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Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) is Interviewed about Gun Legislation; Mass Shooting Survivors Urge Congress to Act; O'Rourke Comments on Trump Visit to El Paso. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired August 6, 2019 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Just on the gun show loophole and the other reason -- Internet sales, yes, you know, above the board Internet sales has to go through a dealer with a background check, but if you go on the Internet, sometimes you can find someone who will drive the gun to you and make the purchase person to person --

REP. RODNEY DAVIS (R-IL): And that is --

BERMAN: Which is not included --

DAVIS: And that is breaking the law.

BERMAN: Which is not included in the background checks.

DAVIS: It's breaking the law.

BERMAN: There are ways around it. And part of these -- part of the things these laws want to do is close those loopholes. So, again, and I'm asking you because some Republicans, you know, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, other Republicans coming forward saying put this to a vote. Would you consider a more universal background check bill?

DAVIS: Well, I'm interested to see what the president and leaders of both sides of the House and the Senate, what they want to propose. I'm more than willing to debate issues that are going to make our -- our communities safer. But the problem is the bills that I've seen on the floor have done nothing but only further partisanship and not actually get to the root cause. And it's interesting some of the comments that you made earlier about people avoiding the existing laws.

We, in Congress, can't stop people from breaking the laws that we pass, but let's also make sure that the laws that we pass don't only affect law-abiding citizens.

BERMAN: Well --

DAVIS: You know, we have many communities, including certain neighborhoods in Chicago, in my home state, where, you know, killings each weekend are kind of ho-hum.


DAVIS: That shouldn't be the case. BERMAN: Absolutely. Absolutely.

DAVIS: Those people are not following the law in getting their firearms.

BERMAN: And handgun violence -- and handgun violence is something that needs to be addressed. Not so much the issue in the mass shootings. They're a little bit separate.

I want to put up the picture of the weapon that was used or the drum, the 100-round drum magazine that was used in Dayton.

Why should there be legal protections for people to own this?

DAVIS: Well, I certainly don't know the answer to that. I certainly could be one that would be in favor of making sure that we limit capacities when you see something like that.

But let's also not forget, we have to get to the root cause of what -- what causes somebody to take a weapon, take that modification and go out and kill people because they may be depressed or they may be angry. We need to come together --

BERMAN: Or they might be evil. Or they might be evil.

DAVIS: Or they might be --

BERMAN: Or they might want to kill people.


BERMAN: And that might be the type of thing that is or isn't perceivable by mental health experts. I agree, you know, we need much more focus on mental health in this country. Everyone agrees on that. There is a question about whether mental health focus can stop every focus killing.

But I do think it's interesting that you say you would be in favor of discussing a ban on high capacity magazines, because that's an area that -- of agreement right there. There are Democrats I know who would love to get together with you on just that.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, your neighbor practically, was on TV earlier and said he would be in favor of -- if all he could get was that, he would be in favor of that.

So would you be willing to get together with Democrats and co-sponsor a bill to perhaps limit sales or ban sales of high capacity magazines like that?

DAVIS: You know, like I said, I'm willing to discuss these issues. You know, President Trump has led the charge in banning bump stocks. I think President Trump is somebody who's going to help us lead the charge to make sure that we implement new red flag laws nationwide.

Mayor Pete, he knows that the state of Indiana has a very good red flag program, and I would certainly hope in the plan that he mentioned today, just a few minutes ago, that a nationwide approach to what Indiana has ought to be acceptable to every other state. That's the type of bipartisanship that we need in this country.

Look, I'm -- I'm ranked the 50th most bipartisan member in Congress by the Lugar Center out 435 members at the House. I certainly have a track record of working in a bipartisan way. But let's make sure we do do it in a bipartisan way and not just turn this into a debate about the president and somehow him being at fault for what we saw in El Paso and what we saw in Dayton. That's tragic. No one person is at fault except the shooters.

BERMAN: No one person as at fault, but there's a lot that's been going on in this country to create the environment where this took place. I think everyone can agree on that.

Congressman Rodney Davis of Illinois --

DAVIS: Well --

BERMAN: Thank you for being with us this morning. Appreciate it.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Look, it's not unusual to hear political responses to mass shootings. And there's a pattern, right? We're struck by the tragedy, there's a call to not see it happen again and then it becomes a vacillating series of inactions.

So let's talk with three mass shooting survivors about what they believe is a reasonable future for the rest of us, next.


[08:38:32] CUOMO: It should be a point of national shame that we are so marked by mass shootings. Dayton, El Paso now joining the stunningly long list of American cities that have been marked by these tragedies. We never do anything to happen the next one, though often change is promised.

With us now, three people who have survived recent mass shootings. Brian Claypool, survivor of Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Jackie (ph) Corin, survivor of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and Brandon Wolf, survivor of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.

It's good to have all three of you there to give some voice to what should be a national cry for better.

