CBS's Erica Hill tossed softballs at a survivor of the Tucson shooting and the executive director of a pro-gun control group on Tuesday's Early Show, just hours before they were due to speak at a congressional hearing to promote tighter gun regulations. Hill played up fellow survivor Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's recent interview and asked, "What does that do to you and to this cause that you have now adopted?"
The anchor led the 8 am Eastern hour of the morning show by playing a clip of ABC's Diane Sawyer asking the Arizona representative about the January 2011 shooting. Hill then gushed over Giffords's recovery as she introduced her guests- Patricia Maisch, who helped subdue Jared Loughner, and Mark Glaze of Mayors Against Illegal Guns: "I know that watching the recovery...has been encouraging in ways that are probably tough to describe."
After asking Maisch about "this cause that you have now adopted," the CBS journalist turned to Glaze and stated that "even as you're pushing for these stronger measures when it comes to background checks, the reality of the situation is, even these tougher measures which you are after would likely not have kept the gun out of the hands of Jared Loughner." Hill followed up by asking, "Handgun possession around the country is up in some of the most recent numbers. How have you seen support either grow, or, perhaps, not since the shooting in Tucson for the measures that you're after?" The pro-gun control director replied by claiming, "I think most of the American people are exactly where our 600 mayors are."
Near the end of the segment, the anchor tossed another softball at the shooting survivor: "Patricia, when you make your case to Congress today, this is obviously very personal to you. What will you say?"
Even though Hill labeled gun control an "especially hot issue ever since the January shooting in Tucson" during the interview, just over two weeks earlier, on October 28 , The Early Show highlighted how a recent Gallup poll found that "53 percent of Americans oppose a ban on assault rifles and semi-automatic guns, the first time more have opposed than supported a ban." Correspondent Whit Johnson also noted that "even after Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was seriously wounded this year in an Arizona shooting rampage, the cries for tougher gun laws have quieted on Capitol Hill. President Obama has said little about the subject publicly, frustrating gun violence prevention advocates." Even with these developments, CBS thought it fit to continue pushing this liberal cause, without even brining on a gun rights supporter.
The full transcript of Erica Hill's interview of Patricia Maisch and Mark Glaze from Tuesday's Early Show:
ERICA HILL: Survivors of gun violence will be testifying on Capitol Hill later today. They're calling on Congress for stronger background checks for gun buyers. It's become an especially hot issue ever since the January shooting in Tucson, Arizona, that killed six people and wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. She spoke about her recovery last night in her first interview on ABC News.
DIANE SAWYER (from interview on ABC's "20/20"): And so, you think to yourself, I'll go back to Congress if I get better?
REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS: Yes, yes, yes- yes.
SAWYER: And that's where you are right now.
GIFFORDS: Yes, yes, yes.
SAWYER: Do you ever get angry at what happened to you?
GIFFORDS: No, no, no.
GIFFORDS: No. Life- life.
HILL: Joining us this morning from Washington, Patricia Maisch, who's a survivor of the Tucson shooting- she helped tackle the gunman- and Mark Glaze, who's executive director of the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which is also testifying at today's hearing. It's good to have both of you with us. Patricia, we have to get your thoughts there. I know that watching the recovery of Congresswoman Giffords for so many, especially the people of Tucson, has been encouraging in ways that are probably tough to describe. But when you watch her speak there in this first interview, what does that do to you and to this cause that you have now adopted?
[CBS News Graphic: "Gunning For Change: Push To Reform Firearm Background Checks"]
PATRICIA MAISCH, TUCSON SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Oh, it just thrills me that she was able to speak that well, and after talking to her staffers, I know she's comprehending. She just can't express complex sentences, just like they said on the report. So I am just thrilled with the progress she's made.
HILL: Mark, even as you're pushing for these stronger measures when it comes to background checks, the reality of the situation is, even these tougher measures which you are after would likely not have kept the gun out of the hands of Jared Loughner.
MARK GLAZE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MAYORS AGAINST ILLEGAL GUNS: Well, we know that people under federal law who are seriously mentally ill, who have drug abuse problems, who are felons, are not allowed to get guns, and the background check system is supposed to stop them. We know that Jared Loughner had a drug arrest on his record. We know that he was not allowed to enlist in the military, possibly because of a history of drug abuse. We know that he was suspended from community college. So under current law, he may or may not have been caught in the background check system. But for us, that means we need to take a very close look at that system, make sure we fill the gaps in the do not sell database, and make sure that every gun sale in this country is subject to a simple background check, which is something that most people agree with.
HILL: Handgun possession around the country is up in some of the most recent numbers. How have you seen support either grow, or, perhaps, not since the shooting in Tucson for the measures that you're after?
GLAZE: Well, it's interesting. I think most of the American people are exactly where our 600 mayors are. We have Republicans, Democrats, independents, in our coalition of mayors, and all of them believe that you can strongly support the Second Amendment and the rights of law-abiding gun owners, but also do a lot more to keep guns out of the wrong hands- the next killer, the next Jared Loughner.
HILL: So if you do have the support, which you say- fairly broad support, why is it taking so long to change things?
GLAZE: Well, we're not sure, and part of the reason we're in Washington today is to have a very direct conversation with members of Congress, along with the survivors of gun violence- [New York City] Mayor Bloomberg and others- who have come to Washington to say, it's been ten months since Tucson. The solutions are there. We know what they are. What's taking so long?
HILL: Patricia, when you make your case to Congress today, this is obviously very personal to you. What will you say?
MAISCH: I'm going to remind them of the people who died, give them a little information about each person. But mainly, I'm goes to ask them to try to prevent this from happening again by fixing the gun check law; to keep guns out of people's hands that shouldn't have them- a lot of dangerous people; and to make sure that every gun sale has a background check.
HILL: Patricia Maisch, Mark Glaze, I appreciate your time this morning. Thank you.
GLAZE: Thank you.
MAISCH: Thank you.