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Terror in Tucson

Aired January 10, 2011 - 21:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to this live special 9:00 edition of 360. "The Terror in Tucson."

We want to bring you up to date on the deadly shootings. The alleged gunman, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner appeared in court this afternoon where he did not enter a plea. He's accused of killing six people, wounding 14 others including Gabrielle Giffords. His next hearing is set for January 24th.

The shootings happened on Saturday morning outside a supermarket in Tucson where Giffords was meeting with her constituents. This was the call that was made to 911.


UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: Was somebody shot then, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It looked like the guy had a semiautomatic pistol. He went in, he just started firing.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: Is anybody injured? Did you say Gabrielle Giffords was hit?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do believe she's breathing. She is breathing. She still has a pulse. We have a few people -- we've got one dead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they are injured.

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: Who -- OK. And there's other people that are injured?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's multiple people shot.



COOPER: Giffords, a three-term Democrat, shot in the head. Tonight she's in a medical induced coma but doctors say she's holding her own and they are optimistic about her prospects for recovery. We'll talk to Sanjay Gupta in a moment. Himself, a neurosurgeon.

The mass shooting has unnerved people across this country, obviously. On Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats expressed concern for the safety of members of Congress. This morning, President Obama and the first lady led the nation in a moment of silence for the victims.

The moment of silence was also observed on the steps of the Capitol. Afterward, the president had this to say.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right now, the main thing we're doing is to offer our thoughts and prayers to those who have been impacted, making sure that we're joining together and pulling together as a country.

And, you know, as president of the United States, but also as a father, obviously I'm spending a lot of time just thinking about the families and reaching out to them.


COOPER: We'll talk to some of those family members in the next hour. We learned a short time ago that the president will travel to Tucson on Wednesday. White House sources tell CNN he'll likely attend a memorial service and visit with families of the victims.

We're joined by 360 correspondent Randi Kaye who is Tucson as is Drew Griffin of CNN Special Investigations Unit, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta as well.

Randi, take us through what happened on the morning. You say this all started with a tweet from Representative Giffords.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It did. The congresswoman, when she's here in town, Anderson, she does try apparently to squeeze in about eight or nine events. So Saturday morning she sent out a tweet via twitter at 9:58 a.m. local time here inviting people to her first event called "Congress on the Corner."

She wanted people to come and ask her questions. Tell them what's on her mind. So that was at 9:58. Twelve minutes later, Anderson, she was shot in the head, gunned down. So it's unclear at this point because we don't know a motive about the suspect or for the suspect. It's unclear if maybe he had seen that tweet and that's what prompted him to go to that Safeway supermarket or if he was already there waiting for her.

COOPER: I want to put up the mugshot we've seen -- that we got today, late today of this alleged shooter. This really is the first indication of what he looks like now. We've seen a lot of pictures with him with hair. Obviously his head is shaved. He's got sort of -- you can interpret the look he has. Drew, what do we know about this guy?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT: Well, we know apparently that his mental deterioration began junior in high school, Anderson. That's when friends say he had a real mood change and started using drugs.

And we have multiple evidence that last summer, he was really disturbed, attending a math class in a community college where he would create these disturbances, yell out random things, challenge the teacher, then go into these silent moans. The teacher was very, very afraid, as were other students.

I should say, Anderson, in real time, a student was sending out e-mails saying, this guy scares the crap out of me.

COOPER: Yes. We're going to talk to some of those students and teachers also in our next hour.

Sanjay, how did Giffords survive a gunshot wound? My understanding it went from the back to the front, so not -- sort of sideways, which makes a huge difference.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean there were several factors that sort of tipped the odds in her favor. One is that she got care right at the scene. You know, you heard about some of those stories, people able to stop some of the bleeding or at least slow it down.

She got to the hospital very quickly. And then within 38 minutes, she was in the operating room. All those things make a big difference. Surgeons were able to take the pressure off the brain pretty quickly. And that's the key to an operation like this. The bullet like that causing bleeding being one concern, but just the injury itself causing swelling and just pressure on the brain. That's so key.

One thing I want to show you real quick, Anderson, if you take a look at the skull model. You mentioned the bullet sort of going from the back on the left side to the front. You know surgeons taking out some of the bone fragments in here first of all, which can act like missiles as well, little missiles, and then stopping the bleeding.

But also taking off some more bone around the skull as well so that -- in anticipation of swelling. If the swelling is to occur later on down the road, the brain has a place where it can swell as opposed to, you know, just being forced into this ridged skull. So that's sort of -- that's sort of the point.

