On Wednesday, Piers Morgan continued his anti-gun crusade, interviewing Neil Heslin, whose son Jess Lewis was tragically killed in the Newtown shooting, and also author and Pastor Rick Warren, whose son committed suicide in April after a long struggle with mental illness.
Warren was there, purportedly, to pitch his new book, The Daniel Plan, which focuses on weight loss and healthy eating. However, Morgan couldn’t resist trying to pull Warren, whose son killed himself last April with a gun he purchased on the internet, onto his ban-the-guns-bandwagon, asking him to react to the release of the 911 tapes from the Sandy Hook massacre.
Morgan asked, “We’ve seen so many incidents since then — the naval yard shooting and the Virginia senator, Creigh Deeds, and so on. A lot of incidents come back, it seems, to this lethal cocktail of mental illness and the ready availability of guns. No one seems to be tackling this. How do we get to grips with this?”
Warren, conceding that there are almost as many guns as people in the United states, said he couldn’t foresee a future where guns could be taken from law-abiding citizens. “First of all, the Constitution allows them to have it.” Warren then turned the conversation to the issue of mental illness, saying that we should focus on what we could do to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people. “I don’t care whether you’re conservative or you’re liberal or anywhere in between…everyone’s going to agree. Guns do not belong in the hand of mentally ill people,” Warren said.
Undeterred, Morgan tried a second time to enlist Warren in his anti-gun movement:
What does it say, though, that a great country like America, the greatest superpower of the world, that here we are a year after twenty elementary school children were literally blown to pieces in their classrooms, and the president stood there a few days later and literally said, “I will take action,” and here we are a year later and absolutely nothing has been done. Nothing. No background checks brought in. No ban on assault weapons. No ban on high capacity magazines.
“Nobody in Washington has done anything to try and prevent this happening again. What does that tell you about the state of the debate about all this?” Morgan demanded of Warren.
“I don’t know how they’re going to attack it politically. I know that as a pastor I have to attack it the way I can. And one of the ways I can do it is deal with the mental illness area. Why are there people mentally ill out there not getting the help they need?” Warren asked. “We have, since the Reagan administration, the number of facilities — the beds — for the mentally ill has dropped tenfold.”
“Which is scandalous,” Morgan admitted.
“It is,” said Warren. “So we’re caring less and less. If you care about homeless people, you have to care about mental illness. If you care about police, people on the streets, then you’ve got to care about mental illness. They’ll tell you, a lot of those crimes are by the mentally ill. If you care about vets returning home from war, then you’ve got to care about mental illness. Because a sizeable number of veterans are dealing with post-traumatic stress syndrome.”
Warren added, “There’s not enough support for families of the mentally ill because the pendulum swung the other way to care for the individual rights of privacy.”
Warren shared that he and his wife battled the stringent privacy laws as they tried to help their son. “I had a son who—my son gave me permission to talk to the doctors about his mental illness and gave Kay permission, and the doctors wouldn’t talk to us for fear of lawsuits.” Warren said, “That’s just wrong.”