Tom Selleck gets heated with Rosie O’Donnell over gun control debate

Tom Selleck gets heated with Rosie O’Donnell over gun control debate

Rosie O’Donnell has been a proponent of stricter gun laws for decades.

In the 90’s, she was known as the “queen of nice” for how she treated her guests on her talk show. 

That all ended in 1999 when she had Tom Selleck as a guest…

Tom Selleck
Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Tom Selleck, famous for his ongoing role as Frank Reagen on Blue Bloods, joined the National Rifle Association at the age of 8. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that the star got into a heated debate with Rosie O’Donnell, an advocate for gun control, on a 1999 episode of her talk show.

O’Donnell’s reaction to the recent tragic school shooting at the time was to call for legislators to pass stricter gun control laws. Her guest did not 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…..”

Tom Selleck
Shutterstock/Kathy Hutchins

When O’Donnell gave her guest the time to explain his perception of the problems leading to shootings, Selleck explained:

“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.”

Continuing to explain the changes he believed were going on in America at the time, 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.”

He went on to describe that “suicidal” young people now tended to “nurse” their rage at home, harming others instead of harming themselves first. This, he claimed, is proof that there had been a cultural shift.

O’Donnell began to come back at Selleck, going into detail about the dangers of assault weapons, but her normally mild-mannered guest grew 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 stated.

When O’Donnell mentioned her desire for some kind of compromise on gun control in America, Selleck did not budge on his own position. After some back and forth, he reiterated his thoughts on Hollywood’s cultural influence:

“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? 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.”

When O’Donnell came back with her belief that there is no reason for a person to own an assault weapon, Selleck continued to grow frustrated, exclaiming, “Do you really think the Second Amendment is in the Constitution to guarantee hunting and target shooting?”

Rosie O’Donnell replied by saying that the Second Amendment was created “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.” 

Finally, this is when Selleck seemed to reach his breaking point, telling the host that he thought she was being dumb:

“I haven’t attacked you,” Selleck replied. “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.”

Watch the video below for Selleck’s take, and let us know what you think in the comments!

What do you think of this?

Please share your thoughts in our comment section.