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Senate May Open Gun Control Debate; Buy a Gun With No ID Or Forms; Firefighters Freed, Gunman Dead; 3.4 Million Cars In Airbag Recall; Tornado Damages 24 Homes In Missouri; Three Hurt In Arkansas Tornado; Accused College Stabber Due In Court; Shark Snags Kayaker's Catch; Facing Missiles, South Koreans Want Nukes

Aired April 11, 2013 - 10:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Running for cover as tornados rip through the Midwest.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As soon as we got into the hall bathroom really a loud boom went off, and a tree broke and went right through the kitchen.


COSTELLO: Plus, how easy is it to buy a gun? It took us just minutes with no background check.

And, whoa, watch out.




COSTELLO: A fisherman has his own jaws moment. He will tell us what it was like.

And a man shot nine times, but his bat wins. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


COSTELLO: Good morning. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello. As early as next hour, the Senate could vote and begin debate on one of the most divisive issues in American politics today. That would be gun control.

Here's a stark reminder of how deep the passions run. A mock cemetery now sits near the capitol. Gun control activists have erected 3,300 grave markers. That's the number of Americans killed by guns since the school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

As CNN's Dana Bash explains, the break in the stalemate may be tied to a bipartisan compromise steeped in symbolism.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two senators with A ratings from the NRA appealed directly to their fellow gun owners.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: This is gun sense.

BASH: Their message? Expanding background checks on gun sales is commonsense.

MANCHIN: We're not infringing on the rights of an individual citizen, but basically if you are going to go to a gun show, you should be subjected the same as if you went to the gun store.

REP. PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: The common ground rests on a simple proposition and that is that criminals and the dangerously mentally ill shouldn't have guns.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know, for example, from polling that universal background checks are universally supported just about.

BASH: Their bipartisan legislation falls short of the universal background checks the president is calling for. It would expand mandatory background checks to gun shows and internet sales, but would not require background checks for any other private gun sales.

To enforce the expanded law, gun sellers would have to keep a record of the sale, but in a nod to some gun owners' concerns about civil liberties. It explicitly bans the federal government from creating a national registry.

Parents of children killed in Newtown have been lobbying senators for two days. The Sandy Hook tragedy had already spurred these senators to act.

MANCHIN: Nobody here and I mean not one of us, in this great, great capital of ours with a good conscious could sit by and not try to prevent a day like that from happening again.

TOOMEY: Background checks are not a cure-all by any means, but they can be helpful.

BASH: Pat Toomey out front is considered critical for passage, though he represents the moderate state of Pennsylvania. He is a conservative Republican expected to bring others on board.

Gun rights and other conservative groups wasted no time blasting Toomey. One called him a, quote, "sell out", and the NRA issued a less personal statement, but one dripping with disappointment saying, quote, "expanding background checks at gun shows will not prevent the next shooting, will not solve violent crime, and will not keep our kids safe in schools."

Democrat Joe Manchin says he hopes his fellow NRA members will look beyond the opposition of its leadership.

MANCHIN: The NRA has always been basically the benchmark. It's the one that we look towards. It's the one I'm proud to be a member of.

BASH (on camera): But they're opposed to your legislation.

MANCHIN: My wife disagreed with me the other day, but I still love her.


COSTELLO: Dana Bash now joins us from Washington. So, Dana, does this compromise bill have a chance to pass the House because the Senate is going to take this up, and then if the Senate passes, it it's got to go to the Republican-led House?

BASH: It's a big open question, and it's a great one, because, yes, of course, let's -- we got to take this one step at a time, and the big debate in the next two weeks at least is going to be in the Senate. We're going to see what comes out of the Senate.

But that is a really important question to ask to answer what happens in the house, and the reason, Carol, is because if there are, you know, 61, 62 senators who vote yes, meaning just a few Republicans are picked off, it might not get very far in the House.

If there is an overwhelming vote, maybe 70 votes, it might be harder for a House Republican leadership to say that we're going to sit on this. We're not going to take this. But I was just talking to one source on Capitol Hill who pointed out something that's very interesting to me.

And that is Pat Toomey, the Republican who is the co-sponsor of this compromise, is from the state of Pennsylvania. That is one of the few states sort of in the northeast that still has Republicans from the House or Republicans in the House.

And so they are probably going to feel pressured from the fact that their own senator is on board to also want to have some kind of vote so that is certainly a dynamic that might help answer that question.