The other thing is that the bullet sort of went through and through, Anderson, as well. So through the back and out the front. So some of the energy was sort of dissipated into the air and into space as opposed to all sort of within the inter-cranial cavity.

I think those things made a difference. And she was following commands, which was amazing, Anderson, when she came in. Able to hear a command, able to contextualize, interpret it, and then execute some sort of -- you know hold up two fingers, some sort of body movement based on that. All those very good signs, Anderson.

COOPER: So they've taken off a good part of her skull actually and she's in a medically-induced coma. Why would they put somebody into a medically induced coma? What does that do?

GUPTA: Well, there's really a few reasons. One is to control pain. You know, someone who has pain after this, the pain medications, you know can be sedating. You also give sedatives to try and let the person sleep and get rest. And then some of the medications as well sort of relax the brain. That's the best way to think about it.

You want the brain to sort of be as slowed down as possible during this time so it's not demanding more blood flow. It's sort of reduces the likelihood of swelling. And the thing about these medications, so amazing, Anderson, is that you can give them and then as soon as you stop giving them through the IV, within a very short time, within minutes, the patient is likely to wake up and you can do an exam.

You can examine them again and see if they're still able to follow commands and just do some simple things. And that's really critical. That's your best sort of barometer of how she's doing, how the brain is behaving, is there evidence of swelling, and they supplement that with CAT scans to get an exact look.

COOPER: Just incredible. We're going to have more with our panel, Sanjay and Drew and Randi, after the break.

Later this hour, Bill Maher. Why he believes the tone of the political dialogue in the country has made it more dangerous for all of us.

We'll also talk to Dana Loesch and -- and others ahead. David Gergen and others ahead. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back to this special 360. "The Terror in Tucson, Arizona."

Governor Jan Brewer was scheduled to give her state of the state address today, but chose instead to talk about the massacre.


GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: Saturday's events were not just an attack on those individuals we loved and lost. But an assault on our constitutional republic, on our democracy, on all we treasure and all hold dear as citizens and public servants.

Arizona is in pain, yes. Our grief is profound. We are yet in the first hours of our sorrow. But we have not been brought down. We will never be brought down. (END OF VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We're joined again by Randi Kaye, Drew Griffin and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Randi, there were six people killed along with the 14 wounded on Saturday. It could have been worse, though. I mean this guy had another magazine with bullets in it.

KAYE: He did. In fact, he had used the first magazine, the first ammunition clip was empty. And when the two men tackled him, he was actually trying to reload. In fact, he had reloaded, Anderson.

He had another ammunition clip with him, which he had already put in that -- in that gun. And it had 31 bullets in it. But just by chance, Anderson, the spring malfunctioned and the gun jammed. And that gave pause and that gave two men an opportunity to tackle him. So this really could have been so much worse.

COOPER: Drew, you talked about the history of this guy, the problems he had had in school. He got kicked out of school because of his bizarre behavior.

There's a lot of heated political -- you know heated political rhetoric now, a lot of finger-pointing by Republicans and Democrats about whether the heated political rhetoric in this country in the last couple of years in some way contributed to this.

Do we know anything -- I know the guy is a registered independent. I mean do we know anything? Was he particularly political?

GRIFFIN: In the sense that he was odd in political ways. He would talk about the Constitution. His free speech. I asked that math instructor, I said, did he have any kind of political bent?

Anderson, he said if he had any political bent, it was -- he said liberal pot-smoker. That was the words that the math teacher used. Now I can't find any references to any kind political party in any of his ramblings. You said he registered as a -- an independent. Wrote independent on his voter registration card. Voted in '06. Voted in '08. Did not vote in 2010, according to the Register of Voters here.


COOPER: So he seems somewhat obsessed with --

GRIFFIN: I mean all this political, you can't read into it.

COOPER: He seemed obsessed with sort of U.S. currency and also with language. He apparently quizzed even Congresswoman Giffords at a previous event about how do we know words mean anything or words to that effect?

GRIFFIN: Yes, that was -- that was -- at 2007, he apparently met her at one of these, you know, meet-your-congressman gatherings like the one that took place on Saturday, and according to "Wall Street Journal" that was his question.

How do you know words mean anything? She apparently gave an answer. He was unsatisfied with it, but that's kind of a nonsensical stuff. And I think trying to read into that any way -- he believes that everybody in this district was illiterate, didn't know what they were talking about.

