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North Korean Threat; Mass Stabbing at Texas College; Interview With Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly; Interview With Senator James Risch

Aired April 9, 2013 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 10:00 here in Washington, D.C., and a very big night tonight, breaking news in the Korean missile crisis. A missile launch could now come at any time. We have a live update on that.

Breaking news also in Texas tonight, an attempted massacre on a college campus, the would-be killer slashing one throat after another. Joining us, one of the heroes who stopped him.

And here in Washington, a late new sign of progress on gun control. Later tonight, also a 360 exclusive. That is Mark Kelly. He's firing a Glock .9-millimeter. That's the same weapon that nearly killed his wife, Gabby Giffords. He's firing. She's there cheering him on. Dana Bash spoke with them about how they reconcile their fight for gun control with their love for guns and their ownership of that particular gun.

Also tonight, a custody battle that began in Louisiana ending in Cuba right now. Call it Elian Gonzalez in reverse. None of the players though are Cuban, except that is the authorities in Havana, who just decided what to do with the American family who have landed on their shores, an American couple that has kidnapped their children. Their custody was taken away from them. We will explain what happens next.

We begin though with the breaking news, the White House now saying that North Korea launching one of their ballistic missiles -- quote -- "could be imminent," also word that Pyongyang and Washington were talking secretly just days before this showdown began.

Kyung Lah is in Seoul, South Korea, monitoring those developments as well as a sharp threat today from the North.

Kyung, this possible ballistic missile test, what do we know about it?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we know is that all eyes are on the east coast of North Korea, where the launch could be, as you say imminent, according to South Korea's presidential office. They expect the highest likelihood is right now, the morning hours of April 10. It is April 10 here in Asia, so everyone is watching to see if this missile launch is going to be happening in these early hours at any time right now. Something that we should mention, Anderson, is that this is an unusual twist to this. South Korea's fisheries and oceans department, it seems very random to mention this, but this department is usually notified by North Korea if there's going to be a missile launch. In this case, they weren't notified.

This is different and this is significant. It tells us that Kim Jong-un is sending a message. He is changing the rules of the game. He is not his daddy. He is thereby, Anderson, more unpredictable and thereby more dangerous.

COOPER: What do we know about this potential missile test, what kind of missile, where would it be fired toward and what kind of steps are being taken in the region to prepare for it?

LAH: Well, the assumption at this point is that it's going to be an intermediate rocket test launch, and that the assumption, and again, these are all assumptions because we simply don't know. North Korea has proven to be so unpredictable this month.

The assumption is it's probably going to head out to the waters, but no one's taking any chances. If you go to a U.S. air base in South Korea right now, as we did, at the Osan Air Base, we saw U.S. Patriot missile batteries pointed right up at the sky. They are pointed north.

U.S. bases have been targeted. They have been told by North Korea that you are a target, so there are preparations on the ground to make sure that nothing falls on them.

COOPER: We have seen North Korea issue warnings to diplomats to leave embassies in North Korea, now today to foreigners in South Korea. How seriously is that being taken?

LAH: It's taken seriously and then not seriously, seriously because foreigners are not used to being targeted directly by Pyongyang. This is something a little more rare than the usual noise and hot air we hear out of the North.

They specifically pointed out foreigners in South Korea should leave, that they should evacuate. That's a bit more extreme than what we have heard normally out of the North. So people here -- I spoke with one American woman. She's doing business here in South Korea. She says she hasn't changed her routine, but she did check in with the U.S. Embassy, her very first time, Anderson.

There is an elevated level of concern, but no alarm.

COOPER: A lot has been made obviously, Kyung, about the lack of diplomatic channels between the U.S. and North Korea. We're finding out tonight there were actually direct communications between the two countries last month. What do you know about that?

LAH: What we know is that these are regular back-channel meetings. In meetings that I have had with U.S. officials, we know this is something that's normal, these back-channel meetings, but they are secret because the United States does not have relations, direct normal relations with Pyongyang.

But in this meeting, and it did happen prior to all this escalation in this region, there was a meeting, the United States saying we want to try to move, veer off to a diplomatic route, but that message certainly is not being appreciated by Pyongyang, if the message was delivered at all, because we are where we are, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Kyung Lah, appreciate the reporting. Thanks.

Our other breaking news tonight comes from Texas, where a college campus northwest of Houston was thrown into chaos today as a suspect went on a rampage, slashing, stabbing people in the head, in the neck, until he was actually tackled by a group of students; 14 people were wounded in the attack at Lone Star College at Cy-Fair campus. Two are in critical condition right now.

The suspect is in custody, and he's about 21 years old, we're told. He's enrolled at the school. In a second, we will talk to one student who actually tackled this alleged slasher.

But, first, a lot of questions. The main one, of course, is why.

Ed Lavandera joins me now live from Cypress, Texas, with the latest.

