CNN's Chris Cuomo opened a town hall-style discussion on gun control Wednesday night with this message blasting the National Rifle Association for failing to send a representative.
"The other special interest involved tonight is our collective interest in dying less this way," Cuomo said.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: Hello, everybody. I am Chris Cuomo. And welcome to a very special primetime town hall. We're calling it "America Under Assault: The Gun Crisis."
It's been a tough week, but we should not waste this moment. So let's take a breath and let's talk and take the time to listen. We've put together a beautiful program for you tonight with some of the most prominent voices, and they have very different ideas about protecting our society from gun violence.
And I am surrounded by a gift tonight, the strength of survivors, the same kind of strength I saw on the ground in El Paso. This audience traveled from far and wide and mostly in lousy weather, so thank you for dealing with the elements.
And they did so to represent their communities. How do we heal when this happens to us? No one and nowhere is immune. El Paso, Dayton, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Las Vegas, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Chicago. Many of the people here survived the bullets that tore through their bodies, changed their lives, and changed their communities. Many lost loved ones. Some are now advocates for reform. Some work in the firearm industry. Others work to limit that industry's reach.
We also invited the National Rifle Association, the NRA, to be part of tonight's conversation. They declined. They sent a totally disingenuous statement that they're open to honest discussion, but not "this spectacle." That's what you call this, a spectacle?
I guess they want to do their talking with propaganda ads and millions in lobbying. Besides, let's be honest. The gun lobby is not going to be the answer. And that shouldn't be expected any more than we expected Big Tobacco to help us expose the ills of smoking.
The reality is, people like you are the answer, and there can be no sides when it comes to wanting to be safer, better protected. There just can't be, not anymore.
So let's use this moment, let's connect and confront what should be obvious by now. The other special interest involved tonight is our collective interest in dying less this way.