And if they believe in the U.S. currency, they're nuts. I mean I really would find it hard to believe that either party can claim the other party had something to do with this.

COOPER: Drew, have we heard anything from this guy's parents yet? I know -- I mean I've seen pictures of the outside of his house and it seems kind of a ramshackle place in a relatively nice neighborhood. They're not speaking, though?

GRIFFIN: No. They've apparently spoken to authorities. They haven't made any statements. I will tell you this. When he was kicked out of school, there was a meeting with campus police, with the dean and with the parents. And the parents were told, look, your son needs help.

Your son at least needs a mental clearance before he can get back on this campus. We just don't know what happened after that. We'll hopefully find out in the coming days and weeks.

COOPER: The only thing we do know is he did not get the mental clearance because he did reappear back at the school.

GRIFFIN: Yes. He did not come back to class.

COOPER: Right. Sanjay --

GRIFFIN: He did not come back to that campus.

COOPER: Sanjay, of the wounded that brought to the hospital, the congresswoman is the only patient still in critical condition. What are -- I mean what's the next step here? What will doctors be looking for?

GUPTA: Well, you know, this concern about brain swelling is a real one. And then I think, you know, people give it sort of different timelines. Usually around day three or three days after the injury is when you sort of have the maximum swelling. So that's an important day. And you know, doctors will be doing those exams that we talked about, getting the CAT scans.

I think around, you know, day four or five or so, if there's no increased swelling, the sort of acute period of swelling concern will start to come to a close. But it's not to say that there aren't all sorts of different other factors here, Anderson.

I got to tell you. I was a little surprised. You know surgeons usually hold their cards pretty close to the vest when trying to talk about optimism right after an operation, especially one like this. But you heard, like everyone else did, the doctors, Dr. Rhee, coming out and saying he was very optimistic, he was as optimistic as he could be, right after the operation, just a couple of hours later.


GUPTA: So, I think you know, overall she has some pretty good signs. But you know in the intensive care unit, on a breathing machine, concerns about infection, concerns about breathing --


GUPTA: Bleeding, rather, all these sorts of things I think are persistent over the next several days.

COOPER: Sanjay, we'll talk to you in our next hour as well.

Randi Kaye and Drew Griffin, also. We'll talk to all of you in the hour ahead.

In the days since the shooting, as we've been talking about, there's been all kinds of finger-pointing about who is to blame for the tragedy beyond the shooter himself, even amid calls to tone down the rhetoric.

It seems to be ratcheting up. Some Democrats appear to be using the situation to point fingers at Republicans, accusing them of creating a toxic environment of inflammatory political speech, while conservative radio is blowing up with accusations that it's actually the Democrats who are -- politicizing the shooting.

Now one of the contentious points is the mere mention by either side of a controversy involving Sarah Palin. Campaigning back in March, you'll remember Palin posted a map on Facebook putting crosshairs over several Democratic-controlled districts including Giffords'.

That same time, Palin tweeted, quote, "Common-sense conservatives and lovers of America don't retreat, instead reload." Representative Giffords herself took issue with Palin's imagery. Here's what she said on MSNBC back in March.


REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (D), ARIZONA: We're on Sarah Palin's targeted list. But the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district, when people do that, they've got to realize there's consequences to that action.


COOPER: Well, just a day after that interview with the representative, Palin was in Giffords' district campaigning with Senator John McCain. Here's what she had to say about the criticism of the weapons metaphor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We know violence isn't the answer. When we take up our arms, we're talking about our vote. We're talking about being involved in a contested primary like this, and picking the right candidate, too, John McCain. We thank you for that.

But just BS coming from the lame-stream media lately about this -- about us inciting violence. Don't let -- don't let the conversation be diverted. Don't let a distraction like that get you off track.


COOPER: Well, Palin's echoing those statements today in an e- mail that Glenn Beck talked about on his program today. Palin says she hates violence, that, quote, "Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this."

Back in Arizona, on the night of the shooting, Democratic Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik outraged many Republicans when he talked about tone and how it can have deadly consequences.


SHERIFF CLARENCE DUPNIK, PIMA COUNTY, ARIZONA: When the rhetoric about hatred, about mistrust of government, about paranoia of how government operates, and to try to enflame the public on a daily basis 24 hours a day, seven days a week, has impact on people, especially who are unbalanced personalities to begin with.


COOPER: We should keep in mind there's been nothing to clearly link the shooter to any of this rhetoric. In fact, he's registered as an independent. You heard Drew Griffin saying that a teacher actually described him as a liberal pot-smoker.

