Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Margo Jefferson joins Kojo to discuss her new memoir and explore how her experiences growing up in Chicago frame her perspectives about race and opportunity in the United States.
President Barack Obama asks Cabinet members for proposals to address gun violence. NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel and three crew members were freed after five days of captivity in Syria. Accord on the fiscal cliff may be near. And the nation’s second-longest-serving senator, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, passes away. It’s your turn to talk about these headlines and other stories catching your eye.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIWelcome back. It's Your Turn. You can call right now. 800-433-8850, and, start a conversation on any subject that you'd like to, whether it's events in the news, topics that we just discussed, or anything else on your mind. Speaking of just discussed, we were talking about Mali where in the northern part of the country there are Islamic radicals who control some of that country, and are trying to implement Sharia law there in what's reported to be a fairly brutal fashion.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIOn the other hand, you may have been hearing about the fact that NBC reporter Richard Engel and his production team have been rescued after they were kidnapped and captured in Northwest Syria. Well, you may be mildly surprised to know that Spencer Ackerman is reporting on Wired, that the people who rescued Richard Engel and his production team are radical Islamists who are fighting against the loyalists in Syria.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThe loyalists were apparently who capture Engel and his production team. They were freed by an Islamic radical group known as Ahrar al-Sham, which, according to Spencer Ackerman's report, might give Westerners some pause because it's described by the Associated Press as Islamic Fundamentalist Brigade, home to many foreign Jihadis, but a lot of them are fighting against the Assad regime in Syria, and so that's who Richard Engel and his production team may owe their thanks to for being rescued from that situation.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAnd, of course, President Obama on Monday, according to a report in the Washington Post today, began the first serious push of his administration to attempt to reduce gun violence, directing cabinet members to formulate a set of proposals that could include reinstating a ban on assault rifles. That effort to be led by Vice President Biden, and, of course, the calls for gun control have escalated rapidly during the course of the past several days.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIOne of the people who probably would not be subscribing to those calls is the new Senator from South Carolina, Tim Scott. He is African American. The first African American Republican in the U.S. Senate since Ed Brooke in the early 1980s. Of course, he is also a Tea Party favorite, and not expected to approve any kind of gun control. Well, it's your turn, so 800-433-8850. We will start with Jay in Virginia Beach, Va. Jay, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JAYThank you much. I was calling because what has happened in the Newton incident is very horrific and unwarranted. But regarding to gun control, it's the fact that a gun owner was completely irresponsible and did not lock up the weapons properly, and had the responsible gun owner locked up their weapon like they're supposed to under state and federal laws, the incident would have been mitigated.
JAYSo the issue -- for example, if this person had ran them over with a car at a bus stop, we would not be advertising that these children were run over by a Ford truck, or a Chevy car. We'd be focusing on a terrible person with a vehicle did something very bad.
NNAMDIWell, one of the things -- Jay, one of the things that people who will now argue for gun control will argue against you, or two points they'll make is that since Columbine, there have been at least 56, maybe as many as 61 mass murders in the United States with the use of gun, and the second they'll say is why does anybody really need an assault weapon? How would you respond to that.
JAYWhen you have MS 13 and Crips and Bloods who come to your home to rape your wife and daughters, you have to be able to defend yourself. That is why it's in our Constitution. It's not about hunting. It's not...
NNAMDINo. No. Allow me to repeat my last question. Why does anyone need assault rifles? Because it would appear that the gun control movement is going to try to get those assault rifles banned again. Are you saying that if an MS 13 member comes to your home, what you need to defend your home is an assault rifle?
JAYYou need a weapon. A weapon that...
NNAMDIThat's not going to be the argument. The argument -- let me repeat, Jay. The argument is not going to be whether or not you should have a weapon or a gun. That's not going to be the argument. It's going to be whether you need an assault rifle. How would you respond to that specific question?
JAYBecause you taking away the right of a civil individual who has their own freedoms, who is law abiding, and allowing illegal improper people to be armed, because they will be.
NNAMDIYou're just not going to answer that question, are you?
JAYNo. I answered the question. You have the right to defend yourself against the hostilities that are here. You have no idea what a delicate balance that we have here, how easy...
NNAMDIJay, you're not going to answer the question, so I'm going to move on. Here we go to Nick in Bethesda, Md. Nick, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
NICKHi. Good afternoon, Kojo. Thank you for taking my call.
NICKI wanted to discuss gun control, because I believe partially in agreement with the previous caller.
NICKThe instances of gun violence, such as this horrific incident last week, were actually caused by gross negligence, and broke many state and federal laws.
NICKAnd I believe, as does the previous caller, that had this person's mother ended up properly securing her weapons, her tools so to speak, her firearms, that we would not be discussing this horrific incident today.
NNAMDINick, that may be true. But another caller on the line wants to say, and I will repeat what that caller wants to say, and ask you to answer it. Assault rifles, says Arthur in Gaithersburg, who we'll talk to shortly, are weapons of mass destruction, that they talk our Constitutional rights to the extreme. What is your feeling about assault weapons?