Ed, what do we know?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're still waiting to figure out exactly what motivated this attack. Authorities say a 21-year-old student has been taken into custody. So far, no charges have been filed so we're still waiting on that. Of course, a great deal of attention being paid to the 14 people who were wounded in this attack that happened just after 11:00 Central time here on the college community campus.

Several of those students, two of them are still in critical condition, Anderson. Several have been upgraded to good condition and a few have been released. But a great deal of concern for those two other students, Anderson, that are still in critical condition tonight.

COOPER: What do we know about the identity of the suspect? Who is he? Do authorities have any sense of what kind of motivation or what set off this attack?

LAVANDERA: Well, the motivation, last we heard from investigators here -- the entire campus had been shut down for the day. It's still closed. We're told it will be reopened as usual tomorrow, but investigators have been processing.

This attack happened over the area of a couple different buildings that were being looked at so investigators were going through the building trying to find any evidence that they might need. There is a name floating around among students about who was behind this attack, but that name hasn't been officially confirmed by investigators here in the Houston area. We have just been told it's a 21-year-old student who is being questioned.

And as I mentioned, we're still waiting for those -- any word about criminal charges being filed against him.

COOPER: Some of the early reports suggested it might be more than one attacker, but law enforcement is confident now there really was only one attacker, correct?

LAVANDERA: You're correct, Anderson. In fact, when the first call came in, according to investigators, the 911 call came in as a male on the loose on campus, stabbing people, and they believed that perhaps because these attacks happened over a little bit of a wide area on the campus, that it might have been different witnesses seeing the same person a couple different times. That's the way it was initially reported.

But investigators said just a short while ago they're confident one that person is behind the attacks.

COOPER: All right, Ed, appreciate that.

Students at Lone Star describe obviously a terrifying scene, one of confusion. Lot of people running, some of them clearly injured.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a little female student who had got punctured right in her neck and they had her on the -- they were putting her on the stretcher and trying to stop the bleeding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone just seemed to panic and shock, like I was wondering what the heck was going on.


COOPER: Joining me now are two witnesses to the stabbing rampage who got involved amid the chaos in different ways. Steven Maida actually helped to chase down and tackle the suspect. Cassie Foe is a nursing student at the school who rushed to help some of the victims.

Steven and Cassie join me now live from Texas.

It's amazing that both of you got involved. So many people run away from these kind of things. You really just went toward and did what you could.

Cassie, what was the first sign that something had gone wrong?

CASSIE FOE, STUDENT: Well, I was in my nursing lab and I heard a scream from the hallway, thought people were just playing around, and I went out to check and saw a girl bleeding out of her neck, running down the stairs, another one at the top. And I went to check and see if there was anyone else and that's when I saw the attacker stab another white male outside of a classroom.


COOPER: So you actually saw that young man stab somebody?

FOE: Yes, I did. I saw him from the backside and it looked like he was just bumping into him, and stabbed his neck. He collapsed. I went and got napkins, rushed to cover the blood, tried to keep all that I could in.

And I rushed to every classroom knocking on doors to see if I could get help.

COOPER: You're going to make an awesome nurse.

FOE: I hope so.


COOPER: Yes, I think so.

Where were you, Steven?

STEVEN MAIDA, STUDENT: Anderson, I was outside next to the lake walking back to my truck whenever I saw some people running out, and I thought it was a campus tour, like they have so many times at Lone Star, like a big crowd of people.

But it was actually people running away. And I heard -- I was walking and I heard one of the girls running past me, my friend's been stabbed. She's stabbed in the face. I was like -- it caught my attention so -- and I go and this other girl comes outside, she has a stab wound in her cheek and I asked her friend what happened. She goes this guy's stabbing girls in the face up there.

I was like where, what's he look like? And I kept asking what does he look like? She goes he's upstairs and he's got red hair and he's white. So I went inside and there was another girl that had the stab wound in her neck. There was blood all over the stairs, and ran upstairs and looked around and I couldn't see anybody, but then I saw people out in the hallway so I knew it was safe.

So I ran over there. Whenever I arrived, there was another kid with a slice in the back of his head, and I asked where's he at, what's he look like? They didn't know also. Then I kept going, asking. I saw this other gentleman, he's right there, he's right there. He was literally downstairs to where you could see him.

So I took off back to the stairwell, ran downstairs and ran outside, and he was on the other side of the bridge, and other security guards were running after him and everything. And I was just running after him. I thought they were going to tell me to stop and not get involved, but I just kept running, and pretty soon I was out front, but there was these other three kids next to me, three or four kids that I wasn't going to be alone. Like, I wasn't going by myself. We ran and the kid looked behind, we were about 100 feet away, and he darts into the first building he sees. And there's three different ways you can go. You can go straight and go to the lab right here or upstairs, and he went straight and made a left after the vending machines to go out the doors.

