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Sound Bites (2)

Governor, what was your reaction when you heard the news from Wichita yesterday?

Well, of course the first thing I did was pray, which was what I did when I heard about the church shooting in my own state last year. Faith and prayer are the only things that help in situations like this. And of course my heart goes out to all the victims and their families. I, for one, have not been laughing about this tragedy.

You're referring to the blood-spattered man at the site of the rampage who seemed to find the scene hilarious. So tell us, Governor, what is your take on this so-called "Laughin' Boy?"

I am appalled. And I don't know if Kansas has any Good Samaritan laws on the books, but if they do, I would hope they would make use of those laws to indict that man for failure to render aid.

What should he have done, Governor?

He should have rendered aid. Wasn't I clear on that?

Do you have such "Good Samaritan" laws in your state, Governor?

Listen, I'm getting awfully tired of these kinds of questions when there are larger issues at stake. I won't play "Gotcha." For one thing, the fact that a man like that would laugh under those circumstances indicates the extent to which the moral fiber of the nation has deteriorated. And if you ask me, the lack of moral leadership and character at the top, in Washington, is the biggest part of the problem.

Which brings us to your bid for the Presidency. Governor, if you win your party's nomination and then become President, what action will you take to prevent incidents such as this?

Aside from providing moral leadership, all the Executive branch can do—in fact, all that the Federal government should do—is see to it that states and cities remain free of interference from Washington and are thus able to support their law enforcement officers in the pursuit and punishment of those responsible.

Governor, are you saying that crimes involving automatic weapons and interstate or international conspiracies should be handled on a local level without the involvement of the FBI or ATF?

I suppose it depends.

On what, Governor?

What is this, twenty questions?

Governor, if elected, will you support tougher legislation against assault weapons and the terrorists who use them?

Now, we've been down this road before. I don't know how many times I have to make this point, but I'll do it again: We already have plenty of laws, and they obviously don't work. So more laws aren't the answer. After all, what are we going to do, ban fertilizer? How would our farmers feel about that?

You seem to be making a reference to the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. But with all due respect, Governor, yesterday's attack in Wichita wasn't committed with a fertilizer bomb, but with assault weapons—with guns.

Look, the problem isn't with guns, or with people who own guns. The problem, again, is with character and moral leadership. It's not with law-abiding, patriotic citizens exercising their rights, but with people who break laws that aren't working in the first place. And it's with people in Washington placing limits on freedom, which is not what our Founding Fathers intended. And frankly, when you get right down to it, it's with people not praying enough. Which is exactly why we have to have prayer in our schools again.

So in order to prevent another tragedy like yesterday's, Governor, you're saying that further anti-gun legislation wouldn't help—but more prayer would?

It would certainly be a good start.

Governor, are you suggesting that if yesterday's victims had only prayed enough, they might still be alive?

Okay, you're putting words in my mouth now. Who lives and who dies, or who goes to heaven or who goes to hell, is up to God, not me. But I will say to the good folks of Wichita that I'm sure the born-again Christians who died in Wichita yesterday are in heaven beside our Lord Jesus Christ right now.

According to early information, Governor, at least nine of those who died yesterday were Jewish, two were Muslim, and one was of the Bahai faith. And still others seem to have been Catholic, Unitarian, Mormon, and various other Christian denominations that do not define themselves as "born-again." Did they all go to hell?

I already told you, that's up to God. But I'm praying for all of the victims, of course. Are we about through here?

Governor, did you attend church services this morning?

As you know, I'm campaigning away from my home state and my home church, and I don't want to barge into some strange sanctuary with a cluster of security people and reporters and whatnot and disrupt services in somebody else's congregation. But I did spend the morning praying in my hotel room.

All morning?

9:15 to 9:45. That was all the time I had before you people started asking for interviews. Jim here can show you the schedule if you like.

That won't be necessary, Governor.


Mr. Vice President, would you tell us your reaction to yesterday's events in Wichita, Kansas?

Like all Americans, I grieve for the victims and families of the horrible terrorist attack in Wichita, and my thoughts and prayers are with them. Furthermore, I abhor the behavior of anyone who would treat such a tragedy as if it were funny.

Mr. Vice President, what needs to be done to prevent attacks like this?

Sadly, this latest assault on innocent Americans might have been avoided had Congress seen fit to pass our administration's legislation to establish a nationwide gun buy-back program similar to those which have been so successful in some of our larger cities.

Sir, are you suggesting that the terrorists who committed yesterday's atrocity might have turned in their weapons for cash instead of turning them on innocent people?

Well, since they didn't have the option, we'll never know, will we?

How much money per gun would the administration's proposal have provided for such a program?

We would have been careful not to touch Social Security or Medicare, and would have used only a small part of the projected budgetary surplus. So, assuming that we could have bought back three to four million guns, our legislation would have provided up to sixty-five dollars per weapon.

Would that have been for a pistol or an assault rifle?

Yes, it would.

