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Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) On Preventing Gun Violence In America; President Trump Visits El Paso And Dayton Today After Mass Shootings; Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) Opens Up About Losing Nephew In School Shooting. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 7, 2019 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: No. The trigger is on the gun. There is no trigger without the gun.

Hate can pick up a stone, hate can pick up a knife, but only an assault weapon can kill 22 people in the matter of -- in a matter of minutes.

They don't want to address the issue, which is gun control. He wants to stay away from that. And that is what must be resolved, and the Democrats have to frame the issue.

People talk about well, is this -- is this a moment for change? There is no moment for change. Leadership makes the moment.

And the Democrats -- I just heard the preceding piece of all the Democrats and where they are. Frankly, it confused me.

I'm asking all Democrats -- the Democrats who want to run for president and come into the state of New York -- just make it a simple, clear choice for the American people.

The 'Make American Safer' pledge. Four elements: an assault weapon ban, high-capacity magazines, universal background check, mental health database, red flag laws. Those four elements of gun control --


CUOMO: -- will change this nation.

HILL: In terms of that, Governor, I know there's been a lot of work on the state level in New York. We know that things tend to happen much quicker at the state level in this country when we are talking about guns than they do at the federal level. But I know you also believe that the federal government is an important piece of this.

So then, how do you -- if you feel that the president is not understanding or is not in a place where he needs to be where he can understand what the conversation needs to be, how do you bring him to that place? What do you think his conversations today could do to impact his view of those conversations?

CUOMO: Look, the president could tone down his hateful rhetoric. Will he? I don't believe he will.

This is not a recent situation for him. This is how he ran for office. This is what he said from day one.

This is the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, the enemy is within. This white nationalist movement, he fomented. When he said there are good people on both sides of the argument at Charlottesville with the Ku Klux Klan, he fomented it. We're being invaded -- he fomented it.

Could he change his rhetoric? Yes. Will he? I don't think so.

Will it stop the hate? No. Once you unleash the dogs of hatred you can't just recall them. This has been years of hateful rhetoric.

What he could do is support reasonable commonsense gun laws. He will never because it's not what his base wants and it's always politics for this president.

The Democrats can change --

HILL: Governor --

CUOMO: -- the debate.

The last piece by Avlon, I don't even understand where the Democrats are.

Agree to those four simple points on gun laws -- the 'Make America Safer" pledge. Give the American people a choice. And if you're coming to New York State and you're running for president, if you don't support those four gun -- commonsense gun laws, don't come asking for Democratic support in New York.

HILL: Governor, as you know, sometimes just saying the words commonsense gun laws -- commonsense gun legislation or regulation -- that can really set people off. It is important to bring people to the table, as you've alluded to.

So, as you were having these conversations in New York State, as measures were being moved through at the state level, what are the conversations? How did you bring in people who are skeptical? Gun owners who are saying I don't want you taking away what is my right.

How do you bring them to the table and listen to them so that there can be a constructive conversation?

It's what we heard from Ohio Gov. DeWine. He did -- bringing folks in to be part of the conversation -- and we had this proposal released yesterday from him.

CUOMO: Yes. You have a proposal from Ohio that now they have to make law, and we'll see what happens.

But it's a very good question.

We passed these laws six years ago in New York. We did it after the Sandy Hook massacre where you saw schoolchildren killed.

Erica, it is not an easy conversation because the opposition fears any gun control. What they're saying is you're going to ban assault weapons today; tomorrow, you're coming after my gun.

So it's the skepticism and the cynicism about government and you're not going to get past it in one conversation. It takes political courage.

I passed a law called the Safe Act six years ago -- did these exact things -- and it was a very difficult political conversation. It hurt me politically but it was the right thing to do.

[07:35:06] And now, six years later, you have an experience that you can fall back on. You can say look, New York did this six years ago and legal owners have their gun, hunters can hunt, sportsmen can shoot, but you don't have assault weapons in the wrong hands.

We have a mental health database. Listen to this -- 100,000 people are on our mental health database who could have bought a gun in this state but now can't because of the mental health database -- 100,000.

So, an assault weapon ban, high-capacity magazine -- everybody gets that. Gun owners support it, Republicans support it.

Universal background check, mental health database, red flag laws. If you can't support those four things, I don't believe you should be running for president as a Democrat. And, if the Democrats actually --

HILL: And --

CUOMO: -- agree to one simple program, then we can offer the nation a choice. Otherwise, this is all noise and all confusion.