Asked people where he was, the girl pointed us in the direction. We went outside and saw him and we just took off running after him. One kid, the kid got to him and grabbed him by his backpack, turned him around and another kid named James actually grabbed his arm and was pushing him down, pushing him down.

I'm just right there, just why did you do this, why? And I'm just screaming with anger. Why would you do this to people, why? He didn't say anything except for -- the only thing he said was give me my hearing aid, my hearing aid.


MAIDA: And that's when I realized he couldn't understand me, but he put his hands up right away and said, I give up. That's why...


COOPER: Were you scared at all? Because it's amazing that you ran past the security guards. You tackled this guy with your friends.

MAIDA: Well, these weren't my friends. These were just other people that have good hearts and just want to take care of some innocent people that's getting stabbed in the face.

Like that's a girl that a prize possession to her is her face, her natural beauty, and he took that from them. And these guys wanted to catch him also. But I wasn't scared because it was a stab wound. He said he had a knife and that's a way fairer battle than a gun.

So if he had a knife, that means he was willing to fight, but you can always disarm someone. But no one wanted to go inside. Everyone kept running out from where I was at, but I'm a curious person. I went upstairs, and found out and then ran back downstairs. And thank God I have been working out a little bit. So I had the energy to catch up to him and then we got him on the ground and the security guards came and handcuffed him.

That's when I took that picture. And people are just saying I did it by myself. I didn't do it by myself. Eric Bertrand (ph) helped out. This kid named James also helped out and another gentleman. I didn't get his name, but I want to thank them also for their help.


COOPER: Absolutely. These are pictures you took once the police, law enforcement actually had arrived. But, again, I just think it's incredible what both of you did, getting involved. So many times, we hear people running away. You guys are great citizens and great. Your classmates are lucky to have you and your friends who also took part in this.

Did he give you -- he didn't give you any indication of why he was doing this.

Cassie, when you saw him stab this person, did he say anything?

FOE: He didn't say anything. He didn't even know I was there. He didn't know I saw. So, I mean, honestly, I have just been praying all day and I hope these families can get through this.

COOPER: Well, again, I just want to praise both of you again because I just think it's so important for people to stand up.

To you, was it random, Cassie? Did it seem like were there particular people he seemed to be targeting or did it just seem like he was wandering around?

FOE: No, it just seemed like he was -- he was just going around basically getting whoever was more open and easiest for him to reach at that point in time.

COOPER: Cassie, did you ever think...


FOE: There was no pattern or...

COOPER: Did you ever think you would have to put your nursing training to work like this?

FOE: Not so soon, no. I'm just really thankful it wasn't myself, because I have a daughter at home and, you know, I don't know what I would do without her.

COOPER: Well, Cassie and Steven, again, thank you so much for joining us. I can't imagine what this day has been like for you, but I'm so glad you were there and that you had the presence of mind to act both the way you did. I really appreciate it. My best to you.

Let us know what you think. You can follow me on Twitter right now at @AndersonCooper. I'm tweeting tonight.

Next, a 360 exclusive, an interview with Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly. Safe to say you will find something very surprising, including this family moment at their home in Tucson.


MARK KELLY, HUSBAND OF GABRIELLE GIFFORDS: This is the same kind of gun Gabby was shot with, a Glock, a .9 millimeter Glock, but in that case, it had a magazine that held 33 rounds. This, when it's full, holds 17. He shot 33 rounds. Every round hit somebody, we think.


COOPER: So what does his wife think of his choice of weapon in target practice during her recovery from a near fatal gunshot wound? Find out next.

Later, she lost a child at Sandy Hook. Dylan Hockley's mom, Nicole, joins us. She's here on Capitol Hill. We talk to also a U.S. senator who wants to filibuster a new debate on gun control laws. We will talk to him ahead. We will be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back.

As we said at the top of the broadcast, there is late news tonight on a break in the logjam in that building behind me over gun control legislation. Details on that in a moment.

It is significant, but not necessarily a game-changer and it doesn't make the big questions go away. Namely, why is this so hard? The main proposal, universal background checks, has about 90 percent of support among Americans, if you believe the polls, 90 percent.

So if you believe Congress should be doing the will of the people, what their constituents want, what's the hangup, you might ask? We're here tonight to find out and talk to both sides on the gun debate.

We will talk to one of the Newtown parents who flew here last night on Air Force One, who were at the Capitol today, talking to lawmakers, telling their stories, trying to make it personal. We will talk shortly with Dylan Hockley's mom, Nicole. Dylan was just 6 years old when the Sandy Hook gunman took his life.

She's fighting for tighter gun control measures. So are Mark Kelly and former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was so terribly wounded in that event in Tucson.

Dana Bash visited them at home. It's a 360 exclusive and parts of it may surprise you. Take a look.


DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gabby Giffords will never be the same after being shot through the head, yet one thing hasn't changed, ironically, her appreciation for guns.

