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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
Trump to Meet School Shooting Survivors; Australia Introduced Tougher Gun Laws in 1996; Final Version of Trans-Pacific Trade Deal Released. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired February 21, 2018 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:00] RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Closing bell ringing on Wall Street, the Dow turned turtle sharply in the last ten minutes before the end of
trade. We're now at the low point of the session. And the gentleman, oh, three hefty gavels and a high five. That was the only bit of cheer that we
had today in terms of the market. It really is extraordinary the way the market did drop on Wednesday, it's the 21st of February.
Tonight, a new generation raises its voice. Donald Trump is to meet school shooting survivors. It's a listening session that's happening at the White
House. It's happening this hour. We'll take you there.
South Africa's finance minister tells us he doesn't know how long he has left in the job. And the Trump train rolls into India. Donald Trump Jr.
is caught in controversy overseas.
I'm Richard Quest live in the world's financial capital, New York City, where, of course, I mean business.
Good evening. We must begin with the events in the market. The Dow has literally fallen sharply. Look at that graph and you see how it fell in
the last 30 minutes or so of trade. It was a session that was looking extremely optimistic right through to the high point of the day which was
right around 1:00. And then the latest Federal Reserve minutes were published with policymakers suggesting growth would continue to gather pace
and with that growth, of course, comes higher interest rates. And so, you see a sharp slide in the Dow from say, 2:00 to 2:30. It tootles along and
then goes down, obviously, in the last half hour of trade. Not a huge percentage point, but it is the way in which the market moved within the
last half hour of trade that shows the volatility.
Looking at the triple stack of our daily market trade, they all are in a similar situation for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq which was off, as well,
and the largest percentage point on the Dow. It was a swing to 470, nearly 500 points.
So, tonight it's a different version of QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. We'll be bringing you various live events in Washington as youth stands up to the
old guard. A grassroots movement of young people is trying to take on one of the country's most powerful lobby groups, the NRA, the National Rifle
Association. Within the next ten minutes or so, President Donald Trump is holding what's known as a listening session with teachers and students at
the White House. It's in the wake of the mass shooting at a Florida high school where 17 people lost their lives a week ago.
Students across the country are staging walkouts in protests of what they see as inaction of gun violence by politicians. Earlier today there was a
rally outside the state capitol in Florida. One of the survivors from the last week's shooting said the fight is far from over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALFONSO CALDERON, SURVIVED FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTING: This is more than just us. This is everybody in America. This is for eve single kid who fears
for their life. Please, I beg, and I demand that every single person in power who has the ability to change the fear that kids feel going back to
school that they do something.
[16:05:00] QUEST: Dan Merica is at the White House. We'll talk about the protests elsewhere. First of all, give me a short preview. What do you
expect to happen at this listening session?
DAN MERICA, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: It's going to be very interesting event. President Trump is being briefed before the event on what to
expect. And really what he is able to say during this event. He's going to be with his Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, Vice President Mike Pence
along with six students from that Parkland, Florida, high school as well as people who lost loved ones in the Columbine shooting, as well as the Sandy
Hook Elementary School shooting.
We are told to be expecting free willing President Trump. There will be no teleprompter for this event. It will be more of a listening session where
people will go around the table. Betsy DeVos that Education Secretary is going to act as sort of a moderator for the event were told. But president
Trump is going to play a key role. He will also be surrounded with other students from high schools in the area.
So, I think what you can expect is a president who is going to do a lot of listening, but as we have known with President Trump, he will step in and
will say things throughout these events. He has made clear in the last couple of days that he wants his administration to take action on two forms
of gun laws, background checks as well as banning gun accessories like the bump stock. What will be critical to see is how he follows up those
actions. He may bring them up in this event and it seems very likely that he will, but there has to be action and these activists have said, that
follow those word -- Richard.
QUEST: What is different this time around? All right, so, the activists may have social media. They may have millennial and post-millennial. They
may have other forms of communication. But essentially, Don Merica, the arguments and the positions have not changed one jot.
MERICA: Yes. I think what you're seeing is that these students have been very eloquent and very thoughtful in their response to this shooting. Yes,
they are a bit older than some past school shootings. They have taken on this campaign and have really led it from Florida pushing not only
president Trump, but local lawmakers, as well to do something about gun laws in the United State. Additionally, president Trump is a different
kind of leader. Obviously, he was backed by the NRA during the 2016 campaign. They spent millions to back Republicans throughout that race.
But he has been all over the map on gun laws for the better part of two decades. He wrote a book in the early 2000s where he supported an assault
weapon ban. He supported increasing the waiting time that people have to enter into when buying a weapon.
Of course, he disavowed those views during the 2016 campaign and cast himself as a pro-gun candidate. But there was something to be said for the
fact that president Trump has been all over the map which means it shouldn't be that abnormal to see him as president embrace some of those
gun laws, those gun changes that would anger the NRA because he has been all over the map.
QUEST: Dan, keep watching. We expect this to happen in about 10 or 15 minutes. Do we know if they're on time?