We're joined by Dana Loesch, Tea Party organizer and St. Louis radio host, and David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst and a former presidential advisor.

Dana, in the past, a lot of conservatives have blamed violent acts -- whether it's, you know, shooting up a school, on something like video games or music or certain teachings. If one can blame those things, why shouldn't one be willing to blame heated or violent political rhetoric?

DANA LOESCH, ORGANIZER, NATIONWIDE TEA PARTY COALITION: Well, and Anderson, I don't think that it was correct for anyone to blame any of the past violence in schools on music or on anything that they see in film because it -- it immediately passes responsibility of the parents to assume responsibility of their children and for the people who carry these acts out to assume responsibility.

And I apply the exact same thing to this instance. There's a lot of stuff that's said on both sides, but I don't -- both sides aren't speaking in literal terms. Both sides are free to make metaphorical analogies. And I think that they're also free to not be blamed when someone of their own will decides to commit a heinous act such as what we saw in Arizona.

COOPER: David, what about that? You served in White House when passed presidents, you know, have faced this kind of tragedies. Is examining political discourse in the wake of an incident like appropriate or without any evidence he was a follower of anyone in particular? Is it premature?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think we have to exercise great care here, Anderson. As you remember, there were many times during the election campaign, even going all the way back to the town halls, when we lamented on this program the incitements that were there.

People showing up with guns. Someone yelling out at a Palin rally, you know, kill him, kill him. And to his great credit, John McCain put a stop to that. But we worried about would this eventually lead to some sort of violence. And I think there's a continuing concern about that.

But having said that, which is very important, we need to deal with it. There is no connection, clear or vague, between that rhetoric and what this deranged fellow did. And in that sense, I think it's inappropriate to point fingers and make accusations, trying to link the rhetoric to this rampage.

If anything, the accusations and all of this name-calling is only further poisoning the discourse in this country and further polarizing us as a people. President Obama had it right today. We need to pull together as a people.

COOPER: We're going to have Bill Maher on in a moment for a couple of blocks. And he frankly does point the finger at the rhetoric and at the vitriol and at Republicans in particular.

Dana -- and we're going to have Dana and David on afterward to get to respond to what he said. But it does seem like some on the right now may be trying to score political points by accusing people on the left of trying to score political points.

I mean this whole thing, it's interesting in the last couple of days how quickly it became politicized.

LOESCH: Oh, it's very -- it's kind of shocking to sort of see it. And it's interesting to think that simply a conservative defending themselves against the charge of being called a murderer, as I've seen done with Sarah Palin, I've seen done with more people than I can count, including myself.

I myself have received threats in e-mail and been called a murderer from people who are trying to condemn this vitriolic rhetoric while also engaging in it at the same time. It makes no sense to me.

But the bottom line is that all of this is completely obscuring two massive points. Those two points are the fact that five people are dead including a child. And the second point is that this is in a long line of -- this is a trend. We see these lone wolf sort of antagonists over and over again. And nothing preemptive is done.

We find out after the fact that all these warning signs are there. Confessions all over the Internet, people from like -- with Jared Lee Loughner, the community college, his parents, friends were saying that he's been this -- been this way for incredibly long time. Nothing was done.

And so I think we need to just kind of start focusing on what can be done preemptively to identify this kind of stuff. He's been stalking her for three years and he's made a death threat before. Why was this allowed to happen?

COOPER: David, it does seem like in the wake of these things --


COOPER: -- that a lot of questions are always raised about whether it's on gun control or the mental health system. And yet it doesn't seem like much changes.

GERGEN: It doesn't. And I just wanted to ask, and you say something needs to be done. How is it possible that someone who is this unhinged, when so many people understood that he was in mental deterioration, that he could still walk into a gun store and buy, you know, .9 mm semiautomatic Glock handgun? And also then carry it concealed?

I mean that's -- if there's some cultural insanity here, it is the fact that we haven't put a stop to the capacity of these deranged young people to buy guns and then spray at people. It's just unbelievable.

LOESCH: It's not the -- I have to --


LOESCH: I have to disagree with you, Mr. Gergen, on that. It's not the gun law. It's the fact that he was refused from the military. He made a death threat before. And he had problems and was removed from community college. None of this was reported.

GERGEN: Do you think --

LOESCH: That has nothing to do with the gun laws on the book.

GERGEN: Do you think it's appropriate that he was able to buy a gun?