I didn't understand what John Avlon was talking about with all those different positions among the Democratic candidates.

Make it simple, make it true. Four points -- the 'Make America Safer' pledge, period.

HILL: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, I appreciate you joining us this morning, sir. Thank you.

CUOMO: Thank you. Thank you, Erica.

HILL: John --

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The governor just gave us a tease there of our next segment. Where do the Democratic candidates stand on gun control? We have an important reality check, next.


[07:41:09] BERMAN: Welcome back to our special coverage from El Paso, Texas. John Berman here. I want to show you something, which has been here for days now outside the Walmart here in El Paso where those awful murders took place. This is a memorial that began with just a few candles. Now it actually stretches for about 100 yards, maybe more, all along the railing. The building behind it is actually the Walmart.

This is a huge memorial. I've never seen anything quite like this.

And what is so moving this time is there has never been a moment when someone's not there. People have been coming at all hours of the night and the morning to pay their respects. This city -- the outpouring of emotion is truly remarkable.

So in the wake of these two mass shootings in 24 hours, Americans really are trying to make sense of it and are trying to find out where their candidates stand on the issue of guns.

John Avlon breaks it all down for us in a reality check -- John.


Look, it's easy to forget that campaigns are just pregame for the main event, governing. And governing is about implementing ideas.

As some of America, once again, being rocked by mass shootings, it's time to take a closer look at the policies being put forward by key candidates. Welcome to the ideas factory -- gun reform addition.

Basically, all the Democratic candidates support expanded background checks, which makes sense given that well over 90 percent of Americans support it as well.

There's also broad agreement on the need to reinstate an assault weapons-style ban, which was a key provision in the 1994 crime bill that Joe Biden's taken a lot of heat for authoring. But on this issue, it's ahead of the curve.

Likewise, candidates favor banning high-capacity magazines and closing loopholes.

Those are the areas of clear consensus but there are differing degrees to their plans.

For example, Cory Booker, who put out one of the first plans to combat gun violence, backs a national gun licensing system, similar to a driver's license. John Hickenlooper, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, and Beto O'Rourke now support similar plans.

Now, Sen. Elizabeth Warren's got a plan for everything but oddly, she hasn't put one forward formally on gun reform to date, although she's been active on the issue in the Senate.

Senator Kamala Harris has proposed executive orders to revoke the licenses of gun manufacturers and dealers who break the law.

There's even one issue where there seems to be common ground between most Democratic candidates and President Trump. I'm talking about the red flag laws that would temporarily restrict someone's access to firearms if they're considered a threat.

And while there's broad agreement among Democrats on the goals of gun reform, the candidates have walked very different paths to get here.

For example, Kirsten Gillibrand and Tim Ryan both started out their congressional careers with A-ratings from the NRA. But, Gillibrand now considers her F-rating a badge of honor, while Tim Ryan broke with the NRA after the Las Vegas massacre.

Another candidate with an unexpected record on guns is Bernie Sanders. In 2016, he took heat from Hillary Clinton for voting against national background checks in the 1990s. And this time around he's not going to let anyone get to his left on guns.

Among the four Democratic presidential candidates who served in the military, all back an assault weapons ban, with Pete Buttigieg tweeting, "I did not carry an assault weapon around a foreign country so I could come home and see them used to massacre my countrymen."

Gun violence is personal for a lot of people and that's true for many of the presidential candidates. Get this -- according to analysis by ABC News, only one of the roughly two dozen candidates running for president has not seen a mass shooting hit their state while they've been in office. That would be Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii.

While Republicans have allowed the NRA to dictate gun policy in recent years, as "FiveThirtyEight" pointed out, there is plenty of evidence that GOP are much more resistant to gun control than GOP voters are.

But the 2018 Pew survey showing that majorities of Republicans now favor policies like preventing the mentally ill from purchasing guns, barring gun purchases for folks on the no-fly list. And yes, even expanded background checks.

So even on this hot-button issue, there's more agreement in Main Street America than our hyperpartisan politics in Washington would indicate.

[07:45:02] And that's your reality check.

Back to you, Erica.

HILL: And a sobering one at that, John. Thank you.

In a few hours, President Trump will touch down here in Dayton, Ohio, and then will travel on later this afternoon to El Paso. The president will be greeted by protesters and also by Dayton's mayor, who has said she will stress to the president his comments about gun violence have been unhelpful.