COSTELLO: OK, we'll see what happens. Dana Bash reporting live for us this morning. So what exactly does the so-called gun show loophole look like up close? Martin Savidge and the CNN crew struck out last weekend to find out.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a simple idea. Just how easily can you buy a gun at a gun show? So a CNN crew took a weekend drive, 600 miles with a pocket full of cash hitting five gun shows in three states -- Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia. First stop, Ellijay in North Georgia. The venue is small and the selection limited.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There weren't a lot of vendors. There wasn't a lot of product out there for people to buy.

SAVIDGE: Next the crew went north to Kingsport, Tennessee, for a Saturday morning local gun show held in a hotel convention center. It was a Smith & Wesson MP 45-caliber semiautomatic that first caught our producer's eye. Asking price, $625.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a nice one. It's not brand spanking new, but --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cash and carry, or do I have to fill out any --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cash and carry.

SAVIDGE: But it's early and the team opts to keep looking, 10 to 20 minutes later they circle back to the same table, negotiating for the same gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 600 for that?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, box it up.



SAVIDGE: It's a deal. No background check. It's not needed for a private sale. But the seller is legally required to check ID like a driver's license to make sure the buyer is not from out of state.

In this case, no identification asked for, no paperwork, not even a question like what are you going to do with it? In fact, neither the seller more buyer even used a first name. If that's not surprising enough, listen to where the seller said he got the gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got that off of a police officer yesterday.



SAVIDGE: That's right. He got it from a police officer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any way you'd part with these for 1,000?

SAVIDGE: It was so easy for the next buy, the team decided to up ante.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably not at this point. That one is very, very new.

SAVIDGE: This time they see two .9-millimeter semiautomatic handguns, Glock 17s. Asking price for the pair is $1,100. The producer offers a flat $1,000. That's rejected. The next bid of $1,050 prompts a phone call. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me ask. Let me see what -- one of them is his. One of them is mine. Give me one second.

SAVIDGE: In fact in all the deals, the team paid less than the asking price.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, we can do $1,050.

SAVIDGE: The producer boxes the guns in their carrying cases and heads to the door, again, no names. No ID. No paperwork. Not even a receipt. Total time of the gun show, 45 minutes, $1,650 spent, three semiautomatic handguns purchased.

Incidentally because there's no paper trail, none of these weapons can ever be traced to the buyer. Later, the same day in Greeneville, South Carolina, and it's the biggest show of the five our team attended.

After wandering the floor our producer spots this gentleman carrying a semiautomatic rifle on his shoulder. Asking price, $1,200.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The strap doesn't come with it. That's on my .22.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're just moving it up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just moved it over.

SAVIDGE: The Bushmaster XM 15 as it's known is a semiautomatic only civilian version of the M-16 U.S. military rifle. First introduced in the Vietnam War and still used by U.S. troops today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's out in the car. I just didn't want to carry it all around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I brought it to a gun show a couple of weeks ago in Columbia and the case, this is big and bulky, and there were so many people in there. I kept banging people, and that's why I didn't bring it with me.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, either one, the .223 or 5.56.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any way you would go down $50?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I'd go down $50.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, you want to walk out, and I'll pay you?


SAVIDGE: The seller takes our offer, $1,150. From first conversation to settling on a price takes just 70 seconds. Out in front of the convention center, the money is exchanged. The rifle, complete with case, is handed over.

Our team walks away with a variation of the same weapon used in the deadly Sandy Hook shooting. Again, no questions asked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's the case. There's the gun. There's the clip.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good. Five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, 11, 50.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, thank you very much.



SAVIDGE: We should make clear that there were three instances, one in each state, where the team was asked for ID including during this potential sale in Tennessee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you from?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I have to have a Tennessee license?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to have a Tennessee license.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you sure do.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know he would like to sell it.

SAVIDGE: Without proof of residency, the seller refuses the deal and our team walks away. Our total weekend weapon haul is three semiautomatic handguns with extra magazines and one semiautomatic rifle with a 30-round magazine.

Total spent, $2,800. All done, without showing any identification, without felling out a single form, not even so much as a name exchanged, the team now has a small arsenal, which can never be traced. Martin Savidge, CNN, Atlanta.


COSTELLO: Wow. Checking our top stories now at 11 minutes past the hour.

In suburban Atlanta, a deadly end to a bizarre hostage taking. A SWAT team sweeps into a home and after a brief gun fight, the gunman is dead. His hostages, firefighters, who had responded a call that turned into a trap.