In fact, target practice is still a form of entertainment at Giffords' mother's house deep in the Arizona desert.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Watch this. He's aiming for my pot. Whoa.

BASH: Husband Mark Kelly using planting pots and water bottles as targets, while Giffords watches from the patio with her mother, cheering him on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excellent. Excellent. Excellent.

BASH: And Kelly isn't shooting with just any kind of gun.

KELLY: This is the same kind of gun Gabby was shot with, a Glock, a .9 millimeter Glock, but in that case, it had a magazine that held 33 rounds. This, when it's full, holds 17. He shot 33 rounds. Every round hit somebody, we think.

BASH (on camera): How long have you had this gun?

KELLY: Well, I gave this to Gabby as a gift.

BASH: When?

KELLY: A number of years ago. She's a gun owner. She's from the West.

BASH (voice-over): Still, we asked the question a lot of incredulous people seeing this scene would ask.

(on camera): Really? This guy Sort of still gets his kicks or recreation for him is shooting a gun after his wife was shot through the head?

KELLY: Well, Gabby used to like shooting a gun, too, occasionally.


KELLY: Not all the time. Gabby owns the same type of gun she was shot with. She didn't want to get rid of it. So now there's a round in the chamber.

BASH (voice-over): To be sure, this is meant to serve a very political purpose, to show Giffords and Kelly are legitimate gun owners and credible messengers for their new cause, tightening gun restrictions.

In fact, Kelly also showed us a gun he recently bought and videotaped for the sole purpose of demonstrating how easy it is to get a background check and why he and Giffords want them expanded to private sales, like at gun shows.

KELLY: And when we timed it, it took five minutes and 36 seconds, not a lot of time. You could do the same thing at the gun show, where people are currently not subject to a background check in most states.

BASH: Giffords and Kelly formed their organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions, in January, the second anniversary of the tragic shooting that left Giffords partially paralyzed and robbed the once articulate politician of her gift of speech.

GIFFORDS: Optimistic. KELLY: You're optimistic.

GIFFORDS: Optimistic.

KELLY: And I am, too, especially when we're talking about a universal background check.

BASH: The Sandy Hook shooting spurred them to take a stand.

GIFFORDS: Sandy Brook.

KELLY: Sandy Hook.


BASH: Brain damage from Giffords' gunshot wound makes it difficult for her to find words, even Sandy Hook.

GIFFORDS: Sandy Brook.

KELLY: Sandy Hook.

GIFFORDS: OK. Sandy Brook.

KELLY: Sandy Hook.



KELLY: Sandy Hook Elementary. It's something we just can't -- 20 first graders...

GIFFORDS: First graders died.

KELLY: In their classrooms. It's just...


BASH: The couple originally called for a ban on assault weapons and limits to high-capacity magazines. Giffords made a dramatic plea to senators.

GIFFORDS: Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you.

BASH: But they now admit there are limits on what is politically realistic.

(on camera): If you could name the number one thing Congress could do to prevent the kind of violence that you were the victim of, what would it be?

GIFFORDS: Background checks.

KELLY: Yes, certainly, without a doubt. BASH (voice-over): Giffords has learned to navigate an iPad for e-mail with her left hand because her right hand is paralyzed, but most of her communicating with former colleagues, pressing them for new gun laws, goes through Kelly, mostly on the phone, though she doesn't have to say much to make her point, especially in person.

KELLY: When Gabby sits in their office and tells them how important the universal background check bill is, they hear that. She's a former colleague. She was doing her job, like they do every single day, when she was nearly killed.

BASH: When Giffords was in Congress, she represented this red Arizona district on the Mexican border, filled with voters who expected her to defend their gun rights. She pushed to overturn a gun ban in the District of Columbia and voted to allow guns in national parks.

A conservative Democrat herself, she knows firsthand how politically hard it is for her former colleagues to support gun restrictions.

KELLY: It's tough.

GIFFORDS: Yes, tough.

KELLY: It can be a tough issue. That's because of the influence...


KELLY: ... of the NRA and the gun lobby.

BASH (on camera): And what do you think about the NRA's argument that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun?

GIFFORDS: It doesn't work. It doesn't work.

BASH (voice-over): But, realistically, had she not been shot, would the pro-gun congresswoman have been open to voting for stricter gun laws?

(on camera): Candidly, would you have said yes?


KELLY: I think it depends on what those measures were.


KELLY: Gabby was middle of the road.

GIFFORDS: Middle of the road.

KELLY: She was...

GIFFORDS: Straight in the middle.

BASH (voice-over): There is no question the gun culture is deeply ingrained in Giffords. It has to be to still expose herself to guns, even after her near fatal shooting.

(on camera): What's it like to sit and hear the gunshot go off? Does it startle you?


KELLY: I think that's because Gabby doesn't remember the gunshot going off the day she was injured. Right?

