Concealed weapons and heath care reform were top of mind for Wednesday’s American Morning audience. The majority were in favor of allowing those with weapons permits to cross state lines without penalty.
Where do you stand on this controversial issue? Are “illegal” guns responsible for the crime in America?
15 years after their television debut, actors Harry Johnson and Louise Clark are back, reprising the roles that made them famous – or infamous depending on your political persuasion.
Better known as “Harry and Louise,” the duo sank the Clinton administration’s efforts to pass health care reform in the early 1990s, with a series of TV advertisements that claimed proposed changes would “force” Americans to pick from limited plans designed by “government bureaucrats.”
The ads, paid for by the health insurance industry, were considered controversial with threats such as, “If they choose; we lose.”
The proposed reform dubbed “HillaryCare” never got out of Congress and serious efforts for reform have not been proposed again – until now.
Cue Harry and Louise.
“Well, it looks like we may finally get health care reform,” Harry says in what looks like it might be the same kitchen table set they used 15 years ago. “It’s about time,” Louise responds, adding, “A little more cooperation, a little less politics and we can get the job done.”
That’s right, this time Harry and Louise are using a different script for a new pro-reform ad paid for by Families USA and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
Johnson and Clark were first tapped last year during the height of the 2008 election by the pro-reform groups for a new series of ads depicting the same characters. Ron Pollack, head of Families USA, re-introduced the fictional couple at a press conference last August and joked, “I did not mean any harm by saying they've gotten older; we all have. They actually are better looking and they’re a whole lot wiser.”
Johnson and Clark later explained the role reversal in a behind-the-scenes video of the making of the ‘08 ad. “Things are much more expensive than they used to be,” Harry said. “Both of us know people who are having problems because they don’t have adequate coverage or don’t have any coverage at all,” Louise added. “We both know more people now than 15 years ago.”
While the duo is still a part of the political lexicon, it seems both sides of the aisle are unaware of their political switch, with both President Obama and RNC Chair Michael Steele recently referencing the Harry and Louise of yesterday.
After all, is the sequel ever as good as the original?
ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (CNN) - In Atlantic City, New Jersey, a bomb maker pieces together an improvised explosive device that looks like an innocuous stack of DVDs. But this bomb maker isn't a terrorist. He is a U.S. government employee trying to beat terrorists at their own game.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/22/art.luggage.cnn.jpg caption="Unclaimed bags are used in testing at the Transportation Security Laboratory in Atlantic City."]
Patrick O'Connor is part of a team of researchers trying to improve current bomb detection technologies and develop new ones at the Transportation Security Laboratory in Atlantic City. Their goal is to secure aviation from terrorists.
"It is a game of cat and mouse," says Susan Hallowell, the director of the lab. "We understand what they are doing, and they understand in some measure what we are doing, and we try to counteract that with better, improved technology."
One of the lab's tried-and-true techniques is to use the latest intelligence from the military, CIA, FBI and friendly foreign governments to manufacture improvised explosive devices like those being built by terrorists. O'Connor and other bomb makers pack some of the bombs in electronic devices like radios. Others are concealed in shoes and slippers, or even toys.
Some of the IEDs are then taken to the Abeerdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, where the Department of Defense does its bomb testing, and detonated inside old airplane fuselages. These tests tell researchers whether a particular type of IED has the capacity to bring down an aircraft in flight.
President Obama is getting ready to push his health care reform plan in a prime time press conference tonight. He's hoping to win over the American people as well as members of Congress who are skeptical about the plan.
Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has been a very vocal critic of the president’s plan. He spoke to Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Wednesday.
Kiran Chetry: You're a physician as well and I'm sure that you have a lot of thoughts on this issue as we debate health care. You oppose President Obama's reform plan. You favor giving Americans control of their health care. Does it boil down to two different philosophies over who should get health care coverage? Do you believe not everyone can expect free or low cost health care?
Ron Paul: Yeah, I think there's a lot to that. But I come from the viewpoint that the most important thing we do is preserve the doctor/patient relationship, which we do not. For the past 30 years or so we've had a lot of government involved. We have veterans care, we have Medicare, we have Medicaid and we also have a lot of people getting private insurance. People having private insurance are not all that unhappy. So what are we doing now or at least Obama is proposing that we turn the people that have service on insurance and make them join the governmental programs that everybody is unhappy about.