Mr. Vice President, indications are that the terrorists in Wichita also made use of hand grenades.

That's a good point. When we resubmit the legislation we'll have to see whether funds might be available for hand-grenade buybacks as well.


Senator, do you have a comment?

Yes, thank you. As you know, the Vice President and I disagree on many issues, but I do agree with him that something must be done about the growing cancer of gun violence. If yesterday's events aren't a wake-up call, I don't know what is.

So you support the administration's national buy-back proposal?

No, I do not support that proposal for the simple reason that it is unworkable—and even if it did work to some degree, a large number of weapons would still be left on the streets.

In that case, Senator, if you were to win your party's nomination and go on to become President, what would you do instead?

I would propose a far-reaching, long-term Federal crackdown on gun violence. In my plan, any crime anywhere in the nation that involved the use of a firearm would be considered a Federal offense, punishable by imprisonment in a Federal penitentiary.

You are also on record, Senator, as saying that you would support a ban on handguns altogether.

I remain steadfast on that issue. Despite what the pro-gun lobby would have you believe, the Second Amendment does not guarantee the right to carry a weapon you can hide in your pants. Our Founding Fathers didn't do that, and neither should we.

But Senator, it seems that no handguns were used in yesterday's assault. All of yesterday's deaths and injuries appear to be from automatic rifle fire and hand-grenade shrapnel.

I would insist on a ban on automatic rifles and hand grenades as well. That's only common sense. In fact, I'm pretty sure hand grenades are off-limits already.

What weapons would not be included in your proposed ban, Senator?

Hunting rifles and most shotguns would still be legal, although I'd want stricter regulation of ammunition, and a limit of two weapons per household. In addition, I would offer a modest tax break to those sportsmen who voluntarily limit themselves to muzzle-loaders.

Senator, we have to ask if you're joking.

Not at all. Unlike that bizarre individual who was seen laughing at the bloodshed yesterday, I don't find any aspect of this topic the least bit laughable. For one thing, muzzle-loaders were good enough for our Founding Fathers, so they ought to be good enough for us. For another, just think how many more innocent people would have survived yesterday had the terrorists been forced to rely on black powder, wadding, musket balls, and tamping rods instead of multi-round clips.

But Senator, it's not as if we can uninvent—

I'm speaking speculatively, of course.

Any final thoughts, Senator?

Yes. I want the victims and families of yesterday's tragedy to know that my heart goes out to them. I, along with all Americans, share in their grief over this senseless act of violence.

Thank you, Sen—

They are in my prayers.


Congressman, could you give us your reaction to what's now being called the "Wichita Massacre?"

It's terrible, of course, but I have to say that it's exactly the sort of thing that will happen over and over so long as the anti-freedom forces in this country continue to prevent our citizens from arming themselves. Why, if yesterday's victims had only been carrying weapons of their own, they could have returned fire and won the day.

But Congressman, the assault took place at an outdoor concert with two thousand people in attendance. If members of the audience had begun shooting as well, wouldn't even more people have died in the crossfire?

Being hit by friendly fire is always a possibility. But at least some of the additional people killed would have been terrorists.

Congressman, do you think that would that have been any comfort to the additional victims or their families?

I think they would have understood that sacrifice is sometimes necessary. And I think they would have been proud, as Americans, to offer that sacrifice.

What is your reaction, Congressman, to the man being called "Laughin' Boy?"

Had decent persons in the crowd been properly armed, they could have shot him as well.

In closing, Congressman, is there any message you would like to send to the Wichita survivors and to the families of the victims?

Don't make the same mistake twice. Arm yourselves. And, of course, my thoughts and prayers are with you.


Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States:

My fellow Americans.

Once again, our nation is in mourning as the result of a senseless act of gun violence. That yesterday's tragedy in Wichita seems to have been the result of careful planning on the part of evil and cowardly individuals, and that it seems to have been a source of sickening amusement for others, only adds to the magnitude of our grief and outrage.

I come to you tonight with a threefold purpose. First, I want to assure the survivors of the Wichita Massacre—and, indeed, all Americans—that such a willful, evil act of terrorism shall not go unpunished. I have directed the Attorney General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other appropriate agencies to pursue all appropriate avenues of investigation and to lend all appropriate support to the relevant authorities in Kansas. Whether foreign or domestic in origin, the perpetrators of this atrocity will be brought to justice.

Second, I want to urge every parent, teacher, and guidance counselor throughout the nation to see to it that our children do not become confused by the things they have seen on television and the Internet as a result of this tragedy. It is imperative that we make our children understand why such an awful event is a matter not for laughter, but for tears.

And finally, I want to tell the good citizens of Wichita—especially the families and loved ones of yesterday's victims, as well as the hospitalized survivors still bravely fighting for life—that they are not alone. My friends, you have the support of all Americans, and you have my promise as your Commander in Chief that we will not abandon you, nor forget what has happened.

You are in our thoughts and prayers.



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