NICKFirstly, I believe that assault weapons are a misnomer. I believe that there has been an intense politicization around the subject, and that the inherent operation of a rifle does make it more efficient, which has been deemed an assault weapon. But I truly believe that the greatest assault weapon that we have ever been creating, will always create, and will inherently possess in all of us, is our mindset and our own mental state.
NICKAnd I believe that as is a car a tool, as a hammer is a tool, as a violin in an instrument or a tool, so is a rifle.
NNAMDIWell, the argument that will also be made about an instrument being a tool is that on the very first day that this happened in Newtown, Connecticut, there was an event in China in which an individual with a knife attacked an elementary school and stabbed 22 people, none of whom died. Do you think there's any difference at all?
NICK...I don't think there is any difference. I believe that firearms, while they may facilitate the wounding mechanism, I believe it is an inherent problem with our society.
NICKAnd I, as a competition shooter, believe as someone who may or may not own what are called to be assault weapons, and use them within my lawful Constitutionally given rights, I believe that penalizing the majority of the society that is lawful and believes truly in the safe operation and peaceful operation of these tools...
NICK...I believe that that is fundamentally against American Constitutionalism.
NNAMDIOkay, Nick. Thank you for your call. Onto Arthur in Gaithersburg, Md. Arthur, your turn.
ARTHURHi, Kojo. Thank you for taking my call, and for the conversation, this one and all the ones over the years that you've had.
NNAMDIThank you for letting me quote you. Go ahead.
ARTHURI really don't think that folks are getting the point. We, by logical arguments to the absurd, should each have our own little nuclear weapons. I mean, if you have a right to any available weaponry in the world, then why don't we each -- I might need to defend myself against a hostile city that wants to come and attack my family. I may need to take a city out. I mean, it's that absurd.
ARTHURThese are weapons of mass destruction, period. And there's no place for them in anyone's possession. There's no need for anybody to have such a thing. Right to bear arms, the Constitutional argument there, back to the spirit and intent of the Constitution were their mindset, their reference was a musket. So we really, truly, if you look at the Constitutional kind of spirit and intent, we have a right to something that we can load one pellet with, you know, gun powder at a time, that we slide in with a little poker, and shoot them off.
ARTHURThere was no vision of having, even in modern times, there is no provision that the reasonable, rational, lawful need to have something that can kill masses of people. But if we just simply -- it's a moot point. If we just simply categorize these horror weapons as what they are, weapons of mass destruction, then we've got maybe Geneva Conventions and the international prohibition against the possession of a weapon of mass destruction.
NNAMDIWell, with all due respect, I doubt that's where the Congress or any of the state legislatures are likely to go. I suspect that what we will be seeing is an attempt to reinstitute a ban on what are known as assault weapons, and there's a lot of terminology being thrown around about assault weapons that might in fact be semi-automatic weapons and the like. I think we all need, and I am no expert, to be more specific about the terms that we use.
NNAMDIBut Arthur, thank you very much for your call. We move on now to Kelly in Purcellville, Va. Kelly, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
KELLYThank you so much for taking my call.
KELLYI have -- I'm not sure that there's an answer for this that's readily available. But I've been listening to the reports from a lot of places about the NRA not being all that effective in Washington in helping to sway elections. But I also hear that they are so powerful and have so much money that they can get almost any law they want passed. And I'm not sure I understand where that money comes from, and why it is that gun control organizations don't have access to the same kind of money.
NNAMDIThat money, Kelly, comes from the gun owners of America who would like to see their rights protected, and a significant portion of that money comes from the gun manufacturers of the world who would like to see their weapons sold in the United States. So it's a combination of money that leads ultimately to a very large sum of money that can be used for lobbying or whatever the NRA chooses to do.
KELLYWell, I guess that makes sense. Thank you.
NNAMDIYou're very welcome. We move on now to Mark in Orlean, Va. Mark, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MARKHi Kojo. Yeah. I'm sitting here thinking to myself who is kidding who about this whole situation? This horrific type of event is going to occur again. And it's going to occur again and again and again until something realistic is done. This nibbling around the edges is a joke. You know, Diane Feinstein, you know, on the Democratic side, offered this bill that would prospectively prohibit the purchase of assault weapons, but it does nothing about retrospectively, those people who already have them will be grandfathered in.
MARKThis is nuts. They should be banned outright. No one needs more than a six-shot revolver if they're really concerned about protecting themselves. They don't need an assault weapon. They don't need an automatic gun with a 20-bullet clip. And, you know, the Japanese, the Australians, the Europeans have had horrific massacres like this, and once they happen, they instituted some real gun controls along the lines that I've just suggested.
NNAMDIAnd you get -- you get the last word on this issue, Mark. Thank you very much for your call, and thanks to all of those of you who participated. Until the next edition of Your Turn, I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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