WASHINGTON WATCH ROUNDTABLE: Dissecting The Gun Control And Gun Violence Debate (VIDEO) | Roland Martin Reports

WASHINGTON WATCH ROUNDTABLE: Dissecting The Gun Control And Gun Violence Debate (VIDEO)

This week on Capitol Hill, we saw emotional testimony on the issue of gun violence. We saw advocates as well as critics on the issue of what do we do about guns in this country. Also this week, a 15-year-old girl from Chicago, who had performed at the inauguration of President Barack Obama, was killed by a stray bullet.

As we’ve said before here on “Washington Watch,” there is a Newtown-type death toll every 40 days in the black community. But will her story be a national story? And the violence of Chicago – will it also rise to the same level of Newtown?

We’re taking that to our Hollywood roundtable: Judge Mablean Ephriam. You know her, of course, from “Divorce Court” all those years. Allison Samuels, senior writer at “Newsweek” and “Daily Beast”; and Earl Ofari Hutchinson, host of “The Hutchinson Report.”

MR. MARTIN:  This week on Capitol Hill, we saw emotional testimony on the issue of gun violence.  We saw advocates as well as critics on the issue of what do we do about guns in this country.  Also this week, a 15-year-old girl from Chicago, who had performed at the inauguration of President Barack Obama, was killed by a stray bullet.

As we’ve said before here on “Washington Watch,” there is a Newtown-type death toll every 40 days in the black community.  But will her story be a national story?  And the violence of Chicago – will it also rise to the same level of Newtown?

We’re taking that to our Hollywood roundtable:  Judge Mablean Ephriam.  [You] know her, of course, from “Divorce Court” all those years.  Allison Samuels, senior writer at “Newsweek” [and] “Daily Beast”; and Earl Ofari Hutchinson, host of “The Hutchinson Report.”

Folks, welcome to the show.

MR. EARL OFARI HUTCHINSON:  My pleasure.

MR. MARTIN:  It was very interesting watching NRA and critics of guns on Capitol Hill, and I keep saying that we’re having the wrong conversation.  Everybody keeps saying “gun control,” “gun control,” “gun control.”  I think the discussion should be “gun violence.”  It might be two words in each case, but it means two different things.

MR. HUTCHINSON:  Well, I think gun violence is certainly the norm.  You know, we talk about Chicago.  I mean we’ve had the tragic situation where the young lady that performed at President Obama’s inauguration was gunned down in Chicago.  I mean Chicago’s had horrific –

MR. MARTIN:  Standing around –

MR. HUTCHINSON:  — violence.

MR. MARTIN:  — after school, talking with friends in a park.  [A] guy jumps over a fence, fires … a gun.

MR. HUTCHINSON:  And we have –

MR. MARTIN:  She’s killed.

MR. HUTCHINSON:  — that in L.A., too.  We have that in Los Angeles.  We have it in every urban area, and we’ve been screaming for yearsfor years – “Do something about it!”

And it’s not just gun control; it’s also getting community organizations involved; getting community leaders involved; church leaders, educators involved.  Those are the keys in terms of dealing with that – gang intervention activists.  We’ve seen one thing in L.A. and other cities where they have gotten directly involved.  Forget gun control for a minute.  We’ve seen the levels of violence damp down.

MR. MARTIN:  And that’s why I’ve been bothered what’s taking place.  I keep saying it’s a one-dimensional conversation.  We can focus on the President.  We can focus on Congress, but I think you have to connect Newtown with Chicago, with “stand your ground” in Florida, with gangs in Los Angeles to say, “No.  This is a national deal that operates differently, depending upon what city, what part of the country you’re in.”

MS. MABLEAN EPHRIAM:  Roland, I’ve been concerned about gun violence and gun control, and I think we have to use two other words:  “self-control,” first of all, and then “parental control.”  I think we have to –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MS. EPHRIAM:  — go back to learning how to control ourselves in terms of dispute[s], in terms of conflict.  Too many people are not taking the time to control their behavior.  We turn to the gun to solve every issue.  Domestic violence:  when there is a conflict between husband and wife, you turn to the gun.  When there is a conflict between parent and children, you turn to the gun.  When there is no conflict at all – you’re just out in the streets being bad and a gangster, the gun.  We need –

MR. MARTIN:  “Somebody disrespected me.”

MS. EPHRIAM:  — right.

MS. ALLISON SAMUELS:  When you look at television, and you look at the sort of images we see on TV, where conflict resolution is fighting and arguing – and that escalates to that next level.  So, I agree.  It really does come to down parents talking to their children about, “This is how you deal with situations.”  “This is how you deal with the conflict, and it’s not by fighting or lashing out.”  And I think that’s the part that’s been the most disturbing to me – that nobody’s going back to that base of where does the anger come from [and] how do we stop it before it gets to a certain point.

[CROSSTALK.]