CPL. EDWIN RITTER, GWINNETT COUNTY, GEORGIA POLICE: When they made entry into the home, they were taken hostage by him and then he started making demands. These demands were to have his power turned back on. Apparently, he is going through some financial issues, and the power was turned off along with the cable and cell phone and so on, and he wanted all those things turned back on, and that's why he was holding them hostage.


COSTELLO: One law enforcement officer was shot in the incident, but his injury is not considered life threatening. The four firefighters were taken hostage suffered superficial injuries from a police stun grenade that was used to distract the gunman.

South Korean and U.S. officials are on high alert waiting and watching for a possible missile to launch from North Korea's coast. Yesterday, officials feared an imminent launch after North Korea raised a missile into firing position. This morning North Korean state TV repeated threats of war saying war is just a matter of time.

An armed robbery is caught on camera. Two crooks tried to rob a Chicago souvenir shop. As can you see, the owner fought back, despite being shot in the leg. The 62-year-old grabbed a bat and just started swinging.

One of the suspects accidentally shot his accomplice in the leg. The accomplice limps out of the store, but then the gunman jumped over- the-counter. The owner's brother-in-law throws a chair at the other robber. There he goes.

Then he chases him out with a fire extinguisher. The owner is recovering from nine gunshot wounds. He is expected to be OK. Police are still searching for the suspects.

Nearly 3.5 million cars are being recalled because of defective airbags. The recall includes Toyota's popular Camry and Corolla models from the years 2001 to 2003. Plus, several model from Nissan, Mazda, and Honda. For the full list, head over to

For the second day in a row the threat of severe weather looms. This time it's over much of the southeast, tornadoes, damaging winds, and large hail all possible. Greatest risks in Alabama, Georgia, and the Florida panhandle.

In Missouri, the governor will tour areas hit hard by a tornado. At least 24 homes damaged outside of St. Louis. Thankfully no serious injuries reported. It's a similar scene north of Little Rock, Arkansas.

A tornado left a path of destruction 30 miles long, three people hurt, 33 homes damaged and one church absolutely demolished. Justin Lewis of affiliate KATV joins us from outside of that church. It's just amazing no one was hurt inside that church.

JUSTIN LEWIS, KATV REPORTER: Exactly. Hi, there, again. You talked about 30 homes damaged. We're expecting that number to rise as we get around the country. This is what we talked about, the church that was damaged. We're actually standing in what used to be the sanctuary. As you can see there, that's the pastor up there trying to kind of salvage anything he can from this church at the time. In the distance, we hear many chainsaws going off, people just trying to really put together the pieces at this point helping out. There's a whole crew.

That home on the other side of that home completely gone. That's the youth director of this church. That's his house. Those people are trying to pick up things. We actually saw a boat in a tree over there.

Yesterday afternoon, his storage shed was demolished. We actually caught up to him yesterday, and here's what he said once he got home from work and saw all the damage.


ROCKY THOMAS: I just pulled in, saw the damage, saw the boat, and the trailer and the storage building in the woods, saw a roof gone, and I saw hundred -- tons of people out here helping. I'm thankful for the outpouring we've received. We're going to get to work and see what has to be done, and I know something good is going to come out of this.


LEWIS: Now work still going on. Much of what's left of the church really is debris and books. This one entitled, "Traveling Light." Really they're trying to find the light at the end of this tunnel from this tornado damage. Back to you.

COSTELLO: Was there warning before the storm, Justin?

LEWIS: There was. Now, they didn't have a whole lot of time. I'm being told right now we talked about the warning. About 3,500 people were actually without electricity. That stems from obviously the damage yesterday afternoon and last night trying to get the debris off the roads right now and get to some of those people who don't have power who may not really have access to leave their homes at this time.

COSTELLO: Justin Lewis, many thanks. We appreciate it.

Still ahead in the NEWSROOM, this fisherman, boy, did he have a close call? A shark jumps out of the water and lunges at him. We'll tell you what happened next.


COSTELLO: It's 19 minutes past the hour, time to check our top stories. The man accused of going on a stabbing spree at his community college near Houston is in court this morning. The 20-year- old Dylan Quick charged with aggravated assault and a rampage that left 14 people hurt at Lone Star College. Police say Quick told them he fantasized about stabbing people since he was 8 years old. George Zimmerman's mother is accused of -- is accusing the media of propagating a lie against her son. George Zimmerman, as you know, was charged with killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

In a letter released today on the anniversary of her son's arrest, Gladys Zimmerman calls the April 11th, 2012, quote, "The day the justice system failed us as Americans and as a consequence an innocent man was arrested for a crime he did not commit solely to placate the masses," end quote.

