americans are almost evenly split on whether it's more important to control guns versus protect gun ownership. But the differences are really highlighted along party lines, with Republicans overwhelmingly saying it is more important to protect gun ownership. Our chief political correspondent Candy Crowley takes a closer look at this debate.

(Video Clip )

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: – shooting at Century Theaters.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN chief national correspondent: There is an awful familiarity to the nation's reaction to the Colorado killings – shock, anger, sadness and the gun control debate.

Rep. ED PERLMUTTER (D-Colo.): I think this is really a congressional issue that has to be dealt with. You know, should we reinstate the assault weapons ban? I think we should.

Gov. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D-Colo.): This person, if we had, if there were no assault weapons available, if there were no this or no that, this guy is going to find something, right? He's going to know how to create a bomb.

CROWLEY: Few expect much more than words.

CHARLES RAMSEY, Philadelphia Police Commissioner: We talk about this constantly and absolutely nothing happens because many of our legislators, unfortunately, at the federal level, lack the courage to do anything.

CROWLEY: As an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama had a record of supporting gun control. He favors an assault weapons ban. He won election despite the opposition of the National Rifle Association, that pro-gun lobby that has sway and money to spend on the campaigns of  like-minded candidates.

President Obama has talked very little about gun control. In 2010, the Brady Campaign, the most prominent group advocating further gun restrictions gave the President an F for leadership on the issue. Mitt Romney signed an assault weapons ban as governor. He opposes it now, and as of last April, almost anything else in the way of gun control.

MITT ROMNEY, Republican presidential candidate: We need a president who will enforce current laws, not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful gun owners.

CROWLEY: Now about the courage thing. Congress passed a ten-year ban on more than a dozen kinds of assault weapons in 1994. Months later, Democrats lost the House majority. In 1999 --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Senate being equally divided, the Vice President votes in the affirmative and the amendment is agreed to.

CROWLEY: Then-Vice President Al Gore broke a tie in the Senate to pass a bill restricting gun show sales. Gore lost his presidential bid for many reasons, but by 2000, Democrats had concluded that gun control was bad politics. In the past decade, three things have happened. Democrats have recruited pro-gun candidates in rural areas, the South and the interior West. The Assault Weapons Ban expired and gun control has faded from the agenda. Senator Dianne Feinstein sponsored the original Assault Weapons Ban in 1994.

Sen. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-Calif.): And there has been no action because there's been no outrage out there. People haven't rallied forward.

CROWLEY: She's right. Even in the face of mass shootings – Virginia Tech in 2007, Fort Hood 2009, Tucson 2011 -- public support for gun control has dropped. Sunday as the President flew to visit the grieving families in Colorado, his spokesman told reporters the President believes steps can be taken under existing law to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them. Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.

(End Video Clip)


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