MR. HUTCHINSON:  — Allison and the Judge, here’s the thing – and also Roland, too.  You[’ve] got to remember one thing – and, Judge, certainly you see this all the time.  You know, a lot of these kids don’t have parents.

MS. EPHRIAM:  That’s right.

MR. HUTCHINSON:  A lot of them don’t have parents to talk to them –

MS. EPHRIAM:  Well, they have – [crosstalk].

MR. HUTCHINSON: — so then, at that point –

MS. EPHRIAM:  — they have parents who aren’t[?] being parents.

MR. HUTCHINSON:  — well, a lot of them don’t have parents there.  That’s what I mean – active and engaged.

MS. EPHRIAM:  Right.

[CROSSTALK.]

MR. HUTCHINSON:  So, at that point in time, you’re going to have to have outside intervention at that point.

MR. MARTIN:  So, how do –

MR. HUTCHINSON:  And so –

OFF CAMERA:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  — so, Earl, I[’ve] got to ask you, though, how do we then though, shift the conversation?  Because I think – and I’ve been saying it – that if this is all about a congressional conversation, this is a waste of time.

OFF CAMERA:  And I agree.

MR. HUTCHINSON:  It’s not only a waste of time.  It’s a distraction in this sense.  It takes it away from the things that the Judge and Allison are talking –

MR. MARTIN:  [Crosstalk.]

MR. HUTCHINSON:  — about.  But – the big-picture approach.

MS. EPHRIAM:  Right.

MR. HUTCHINSON:  But also, we know something else.  And certainly, Roland, you’re in Washington.  You’re on the point.  The National Rifle Association – anything that comes before Congress right now, they’re going to kill.  You already know that, going in the door.

So, once again, we come back to what the Judge has said, Allison is saying, you’ve said, and countless others in communities have said:  it is a community, holistic problem where you have to attack the problem.

MR. MARTIN:  Allison.

MS. SAMUELS:  But it also means the media does have to do better with focusing on the young lady in Chicago, which it has; but there’ve been so many deaths over the years, as you’ve said, that people have not paid attention to in urban communities.  And that’s one thing that I try to do at “Newsweek” and “Daily Beast” – is just make a point of showing these children one by one, letting people know … these are kids that didn’t die in Newtown, but these are someone’s children who died as well.

[CROSSTALK.]

MR. MARTIN:  I think, generally, what the media is doing – and … when I say “the media,” I’m talking about what I’m seeing with broadcasts –

OFF CAMERA:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  — with cable news networks – that they are falling for the easy for-against.

[CROSSTALK.[

MR. MARTIN:  [The] NRA is against.  Here’re the folks for – as opposed to saying, “Wait a minute.  This is really a complex thing.”  If it’s –

MS. SAMUELS:  [Crosstalk].

MR. MARTIN:  — if it’s dumbed down to just, “[The] NRA’s against us and against gun control.  These folks are for gun control,” we’re missing the holistic approach, and that’s really how you deal with it.

MS. EPHRIAM:  I agree, and I believe that we, too often in our society, are expecting the government to solve all of our issues.  A congressional mandate controlling guns, another law controlling guns –

MR. MARTIN:  It’s a piece.

MS. EPHRIAM:  — is just one piece of the matter.

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MS. EPHRIAM:  I think we have to start in the elementary schools, in the – well, we’d better start with preschool these days.

MR. HUTCHINSON:  Obviously, Roland —

MR. MARTIN:  [Crosstalk] – 20 seconds.

MR. HUTCHINSON:  — both of you are in the media.  What about violent images in the media?  What does that have to do with it?

MR. MARTIN:  Well –

MR. HUTCHINSON:  There’s another thing –

MR. MARTIN:  — I agree!

MR. HUTCHINSON:  — that has to be looked at, too.

OFF CAMERA:  I agree very much.

MR. HUTCHINSON:  And, basically –

OFF CAMERA:  They have to change.

MR. HUTCHINSON:  — they have gotten a pass in the media –

OFF CAMERA:  They really have!

MR. HUTCHINSON: — especially big-ticket stuff –

MS. SAMUELS:  [Crosstalk] –

MR. HUTCHINSON:  — Hollywood.

MS. SAMUELS:  — reality shows.  Reality shows – I’m always talking to the girls that I work with about the reality shows that show women fighting one another and hitting one another.  I’m like, “In real life, you go to jail if you fight at the restaurant – over anything, so you cannot do that.”  But they think that’s reality.  They think –

MR. MARTIN:  And that –

MS. SAMUELS:  — it’s real.

MR. MARTIN:  — is a perfect –

MS. EPHRIAM:  That’s parental control, too.

MR. MARTIN:  — segue, because we’re discussing that in our next segment.

OFF CAMERA:  All right.

MR. MARTIN:  We are out of time.  That was real quick.

Judge, Allison, Earl, we appreciate it.  I’d love to have you back.

MS. SAMUELS:  Thank you.

MR. HUTCHINSON:  Thank you.