msnbc | January 29, 2013
>>> just listen to this staggering statistic. january not even over, and the city of chicago already reporting 40 homicides the. last january, there were 40 homicides for the entire month. and last year, there were 500 homicides in all. that's just one of the reasons that president obama sat down yesterday with police chiefs and law enforcement officials from big cities , like chicago, and others that have been impacted by gun violence . joining me now is chief john edwards of the oak creek police department in wisconsin. he attended that meeting yesterday in august. oak creek suffered a horrific shooting at a sikh temple , which left seven people dead, including the shooter. chief, it's good to have you here. and take us inside the meeting. what did the president tell you and what were you able to tell the president?
>> the president wanted us to be very candid and asked us in law enforcement and those who deal with these things on the street what really would help, what we thought, and really wanted us to be honest about some of the things that we were thinking about. and i was able to tell you, one of the things about this whole issue is, you hear it leads with gun debate, gun control , gun battles. and that's really not what this is about. and i think once that starts, you divide a lot of people, you put somebody on one side of the fence or other. and what we as chiefs, and there was a lot of this talked about, is stopping the violence in general. and there are a lot of proposals in president's executive orders that he put out that are going to help us, as far as with mental health , some of the -- if you lose a gun, report it. if it's stolen, it has to be reported. things like that are going to help us. so it's stopping the violence, but the gun issue is so polarizing, a lot of people stop dead in their tracks when they hear that and they hear nothing else, and we don't get to the meat and potatoes of how to actually stop the violence .
>> chief, you say the executive orders has actually helped you, however, since the president announced those orders promoting gun safety , there are a number of sheriffs who have written letters to the white house saying they won't comply with the president's gun safety measures or any laws that congress might pass. one sheriff, who is just a stone's throw from where you reside in milwaukee, has been urging the people in his town to arm themselves. in your estimation, why are these sheriffs, local police chiefs like yourself, not on the same page when it comes to this issue?
>> well, that's one of the things. the way things are reported, i personally don't believe banning any particular weapon is going to stop these acts. we have to go to the root of the problem and find out and identify where these things are. so we are on the same page in a lot of respects. but, again, the issue of the -- when it's talked about gun control , that overshadows everything. and there are things that all law enforcement have been looking for for a long time, as far as access to databases and mental health , that doctors will not feel that they're going to be sued or something's going to happen. if they warn law enforcement that someone might be a problem. so we agree on those things, but the gun issue is where things are. and the emotional response to something like this, and anything, personal or professional, usually isn't the right response. if we look at it, it's the right response. so, you know, when it's characterized as, we're not on the same page, that's not the case. there are people who will look at those proposals and see them and if they read them say, oh, yeah, i think that's something that we've looked for for a long time. they don't agree with all of it, and that's fine, we don't have to, but we should discuss all of it.
>> so tomorrow the senate judiciary committee is going to hold a hearing on solutions for gun violence . the baltimore city chief, james johnson , is going to testify as well as the nra, which has resisted gun control measures that have been talked about. so as this conversation moves forward, how do we continue to have a thoughtful and logical national debate on gun control and apply these solutions on curbing gun violence in major cities and smaller cities and rural ones, but as you say, with everyone not being on the same page, this really does demonstrate that this is not a one-sized fits all answer to this.
>> i think, personally, what we have to do is stop calling it gun control . we're trying to control violence. and that has many different facets to it. there's mental health issues, there's databases we need access to, there's record checks that need to be done. there's reporting stolen weapons, doctors being involved, and sharing information between schools, police, mental health professionals . so we need to stop calling it a gun control debate. that's what my personal opinion is, because like i said, when people hear that, they're on one side or the other. and we shouldn't be. we shouldn't be on any side or the other. we should all want to stop the violence . like i said, i don't agree that banning any particular weapon is going to stop these things. those are usually the end, the means to the end, not where these things start. and that's what we focus on. it's like arresting the gun for committing the murder, but we don't do that. we arrest the individual.
>> chief john edwards of the oak creek police department in wisconsin. sir, thanks for your