MERICA: They look like they're running on time. The press that are covering the event just actually just went in a short time ago.
QUEST: Dan, we'll be back with you later to help us understand what's happening. Much appreciated. Thank you.
1999 and televisions around the world showed images of students being evacuated from a high school in Littleton, Colorado. Now, the pictures 19
years later in Parkland, Florida, there you go. Can you tell which was which except by the quality of the video? Of course not. They're
disturbingly familiar. The students of Stoneman Douglas grew up with the so-called Columbine effect that school shootings on a regular basis and
active shooter drills to help to prepare.
The survivors this time are different to any that we've seen before. This is why, one, they are older and more politically aware than the first
graders whose classmates were slaughtered at Sandy Hook.
Two, they're using the bullhorn of social media of which they are par excellence aficionados amplifying their calls for action. And three,
they're growing up in a country where young Americans are buying fewer guns than the older generation did before them. Those factors have given the
survivors high school power. One by one, they've unleashed it on lawmakers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DELANEY TARR, STONEMAN DOUGLAS SCHOOL STUDENT: This is to every lawmaker out there. No longer can you take money from the NRA. No longer can you
fly under the radar doing whatever it is that you want to do because we are coming after you. We are coming after every single one of you and
demanding that you take action. Demanding that you make a change.
RYAN DEITSCH, STONEMAN DOUGLAS SCHOOL STUDENT: I want to see those people who have spoken out against this. I want to see those people who shot down
that bill who did not let it get past committee. I want to see those people. I am not here for a fight. I am not here to argue with you. I
just want to speak. I just want to see your face and know why.
[16:10:00] ALFONZO CALDERON, STONEMAN DOUGLAS SCHOOL STUDENT: Because although we are just kids, we understand. We know. We are old enough to
understand financial responsibilities. We are old enough to understand why a senator cares about reelection or not. We are old enough to understand
why someone might want to discredit us for their own political purposes. But we will not be silenced.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: So far, those calls have not yielded any legislative results. Robert Thomas is with me. He's the Giffords Law Center, the group founded
by Congresswoman Gabby Giffords after she survived a mass shooting seven years ago.
I mean no disrespect to the youngsters and to the students, but it's the privilege of youth to make demands like this and I ask you the same
question that I asked our correspondent. What makes you think this will be any different in result?
ROBYN THOMAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GIFFORDS LAW CENTER: Well, I can certainly tell you having done this work for over a decade that this feels
different. Maybe it's because these kids are really asserting themselves and getting out there and they're angry and they're passionate. They're
not political. They're not talking about being a Democrat or Republican or any of those issues that immediately enters this debate when you start
talking about gun regulation in America.
They just want to be safe and they're looking to the leaders of this country and saying, why haven't you done anything? You know, the most
recent polls have actually shifted Americans more and more just in the last year towards wanting more comprehensive gun regulation. So, I think since
Sandy Hook and until now, the dominos have been falling. And we're seeing the change coming very quickly now as far as what Americans on the whole
understand about the NRA, about politics in America and about why this is happening.
QUEST: The bump stocks question. The NRA had pretty much given in on that issue after Las Vegas. They said they would accept or at least wouldn't
fight bump stocks being made illegal. The background checks are slightly more controversial and will pose more problems. Is it your feeling that --
I guess what really happens here is that the NRA and gun lobby throw away a few tidbits to get everybody off their back and the whole thing just sort
of fritters off into the blue yonder?
THOMAS: I think that's exactly right. I think if you scratch the surface you see that what President Trump is talking about isn't enacting
comprehensive background checks where every transfer of a weapon comes along with an appropriate background check. He's talking about the fix nix
act which is this very, very narrow piece of legislation to provide incentives for states to put records that are supposed to already be in the
system in order to enforce the law into the system. So, we're just talking about making the existing requirements of background checks a little bit
better. We're not even talking about expanding it.
QUEST: Robyn, you're an expert in this area. What needs to happen now? Back to the youngsters. What needs to happen within their movement to go
from just a series of well-meaning angry youngsters with no political power to actually managing to affect legislative change. Because that's really
the key here. Otherwise you're like Vietnam, you're just a lot of youngsters making a lot of noise without power.
THOMAS: Well, here's the thing, the actual comprehensive kind of reform we need in order to reduce gun violence in America, we know the answer to
that. We have the solutions in front of us as to what package of legislation could actually make a dent in this issue. What these
youngsters need to do is not come up with that solution. Those solutions are out there. What they need to do is prove that we can get the type of
leaders who do not vote in the right way, who don't hold themselves accountable on this issue out of office.
So, what they need to show is they can rally their communities, their parents, their schools, themselves because many of them are 18 or will be
18 very, very soon to actually vote on this issue in a way that changes the dynamic of there not being accountability for politicians who do nothing.
So, I think what's going to make a difference here is that they show they're able to move this country, move their own generation into voting on
the gun issue so that politicians, rather than voting with the special interests of the NRA can actually vote their conscience or vote with the
majority of Americans who do stand behind comprehensive reform on this issue.
