A Florida sheriff armed with statistics and facts successfully thwarted CNN host Piers Morgan’s attempt to use a recent tragedy to promote gun control.
Morgan tried to use a routine story to promote gun control and found himself in an argument with Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco.
The exchange occurred on Tuesday, Jan. 14, the day after Curtis Reeves shot and killed Chad Oulson in a movie theater in Wesley Chapel, Florida. Oulson and Reeves were reportedly arguing about texting and Oulson threw popcorn at Reeves before the shooting. Oulson allegedly was texting his babysitter.
Instead of discussing the shooting, Morgan tried to lecture the audience on gun control:
“In terms of these two shootings, we said at the start of show, 245 people in America are hit by gunfire every day and which at least 80, 90 lose their lives,” Morgan said. “The school shooting, I just talked about, is the 30th school shooting in America since Newtown, a quite extraordinary statistic. As a sheriff on the ground trying to deal with this gun violence epidemic, what do you make of it?”
It should be noted here that Morgan’s statistic included all shootings, including accidental shootings and suicides as well as actual acts of violence.
The Sherriff Stands His Ground
Sherriff Nocco refused to be cow-towed or ticked into promoting Morgan’s position.
“People commit violent crimes, you know, whether be a knife or a gun,” Nocco said. “The issue is that somebody decides to take somebody’s life. The gun didn’t kill him. It was the trigger of the person that was arrested that pulled the gun and killed that person. So, I can tell you from a law enforcement perspective, we’re dealing with somebody who committed a homicide.”
Nocco also raised other issues to which Morgan refused to engage in dialogue.
“The bigger issues we deal with are mental health and substance abuse, you know, if we can do it at the mental health issues and substance abuse [stage], we’ll be much safer as a country,” Nocco said.
“But you don’t feel as a sheriff on the ground there should be any changes to the existing gun laws?” Morgan asked
“No, as I go back to — this is about, we have mental health issues and substance abuse [issues],” Nocco said in response. “The gun itself did not kill the victim here. It was the person who had the gun in his hands. And so, I go back — keep going back to the fact that you want to talk about gun control issues.
“From a law enforcement perspective, we deal with mental health issues and substance abuse issues,” the sheriff said. “It was violence. It was violence that killed the victim yesterday. So I keep reiterating, it’s mental health issues that we deal in this country that is paramount compared to gun control.”
CNN Host Promotes Gun Control
“I mean, listen,” Morgan responded, “I don’t disagree with you that mental health is clearly a part of this. But I do take issue with the fact that many people in law enforcement that I talked to do try and persist in saying it’s never the gun when clearly there are many countries around the world that have strict gun control where you simply wouldn’t have somebody armed with a gun in a movie theater. It would be strictly illegal. And people wouldn’t have the access to firearm.”
“Surely,” Morgan continued, “it will make your job as a law enforcement officer easier if less people who perhaps were susceptible to mental health issues and another issue like that did not have such ready availability of guns.”
Said Noco, “From our standpoint is, we can say there’s also times where people are in their houses and some are breaking in, and to protect their family, their gun is what saved them and their family. So, you know, I can argue just the opposite way that guns do protect Americans.”
Morgan again brought up the statistic of people injured by gunfire. Nocco’s response was a rather interesting one.
“Well, you want to talk about statistics,” Nocco said. “We can also talk about how many people are killed because of DUIs, driving under the influence. You know, criminals have guns. If you want to ban guns from good people, criminals are still going to get them. They’re going to smuggle them through into this country and they’re still going to have them. So, you can create laws that will ban guns, bad people are still going to get them. You can create laws that are going to ban drugs, bad people are still get them.”
“I think we have to talk about the bigger issues: Why are people committing these crimes?” Nocco said. “And I go back to the fact that we have mental health and substance abuse issues, that’s exactly what needs to be talked about and that’s what has to be addressed.”
Watch the full exchange below.