Brian, you know, the premise of this segment is, we hear all of these calls that will change after the tragedy and things will be better. I don't even accept the premise. I don't think that's true. We just had a Republican member of Congress on. He said, yes, I'm open to discussing these things, but let's not just say it's the gun, let's deal with the other parts. This has become a zero sum thing where each side believes they have to get more than they give. And so we go nowhere.

BRIAN CLAYPOOL, LAS VEGAS "ROUTE 91" MASSACRE SURVIVOR: Yes. Chris, I was really offended by that congressman's remark. I mean I'm emotional as we speak. It has everything to do with these assault weapons that are being used. It's not the human being. The human being can't go kill people --

[08:40:04] CUOMO: What's her name (ph)?

CLAYPOOL: Can't go shoot up the streets of Dayton, can't go shoot up the Walmart at El Paso, can't shoot up Parkland, can't shoot up Las Vegas without these assault weapons. This human carnage across our country stems from a selfish Republican Party. This has everything to do with promoting political careers at the expense of public safety. Make no mistake about it.

We need an assault rifle ban. That -- that -- there's no question about that. And I'm pleading with people across the country, start voting these Republicans out who keep making excuses. A president who says after the El Paso shooting, he said, Chris, the following, let me send some resources to El Paso. We'll send you all the resources you need. What are you planning on sending? Body bags and band aids instead of an assault weapon ban? It's pathetic, Chris.

CUOMO: Well, Jaclyn, listen, we know what happens in this conversation. You talk about let's say an assault weapons ban. It quickly gets caught up in, well, what does that mean? And is it semiautomatic rifles? There's so many of them. Is it about caliber? There's such a range. Is it about capacity? Well, you can just rechange. There are always arguments.

And, yes, the NRA boogeyman is always out there, but it's got to be more than that. It's got to be that there is just fundamentally what Brain just said, people don't vote on this issue the way they say they feel about this issue.

JACLYN CORIN, CO-FOUNDER, MARCH FOR OUR LIVES: You know, at the end of the day there are tons of politicians out there that take millions of dollars from the NRA, one being Mitch McConnell, who has a bill on his desk right now that can implement background checks for all gun sales, and he's not passing it. Why? Because the NRA is giving him millions of dollars to make sure that doesn't happen so they continue to make money.

You know, there's been over 500 shootings since the one at my high school last year and nothing has changed on a national level. Although something was passed in the House, nothing has been implemented into law because of people in the Senate that just put their dollars over human lives. And it's incredibly defeating, but at the same time it reinvokes the desire to speak out and loudly.

And, unfortunately, El Paso and Dayton have joined that long list that we know how it feels to be a part of. And it's just terrible. And I -- I just -- I'm excited that people are starting this conversation again, but I hope it doesn't turn into the cycle that it always has. CUOMO: Well, look, you've got an election coming up. And if your

generation feels differently about it, you know, this is your chance. We know the last two generations we've had -- the baby boomers haven't been the biggest demographic at the polls. Younger generations are starting to make their mark. If this issue matters, we'll see it reflected at the polls and then you'll see how things change quickly.

Brandon, how about the other aspects of this bill? Of course it's not just about weapons, but it's that the weapon winds up being the ultimate tool of this type of destruction. But what about room in that conversation for what piece is mental health, what piece is cultural?

BRANDON WOLF, PULSE NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING SURVIVOR: You know, Chris, first and foremost, we need to stop stigmatizing and demonizing people with mental illnesses. The reality is only 25 percent of mass shooters have a diagnosed mental illness. So I really think we need to stop making the scapegoat people who are suffering from anxiety disorder or PTSD because that's not who is committing these atrocities.

And, second of all, yes, we can have a conversation around hate, around bigotry, because those things are running rampant in the United States right now. We need to talk about the divisive rhetoric coming out of our leaders. But, you know, as -- as Brain said, we also need to talk about the core of this issue, the core of the conversation has to be about how a white nationalist could arm themselves with a weapon capable of murdering over a dozen people in less than one minute. That -- that's a crime. It's a crime against humanity. It makes me personally ill to see children growing up in a world where they can't go to a grocery store without fearing for their lives. They will never be able to go into a public space without looking for an exit. That has to be the core of this conversation.

We can talk about hate. We can talk about bigotry. We need to hold people accountable for their divisive rhetoric. But we also have to talk about banning assault weapons in this country.

CUOMO: Right.

Well, look, I think it has to be a both, Brain. I mean you and I have talked about this so many times and a friendship forged out of pain up in Los Vegas when we first met. I mean, you know, look, Brandon is right, but mental illness does play a role in school shootings, especially. The rate is much higher than 25 percent. And you can deal with that. But, again, he's also right that people with mental illness are more likely -- much more likely to be victims of violent crimes than perpetrators of it.

[08:45:13] But we do need a both mentality here. You saw, again, that Republican congressman, not to put it on him, and thank God he survived the baseball shooting, but the idea of, well, yes, let's also talk this, we need a both mentality. You want to talk about these things, that's fine, but everything should be on the table at the same time. But we're still facing the same challenge, my friend, and I know you've organized and you're trying to get public sentiment behind this to do more. Nothing ever happens. CLAYPOOL: Yes, Chris, look, you're right, at the end of the day, this

should be a we mentality, an us mentality, a we team mentality, not a Republican mentality.