QUEST: Robyn Thomas in San Francisco, thank you.
THOMAS: Thanks for having me.
QUEST: Now a note that you need to watch, there's a program note, survivors of the Florida school shooting are going to take part in a CNN
Town Hall, along with senators and members of the NRA. It called "STAND UP." You can see it there. It's "Stand Up the Students of Stoneman
Douglas Demand Action." It's hosted by Jake Tapper, 9:00 tonight in New York, at 2:00a.m. in London and 3:00 in Europe, and then it's again
tomorrow, Thursday at 5:00 in London.
[16:15:00] As we continue, coming up, it's tough, but hopeful. That's how South Africa's finance minister is setting the first budget into new
President Cyril Ramaphosa. You will hear from the current finance minister in just a moment. The question will be how long is he going to stay in
QUEST: So, we are waiting for the Donald Trump, the President to hold a listening session at the White House with victims of school shootings.
It's due to begin any minute now and as soon as it begins we will go straight to the White House and we will stay with that.
While we wait, we will talk about trade barriers between some of the fastest growing economies in Asia Pacific that's now a step closer. It's
the old TPP which the U.S. pulled out of and then the 11 remaining nations have called it in a nice catchy way, the CPTPP. I do hope people don't get
paid a huge amount of money for coming up with these names. Anyway, a final text which is due to be signed in a couple of weeks. Australian
trade minister, Steven Ciobo, is with me. Good to see you, sir.
STEVEN CIOBO, AUSTRALIAN TRADE MINISTER: Richard, good to be with you.
QUEST: Before we talk about this, important things. I do need to talk about the experience that Australia has had with gun control following the
Tasmanian shooting 20-odd years ago.
CIOBO: Yes, April 1996 we saw, unfortunately, a mass casualty event there. We saw 35 people lost their lives and scores more were injured in that mass
shooting. But, look, I would never presume to lecture the U.S. what to do. That's obviously a decision with the United States. But in Australia's
experience, if you look at the 18 years prior to the 1996 shooting we had something like 13 mass casualty events. I think five or more fatalities
from shootings. We then enacted a whole series of laws to basically buy back or encourage people to hand in their weapons in Australia. We saw
700,000 weapons that were handed into Australia. On a per head of population basis, that's the equivalent in the U.S. with something like 40
million guns coming back into the government. And since then we've had zero mass casualty events.
QUEST: You're also, of course, the other measures that were introduced tightening up on the ownership, the restrictions, the background checks and
all of those things. But it was the buyback that was the key to it. Because the argument in this country goes, well, if you just have
background checks and you just have restrictions on ownership, you've still got 350 million guns out there.
CIOBO: Yes. Well again, I can't speak to it --
QUEST: But the Austrians feel --
CIOBO: In Australia, what we did was several things. We bought back guns and that was around 640, 650,000 guns were bought back. We saw about
another 60,000 that were voluntarily handed in. And that removes 700,000 weapons from the Australian population. And as I said, since then we've
had zero mass casualty shootings in Australia.
[16:20:00] So, the results in Australia have been very profound. But also, suicide, Richard. We've seen the suicide rate -- successful suicide rate
in Australia fall by something like 50, 60 percent since we did this as well. So, there have been a lot of benefits for Australia.
QUEST: We'll put that to one side, let's talk now about trade.
QUEST: So, CPTPP.
CIOBO: Let's just call it the TPP 11.
QUEST: The TPP 11.
QUEST: Or the TPP minus one.
QUEST: Which ever. What's different about it?
CIOBO: What we did the 11 of us that were still remaining -- and we were disappointed but not surprised when the U.S. took the decision to withdraw.
I mean, the President flagged a private election, so it happened and that was to be expected. What the 11 of us said, now this is a very important
deal. It's going to be good for all of us, $38.7 trillion worth of economic activity captured by the agreement between the 11 of us. So, we
forged ahead. We've done this deal.
QUEST: Right, but how does it differ? How does TPP11 differ from the original? I mean, obviously, the U.S. isn't there numerically, but what
terms have not survived or have been added? What have you managed to get?
CIOBO: Well, actually, the most important is what we didn't do. And by that what I mean is we are able to not have countries change their market
access offers. So, in other words, what was on the table before stayed on the table even with the U.S. withdrawal. And that was really critical.
So, we didn't have to open up negotiations all over again. But what we did do was suspend around 20 provisions that represented I guess the main
offensive interest of the United States.
QUEST: Minister, we'll leave it there for the moment and we will now join the White House.
So, there is the president meeting the various people who are taking part in this listening session. It's a very solemn sort of day. Let's listen
to the president.
[16:21:06] TRUMP: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. It's a great honor to have you here, and we're going to be listening to some of your suggestions.
I've heard some of them. And we're going to do something about this horrible situation that's going on. And we're going to all figure it out
So I want to listen. And then after I listen, we're going to get things done. I thought we'd start off, pastor, if you could possibly say the
prayer, it would be appreciated. Thank you.