You don't remember that?


BASH: If you could, would you shoot a gun today?


KELLY: We have talked about it. Gabby's actually held it, hasn't shot one since she's been injured, but a few days ago, she was actually trying to aim with it with her left hand.

BASH: Is your hope to be able to shoot a gun again?

GIFFORDS: No. I don't know.

BASH: Not a big priority in your life right now?

GIFFORDS: Not really.

KELLY: Not at the top of the list.


BASH (voice-over): Still, what's so devastatingly altered her life now infuses her life with purpose.

(on camera): I have seen it written that there's irony that you are such a good spokesperson for new laws to curb gun violence because you can't speak very well.

KELLY: Yes. I guess that's kind of maybe -- maybe it's bad irony. I don't know. It's something that...


KELLY: It stinks. It stinks.



COOPER: Dana Bash joins me now here live in Washington. It's interesting. They're pushing for universal background checks, but if memory serves me correct, the young man who shot her, Jared Loughner, didn't he actually pass a background check?

BASH: He sure did.

He did not get his gun at a gun show or through a private sale or any of the ways that members of Congress who are pushing to curb violence want to expand the laws to. He actually had a background check that he did pass. What Mark Kelly argues is that this is another thing that they have to change, which is making sure that the system that they're going through to get the background checks has accurate information, up-to-date information.


COOPER: Right. A lot of states don't give...


BASH: Exactly, that Arizona didn't have the information they should have for lots of reasons, including the fact that things weren't reported that should have been about his mental state.

COOPER: There is news tonight about legislation. What are we hearing?

BASH: We reported on your show last night that Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey, Democrat and Republican, both very big gun rights supporters, were working on a deal. They actually have scheduled a press conference tomorrow morning and Senator Manchin's staff says they feel confident that they can at this point get a deal and announce a deal by tomorrow morning.

What does that mean? That means that probably they will bring along enough senators to support not universal background checks, but expanding the current system to include gun shows and Internet sales. Beyond that...

COOPER: Not private sales.

BASH: Not private sales.

COOPER: Relative-to-relative.


BASH: Exactly, or any other private sales. We're going to get more information about that tomorrow, what they have been working on.

But beyond that, we also expect the Senate to actually take up debate on this on Thursday. We expect it to be a couple of weeks, but if senators Toomey and Manchin can come together, that will certainly not be what everybody wanted who have been pushing for these new gun measures, but they call it a baby step and they say they will take what they can get. COOPER: All right, Dana, fascinating interview.

BASH: Thank you.

COOPER: Appreciate it. Thanks.

See you tomorrow for part two of Dana's exclusive report. She is going to join us tomorrow, focusing on Gabby Giffords' near fatal wound and her remarkable battle back from it, including the chilling moment when she stared down the would-be killer in court.

Right now, I'm joined, though, by one of the 14 Republican senators who have been planning to block debate on a Democratic gun control bill, the only one out of the 14 who would agree to come on tonight.

We very much appreciate it, Senator James Risch of Idaho.

Thanks very much for being on the program.

SEN. JAMES RISCH (R), IDAHO: Thank you. Thank you.

COOPER: First of all, Tom Coburn, a Republican, was on Erin Burnett's show an hour ago, said he does not think there will be a filibuster if Democrats allow Republicans to bring amendments up for a bill. Do you think that's true?

RISCH: I think that's probably true.

In any event, I don't think there will be a filibuster that won't be overridden. I think there's clearly 60 votes to override a filibuster. There is going to be a debate on this, this week.

COOPER: You are one of the people who wants to filibuster.

RISCH: Well, a filibuster is simply a procedure by which you try to defeat legislation.

I'm committed to defeat any legislation that interferes with law- abiding citizens' right under the Constitution, which is a right just like freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of association in amendment one. Amendment two gives every American the right to keep and bear arms.

Having said that, that is, of course, modified by the fact if you're a felon, you can't. If you have serious mental issues, you can't. That's what we should focus on.

COOPER: You know the criticism from even Senator McCain, who says why try to filibuster? Why not allow this to come up for debate? This is what the Senate should be all about?

RISCH: Well, and, of course, it is -- it was debated today on the floor. It is going to be debated tomorrow on the floor. And there is going to be a debate on it. There's no question about it. But it is a procedural method by which, if you are successful, you can stop passage of a bill. That is not going to happen here. There's going to be enough votes to override the filibuster and then get to the bill. Whether the bill passes or not, we will see.

COOPER: Not wanting universal background checks, or so-called universal background checks, what is your main opposition to that?

RISCH: Well, the background check system we have right now is not being enforced and it isn't working.

I keep hearing on this program the reference has been made closing the gun show loophole. People portray that the guns that are sold at gun shows are not subject to background check. The vast majority of guns that are sold at gun shows are done so by FFL dealers. They have to do a background check.

