CNN's Don Lemon made a passionate appeal for tougher gun control while reporting from Newtown, Connecticut on Monday morning.
The tragic deaths of twenty-seven people — including twenty elementary school children — in Friday's mass shooting have ignited a national debate about gun control. Numerous lawmakers and media personalities have spoken out, demanding stricter controls. On Monday, Lemon could not contain his own views on the subject.
"We need to get guns and bullets and automatic weapons off the streets," he said, breaking from CNN's usual tone. "They should only be available to police officers and to hunt al Qaeda and the Taliban and not hunt elementary school children."
Lemon said that gun control was the main issue at hand, while mental health was a "secondary" issue. "If someone who has a mental issue did not have access to guns that should only be available in war zones, we would not be dealing with this," he declared.
His monologue lasted over a minute:
For the past three days, I have been on the verge of tears every second and most of the people here have been crying 24 hours straight. Yeah – yes, we need to address mental health, but mental health in this particular issue, let's not get it twisted, is a secondary issue. If someone who has a mental issue did not have access to guns that should only be available in war zones, we would not be dealing with this.
Who needs an armor-piercing bullet to go hunting? Who needs an assault rifle to go hunting? You can't even use the prey that you kill with an assault rifle if you indeed do it. No one needs an assault rifle to go out and shoot a deer. No one needs an assault rifle that's capable of shooting 10, 20, 30 rounds off at the same time to shoot a duck, or to shoot quail. It does not make sense. Our first – the first thing that we need to do – and according to everyone that is here, even gun enthusiasts, is talk about what we're doing with assault rifles, why should guns that should only be available in war zones, why are they available to people who are mentally healthy and people who are not mentally healthy. That's the issue that we need to deal with.
So to say that gun violence is down does not make sense, and to me is insulting to everyone who lost a loved one here and is dealing with that. It doesn't matter if gun violence is down, 26 children – 20 children are dead here, and six adults are dead, and the mother of a person who's not mentally up – who's mentally challenged in some way is – she's dead. So to say that gun violence is down and we need to talk about mental health – yes, mental health is a secondary issue. We need to get guns and bullets and automatic weapons off the streets. They should only be available to police officers and to hunt al Qaeda and the Taliban and not hunt elementary school children.