UNKNOWN: Bow your (ph) heads. Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. They (ph) kingdom come, thy (ph) will be done on earth as it is
We thank you for this day that you have given us (ph). And, Father, we are so (inaudible) it's going to be a great one because we're going to get
America back on track (ph) where it needs to be with (ph) our children, with our adults, everybody that's involved.
And Father, I ask you right now that you would send the Holy Spirit as a comfort (ph) through this time (ph). And you said you would send him, and
right now we embrace him (ph). In your word it clearly states when two, three (ph) are gathered in your name you are hearing (ph) us.
And so, Holy Spirit, we ask you to comfort the families. Comfort every one of them, and even the families that -- that -- that didn't lose a loved one
but know they were there at that time; comfort them also. And Father, I just ask right now in the name of Jesus Christ that we just work with you
(ph) in this room.
In Jesus' name we pray, amen.
TRUMP: Thank you very much, pastor. Appreciate it.
Vice president, you wanted to say -- and I'd like you to say a few words. And I'd like to then introduce you to Betsy DeVos, who most of you know,
and some of you have met a little while ago.
Mike, what do you have to say?
PENCE: First off, thank you, Mr. President. I want to thank the families in Parkland, Florida and assure you of the deepest condolences and sympathies
of the first family, and our family, and of the American people.
As the president said last week, the American people are united with one heart, broken to what took place.
But the president called this meeting for us as much to talk about what's happened in our country over the last 20 years. And to find out from all of
you gathered here by listening, by learning how we might ensure that this is the last time this ever happens.
I, along with the president, am deeply moved by the stories of heroism and courage, and I'm candidly moved by the courage that it takes for many of
you to be here today. And what I just want to encourage you to do is tell us your stories. America's looking on. Your president, our entire
administration, leaders around the country, and (inaudible) are looking on, and we -- we want to hear your hearts today.
I encourage you to be candid, and be vulnerable. Share with us not only your personal experience, but what it is that you would have us do, and
just know that as the president's already taken action, and he'll be meeting in this very room in the coming days with governors from all 50
states to make school safety the top priority of this administration across this country.
The president and I want to (inaudible) first, and so I -- I want to say thank you for coming. Thank you for the courage in being willing to be
here, and share -- share your hearts, and just from our family to your family, just God bless you and comfort you.
TRUMP: Thank you, Mike, very much.
DEVOS: Mr. President, students, teachers, parents, thanks for being here. For many of you, you've lived through something unthinkable. For many of
you, it's raw and fresh. I admire your strength (inaudible) to share your experience in front of me, the vice president, and the world.
No student, no parent, no teacher should ever have to endure what you all have. My heart is broken. What happened last week shocked us, and angers
us, and it (inaudible) us.
We are here to have an earnest conversation about why this tragedy, and too many others before it happened, and how we can work to find solutions.
We're here to listen, to gain your important perspective on ways to reduce violence, and to protect students.
Our hope is that by talking, and by listening, we can make something that was unthinkably bad something good, and your loss, and your trauma must
never be in vain. So thank you again for being here, and let's get started.
TRUMP: Thank you very much, Betsy, and just want to say before we really begin, because I want to hear you. But we want to be very strong on
background checks, if you're doing very strong background checks; very strong emphasis on the mental health of somebody, and that we are going to
do plenty of other things.
Again, next week the governors are coming in from most of the states, and we're going to have a very serious talk about what's going on with school
safety -- very important, and we're going to cover every aspect of it. We have many ideas that I have. There are many ideas that other people have,
and we're going to pick out the strongest ideas, the most important ideas, the ideas that are going to work, and we're going to get them done. It's
not going to be talk, like it has been in the past. It's been going on too long, too many instances, and we're going to get it done.
TRUMP: So again, I want to thank you all for being here. I'd like -- I'd like to hear your story, and I'd also like to, if you have any suggestions
for the future, based on this horrible experience that you've gone through. I'd love to have those ideas.
How about you, (inaudible)
CORDOVER: All right. Well, thank you, Mr. President, for having me here. My name is Julia Cordover, and I'm from Stoneman Douglas High School, and I
was there during the shooting, and I'm a survivor. And I want you guys all to emphasize the point that I survived. I was lucky enough to come home
from school unlike some of my other classmates and teachers.
And it's -- it's very scary. And knowing that a lot of people did not have this opportunity to -- to be -- to be here still is mindblowing. And I'm
just -- I feel like there is a lot to do, and I really appreciate you, like, hosting me and what you are saying. I -- I'm confident you'll do the
right thing, and I appreciate you looking at the bump stocks yesterday.
That means -- it is definitely a step in the right direction, and I think we can all agree on that. There is definitely a lot more to go, but I -- I
am just grateful that I'm here (ph), and we can try to work out something. Maybe compromise on some solutions, so this never has to -- no child, no
person in this world will ever have to go something -- through so horrific and tragic.