LOESCH: I think it's inappropriate the fact that you had his parents that knew about his behavior, the community college and the military --

GERGEN: Well, just answer the question. (CROSSTALK)

LOESCH: Well, do you think that those people are able to orchestrate the -- do you think those people should be able to decide who can and cannot get guns? These -- why wasn't this reported? If these had been reported, he wouldn't have been able to get one in the first place.

So the argument that there's some -- a problem with the law is irrelevant. The fact that if his behavior had been reported, he would not have been able to purchase a firearm. End of story.

COOPER: We're going to have more with David and Dana coming up. We'll talk more to both of you shortly.

Up next, a very different perspective. In particular on the gun issue as well. We'll talk to a man who says the U.S. is a well-armed country with a lot of nutty people in it. We're talking about Bill Maher, host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher." He's coming up in just a moment.



OBAMA: I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping all the victims and their families, including Gabby, in our thoughts and prayers. Those who have been injured, we are rooting for them. And I know Gabby is as tough as they come. And I am hopeful that she's going to pull through.


COOPER: That was President Obama this weekend. And Congresswoman Giffords, just to update, remains in critical but stable condition in a hospital. Thirteen others were wounded in Saturday's shooting. Six others killed.

The alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, in federal court today where he did not enter a plea.

Joining us now is Bill Maher, host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher."

Bill, when you first heard the news that a member of Congress had been shot in a politically heated state like Arizona, what was your initial reaction?

That this is really the only country in the world that shoots its leaders at the rate that we do. The last time I think a leader was shot in Britain was 1812. Canada has had 15 or 16 prime ministers, how many have been shot? Zero.

BILL MAHER, HOST, HBO'S "REAL TIME": It's a very well-armed country with a lot of nutty people. And that's a very bad combination. COOPER: Is it fair at this point -- I mean obviously there's been a lot of soul searching, a lot of finger pointing at this point. Is it fair to be placing blame at the feet of anyone other than the shooter at this point?

MAHER: Yes. I mean, not direct blame. No. This guy was clearly a nut. I mean, a schizophrenic, a paranoid. I don't know. I'm not a psychologist. But nut would be the layman's term.

But it's also clear that he was very antigovernment. I mean if you read some of the stuff that we have -- that we know he wrote, I mean, it's sprinkled with things anti-government ideas, treason, tyranny, of the gold get off -- get back to the gold standard, that kind of stuff that seems like -- you know, I don't know who else but Glenn Beck talks about that stuff. I'm not saying he was specifically listening to Mr. Beck or anybody else.

But Glenn Beck is also a little nutty. You know, I mean, this Jared guy's chalkboard in his basement, I'm not sure it wouldn't look that different than Glenn Beck's chalkboard. Yes, I think it's disingenuous for the right wing, as I've heard them say today, that we can't make any connection here or else the -- or the false equivalency argument that I hear, you know. There's a lot of nuts on the left, too.

Yeah, there are nutty people on the left, too. They don't make threats. They don't talk about guns. I heard someone on NPR today say, well, when Bush was president, there was Bush equals Hitler signs. From who? Not from someone in Congress. Yeah, there's always going to be some nut out there. I don't know who had that sign.

But Sarah Palin put the cross hairs up on her website. That's a person in a position of authority. Her other example was, you know, Keith Olbermann says Worst Person in the World. Well, first of all, it's comedy. It's tongue in cheek. And it's very different than what Allan West talks about, what Michele Bachmann talks about. I want to, you know, keep my opponents scared to come out of his house. I want Minnesotans armed and dangerous.

Sharron Angle with 2nd Amendment remedies. You float these ideas. Nobody on the left is saying it would cause a rational person to do something crazy. We're saying it goes out to the borderline cases, the nutty people. But it's always from the right.

COOPER: But at this point, I mean -- well, first of all, a lot of people on the right will point to a comment that President Obama -- I think then candidate Obama made about, you know, bringing a gun to a knife fight. That's the line I've heard a lot today. Is that a fair comparison?

MAHER: No, it's not. I mean, maybe it's unfortunate that he would use that metaphor. But, you know, there are such things as guns and knives in the world. We're not trying to say you can't use those words ever in speech. But it's a lot different than the this sort of direct idea that it's OK to threaten with bodily harm the people you disagree with. Jesse Kelly, I saw in the paper, there's an ad that -- COOPER: That's the person who was running against the congresswoman.

MAHER: Right. Which said help remove her from office. And in the next line talked about firing M-16s. You know, this -- this kind of stuff is not what goes on on the left. You cannot -- you cannot point to any sort of equivalency here.

