The gun control debate raged on Wednesday night as CNN host Piers Morgan battled TheBlaze's Will Cain and other pro-gun advocates over whether an semi-automatic assault weapons ban would curb violent crime in the United States.
"Why does any American need one of these AR-15s? What possible protection can that kind of thing offer them? It's a military rifle," Morgan began.
"I don't think that the conversation, when it comes to me, is with the burden upon me to say why I might need that weapon," Cain replied. "What I need you to do explain how you've made the country safer by proposing to ban that weapon."
"I understand the sense that we have at a moment like this that we must do something," he added. "But what I would suggest is make sure you are actually going to accomplish that."
Cain went on to say he is not convinced that banning assault weapons would accomplish anything "significant." He noted that the rifle that Newtown, Conn. shooter Adam Lanza used when he killed 20 children and six adults would not be covered under Connecticut's assault weapons ban or the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.
"I find that ridiculous," Morgan replied.
"What I would say is, the federal ban that we did have for 10 years didn't drop national violence," Cain said.
"But it did. Demonstrably, it did," Morgan shot back.
After saying he wasn't aware of the statistics that Morgan was referring to, Cain explained that it takes a very "determined criminal" to do something as horrific as Adam Lanza, and an assault weapons ban isn't necessarily going to deter that kind of deranged individual.
As far as Morgan's claim that the federal assault weapons ban passed by Congress in 1994 "demonstrably" reduced national violence, he may be overselling, according to a 2004 study from the University of Pennsylvania.
ABC News reports:
That is unclear. According to a 2004 study from the University of Pennsylvania, the number of people killed in mass shootings did go down generally during the years that the ban was in effect. The exception was 1999, the year that the shooting at Columbine High School happened.
The number of mass shootings per year has doubled since the ban expired, but the researchers say it's difficult to discern whether there was a cause-and-effect relationship.
When asked what law he would propose to stop mass killings like the one in Connecticut, Morgan said "you've got to try."
"I've been in this country for the last six, seven years watching shooting massacre after [shooting massacre]," he added. "When does the slaughter stop?"
At this point, John R. Lott Jr., author of "More Guns, Less Crime," chimed in and defended the use of semi-automatic rifles, saying the guns have the same characteristics as all semi-automatic weapons.
"You want people to think that they are just harmless old hunting rifles, and that's why they sell so fast. And it is a disgrace that you won't answer those questions," Morgan said, raising his voice.
At several points throughout the interaction between Lott and Morgan, it was more of a shouting match as Morgan demanded Lott answer the AR-15 related question, "How many bullets does it fire a second?"