PBS' Gwen Ifill clashed with Fox News host Greta Van Susteren during a discussion about gun control on ABC's Sunday public affairs program, "This Week."
Host George Stephanopoulos asked the panel to weigh in on the likelihood of Congress passing gun control measures. Following the horrific mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., President Obama asked Vice President Joe Biden to lead the White House's effort to craft new legislation to curb gun violence, and propose such legislation this month.
Regular "This Week" panelist George Will likened his position on gun control laws to his feelings about climate control policy. "It's been well said that the only policy question about climate change is how much money do you want to spend on climate change to have no effect, discernible effect on the climate? And the same is true with gun control," Will said. "I do not see how you can write a law that will have much effect on what they're experiencing, for example, in Chicago."
Van Susteren, who also blogs for The Huffington Post, argued that violence permeates throughout American culture in mass media and has left citizens feeling "numb."
"You know what," she said. "We should take a look a little bit more at ourselves, from top to bottom. I mean, we have so much violence surrounding us that we think is ok. When we go to the movies, we see it, it's ok. Obviously, you can't legislate against things like that. Even the president of the United States sends rappers to the White House who say horrible things. Nobody's scandalized. I mean, there's no sort of effort for us to sort of looking at ourselves and how we're so -- we're so -- we're numb to violence in our culture."
Ifill interjected, "I'm trying to figure out whether any rappers have resulted in the deaths of schoolchildren. I don't think so."
"No, I don't think it's all schoolchildren," Van Susteren shot back. "There were two firefighters that were murdered on December 24th. They weren't schoolchildren. This has put a highlight on the problem."
"But as George points out, every weekend there are people killed on street corners in Chicago. And if you look back over the president's statements about gun violence in the wake of Newtown and you look at what people like Secretary Arne Duncan have had to say, they always talk about the broader idea of violence, not just about guns," Ifill said.
Van Susteren tried to interrupt, but the PBS host continued. "And so what's on the table right now for Vice President Biden and the people who are trying to figure out what to do is a wide range of issues, some of it having to do with gun control, some of it has to do with speaking to gun violence ... But what happens most of the time in Washington is these things come up and then they fade after the shock."
"Gwen, I don't think Washington can necessarily answer the question for the nation," Van Susteren said. "What I'm trying to point out is that we all have to look at ourselves, as well, and look at how well we do—even like that PSA that Hollywood artists put out for gun control the other day, and then side by side, some group put all the violent movies they're in. I mean, this is a big discussion, a big national narrative that we all have to look at ourselves in terms of how our culture has now become to accept violence as an answer to problems, as a solution to problems. We see that on TV and movies all over."