Joining me now is Shelley Dickstein. She is the Dayton city manager. We appreciate you coming down this morning to talk to us.

We've talked a lot about what should the president's message be. SHELLEY DICKSTEIN, CITY MANAGER, DAYTON, OHIO: Yes.

HILL: What would you like the president to hear as the message from the city of Dayton?

DICKSTEIN: Well, I guess what I would like to say is the president has asked specifically to meet with our officers who responded -- which is a very noble thing -- to thank them for their public service.

However, it's really terrifying when you watch those videos and you see our officers running into harm's way. And the first officers -- of the seven responding, the first five had handguns against an assault rifle -- an automated assault rifle.

And if he really cared about the first responders and the police -- if all of our Legislature really cared about the police that they like to give homage to, then do something to keep them safe.

HILL: And that something is?

DICKSTEIN: Get rid of assault rifles.

HILL: The mayor has said that she does plan to be very candid with the president today.

DICKSTEIN: She always is.

HILL: I mean, can you give us a sense -- what do you think she will say to time, specifically, on that point?

DICKSTEIN: I think she will challenge him on commonsense gun laws.

HILL: What does that mean to you? These commonsense gun laws -- that phrase alone, as we know --


HILL: -- means different things --


HILL: -- to different people.

DICKSTEIN: Sure. I think we're pretty much in agreement about removal of assault rifles.

You know, other countries have certainly banned assault rifles and stopped mass shootings.

You know, she's pretty fired up at the fact that we were the 250th mass shooting this year in 216 days. We have a problem, we need to address it, and background checks, alone, are not going to do that.

HILL: The president also expected on his travels today to meet with victims.


HILL: Meeting with first responders, meeting with victims -- those are very powerful moments. You hear from people firsthand what they experienced and also just to see it.


HILL: How do you think that could impact him? I know it's impacted you.

DICKSTEIN: You know, I just pray that he will be open and he will really hear and he will really feel with these visits to El Paso and Dayton. They're very fresh and raw. And I really hope that he will use his office -- the highest government office in our country -- to lead in something impactful.

HILL: How is the community doing today? We were talking briefly in the break, there are stages of grief --

DICKSTEIN: Yes, yes.

HILL: -- and you're starting to move into another one now --


HILL: -- now that it's day four, essentially.

DICKSTEIN: Right. There is, of course, a lot of shock and sadness in the first few days. But the community is moving into angry -- you know, anger stage. They really are trying to mobilize to do things.

We've had citizens who are avid gun supporters, hunters, who want to organize to turn his guns in and get others to -- symbolically, to support the fact that these guns are a problem in our country and in our community. So I think that they will continue to organize.

Dayton is a very passionate, very gritty, very strong community, so we'll see what those -- but we'll obviously be supporting everyone through these cycles of grief.

HILL: You are already seeing some action, right, at the higher levels of government that we're seeing from your representatives --


HILL: -- of state and in Washington.

What does that mean for you, as the Dayton city manager, when you see that there is mobilization that's fairly quick? I mean, we heard the chants for --


HILL: -- Gov. DeWine -- "do something!"

DICKSTEIN: Yes, yes. HILL: Yesterday, we saw this 16-17-point proposal.

DICKSTEIN: Yes. I think it gives me hope.

I'm very inspired with the governor and his leadership. I have been inspired by Congressman Turner's comments and remarks. I'm hoping that they will sustain that.

This is not going to be an easy conversation across the country -- it isn't. And I'm hoping -- it gives me hope.

HILL: Yes, hope is a good thing.

Real quickly before I let you go, where will you be today? You won't be meeting with the president. What will you be doing while he's here?

DICKSTEIN: I will be doing the job of running the city and keeping things going. There's a lot of work that we do on an everyday basis, so --

[07:50:03] HILL: Appreciate it. Glad to have seen you. Thank you for coming down this morning.

DICKSTEIN: Thank you.

HILL: And we will -- we will continue to stay with you --

DICKSTEIN: All right.

HILL: -- in Dayton.

DICKSTEIN: Thank you.

HILL: I think you know that. John --

BERMAN: All right, thanks, Erica.

One of the newest entries to the Democratic race for president has one of the most painful histories with gun violence -- stories he's really never shared before in-depth.

Alisyn Camerota went all the way to Montana to speak to Montana Gov. Steve Bullock to hear something he has never shared on television. That's next.


BERMAN: This morning, you're going to hear something you probably have never heard before. It's the story of the life of one of the Democratic presidential candidates.