And as always, the media gets that wrong. They try to -- they try to make it like they're being fair because they're making everything 50/50. Well, if you're not being truthful, and that's not truthful, then you're not being fair.

COOPER: I want to play -- we just showed our viewers that cross hairs image that Sarah Palin put with this congresswoman's district in the cross hairs. It's interesting now -- this was -- there's no evidence that this shooter or the alleged shooter saw this or was influenced in any way by this. But one of her advisers tried to explain that image over the weekend during a radio interview. This is one of Sarah Palin's advisers, Rebecca Mansour, on "The Tammy Bruce Show."


REBECCA MANSOUR, ADVISER TO SARAH PALIN: I just want to clarify again -- maybe it wasn't done on the record enough by us when this graphic came out. The graphic is just -- it's basically -- we never, ever, ever intended it to be gun fights. It was simply cross hairs like you'd see on maps.

TAMMY BRUCE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It's a surveyor symbol.

MANSOUR: Right. I just want to say this, if I can.

BRUCE: Please.

MANSOUR: This graphic was done -- you know, it was done not even in-house. We had a professional who does political -- you know, a political graphic artist, consultant do this for us.


COOPER: It's interesting. In a Tweet earlier, a couple of months ago, Sarah Palin actually described it as the bulls eye icon. Do you buy that that that was just a surveyor symbol?

MAHER: No, I don't. But if it is, would it be okay if Keith Ellison, the Muslim member of Congress, put that up on his website? Can you imagine if he put that on his website targeting his political opponents? Do you think they'd just let that go over at Fox News?

COOPER: There are other whose have said, look, liberals are kind of jumping on this and using this as a way to bludgeon conservatives right now. But that when Major Nadal Hasan killed people on that base last year that a lot of people said, look, don't rush to judge. Was there -- was there a -- is there a double standard here? MAHER: I'm not even really following that analogy, but I -- I certainly am not one of the people who was not judging Major Hasan. I judge him. Yes, I've been accused oftentimes of being judgmental against Muslim extremists. And I always say, I'm not -- I'm not judgmental, but I am judging. I'm not prejudging. I'm judging.

And I'm judging that somebody like that is a terrorist in our midst. But it's interesting you bring this up, because there are two groups who I can think of who in recent years that many Americans have complained do not have enough moderates. One is Muslims and one is the Republicans. And I think now maybe the Muslims have more moderates than the Republicans.

You know, when you float terms like tyranny as they do or treason -- remember in the health care debate, Republican congressmen were hoisting that banner that said "Don't Tread On Me," which really had only applied to enemies of America, not political opponents.

You create an atmosphere. Yes, you do. Governor Perry in -- in Texas threatening secession over -- over the tax hike that Obama wanted, over a three percent tax hike on the richest one percent? That's reason to throw down the S card? These people are hysterical. Hysterical is really the only word I can think of for it.

You know, these conservatives, they want to be known as tough guys. They're girls -- school girls who get hysterical about things. Health care made them hysterical. Government takeover. It wasn't a government takeover. I know what a government takeover would have looked like. That's called a single payer system. We didn't get that. We didn't even try for that. We didn't even get a public option.

So when you create an atmosphere of hysteria, yes, of course the nuts are going to hear it and some of them are going to do things like this guy did.

COOPER: We're going to have more with Bill Maher in just a moment. Pundits talking about the political rhetoric surrounding the tragedy; more on that. Is it just rhetoric? Something we should be listening for? More on that ahead.


COOPER: We're back with Bill Maher from HBO "Real Time with Bill Maher." Bill, there are those who say look, it's -- there's a double standard, that liberals didn't -- when a kid shot up a school, some liberals would say, look, it's not video games that made the kid do it or a certain type of music, as some conservatives would say. Is there -- it seems like the same people who are saying if a child shoots up a school, don't blame the music videos or don't blame the movies that they watch. Why is it OK to blame the political rhetoric?

MAHER: Well, I think they're two different things. First of all, I'm not suggesting -- I don't know if anybody is suggesting legislating this. We're not saying we should curtail anybody's -- COOPER: Well, there is, though, this Democratic congressman now who's from Pennsylvania, I believe, who is suggesting making speech or symbols that seem to threaten a member of Congress basically a federal crime, the same as it is against the president, which would actually have -- under his bill, it would outlaw the -- like the bullet symbols, the bulls eye symbol. You're not supporting that?

MAHER: I don't know how far it goes. We already have that law. You can't threaten the president.