COOPER: But why not control, you know, a relative giving -- selling a gun to a relative or friend to a friend? Why not have a background check?

RISCH: Right.

The thing that really bothers me is the fact that No. 1, it doesn't work.

No. 2, it's placing the burden on law-abiding citizens. The person who is going to use the gun for illegal purposes is not going to go through the background check system. Instead of burdening -- instead of burdening them with that, I would rather see there be able to be commerce in guns so that people can exercise that Second Amendment right.

COOPER: But how do you know that somebody's a law-abiding citizen who's buying a gun from a relative if they haven't gone through a background check? Because I've heard in interviews you cite the figure that thousands of people have actually gone through the background check and been caught as lying. They've been felons, and they're not prosecuted. The NRA says this is ridiculous. They should be prosecuted. But nevertheless, they were caught. So those are people, if you extended the background checks to even private sales, though it may be inconvenient, wouldn't you catch thousands of people?

RISCH: Anderson, you make a really good point in that for about the last year that the statistics are available for, 15,000 people were convicted felons or were on the run who lied and committed a felony on the background check form.

COOPER: Right.

RISCH: Out of those 15,000, they prosecuted 44 of them. We need to enforce the laws that we have. Those 15,000 should have been prosecuted because you know they didn't stop trying to get a gun. They went somewhere else to get the gun.

COOPER: I don't hear a lot of people arguing that those people shouldn't be prosecuted, that the current laws shouldn't be, but if it caught 15,000 people lying, why not extend the background checks and you're going to catch another 15,000?

RISCH: Well, instead of that, Anderson, what we really ought to do is we ought to focus on keeping the hand -- keeping the guns out of the hands of convicted felons and people who have serious mental disease.

COOPER: But how do you know...

RISCH: That is a very, very difficult thing to do.

COOPER: But how do -- convicted felons have friends and relatives who might sell them a gun anyway.

RISCH: Absolutely. And those people should be prosecuted. We have laws against straw purchases now. Those people should be prosecuted.

Look, I want to make absolutely clear, those of us that support this constitutional right that we, as Americans, have -- and we are one of the very few people in the world that have the ability to own and bear arms -- we are not trying to protect criminals by any stretch of the imagination. Indeed, just the reverse.

Because every time a criminal commits an act like this or a person who has a serious mental illness creates -- does something like this, it endangers everyone else's ability to keep and bear arms.

COOPER: From a logic standpoint, I don't understand. How do you know if they're a criminal or have a serious mental issue if you're not doing any kind of check? If their relative who's an idiot decides to sell them a weapon or their friend decides to sell them a weapon? I mean, if nobody's checking, how do you know they're a good guy or bad guy?

RISCH: Well, there's no question that, by expanding the background check, you will pick up some more of those people. But that isn't necessarily going to keep the -- keep guns out of their hands. There's over 300 million guns today in America that can be bought from anywhere and even the conversation that's going on now in bringing the bill that they're talking about with gun shows is still going to leave a vast majority of sales without background checks.

COOPER: If gun show checks, Internet sales, that's what the compromise people are talking about, is that something that's acceptable to you or does that go too far?

RISCH: It isn't that it goes too far. It's just ineffective. They're just not getting the job done. There are other things that we really need to focus on, and that is keeping guns out of the hands of people that shouldn't have them.

COOPER: Senator, I appreciate you coming on the program.

RISCH: Thank you. COOPER: In a moment, I will ask a Newtown mother, Nicole Hockley, to react to what she just heard. That's next.

And later, the strange saga, really bizarre story, a family battle that ended with two kidnapped children, two American kids being brought to Havana, Cuba. The Cuban government deciding tonight what to do with an American family. We'll tell you what they decided.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back. A moment ago you heard Senator James Risch from Idaho explain why he's opposed to expanding background checks for gun buyers, a measure my next guest believes will make another massacre less likely, another rampage like Sandy Hook. Joining me now is Nicole Hockley. She lost her son Dylan at Sandy Hook.

Thank you very much for being with us. I'm so sorry for your loss.


COOPER: I don't know if you were able to hear the senator, but you know, there are a lot of senators who are saying do not expand background checks, that that just inconveniences law-abiding gun buyers. When you hear that, what do you think?

HOCKLEY: I'm not sure how that inconveniences law-abiding gun buyers if there are already background checks in place for law-abiding gun buyers to ensure that it doesn't get into the wrong hands. Why shouldn't that be the same for all gun sales and gun purchases? It shouldn't be for some and not all.

COOPER: A lot of people at the NRA also says, You know, we need to make existing background checks work better, prosecute people who lie on those things. That's something you agree with, as well.


COOPER: But you don't see it as -- you can do both. You can expand background checks and also make the current ones more effective.