And my thoughts and prayers are out to everyone there. So, thank you.
J. BLANK: Hello, my name is Jonathan Blank. I go to Stoneman Douglas, and I was actually in the second classroom that was shot at. In my mind, as a
kid, that should -- nothing ever that horrible should ever have to happen to you. And you can't even think about it. Like, it doesn't even seem real
still. Everything seems fake. I don't -- I can't even -- I don't even know what's going on. It's just crazy, everything happening. It's just so
Thank you for everything. You've done a great job, and I like the direction that you're going in.
BLANK: My name is Melissa Blank. Jonathan is my son.
And I am a teacher's aide at Westglades Middle School, that was also on lockdown. So I couldn't get in touch with my son to find out if my son was
I feel for all of these families. My -- my - my heart is just broken for my whole community. We -- we're coming together.
I feel for all of these families, who have lost, and I feel for the ones that are here. Because we now have almost a guilt, like I have. Why not my
child, which I feel bad saying I'm happy that he's here with me. But I feel so bad for all of you who have lost so many. And I'm just begging for a
change. We need a change.
UNKNOWN: Thank you.
M. ABT: Do you mind -- may I pass the microphone back to my daughter? Because I think she has some nice solutions. And -- if that's OK with you.
TRUMP: Yes, sure.
C. ABT: Hi. My name is Carson Abt. I'm a junior, and I was at Marjory Stoneman Douglas at the time of the shooting.
And I know that there are a lot of different solutions that we can go through to help eradicate this issue, but one that stuck out to me was
about all the drills and protocols that my teachers had to go through.
C. ABT: They knew what to do once the code red for an active shooter was announced, but through research I found that only 32 states require drills.
But of those 32 states, more than half of the counties do not go through the drills because they want to spend their resources towards something
And I know that a bill was also passed that declare that each school has to go through one drill each month. But I know that my school -- we go through
five drills every month, and we were -- we have not had our lockdown drill yet this year.
And I think -- a change that will increase all the trainings and protocols so if, God forbid, another shooting does happen, at least all the teachers
will be prepared and can hopefully keep their students calm.
TRUMP: That's great. Thank you very much. (OFF-MIKE) Thank you. Please.
KLEIN: Hi. My name is Ariana Klein. I would just like to say thank you for leading this country. You're a great leader and I appreciate the direction
that the country is going in.
I'm a junior. I attended Stoneman Douglas. And I just want to say that everybody, right now, is so stuck on what they believe that they're not
even listening to what other people believe. We need to listen to the other points of views.
We all need to realize that we all have different points of views and that we need -- this solution is not going to be a singular thing. It's going to
be multifaceted and it's going to be created by a collection of different people working together, and we all have to realize that we all have our
opinions and, together, we're going to be able to work to a solution.
And this is not just Parkland anymore. This is America. This is every student in every city in every -- everywhere. It's everybody. It's not
small. It's everything.
And I'd just like to say thank you for having us...
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
KLEIN: ... giving this opportunity.
TRUMP: Appreciate it.
F. ABT: My name's Fred Abt. I'm Carson's dad. I'm going to pass the microphone along to some of the other students. If we have a chance later
on, perhaps I'll speak, or other parents could speak. But I'd like the students to get their chance.
TRUMP: Thank you. That's (ph) very nice.
J. GRUBER: My name is Justin Gruber, and I was at the school at the time of the massacre. I'm only 15 years old. I'm a sophomore.
Nineteen years -- 19 years ago, the first school shooting, Columbine -- at Columbine High School -- happened, and I was born into a world where I
never got to experience safety and peace.
There needs to be significant change in this country, because this has to never happen again and people should be able to be -- feel that, when they
go to school, they can be safe, and because there needs to be a change.
I'm sorry. People need to feel safe, and parents shouldn't have to go through the idea of losing their child, as I know, for my dad -- he was --
he was panicking, and he couldn't imagine it. So that shouldn't even be a possibility that should go through a parent's mind, and there needs to be
TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you very much.
C. GRUBER: I'm Cary Gruber, Justin's dad, and I'll be brief.
You know, Justin was texting me, hiding in a closet, saying, "If something happens, I love you; if something happens, I love you." And you can't
imagine what that's like as a parent. And then his phone died, and I don't know what happened for another hour.
So 17 lives are gone. I was lucky enough to get my son home. But 17 families -- it's -- this is -- it's not left and right. It's not political.
It's a human issue. People are dying and we have to stop this. We have to stop it.
If he's not old enough to buy a drink, to go and buy a beer, he should not be able to buy a gun at 18 years old. I mean, that's just common sense. We
have to do common sense. Please, Mr. Trump, these are things we have to do.
In Israel, you have to be 27 years old to have a gun. You're only allowed one. They tax the guns. You have to go through significant training. We got
to do something about this. We cannot have our children die. This is just heartbreaking. Please.
TRUMP: Thank you.
