"Face the Nation" transcripts December 23, 2012: Keene, Hutchison, Warner, Scott, Affleck

Open: This is Face the Nation, Dec. 23
Gun control: National Rifle Association President David Keene, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.; Plus, Senator-designate Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C., actor Ben Affleck and Major Garrett, Margaret Brennan and Mike Allen.

(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on December 23, 2012, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Guests include: National Rifle Association President David Keene, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., Senator-designate Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and actor Ben Affleck; plus, a panel with CBS News correspondents Major Garrett and Margaret Brennan, and Politico's Mike Allen.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. We start this morning with David Keene, who is the president of the National Rifle Association. Friday the NRA made its first public statement since the Newtown shooting, and the reaction from gun control activists was scathing, no surprise there. The reaction from many others, though, was incredulous. Lloyd Grove of "The Daily Beast" summed up the reaction by saying the reviews were so brutal, they would have closed a Broadway show on opening night. Was this news conference a mistake, Mr. Keene?

KEENE: Not at all. And, fortunately, we're not on Broadway. This isn't a joke. You know, we remained silent right after Newtown because we didn't think it was appropriate to comment at that time. But now we've come out. We've looked at it. And the question on everybody's minds that we were trying to address is what do you do to prevent this from happening in the future? You know, it was interesting, Bob, because I was -- that week I was in Israel. And they had a spate of school shootings in the 70s and on, and then they decided that they needed to have security at their schools. They started out with volunteers. They eventually institutionalized it and now they have armed security at the schools, and they've stopped the problem. In this country -- and although the reaction from our critics was, well, this is a crazy idea, the fact is, 23,000 schools right now have armed security guards. They have them in Chicago. They have them in many schools in Virginia. It was proposed by Bill Clinton the year after the Columbine shooting, and they set up legislation called Cops in the Schools program. It's not been fully funded. A lot of schools don't have it. And what we were saying is that really the question that parents across this country are asking is how do we protect our kids?

SCHIEFFER: A couple of reactions. The president of the International Association of Police Chiefs says, number one, this is totally impractical. He says he happens to be the chief in the Fremont, California. He said, if you put a police officer in every school in Fremont, he'd have to put half his police force there. We all know the budget constraints that all these governments are under. On the other side, the president of the National Education Association says we do not need guns in schools, period.

KEENE: Well, they need protection. The kids need protection. Bill Clinton thought they needed protection. The Israelis have tested it, and it works there. You know, what we've suggested, that each school district and each school administrator look at the problem that they face. Right now, you have a mix. You have federally funded officers in many schools. You have a mix of funding in some other schools. You have, actually, volunteers in some places where administrators are armed with concealed carry and all that. We're not saying that it ought to be this or that, that a one- size-fits-all program will work. What we are saying is that the first obligation that we have is to protect our children. And the way you do that is you look at the problem. And you know, most Americans agree...

SCHIEFFER: Don't you try to also try to get some of these guns off the streets, get some of these guns out of markets? Every study shows that, when a society -- the fewer the guns, the less homicides deaths you have.

KEENE: That's not true.


SCHIEFFER: Well, actually, it is true. That comes from the Harvard School of Public Health. Its studies show conclusively that there are more firearms -- when there are more firearms, there are more homicides. In Australia, we have seen homicides go down dramatically when you...

KEENE: You know, I understand -- I know that.

SCHIEFFER: Well, then...

KEENE: Well, Bob, let me just really briefly -- we're not talking about Australia, but in fact the homicide rate in Australia and the United States during that same period was dropping at roughly the same percentage. We have the lowest homicide rate that we've had in decades, with more guns than ever.

SCHIEFFER: But the reason -- the reason that we have fewer homicides right now -- more people are getting shot. The number of people getting shot is up 20 percent. Homicides are down for the same reason that deaths are down on the battlefield. You have better emergency room coverage. You have better -- better medicine.

KEENE: And that's good. But, you know, thinking of this whole -- you know, in 2010, the FBI statistics show that more people in this country were beaten to death than were killed by long guns of all kinds, including the so-called assault weapons. Now, anybody killed by any method is a tragedy. I'm not arguing that it isn't. What I am saying, Bob, is that, when you look at the problem -- let's say we passed Dianne Feinstein's bill. How would that stop the next school shooting? It wouldn't. Because it doesn't take guns off the street, and if you did, you couldn't. So that doesn't solve the problem.

SCHIEFFER: But doesn't it...

KEENE: You've got mental health problems... SCHIEFFER: ... make it more difficult?

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Keene...

KEENE: It doesn't. You know, it doesn't because...

SCHIEFFER: ... if a man had walked in that school in Connecticut with a baseball bat, he might have given a couple of people a concussion, but all those children would not be dead.

KEENE: Well, you know, the fact that something is misused, whether it's a baseball bat or the mass killing in a Chinese school with an ax and a knife, doesn't mean that you ban baseball bats, axes and knives or even guns.

SCHIEFFER: Nobody is asking that.

KEENE: What it means is that you protect the innocent, on the one hand, and you try to keep weapons out of the hands of those who are likely to commit such crimes. You know, one of the problems -- and the public -- this is reflected in public attitudes -- is what's wrong with our mental health system? Because a lot of these people are not even -- are not even -- when they've been seen as having problems, nobody does anything about it. In Connecticut, it's very difficult to have outpatient treatment because of ACLU lawsuits. I'm not saying that every mental patient is a potential killer. I'm not saying that everybody that watches a video is a potential killer. That's not true. But neither is everybody who owns a gun a potential killer.

SCHIEFFER: Well, of course they're not. I had a gun when I was 12 years old. I got a double-barreled shotgun.

KEENE: Do you still have it?

SCHIEFFER: But what I'm saying...


SCHIEFFER: What I'm saying is that shouldn't we be putting these things on a higher shelf so the mentally ill and the deranged people can't get to them? And to do that, you're going to have to tighten this up. It is harder for me to get a driver's license than it would be to buy a gun. Why is that a good thing?

KEENE: Well, you're -- you ought to be able to get a driver's license at your age.