COOPER: But you can, I guess -- he's saying that the same protection that the president has should be extended to members of Congress, about verbal threats or symbolic threats.

MAHER: Yeah, I mean, it would depend on how the law was worded. But, yeah, there are infringements on free speech. We all know that. And this may be one case where that would be appropriate. But I don't know if the analogy holds with video games.

If you're talking about, for example, after Columbine, we heard a lot about that happened because they took the Bible out of the school and because of Marilyn Manson records and so forth. Yeah, I guess that's true. Anybody can be -- Ozzy Osbourne I think was blamed at one point.

Yes, I mentioned Manson. I mean, anybody can get ideas from anywhere. And you can't, in a free society, stop ideas from floating around. But, again, we're talking about people who are supposed to be responsible members of society. We're talking about Sarah Palin and Governor Perry and members of Congress.

These are the leaders. What happened to the adult supervision? That was my point I was trying to make before about the moderates. We're calling on Muslims to have a moderate presence that would take care of their extremists. Where is that in the Republican party? These adults who will take care of their extremists? I don't see any of it.

Because they're owned by that wing. They can't insult the gun nuts because that's who finances their campaigns. That's where all the energy, as they would call it, comes. That's their base.

COOPER: This young man was apparently able to buy a gun. There was an instant background check. He passed it. Should guns be that available? Where do you stand?

MAHER: Of course not. That's the real scandal of this, that someone can go into a sporting goods store and come out with a gun ten minutes later, someone who is this unbalanced. Even people at his college knew he was crazy and didn't want to be near him.

How about this for a gun check, Google. Just Google the guy. In ten minutes, you could read his rants and get a pretty good idea where this man was heading.

COOPER: Do you think -- does this say something about -- about mental health systems in America, too? I mean, if -- if people in his class were so quick to identify him as someone who had mental issues, it doesn't seem like he was getting any help that we know of at this point.

MAHER: Yes. I think it says a lot about small government, which is the thing of the right, smaller government. Governor Brewer in Arizona just cut a lot of money from health care programs, among them mental health care program.

This is what you get from small government. You get someone who is unable to get readily available health care and -- and quite easily able to buy a gun. There's your small government for you.

COOPER: More with Bill Maher right after the break.


COOPER: President Obama and the First Lady during a moment of silence today in Washington for the victims of the Tucson shootings. More now with Bill Maher.

Do you think this will change anything?

MAHER: I doubt it. I mean, we've seen a number of shootings in the last ten or so years. And it never really seems to move the needle on that debate. If anything, it encourages the gun lobby, who should really be called the assassins lobby, to rise up before anyone can say anything and cow everybody into not saying a word about gun control.

In the '90s, at least this was a debate we used to have. That all went away, didn't it, when Al Gore lost Tennessee in the year 2000. The NRA won. Everything on their checklist is done. They own the Republican party. They own the Supreme Court. And they've cowed the Democratic Party into absolute silence.

It would be wonderful if President Obama or somebody from the other party, the opposition party, would say something in support of gun control. But we don't have that in this country. We have two parties, but we have one position about guns. They are great and we just need more of them.

COOPER: It's interesting. You only really hear about gun control from mayors of cities, like in New York, like in Chicago.

MAHER: Yeah.

COOPER: And particularly about interstate commerce and the ability to get a gun in one state and bring it across to another state.

MAHER: Yeah, because they see victims first hand. Really, a Glock 19, is that really for hunting? What else do you hunt with that except people? What civilized society can honestly make the case that you need these assault weapons and automatic weapons? No other country even considers this. COOPER: I'm reading a biography of Lincoln and Jefferson Davis right now. And Lincoln had horrible things said about him when he was president. I mean, really vicious things.

MAHER: And look what happened to him.

COOPER: Well --

MAHER: yeah. And we saw how that ended. And, again, let me reiterate: this guy was a nut. He probably was going to do something. But, you know, the people at his college were afraid of him and thought -- one of them even said, he's going to bring in a rifle one day. I think it's interesting to note that, at the end of the day, who he did wind up shooting was a Democratic officer of the federal government.

COOPER: You don't think -- you think the fact that she was a Democrat plays a role in this? Because there's no evidence that he was particularly politically motivated. People say he wanted to talk more about philosophy and he wouldn't engage in political discussions too much. And clearly --

MAHER: I don't know -- sorry -- I don't agree with that. From the things I've read, he mentions government being controlling and too big and government is this paranoia. Glenn Beck talks about it all the time. Again I'm not saying they're equivalent. I'm just saying I think Glenn Beck is little off, too. And --

COOPER: This guy is a registered -- in order -- the guy is a registered independent.

