A Weekend Today show interview with a Columbine shooting survivor became extremely uncomfortable when talk turned to America’s gun laws.
But perhaps more cringe-worthy was that host Allison Langdon referred to their guest Evan Todd by the wrong name. And not just any name, but the name of the young man who almost killed him.
Todd was on the show on Saturday for the 19th anniversary of 1999 shooting at Columbine High School. He managed to survive the attack as a teenager, despite being confronted and forced to beg for his life by the teen killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
Amelia Lester explains why the aftermath of the school shooting in Florida feels different to that of any shooting before it. Post continues.
As Todd recounted his experience the segment was going well. But then the conversation pivoted to the latest school shooting – and things got uncomfortable.
Todd’s views are that teachers should be allowed to carry guns into schools. He said he didn’t think they should be forced to take weapons with them, just that they shouldn’t be required to leave them at home.
When asked about the anti-gun movement, March For Your Lives, following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Todd said it was “not a movement that I stand behind or support”.
“I question whether it’s being run by students because I’ve been doing this for 19 years trying to get the message out that the heart and the soul is the real issue here, not guns.
“I know how hard it is to organise a movement. There’s a lot of money and a lot of people helping them and it’s frustrating to see that they’re going after a political point.”
Watch the awkward exchange, which saw Allison Langdon use the name of the killer, not the survivor. Post continues.
Langdon then interrupted “But you can’t deny that the anger of these students is real, Eric?” making an exceptionally cringe-worthy error given that Eric is the name of one of the Columbine killers.
Todd calmly replied that he understood their anger and sadness but didn’t agree with their position. He instead, suggested that the law which requires teachers to leave guns at home be repealed.
“They’re not disarmed when they go to the grocery store. They’re not disarmed when they go to church. But when they go to school they have to disarm themselves…”
Langdon again interrupted Evan, asking if this is a world he wants his son to grow up in – where teachers are forced to carry weapons.
“I wouldn’t ask a teacher who wasn’t comfortable to carry… I’m just asking those teachers that carry those permits should be allowed to protect their lives and the lives of their students,” he replied. “That’s what I’m advocating for.”
Todd then disputed Peter Stefanovic’s suggestion that America’s problem was “too many guns” by quoting stats that say there has been a similar reduction in gun violence in America as in Australia over the past few decades despite America increasing the number of guns. And the interview was abruptly ended.
“Evan, I think we have to agree to disagree,” Langdon said.
On Todd’s Facebook page, where he shared a video of the interview, he was inundated with likes and dozens of comments apologising on behalf of Australia and criticising the interview.
“Evan you are an amazing man. Glad you haven’t let fear and politics blind you from commonsense like many do,” one person commented. “They wanted some tear-jerky interview and anti-gun support, but turned on you just because they didn’t hear what they wanted.”
Another wrote: “All you’ve been through to present yourself calm and to the point while being overruled and badgered by two presenters who had no want to listen to someone wanting a calm discussion over a topic that’s affects you personally. They only wanted to push their agenda. I tip my hat to you.”