The usually mild-mannered Tom Selleck couldn’t hide his annoyance when he got into a disagreement with Rosie O’Donnell over gun control. Selleck claimed there is a much bigger issue facing our nation than what Rosie seemed concerned about.
Rosie O’Donnell’s support for stricter gun laws started decades ago, dating back to when she hosted her first talk show. Back then, Rosie was known as “the queen of nice” for being “guest friendly.” Many say that all ended when she challenged Tom Selleck on gun control in America in what turned out to be a very contentious interview in 1999 which is still talked about decades later.
Knowing Tom Selleck was a member of the National Rifle Association, O’Donnell got passionate with the Blue Bloods star, who joined the NRA when he was 8-years-old. The talk show queen related being upset over a horrific school shooting, and her solution was to ensure politicians legislate stricter gun control. However, Selleck didn’t agree.
“All I can tell you is rushing to pass legislation in times of national crisis or morning isn’t proper,” Selleck said. “And more importantly, nothing in any of that legislation would have done anything to stop that awful tragedy.”
O’Donnell gave Selleck the opportunity to explain what he believes is the problem in America, and to him, it was not the availability of guns.
“What I’ve seen, in the work I’ve done with kids, is the troubling direction in our culture,” Selleck declared. “Look nobody argues anymore if they’re conservative or liberal, whether our society is going in the wrong direction…whether it be TV or movies, something’s happened.”
Selleck then went on to further explain his viewpoint and reason for disagreement, elaborating on how our country has drastically changed over the decades.
“Something’s happened in this country,” Selleck said. “Forty years ago, guns were much more accessible. Forty years ago a kid could walk into a pawn shop or a hardware store and buy a high capacity magazine weapon that could kill a lot of people, but they didn’t do it.”
The veteran actor wasn’t finished debating his point, claiming that “30 or 40 years ago” young males intent on suicide would go and “blow their brains out,” but with the direction our culture had taken over the previous few decades, something had changed these suicidal youth, according to Selleck.
“In today’s world, someone who is suicidal sits at home nurses their rage, and develops a grievance, but takes 20 people with them,” Selleck argued. “Something happened in our culture.”
That’s when O’Donnell bombarded Selleck with the dangers surrounding assault weapons. In response, the usually mild-mannered actor got a little annoyed.
“Look, Rosie, it’s an act of moral vanity to assume that someone who disagrees with your political agenda to solve our problems cares any less,” Selleck declared.
Rosie O’Donnell then reiterated that she wants a “compromise” on gun control, and that’s when Tom Selleck doubled down on his position.
“Look, we all hang out with people we agree with. You have a very one-sided view…” Selleck said as O’Donnell interrupted. “This is a nice one-sided conversation,” Selleck exclaimed. “Remember how civil you said you were going to be? When are you going to get to television and violence?”
Selleck tried one more time to clarify his belief that our society is negatively influenced by the culture in Hollywood.
“Are we a responsible enough society, in terms of television, in terms of movies, in terms of guns and everything else, to be this free?” Selleck asked. “The answer is probably not, but I’m gonna go down with the Bill of Rights. You can ask me questions about anything, but it’s just stupid political rhetoric.”
This caused Rosie O’Donnell to go on the offensive again, saying there’s no reason for anyone to have assault weapons, but Tom Selleck had one question for her.
“Do you really think the Second Amendment is in the Constitution to guarantee hunting and target shooting?” Selleck declared.
O’Donnell answered by saying the Second Amendment is “so we can have muskets when the British people come over in 1800 – I don’t think it’s in the Constitution to have assault weapons,” she claimed, adding, “I feel attacked.” Selleck again disagreed on all accounts, telling her that he thought she was being “stupid.”
“I haven’t attacked you,” Selleck retorted. “I disagreed with you. I haven’t mentioned assault weapons once. I didn’t come on your show to have a debate. I came on your show to plug a movie – that’s what I’m doing here … I think you’re being stupid.”
Rosie O’Donnell was later asked about the volatile interview with Tom Selleck, and the former co-host of The View decided it was time to reflect. “I was pretty raw,” O’Donnell said to reporters in 2011. “It was the first time I was in what I perceived to be a position of power — which I thought came with fame. And I was really disillusioned to find out that it didn’t.”
Tom Selleck hasn’t held any ill feelings towards the former talk show host, either. “I still like Rosie,” Selleck said in 2007. “I think she needs to take a deep breath and stop thinking everybody who disagrees with her is evil.” The 1999 interview was an intense moment, but he handled it with total class. Selleck did not hold a grudge, speaking highly of O’Donnell. Classy.