MORRIS: Hi my name, my name is Shannon Morris. I'm a local administrator for a school in D.C., and I really want to continue the conversation for
SCOTT-MARCUS: Hi, my name is Vielka Marcus and I'm also a local educator here in Washington, D.C., for Friendship Public Charter Schools, so I will
allow our students that are here to voice their opinions as well as give some of their ideas to do that at this time.
And my condolences and my heart truly go out to not just the families that have lost children in this horrific, horrific incident that has occurred,
but also to our families here in the District of Columbia that experience gun violence outside of our schools that directly impact our schools
because they are our students.
BARNETT: Hello, my name is Alaya Barnett and I go to the Friendship Technology Preparatory Academy in the heart of Southeast D.C.
My condolences to every family here that experienced the shooting all the students that experienced that. And I'm here on behalf of my school and all
of the Friendship schools in D.C., to be able to prevent those kind of things happening at our school, because in Southeast D.C. we do encounter a
lot of violence and things. Most of the time at night but some -- a lot of the times it's in the daytime too. So our schools, we do take preventive
measures and everything to stop that. Like we check bags at the door and everything, and it does make us -- at first we're like, no, we don't want
to do this, but then we realize it's for our safety. But we wanted to make sure that it continues and that nothing can ever slip up to -- for this --
for these things to happen, like, in school.
Counseling for all students who are struggling with fear and bullying. Bullying triggers emotions that will make a student want to bring, like, a
weapon to school to protect themselves or to get revenge for a person who, that did something to them. So we just want to have a lot of preventative
measure to be in the schools, and also outside of school to make sure that nothing can happen to us while we are in school.
HUNSCHOFSKY: Hello, Mr. President. Thank you for having us. I'm Christine Hunschofsky. I'm the Mayor of the city of Parkland.
We have a great city. It's been one of the safest cities in America, and the fact that this happened in our city means it can happen anywhere. We
are blessed that we are a very close-knit family-orientated city, and our community is coming together. We lost 17 lives, but the ripple effects
throughout the community are devastating.
I have spent the last week going to funerals, friends of mine that lost their children.
We have to, at some point, care enough and be strong enough to come up with solutions. And I hope we will. And if I might, I had two parents who lost
children this past week text me some of their thoughts, if I might share them with you. Thank you.
I spoke to Jennifer and Tony Montalto. They just buried their daughter, Gina, yesterday. And their comments were -- so Tony is an airline pilot,
and he said he supports the Second Amendment, but he does not believe there's a need for assault rifles. He also said that the FBI, there were
signs missed, and it reminded him of 9/11. So we do have to work on making sure that our protocols are in place so that area -- people don't slip
through the cracks -- literally, in this case.
We also talked about the Red Flag laws. I think there's a little progress being made in Florida now on the Red Flag laws, which is when somebody
shows signs of hurting themselves or someone else, you can take their -- their gun away from them.
Fred Guttenberg, service for his daughter Jamie was last week on Friday, and he would like the administration to publicly acknowledge the role of
Now, these two parents talked about guns, and there are absolutely lots of areas that -- where there's room for improvement -- lots of areas, from
mental health, from teacher training. But also, part of that is also the gun issue. So it's not that it's just those, and not the gun; it's all of
them. And in the debate world, in the high school debate world, the kids talk about when they bring up legislation, you want to have impacts. You're
not bringing up legislation that doesn't have a positive impact.
And the -- what is the positive impact of having legislation that stops assault rifles, bans assault rifles? It could save a life, and that needs
to be a priority in any case.
And when we talk about rights, so we have the right for free speech. But if free speech in any way endangers someone, it gets restricted. And I think -
- I appreciate that we're coming here to listen, and I appreciate that we're coming here to look at all different perspectives, because we need
action, and we need to be solution-oriented. Thank you.
TRUMP: Thank you. I appreciate it. OK.
A. POLLACK: We're here because my daughter has no voice. She was murdered last week, and she was taken from us -- shot nine times on the third floor.
We as a country failed our children. This shouldn't happen. We go to the airport -- I can't get on a plane with a -- a bottle of water, but we leave
it, some animal could walk into a school and shoot our children. It's -- it's just not right, and we need to come together as a country and work on
what's important, and that's protecting our children in the schools. That's the only thing that matters right now.
Everyone has to come together, and not think about different laws. We need to come together as a country, not different parties, and figure out how we
protect the schools. It's -- it's simple. It's not difficult. We protect airports. We protect concerts, stadiums, embassies.
The Department of Education that I walked in today, that has a security guard in the elevator. How do you think that makes me feel? In the
elevator, they've got a security guard.
I'm -- I'm very angry that this happened, because it keeps happening. 9/11 happened once, and they fixed everything. How many schools, how many
children have to get shot? It stops here, with this administration and me. It's -- I'm not going to -- I'm not going to sleep until it's fixed.
And, Mr. President, we're going to fix it, because I'm going to -- I'm going to fix it. I'm not going to rest. And look at -- my boys need to live
with this. I want to see everyone -- you guys, look at this. Me, I -- I'm a man, but to see your children go through this -- bury their sister -- so we
-- that's what -- I keep saying this, because I want it to sink in, not forget about this.