So it doesn't make any sense. It's a total failure to run anything by a bureaucracy. It always costs more and the services are always less favorable. So for us to pursue government solutions to a problem the government created sort of reminds me of the T.A.R.P. bailouts. You know what we do financially. So medical bailouts by more government when government created our managed care system of 35 years will only make things much worse.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/22/barrasso.bloomberg.art.jpg caption="Sen. John Barrasso (L) and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R)."]
It's one of those issues considered a third rail in American politics – gun control – and it's taking center stage on Capitol Hill. After some really heated debate, senators are scheduled to vote today on a measure that would let people carry concealed weapons across state lines.
It's known as the Thune Amendment and was introduced by Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota. A co-sponsor of the amendment, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), and Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I-NY), who opposes the measure, spoke to John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Wednesday.
John Roberts: We know this is a popular measure in Wyoming. You are a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. But as a practical matter, can you tell us why it's good public policy to allow people to carry concealed weapons across state lines?
John Barrasso: Right now people in 48 different states can have a license to carry a concealed weapon, but people travel. We have truck drivers on our roads, people traveling for vacation in their vehicles. And if you have a license, you've gone through the process, you should be able to use that license in other states. It should apply just like a driver's license. The people that are getting concealed weapon permits – those are basically the law-abiding citizens. The criminals are not in any way going down to the courthouse, getting fingerprinted for the purpose of getting a license to carry a concealed weapon. These are the best citizens, not the worst and I think this is in keeping with our Second Amendment rights – our rights to own and bear arms.
Roberts: Here's one of the issues. The requirements for a concealed carry permit vary from state to state. There are 19 states that require a gun safety program, but under this measure you could, say, get a concealed carry permit in the state of Mississippi, which requires no training at all and then travel to Dallas where permit applicants must go to at least ten hours of training. You're taking different requirements and kind of leveling the playing field at the federal level. Isn't this a matter of states' rights here?
Barrasso: Well you have different requirements for driver’s licenses as well in terms of at what age they get them and if they need driver’s education and all those sorts of things. Certainly we want to make sure that there is safety involved with people who are carrying concealed weapons. I think training is a very important part of that. But the law of the state where that person happens to be at the time are the laws that apply in terms of if you're allowed to carry a gun into a bar or into a restaurant. It's the home state law that applies. State rights continues to apply.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/22/thune.john.getty.art.jpg caption="Sen. John Thune (R-SD) listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill February 26, 2009 in Washington, DC."]
The Senate is poised to vote Wednesday on its third piece of gun rights legislation this year – and gun control advocates are racing to shore up any wavering Democrats who might join Republicans in supporting the measure.
The Republican-sponsored Thune Amendment, attached to the Defense Authorization Bill, would allow individuals to carry concealed firearms anywhere in the United States that permits carrying concealed weapons, provided they are legally registered.
Colin Goddard is lobbying against the amendment, sponsored by Sen. John Thune (R-SD), that would allow people to carry concealed firearms into other states, so long as they "...have concealed carry permits from the state in which they reside."
Goddard is not a typical lobbyist; he is a survivor – a student at Virginia Tech the day Seung-Hui Cho burst into his classroom and opened fire. Goddard was shot four times. Thirty-two other students died before Cho killed himself.
Now, Goddard is in Washington to tell lawmakers that even if he'd had a gun he could not have stopped Seung-Hui Cho.
"When I smelled that gunpowder, that's when I knew what was happening," Goddard recounted. "I knew there were other students in my class who were sitting in their chairs to be able to effectively respond to someone coming in a door like that guns blazing you need millisecond response time. Even trained police officers can't do that," he says.
He argues the proposed law would make it easier for unbalanced people to carry guns anywhere they choose, including states with more stringent concealed gun laws. And he isn't the only critic. Mayors from 450 cities took out an ad in USA Today urging the Senate to vote down the amendment.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an Independent, is fiercely opposed to the measure. "What it would do is put an enormous number of guns on the streets and it takes away states' rights," he says.
But The National Rifle Association says carrying a gun is a constitutional right, as well as a matter of personal safety.
"At the scene of the crime, there are only two people there, the criminal and the victim," says NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. "The victim always ought to have a right to own a firearm and have a firearm to protect themselves if they choose."
Case in point: last year, a bank customer, legally carrying a concealed weapon near Detroit, thwarted a bank robber who claimed to have a bomb. But gun control proponents say for every hero, there are many villains. Like Richard Poplawski – who legally owned guns and used them to kill three Pittsburgh police officers. And Seung Hui Cho – who bought guns legally and killed 32 others at Virginia Tech.
What do you think? Should concealed weapons be allowed across state lines?