HOCKLEY: Certainly enforcing the existing laws is always an important thing to do. But expanding it to cover all gun sales, that just makes common sense to me. I see no reason to do it for some but not for all.

COOPER: How has it been, you've been down here today. You came down in Air Force One with other families from Newtown. You talked to the Republicans. You talked to Democrats. I mean, this is obviously a position no parent wants to be in. And yet you feel it's important to be here. What has it been like today? HOCKLEY: Today was a good day but a very hard day. There has -- truly, I would much rather be at home with both my children, if I could. I would rather not be doing any of this. But I feel absolutely compelled to do it on behalf of my son, Dylan, and be his voice and the voice of all the others who died and help prevent deaths in the future and save lives.

COOPER: Do you think it -- do you think it help? Do you think having a senator or congressperson meet you, hear about Dylan, do you think that makes a difference?

HOCKLEY: I think it makes a huge difference, and I appreciate the fact that they're taking the time to listen to us. It's -- it's incredibly important to have your voice be heard. And the fact that Republicans, Democrats, that all the meeting requests that we have asked for have all been accepted, and more are coming on all the time. It doesn't matter whether we all agree about what needs to happen. The fact that they are taking the time to listen and to talk to us about their opinions in private, that's a huge step forward, and that's part of what makes this nation so great, I think.

COOPER: Do you feel that real change is possible? Do you feel -- there's some -- I've talked to some family members who worry that sort of time is slipping by and parts of the country are not as focused on this as they were immediately after the horror.

HOCKLEY: Well, maybe for some people, that's true. Certainly, we continue to get a lot of support in terms of e-mails from people all over the world and certainly across the United States, saying that they're with us on this.

For me, I might have been one of those people in the past that would see the tragedy on the news, and then get back to my own life and forget. I can't do that anymore. And this is my life, going forward.

And I know that there's a lot of other parents like me out there who may have never had to make a stand in the past, but it's important to exercise our First Amendment right of freedom of speech and ensure our voices are heard.

COOPER: On this program, we've really tried to focus on -- on the people who lost their lives that day, and remembering them and honoring their lives. What was Dylan like?

HOCKLEY: Dylan was -- he was a great little boy. He was always smiling, always laughing. I mean, if he laughed, other people laughed with him. He loved to be tickled so people would come up to him and just start tickling him just to hear him laugh. It was like music.

He loved looking at the moon at night, and he ate spaghetti with his fingers. And I could never get him to give up (ph) that. He was a very loving and empathetic little boy. He was autistic and so had some learning difficulties and some social interaction difficulties, but he was a joy in our family, and I miss him terribly.

COOPER: Thank you so much for being with us. I really appreciate it.

HOCKLEY: Thank you very much.

COOPER: Thanks. Wish you the best.

HOCKLEY: Thank you.

COOPER: Just ahead, another treacherous journey across the Straits of Florida. Two young brothers are safe tonight in Cuba. Their parents are in a heap of trouble. Their parents kidnapped them from their grandmother's house. CNN's Patrick Oppmann was the first reporter to actually talk to the parents, find them in Cuba, actually find them when they turned up in Havana. He joins me ahead.


COOPER: Well, tonight an international manhunt has taken a dramatic turn. An American couple who fled to Cuba on a boat with their young sons will be turned over to U.S. authorities. Cuban officials made that announcement just hours ago.

Now, the good news is that 4-year-old Cole Hakken and his 2-year- old brother Chase are safe tonight after crossing the Straits of Florida in a 25-foot sailboat with their parents, Josh and Sharyn Hakken. That is no small thing. The water separating Florida and Cuba is notoriously rough, shark-infested, and a lot of people have died trying to cross it.

So what kind of parents would put their kids in that kind of danger? Well, last week, a court terminated the Hakkens' parental rights. That tells you something. A day after that ruling, authorities say that Josh Hakken showed up at his in-laws' home in Florida where Cole and Chase had been living. John Zarrella reports on what happened next.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From her home in Tampa, Patricia Hauser placed a 911 call.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nine-one-one, what is your emergency?

PATRICIA HAUSER, CUSTODIAN OF KIDNAPPED CHILDREN (via phone): My -- my son-in-law just kidnapped my two grandchildren. They've been in my -- state custody.

ZARRELLA: That was last Wednesday. Another in a series of desperate events involving Joshua Hakken, described as an anti- government protester, and his wife, Sharyn.

The couple had just lost parental rights back home in Louisiana. Authorities say Hakken kidnapped his children, Chase and Cole, from the home of their maternal grandparents, the Hausers, who had been given state custody of the boys.

The same day the boys were abducted, the family pickup was found in Madeira Beach, not far from St. Petersburg. Surveillance video showed Hakken and his wife, Sharyn, at a dock in the derrick (ph), preparing a sailboat, The Salty. As Tampa police hunted for Hakken, his wife and the two boys, they knew they were dealing with a man who could pull off a daring escape.