We can't forget about it. These -- all the school shootings just -- it doesn't make sense. Fix it. It should have been one school shooting, and we
should have fixed it. And I'm pissed, because my daughter, I'm not going to see again. She's not here. She's not here. She's at -- in North Lauderdale,
at whatever it is -- King David Cemetery. That's where I go to see my kid now.
And it stops -- we all work together and come up with the right idea, and it's school safety. It's not about gun laws right now. That's another
fight, another battle. Let's fix the schools, and then you guys can battle it out, whatever you want. But we need our children safe.
Monday -- tomorrow, whatever day it is -- your kids are going to go to school. You think everyone -- everyone's kids are safe? It -- I didn't
think it was going to happen to me. If I knew that, I would have been at the school every day, if I knew it was that dangerous.
It's enough. Let's get together, work with the president and fix the schools. That's it. No other discussions. Security -- whatever we have to
do. Get the right people, the consultants. It's a (ph) -- these are our commodities.
I'm never going to see my kid again. I want you all to know that. Never, ever will I see my kid. That's how -- I want it to sink in. It's eternity.
My beautiful daughter, I'm never going to see again. And it's simple. It's not -- we can fix -- this is my son, Huck, who's -- have to deal with this,
You have something to say, son?
HUCK POLLACK: I just want to add, it's imperative to the safety of everyone that -- to support the free market and free flow of ideas, and listen to
people on -- listen to radical opinions on both sides.
And that's how we'll find solutions. You let people battle it out in a free flow of ideas. Censorship has got to stop, and that's how we find the
solutions -- by listening to everyone, be -- having an open mind.
A. POLLACK: This is my son, Hunter.
HUNTER POLLACK: How are you. I'm Hunter Pollack, Class of '15, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas. I walked the same hallways where Meadow got shot, and all
16 other victims.
First off, I want to thank Mr. President for having us. We had an -- a very effective meeting before we walked in this room. Mr. Vice President, as
well, and Madam Secretary -- I put all my trust into them and my father that, together -- that we'll be able to find a solution, and that's all I
have to say.
Thank you for having us.
ZEIF: My name is Sam Zeif. I'm a student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland. And I just want to take a second, first, to thank you for having
me, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, and Madam Secretary.
I was on the second floor in that building, texted my mom, texted my dad, texted three of my brothers that I was never going to see them again.
And then, it occurred to me that my 14-year-old brother was directly above me, in that classroom where Scott Beigel was murdered. Scott Beigel got my
brother in the class; he was the last kid to get back into that class.
And I'm sure a lot of -- a lot of you have read my texts on the internet, with my brother. I didn't plan for them to go viral; I just wanted to share
with the world, because no brothers, or sisters, or family members, or anyone should ever have to share those texts with anyone.
And that's why I'm here. I lost a best friend. He was practically a brother. And I'm here to use my voice, because I know he can't. And I know
he's with me, cheering me on to be strong, but, it's hard.
And to feel like this, it doesn't even feel like a week. Time has stood still. To feel like this, ever, I can't -- I can't feel comfortable in my
country knowing that people have, will have, or are ever going to feel like this.
And I want to feel safe at school, you know, senior year and junior year, they were big years for me, when I turned my turned my academics around,
started connecting with teachers, and I started actually enjoying school.
And now, I don't know how I'm ever going to step foot on that place again, or go to a public park after school, or be walking anywhere. Me and my
friends, we get scared when a car drives by, anywhere.
I think I agree with Hunter and Huck, and how we need to let ideas flow and get the problem solved. I don't understand -- I turned 18 the day after,
woke up to the news that my best friend was gone, and I don't understand why I could still go in a store and buy a weapon of war, an AR.
I was reading today that a person, 20 years old, walked into a store and bought an AR-15 in five minutes with an expired ID. How is it that easy to
buy this type of weapon? How are we not stop this? After Columbine, after Sandy Hook? I'm sitting with a mother that lost her son. It's still
ZEIF: In Australia there was a shooting at a school in 1999. And you know, after that, they took a lot of ideas, they put legislation together, and
they stopped it. Can anyone here guess how many shootings there have been in the schools since then in Australia? Zero.
We need to do something. That's why we're here. So let's be strong for the fallen who don't have a voice to speak anymore, and let's never let this
happen again. Please, please.
HOCKLEY: Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Madame Secretary, my story is far too well known. I had two sons who were at Sandy Hook School. My
eldest, who was eight at the time, survived, and my six-year-old son Dylan did not. And I have been working tirelessly on this issue for over five
The organization that I help lead, Sandy Hook Promise, is very focused on keeping kids safe at school, because no parent should go through this.
Every parent who sends their kid to school should know without any question in their mind that they're going to be coming home that day.
This is not a difficult issue. You're absolutely right. There are solutions, and this administration has the ability to put them in place.
