Meltdown: MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell goes into attack mode against Arizona GOP congressman

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
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Remember all the talk about turning down the volume in our political discourse?  How about the idea that in the wake of the Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, there were going to be efforts to hold a more civil dialogue going forth? Perhaps those rules only apply if you hold a particular point of view.

On Tuesday’s airing of MSNBC’s The Last Word, host Lawrence O’Donnell badgered Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks over answering a hypothetical question about gun laws and whether, if tougher ones were in place, less blood might have been shed earlier this month in Arizona.

“I’m asking you to entertain another hypothetical, and that hypothetical is, imagine this event occurred in 2003 when Jared Loughner, by federal law enacted by the Democrats 10 years earlier, would not have been allowed to get his hands on a magazine that held 30 bullets,” O’Donnell said dramatically. “He only would have been able to fire 10. Then he would have had to reload, and those heroes who stopped him when he tried to reload would have stopped him after firing 10, and more citizens of Arizona would be alive today in your state if that magazine held only 10 bullets. I’ll ask you again, do you wish Jared Loughner’s magazine only held 10 bullets instead of the 31 that he fired?”

That led to the start of the tense exchange between the MSNBC host and the Arizona Republican, showing that the so-called “volume” hasn’t found its way down yet.

FRANKS: And I will tell you again, sir, that I wish he had not had a gun at all.

O’DONNELL: So, you’re not going to answer that question about the magazine? Will you answer the question about the magazine?

FRANKS: I will on one basis, on one basis. Will you answer the question — you said that the police officers miss all the time — will you say that you’re glad there were no police officers there that day?

O’DONNELL: No, I will not say that.

FRANKS: All right. And I will not say, I will not say that —

Franks didn’t answer the question to O’Donnell’s satisfaction, so he made another run at it.

“I will not entertain your hypothetical,” O’Donnell shouted. “Your hypothetical might have been helpful, might not have been not helpful. But now, consider my hypothetical – it’s 2003. He can only fire 10 bullets. Arizona would have been better off, right? Your constituents in Arizona would have been better off if Jared Loughner, by law, could only fire 10 bullets?”



Franks argued that O’Donnell’s hypothetical scenario, that fewer bullets would have been fired with stricter gun laws had things not happened the way they had, was reliant on other events falling into place.

FRANKS: See, I think that that presupposes he couldn’t have changed clips or all kinds of things.

O’DONNELL: He couldn’t change clips because the colonel was there to stop him, because those heroes in that parking lot were there to stop him. We saw him try to change clips, and he couldn’t do it. That’s what stopped him.

FRANKS: Well, I give every credit to those who stopped him. But I will say to you again to blame the gun rather than the individual is why we continue to have these problems.

O’DONNELL: I blame the individual for the first 10 bullets. I blame the law for the next 21 bullets that he fired.

FRANKS: Well, you know, you’re suggesting that there wouldn’t be other ways that he could have done that. What if he brought a bomb and all kinds of things?

O’DONNELL: We know what happened, we know what stopped him. When he had to reload, it was over. We know the facts, Congressman. We know exactly how it ended. Don’t pretend that you don’t know how it ended and who ended it. He couldn’t reload, and the heroes there on the scene stopped him.

Franks explained that O’Donnell was missing the point, that a larger issue was being overlooked: he shouldn’t have had the gun in the first place.

“He shot — according to what you’re saying, he shot 31 times, and there was no one there to stop him that could have,” Franks said. “That was the basis of my comment. The fact is that we need to try our best to see each other as children of God and to point the finger at the lack of respect for innocent human life, which is essentially the biggest challenge in all of society. And we need to make sure that crazed lunatics don’t get weapons and we need to make sure that if they do, that we can stop them if necessary.”

But that wasn’t a satisfactory answer for O’Donnell either, and the two argued some more before running out the clock on the segment.

O’DONNELL: There was a lack of respect for human life in the federal government in 2004 when the ban on those magazines was allowed to expire.

FRANKS: Let’s just take–

O’DONNELL: Congressman Trent Franks, we got to cut it there. We’re out of time.

FRANKS: Yes, let’s take the guns away from everyone, our police officers, everyone. That will solve the problem, right?

O’DONNELL: Don’t be silly. Congressman Trent Franks, Republican of Arizona, thank you very much for joining us tonight.