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Tom Brokaw: Risks and rewards from warzone reporting

December 18th, 2012
05:15 PM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

Veteran anchor Tom Brokaw kept tabs on his colleague, Richard Engel, from the first days of his captivity in Syria, he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

Engel was freed on Monday after five days of captivity in Syria, where he was reporting for NBC.

Engel believes his kidnappers were members of the Shabiha – the militia allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – and that his captors hoped to exchange him and his team for Iranian agents held by the Syrian opposition.

It is the nightmare that shadows all journalism organizations and reporters who cover the world's danger zones.

For more than two decades Tom Brokaw was the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News. He oversaw Engel from his first days at the news network.

Brokaw said he was overjoyed when Engel was released, but added that there is an extremely delicate balance between a reporter’s safety and the important work of doing journalism on the front lines.

“Now that Richard is out, I said one of the after-action evaluations we have to do is: What are the risks and what are the rewards for these assignments,” Brokaw told Amanpour, “But at the same time you’ve got to get on the ground to find out what is going on.”

The Committee to Protect Journalist says this was one of the deadliest years for journalists: Sixty seven have been killed covering stories this year.

Filed under:  Journalism • Latest Episode

America’s news anchor on gun violence

December 18th, 2012
05:15 PM ET

America’s news anchor, veteran journalist Tom Brokaw, is “enraged” by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour Brokaw pointed out that other recent incidents – this year’s shootings at a movie theater in Colorado and Sikh Temple in Wisconsin – did not even break the waterline in the presidential debates this year. But he believes this latest massacre is a tipping point for the United States and its gun culture.

Filed under:  Gun Control • Latest Episode

Getting a gun in Japan

December 18th, 2012
11:40 AM ET

In Japan, you cannot buy a handgun, much less an assault rifle. In fact, even off-duty police officers are banned from carrying guns.

You can buy a shotgun or an air rifle, but it is not easy:

  • First, you have to take a class and a written exam.
  • Then there's a skill test at a shooting range
  • Next is a drug test
  • Then a mental evaluation.
  • Assuming you pass all those tests, you file with the police, who then run a background check.

No wonder Japan has one of the lowest gun ownership rates in the world.

But does it work?

In 2008, the U.S. had 12,000 gun-related murders. Japan had 11. More than double that number were killed in the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

Filed under:  Gun Control • Latest Episode

What does America's Second Amendment really mean?

December 18th, 2012
11:01 AM ET

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is the section of the Bill of Rights that enshrines American's right to keep and bear arms, or weapons.

CNN Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin examined this text in the wake of the latest mass shooting in the United States.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

For 100 years, the Supreme Court said that the second part of the text had nothing to do with individuals' rights to bear arms, according to Toobin. But four years ago, the Supreme Court, in a case called “Heller,” said the Second Amendment does mean that individuals have the right to a handgun at home.

What is not clear is how much more Americans have a right to: whether they have a right to handguns in the streets, whether they have a right to machine guns, semi-automatic weapons. But handguns at home, at least, are protected by the U.S. Constitution.

MORE: Shell-shocked U.S. Senator and gun supporter: ‘Time to change gun culture’

Filed under:  Latest Episode