Chris, I've been thinking long and hard about this. You spoke to me within minutes after that Vegas shooting. You care about making this a safer world. But, you know, come -- I've come to a conclusion that these Republicans that have filibustered, you know, background check laws, they're beholden to the NRA, they're like employees. They're not legislators. They are employees of the NRA and of corporate conglomerates. And I'm telling you, until people across the country, please look me in the face, I know I'm not a millennial, but I almost did see my daughter after that shooting and part of my soul's been killed forever, please just look me in the face, and, please -- Chris, please help. We've got to get people to start voting these Republicans out of office. We need to have -- we have to have not only this assault ban but, for example, a loosening of the privacy laws, getting to your mental health point. Let's loosen these privacy laws where if people are mentally unfit, they're mentally challenged, they've got some domestic violence issues, then have that information shared with a mental health provide to gun manufacturers and distributors. Let's talk about an elimination of immunity for gun manufacturers. Why do they get a hall pass? Why is there an immunity when people go out and use assault weapons to kill other people? That's a misuse of a product. Why aren't we eliminating that immunity as well? There's a couple of -- there's a lot of things that should be on the table.

CUOMO: Brian, I hear you. I hear you. There's no question that a lot of things should be on the table, but all three of you are right, at the end of the day it's about, what will the people force their leaders to do. That's what we have -- really haven't gotten to yet.

Yes, we haven't seen the initiative that we should have to make us safer and protect us from people like this white nationalist, but if we demand it, if you demand it when you go to the polls, that's what you will get.

Brian, Jaclyn, Brandon, thank you for turning your pain into purpose and helping other people understand what it's like to live through this and want better. Thank you very much.

All right, we're going to take a break now. When we come back, we're going to show you what it has been like here on the ground and people grappling with the pain of this massacre.


[08:52:25] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the most racist president we've had since perhaps Andrew Johnson in another age, in another century. And he is responsible for the hatred and the violence that we're seeing right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: That is Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke criticizing President Trump. Also, it is El Paso, Texas, native Beto O'Rourke doing the same. And that's what's significant here.

Joining me now is CNN political director David Chalian.

You've been able to see I think the emotion in Congressman O'Rourke and how much this has affected him over the last two days.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Oh, without a doubt, John. Remember, he served on the city council there. This is -- this is a hometown that he has served. It's where his presidential campaign is headquartered. And his decision instantly, as soon as the shooting occurred, to get off the campaign trail and get back home as quickly as possible.

And I think you're right, you see emotion, you see raw anger, you see someone who is in a moment of sharing pain in his community and not interested in sort of playing by any kind of traditional niceties in politics.

John, this is somebody who just simply isn't going to accept anything Donald Trump reads from a teleprompter as some new path forward. I think he's made clear by saying he doesn't want the president to show up in his hometown.

BERMAN: And there are some people who are watching this, some Democratic voters who are watching this and they're saying, this is the Beto O'Rourke that we saw running for Senate in Texas. This is the Beto O'Rourke who raised all kinds of record money there. This isn't the O'Rourke that we've seen so far on the presidential campaign trail.

CHALIAN: Yes, there's no doubt about it. One of the -- his most viral moments in that Senate campaign, right, talking about the controversy surrounding the American flag and taking a knee and kneeling that -- that sort of lit up his national following for that Senate candidacy, he hasn't -- we haven't seen him in the spotlight like this since the day he got in this race with a lot of anticipation.

But, you're right, this has not been sort of the stuff of his campaign day in and day out. And I think what you're seeing here is a core rationale for why he's running for president play out through this raw emotion.

BERMAN: And the question is -- and, again, it's impossible to know. I mean this seems like it's deeply personal to him. I don't know that he went back there as a political calculation or not.

CHALIAN: No doubt.

BERMAN: But can he translate this feeling that he has portrayed there on the campaign trail, the sort of bulwark, in his case, literally on what if f were you talking about moment?

[08:55:01] CHALIAN: Yes. We'll see. I think it's hard to apply that kind of calculus in a moment like this. I think he's probably being guided by his gut here and his heart a lot more and -- and he'll see what the political ramifications are. But there's no doubt, as you're watching this, this is a presidential candidate in a different kind of a moment than he's had in his entire candidacy. And so what the fallout of that will be, what the effect of that will be, remains to be seen.

BERMAN: All right, David Chalian, thank you for being with us this morning.


BERMAN: I appreciate it.

We do have new information coming into CNN about the shooter in Dayton. Our coverage picks up after this quick break.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Jim Sciutto. Poppy Harlow is off today.

I am here in El Paso, where the death toll from Saturday's shooting now stands at 22. Two more died yesterday. They are parents, they're grandparents, they're brothers and sisters, now gone.