Keep your eyes to the left of your screen. That was a tiger shark probably 10 feet long and 500 pounds or so. It actually wanted the very same tuna this Hawaiian kayaker was trying to snag.


ISAAC BRUMAGHIM, ENCOUNTERED SHARK: The shark made a circle, came around, and ate it under my boat and hit the kayak, and then kind of hit me what happened, and then I had a reaction to all of that. I did get the shivers a bit on it, just thinking about the whole thing.


COSTELLO: Yes, shaken but not spooked. The fisherman told affiliate KHNL that after his close encounter, he caught three more fish in the very same spot.

While the world keeps an eye on North Korea and its missiles, many South Koreans say they now want their own nuclear arsenal. But not everyone thinks that's a good idea. Here's Kyung Lah.


KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Seoul may seem reserved amid growing threats from North Korea, but there's a growing rage beneath this calm.

South Korea is not powerful enough, says this woman. If we have nuclear weapons, it would be better for our stability. A sentiment echoed loudly by Chung Mong-Joon, a prominent South Korean politician. Speaking at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, he minces no words to the American audience. We want our own nukes.

CHUNG MONG-JOON, KOREA NATIONAL ASSEMBLY MEMBER: Telling us not to consider any nuclear option is tantamount to telling us to simply surrender. Let us try to prevent the unthinkable by thinking the unthinkable. Give Korea room to maneuver.

LAH: The call defies a longstanding principle to limit the nuclear club. One South Korea heated for decades under the shield of America's nuclear umbrella. There's been no official policy shift from the government, but from the people?

(on camera): Public sentiment is shifting here in South Korea. Two recent national polls show that two-thirds of South Koreans believe they should have their own nuclear weapons. That's a sharp rise from just a few years ago. So what changed?

(voice-over): Attacks from North Korea that claim lives, 46 sailors were killed when a torpedo sank a South Korean warship in 2010, and a surprise artillery attack that killed four people. South Koreans, weary of the persistent problems with Pyongyang.

They see Kim Jong-Un seemingly uncontrollable ramp up as a failure of western diplomacy with no long-term solution. Phili Yun helped manage U.S. policy towards North Korea under President Clinton. He says more nukes is a dangerous proposal for global security.

PHILI YUN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: It is not going to enhance South Korea's security. It is going to make South Korea less safe. I think it's not going to prevent North Korean provocations, and it's not going to add to the ability of South Korea to deter any large scale attack from North Korea. In fact, what will happen is that there will be a regional arm race.

LAH: Armed South Korea then Japan will follow and then China responds, a region that would tip even more out of balance and out of control. Kyung Lah, CNN, Seoul.


COSTELLO: Our Talk Back question for you today, will background checks really decrease gun violence? or tweet me @CarolCNN.


COSTELLO: Now is your chance to Talk Back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning, will background checks really decrease gun violence? Is that all there is background checks?

After months of agonizing debate about assault rifles, high capacity magazines, violent movies and video games, background checks? The deal brokered by Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Manchin is not exactly a crowd pleaser.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo calls it, quote, "A sell-out to the gun lobby." According to the pro-gun group, "Gun Owners of America," the sell-out actually is the Republican Senator Toomey.

Still, it's been a gut-wrenching process for the Newtown families seen here meeting with an emotional Senator Joe Manchin. Remember, he is a senator with an A-rating from the NRA.

Yet, NRA leaders say expanding background checks will not stop violent crime or keep children safe. Manchin, though, was hoping gun owners will see beyond that.


MANCHIN: The NRA has always been basically the benchmark. It's the one we look toward. It's the one I'm proud to be a member of.

BASH: But they're opposed to your legislation.

MANCHIN: My wife disagreed with me the other day, and I still love her.


COSTELLO: And if background checks are as bipartisan as the Senate gets on guns, at least the two sides can make a deal on something. Talk back question for you today, will background checks really decrease gun violence? or tweet me @CarolCNN.

He is back. Dick Cheney set to talk to the Republican faithful as the party tries to figure out its way forward, but is Dick Cheney the right man to help the GOP rebrand? We'll talk about it next.