MAHER: You're talking about the shooter?

COOPER: The shooter, yeah.

MAHER: Oh. Well, I mean, again, I'm not laying -- I'm not saying he was a Republican operative who was taking his orders directly from Wasilla. We're not making that case. What we're saying -- first of all, to answer your question specifically, I don't think he was all that apolitical. Yes, he was all over the map. But when you're talking about, you know, treason and the intrusive big government is the enemy, and the gold standard stuff, I'm sorry, but a lot of this sounds like an afternoon on right-wing hate radio.

COOPER: Bill Maher, host of "Real Time with Bill Maher." After the break we'll talk again with our political pane, David Gergen and Tea Party activist Dana Loesch. Be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back to this special 9:00 edition of 360, the Terror in Tucson. We're joined again by Dana Loesch, Tea Party organizer and St. Louis radio host, and David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst, and a former presidential adviser.

Dana, you heard Bill Maher there. Obviously very pointed opinions. What did you think?

LOESCH: Well, I wasn't -- didn't Bill Maher -- wasn't he the one who was saying that said Obama wasn't gangster enough? I'm curious as to where that speech went.

Just a couple of quick thoughts that I got from listening tot his. First of all, if we're going to talk about Arizona gun laws, let's actually talk about it. In Arizona, you can't just give a mentally ill person a gun. It's called the prohibited possessor. It's part of the law.

If there's a person who presents a danger to themselves or someone else, pursuant to a court order, they can't get a firearm. So, no, the laws haven't been loosened.

Then let's talk about the gun culture as being respective to just Republicans. Harry Reid almost won an NRA endorsement over Sharron Angle in Nevada. In fact, the NRA took so much heat for it, it split conservatives in two. And it actually drove a lot of people to leave the NRA for the Gun Owners of America. He did photo ops at a huge gun range in Nevada and --

COOPER: You feel nothing needs to change in gun laws in the United States?

LOESCH: I think that there needs to be something different in terms of reporting people like this instance with Jared Lee Loughner. If he had been reported, if they had had a court order, he would not have been able to go in there. You don't change the laws. You be more alert and aware.

COOPER: David Gergen, for you, what did you think?

GERGEN: Well, Anderson, I'm not here to carry water for conservatives or Republicans. But that was so one sided, a few points have to be made on the other side. I'm very much for toughening the gun laws. And in fact, the Arizona law was loosened with regard to concealment. And Governor Brewer signed that into law.

But I also think for Bill Maher to call it the Assassin's Lobby is pretty deeply offensive to a whole lot of people. The idea that this guy was out on the streets because we cut back to a small government, that's not true. A lot of people today -- we changed our whole approach to institutionalization of people who are mentally unbalanced because we thought it was oppressive to have so many people locked up.

And there are going to be people walking around our streets -- they shouldn't have guns, but there are people walking around our streets. As long as they're not dangerous, we have come to accept that as a society.

But I also thought to paint the Republicans with a broad brush and say they're all conservative loonies, in effect, and where are the moderates? Where are the adults? Give me a break. Come on. I just think that's unfair. Back in the '60s, people used to argue that about the Democratic party when there was all the unrest in the streets. There were a lot of good people who were trying to tone things down. There are a lot of good people in the Republican party who want to tone things down here as well.

COOPER: Dana, it seems like after Virginia Tech, schools made a better effort and a more concerted effort to look at the mental health of their students. It seems like the community college in this case did see this guy -- see the problem and rectify it. They got him off campus. They got him out of the classroom.

But it seems like after that -- and his parents were notified of that. They were in the meeting where they were told he has mental health issues. We don't know their response. We don't know if they sought help. We haven't heard from them. But it seems like after the school got out of the picture, he kind of dropped off the radar.

LOESCH: Right. I have to say how much I appreciate Mr. Gergen's comments there. It was spot on and I agree with everything he said. I agree. This is -- the community college really should have -- they honestly -- when you have students that are so terrified of this guy, and they write about his disruptiveness and how they are absolutely fearful of him, and the teacher even had some fear of the guy -- that should have been reported, especially when you were all they would have had to do is --

Look, all they would have had to do was look at him. They could have looked -- do a simple Google search. Look how many bloggers found that stuff easily.

COOPER: We're out of time.

LOESCH: This would have been found out.

COOPER: We're going to have more with Dana, more with David Gergen in the 10:00 hour. Guys, thanks very much.