And after Sandy Hook, they said this -- we wouldn't let this happen again, and yet, it has continued to happen for five years. How many more deaths
can we take as a country? How many more teenagers, and six- and seven-year- olds can we allow to die?
Don't let that happen any more on your watch. There are things that you can do right now. Mental health, you mentioned earlier -- funding for that
would be very much appreciated. The Stop School Violence Act, enabling prevention programs and reporting systems in schools across America, it's
already passed through the House. It's in the Senate right now. Urge swift passage of that. That can get a lot of help to schools.
I absolutely agree, since Sandy Hook, there has been an increase in school safety and security. We've invested a lot in the bricks and mortar of our
schools. We've invested a lot in the security of our schools. I think we also need to focus on prevention: How do we prevent these acts from
happening? How can we help identify, and get help for people who are at risk of hurting themselves or others before they pick up any weapon. That's
what we need to focus on. By preventing these acts, and you have the ability to do that.
There's legislation available to you right now. There are free training programs, such as our Know The Science Programs, available across the
states. Right now, you could mandate these sorts of programs. You could ensure that schools, students and educators are trained how to recognize
these signs, and to know what to do when they see them, and then, to ensure that those tips are followed through.
This is not difficult. These deaths are preventable. And I implore you: Consider your own children. You don't want to be me. No parent does, and
you have the ability to make a difference, and save lives today. Please don't waste this. Thank you.
TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you.
D. SCOTT: Mr. President, Vice President, and Mrs. DeVos, thank you for inviting my wife and I to be here today. I'm a little bit weak. I had
surgery last week, so I'm kind of weak in voice and body.
But 19 years ago, I went through what some of the folks here are going through now because my beautiful daughter, Rachel, was killed and my son,
Craig, was in the library that day. Two of his friends were murdered beside him. He lay there covered in their blood, looking down the barrel of two
guns aimed at him and he knew he was going to die. And a split second before Eric and Dylan pulled the trigger, the alarm system went off and it
distracted them, and they never came back to the table where Craig was at, or I would have lost two children that day at Columbine.
So my heart goes out to you, sir, and to everyone of you in this room that experienced the trauma that you've gone through at Parkland.
Our focus has been -- my beautiful wife, the most beautiful lady in the room, is right there, in the blue and white blouse, Sandy. We started a
program called Rachel's Challenge, and it was started a year after Rachel died, and we have worked with some wonderful partners over the last few
years. We've worked closely with Chuck Norris' his wife, Gena, in a program they call Kick Start for Kids. We worked with Bill Ripken, Jr. -- Cal
Ripken, Jr. and his brother, Bill, and have created a program for athletes called The Uncommon Athlete and it's based on something my daughter wrote
in one of her diaries.
We partner with Dr. Robert Marzano who is one of the top K-12 researchers in the country and a program called Why Try All Dear Friends (ph) and
another program called Love and Logic, Dr. Jim Fey, one of the largest parenting programs. All of us combine our efforts together. Our
organization has reached over 28 million students in the last 19 years, and we have seen seven school shootings prevented. We see an average of three
suicides prevented every single week of the year -- over 150 a year.
I have a little book with me that I'd like to leave with you. It's got letters from students. We don't edit them. These are e-mails from students
who were planning to commit suicide, and we see three of those every single week, students that have changed their mind.
And if you don't mind, I just want to share one simple principle with you that we've learned over the years as we've worked with millions and
millions of young people, and it comes from something you said in your speech, and it was that we must create a culture of connectiveness. We must
create a culture in which our classmates become our friends. That's something we've learned how to do over the years. We have over 28 different
programs, and we see children connect with one another. Every single one of these school shootings have been from young men who are disconnected.
And we talk a lot about the mental health issues, but it actually goes deeper than that, because there's a lot of mentally ill children that are
kind and compassionate. And so we work with those children every single day of the year -- of the school year. But there's always the one with the
propensity to violence.
And so one of the things we have learned -- and we train young people and we train teachers -- that the focus must not be just on unity or diversity.
Because if you focus too much on diversity you create division; if you focus too much on unity, you'll create compromise. But if you focus on
relatedness, and how we can relate with one another, then you can celebrate the diversity and you can see the unity take place.
I'm all for diversity, I'm all for unity, But the focus really needs to be on how can we connect, and that's something that we, and our organizations,
have learned -- one thing we've learned is how to connect students with each other, with themselves, with their teachers, and with their parents.
And I would love to share more as we have a chance to do so. Thank you again for having us today.
TRUMP: (OFF-MIKE) appreciate that (OFF-MIKE).
This is an incredible group of people, and we really do appreciate it. Some of the folks at the back and some of my friends sitting right back here --
I'd like you -- have you say a few words. We can learn a lot from you.
We want to learn everything we can learn, and we're going to go -- starting about two minutes after this meeting, we're going to work.
This is a long-term situation that we have to solve. We'll solve it together.
And you've gone through extraordinary pain, and we don't want others to go through the kind of pain that you've gone through. Wouldn't be -- wouldn't
So would you like to say something, please?