DETECTIVE LARRY MCKINNON, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SHERIFF'S SPOKESMAN: We've said all along that making irrational decisions doesn't always make you unintelligent. I mean, we know he's a very intelligent individual. He's an engineer.

ZARRELLA: To say what they did was risky is an understatement. In the 25-foot boat, they sailed in rough waters for days before turning up in Cuba.

The Hakkens' saga began nearly a year ago in Slidell, Louisiana. Police there responding to a disturbance at a hotel say they found weapons and drugs in the Hakkens' room. The children were there with them. What concerned authorities just as much was how the Hakkens were talking.

DETECTIVE DANIEL SEUZENEAU, SLIDELL POLICE SPOKESMAN: They were speaking some bizarre terms to the officers in reference to traveling across country to beat the Armageddon. Things were just very strange.

ZARRELLA: The children were taken and put in foster care out of concern for their safety. Two weeks later, according to Louisiana authorities, Hakken showed up at the foster home with a gun demanding his kids. He ran off when 911 was called.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need the police. I need the police. I have a -- I have a guy at my house with a gun.

ZARRELLA: It was sometime after that the boys were sent to their grandparents'.

It's not clear how Hakken and his wife had planned the abduction and escape to Cuba, or what they may have planned to do once they got there.

John Zarrella, CNN, Tampa.


COOPER: It's an incredible story. Earlier today, CNN's Patrick Oppmann tracked down the Hakkens at a marine in Havana. He was the first reporter that talked to them. Patrick joins me now.

Patrick, the fact that you found the Hakkens, their children on the sailboat today, it's incredible to me. Take us through how that happened.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Anderson, we just weren't getting the answers we wanted from either U.S. officials or Cuban authorities, who were being very tight-lipped about this case. And so as it happens, as sometimes when you do, we went out and looked for the answers on our own. And this seemed like a very good place to start. A large marina here outside of Havana, very popular places for foreigners to bring their boats in.

So we got into this marina and went boat by boat, and there were a lot of them, until we got to the end of the line and there, we found what appeared to be the Hakkens. As you heard John say, a boat called The Salty.

And there on the deck appeared to be Cole Hakken playing, and we started getting a little bit of footage, then immediately I spotted a man who looked just like Joshua Hakken walking back. He was dropping off what appeared to be some trash in a nearby Dumpster. And I asked what his name was, and he confirmed to me that it was Joshua Hakken.

He asked who I was. And I said, "I'm a reporter," and with that, he took off, ran into the boat. And at the same time, Anderson, Cuban security officials came out of really the woodwork, some of them with their hands on their pistols. And that's when I had a pretty good idea, Anderson, that we were in the right place.

COOPER: So it seems like the Cuban officials knew they were there and were watching them. The Cuban government now has agreed to send the Hakkens and their kids back to the U.S. When's that going to take place? Any idea?

OPPMANN: You know, talking to both U.S. and Cuban officials throughout the day, you get the sense that both sides really want this to happen as soon as possible. But it's a level of coordination we haven't seen here in quite some time between governments that usually don't agree on much of anything.

But what we're waiting for now is to find out how they'll transport them, if they'll need to bring in U.S. Marshals, as they've done in the past, to take them out on one of the direct flights, say, between here and Miami, here and Tampa.

But both Cuban and U.S. officials say they want this to happen immediately. They think it's going to be the best thing for the children, to get them away from their parents, get them back into their own country, Anderson.

COOPER: Great job of reporting. Patrick Oppmann, thank you very much.

Coming up, some very sticky fingers as thieves make off with 5 1/2 tons of Nutella, next. Where it happened, next.


ISHA SESAY, HLN ANCHOR: I'm Isha Sesay with a "360 News & Business Bulletin."

New information about the breaking news we told you about at the beginning of the show, the stabbing rampage at Lonestar College in Texas. The suspect has been identified as Dylan Quick, and he's charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The sheriff's department says Quick allegedly used a razor-type knife to injure 14 people.

Officials also say Quick told investigators that he'd had fantasies of stabbing people to death since he was in elementary school.

A "360 Follow": Beyonce and Jay-Z's controversial trip to Cuba, celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary, was approved in advance by the Treasury Department. Documents show it was classified as an educational exchange trip. And local reports say the couple meant with a dance group and a children's theater company. The United States has a tourism embargo against Cuba.

A new record for stocks today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 60 points, closing at a record high of 14,673.

And a delicious crime in Germany. Police say 5,000 jars of Nutella, worth about $21,000, were stolen from a former railway station. There have been similar thefts in the same town, recently. Thieves have also made off with five and a half tons of coffee and 34,000 cans of Red Bull.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: That's it for us. Thanks for watching. "Guns Under Fire," a CNN special report on background checks, continues tomorrow. About 90 percent of Americans said they want them expanded, so why isn't Congress getting the message?