Alisyn Camerota traveled all the way to Montana and interviewed the governor there -- Steve Bullock, who is now running for president -- about his campaign. He talked about his motivations and he also opened up about a personal story that he really hadn't fully shared before.

[07:55:05] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER, DEMOCRATIC DEBATE: From Montana, Gov. Steve Bullock.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY" (voice-over): It was only last week at the CNN debate that Montana Gov. Steve Bullock introduced himself to a national audience and attempted to show that in a crowded field of 24 Democrats, he's the one who can win over Trump voters.

GOV. STEVEN BULLOCK (D-MT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, I'm a pro- choice, pro-union, populist Democrat who won three elections in a red state.

CAMEROTA (voice-over): So how has Steve Bullock managed to win and get stuff done in a ruby red state that Donald Trump carried by 20 points in 2016?

We decided to head to Helena, Montana to find out. We wanted to see Steve Bullock in his natural habitat to determine if what he's done in Big Sky Country can transfer to inside the Beltway.

BULLOCK: Hello and welcome to Gates of the Mountains. My name's Steve.

CAMEROTA (voice-over): Bullock became a tour boat captain in his senior year in high school.

CAMEROTA (on camera): Back then, when you were operating this as a teenager, did you have presidential ambitions?

BULLOCK: No, I wanted to be a tour boat driver forever.

CAMEROTA (voice-over): Bullock says he did not consider running for president until Donald Trump won, and that's when everything changed.

BULLOCK: Everybody that's ever run for office probably says this is the most important election of our lifetime. This one, I believe that to be true.

CAMEROTA (voice-over): But it was another life-changing event -- a family tragedy 25 years ago that the governor says has also colored every day of his public service.

BULLOCK: There are very few weeks that in one instance or another that I don't think about my nephew.

CAMEROTA (voice-over): It's a story he does not tell often. In fact, he's never fully told it before on national T.V. But given the deadly mass shootings, Steve Bullock feels the time has come to tell the story of his 11-year-old nephew, Jeremy, who was shot and killed on his school playground.

BULLOCK: A 10-year-old had brought a gun to school. He'd been bullied, he had been ostracized. And the kids were lined up to get into class that morning and he pulled out his gun and unintendedly ended up shooting Jeremy. At the time, it was the youngest schoolyard shooting in our country's history.

But it's changed how I think about public safety. It's changed how I think about parenting.

CAMEROTA (voice-over): A year after Bullock's nephew, Jeremy, was killed, he helped then-Sen. Max Baucus craft a statement into the Senate record describing hikes Jeremy and his twin brother Josh would take and the message they would bring back.

BULLOCK: Jeremy and Josh, they'd always come back with their pockets just full of garbage. And I would always say, like, what's up? And, you know, he said -- you know, we want to keep wherever we visit -- leave it a little bit better than it was before we showed up.

I think we've all got that obligation to take that walk with Jeremy and leave the place a little bit better than we saw it, and as a country, we're not right now.

CAMEROTA (voice-over): But his own family tragedy did not change Bullock's stance on Second Amendment rights. It was not until recent years that Gov. Bullock, a lifelong gun owner and hunter, joined the vast majority of Democrats in calling for stricter background checks, red flag laws, and a ban on assault weapons.

BULLOCK: Every single gun owner ought to be calling on this president and this Congress to say we can do better in keeping people safe.

Every gun I've ever purchased, I've gone through a background check. Universal background checks, we all ought to agree on.

CAMEROTA (on camera): There is a background check bill that was passed by the House in February. It's been sitting on Mitch McConnell's desk. They're now on recess.

And so, what would change with President Steve Bullock?

BULLOCK: I mean, as president, I wouldn't make my case just in Washington, D.C., I'd make it to America. I'd spend as much time in Kentucky as you would in D.C. because once folks in Kentucky and other states -- red and blue -- turn around and say enough's enough.

CAMEROTA (voice-over): After this week's mass shootings, President Trump blamed mental health issues and video games.

BULLOCK: It's the NRA's talking points. It's not saying how do we actually get the solutions.

CAMEROTA (on camera): What if you don't become the nominee? Have you thought that far ahead?

BULLOCK: No -- no, I haven't. My plan was honestly to finish up serving as governor in 2020 and to be gone. And it was the 2016 election and what's happening to the country that said all right, if I have something to contribute to this it's worth doing.

CAMEROTA (voice-over): Steve Bullock seems like someone who. END