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American's Struggle to Cope with Gun Violence; 12 Guns for Every 10 People in the United States; Cyntoia Brown Released; Putin's Rise from Unknown to World Leader. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 8, 2019 - 01:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello everybody! Thank you for joining us. I'm John Vause, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Ahead this hour, the U.S. President takes on the role of consoler in chief after this week's to mass shootings, but hundreds in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio protested his visit blaming his divisive rhetoric as a big part of the problem and his political rivals agree.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a president with a toxic tongue who has publicly and unapologetically embraced a political strategy of hate, racism, and division.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Plus, in Kashmir, virtual lockdown for days amid the diplomatic dispute between India and Pakistan. This hour, a unique look from within.

It may not be easy but it should never be controversial, that moment when the commander-in-chief becomes the comforter in chief. Donald Trump traveled to two American cities Wednesday to console comfort and reassure the survivors and their families after two mass shootings, and on behalf of a grateful nation thank the first responders, the police, ambulance crews, doctors, and nurses for their dedication and bravery.

But as so often the case with this president, he allowed a perceived slight to overshadow a solemn day. CNN's Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta begins our coverage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Facing what's shaping to be a critical moment in his administration, President Trump arrived in El Paso, Texas to try to comfort another U.S. city traumatized by a mass shooting. Earlier in the day, he spent time with Massacre victims in Dayton, Ohio where he was pressed by lawmakers to do something about gun violence.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): We can't get anything done in the Senate because Mitch McConnell and the President of the United States are in bed with the gun lobby.

ACOSTA: As the president was flying from Ohio to Texas, he was live tweeting a speech from former Vice President Joe Biden as he ripped into Mr. Trump.

BIDEN: How far is from Trump saying this is an invasion to the shooter in El Paso declaring "this attack is a response to Hispanic invasion of Texas?" How far apart are those comments?

ACOSTA: The president tweeted he was washing and said Biden was so boring. The White House insisted the president would play the role of consoler and chief but Mr. Trump sounded at times as though he was consoling himself.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So my critics are political people. They're trying to make points.

ACOSTA: Dodging questions about his incendiary rhetoric and making the head-scratching claim that his language has somehow unified the country.

TRUMP: No, I don't think my rhetoric has at all. I think my rhetoric is very -- it brings people together.

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump was pressed on the El Paso gunman's manifesto which appeared to be inspired in part by the President's use of the term invasion to describe migrants. He sidestepped that one too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You and the shooter in El Paso used that same language invasion. Do you regret that?

TRUMP: I think that illegal immigration, you're talking about illegal immigration, right? I think illegal immigration is a terrible thing for this country. I think you have to come in legally.

ACOSTA: The President then proceeded to spread the blame around for the outbreak of violence under his watch.

TRUMP: I don't like it. Any group of hate, I am -- whether it's white supremacy, whether it's any other kind of supremacy, whether it's Antifa, whether it's any group --

ACOSTA: Just as he did after Charlottesville.

TRUMP: And you have some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.

ACOSTA: Despite striking a tone of unity earlier in the week, the president lashed out at Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke tweeting, "Beto -- phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage -- O'Rourke should respect the victims and law enforcement and be quiet."

O'Rourke fired back. "22 people in my hometown are dead after an act of terror inspired by your racism. El Paso will not be quiet and neither will I. BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will proudly stand

together for one another and for this country and that's what I'm doing with my community right now.

ACOSTA: After some elected leaders in El Paso urged the president to stay in the White House, the city's main newspaper published an open letter to Mr. Trump that reads Mr. President, the hatred of the El Paso shooting didn't come from our city.

Residents in El Paso remember the president's visit to the city in February when he painted migrants as criminals.

TRUMP: Murders, murders, murders. Killings, murders.

CROWD: Build the wall! Build the wall!

TRUMP: We will. We will.

ACOSTA: White House officials lashed out at Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and the mayor of Dayton accusing those two elected leaders of "disgusting behavior for not acknowledging the reception Mr. Trump received at the hospital in Dayton, Ohio.

Senator Brown told reporters the president was "received well and did the right thing at the hospital." Jim Acosta, CNN the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[01:05:05] VAUSE: At a news conference after the president's hospital visit, Ohio senator Sherrod Brown and Dayton mayor Nan Whaley said the victims were grateful to see Donald Trump and he was treated well. But they also called his past rhetoric racist and divisive which prompted this response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, they shouldn't be politicking. They shouldn't be politicking today. I had it with Sherrod Brown, he and the mayor, Nan Whaley. They asked could we possibly go in, could we possibly go in and make the tour with you. I said yes, let's do it.

They couldn't believe what they saw, and they said it to people. They've never seen anything like it. The entire hospital, no different than what we had in El Paso. The entire hospital was, I mean, everybody was so proud of the job they did because they did a great job. They did a great job here.

And then I say goodbye. I took them in at their request. We made the tour. They couldn't believe it. She said it to people. He said it to people. I get on Air Force One where they do have a lot of televisions. I turn on the television, and there they have saying, well, I don't know if it was appropriate for the President to be here. You know, et cetera, et cetera. You know, the same old line.

They're very dishonest people and that's why I think he probably got I think about zero percent and failed as a presidential candidate. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: And we should make this note. The Ohio senator Sherrod Brown never actually ran for president. To Los Angeles now to Michael Genovese, President of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University. Michael, good to see you.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, PRESIDENT OF THE GLOBAL POLICY INSTITUTE, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: Hello, John. How are you?

VAUSE: Good. Thanks, man. OK, let's just start with the no political appetite line. Firstly, isn't it the job of the President to lead even when something may not be popular? Only in this case, there may not be political appetite for an assault weapons ban but there is public support.

A poll from Quinnipiac University last year found 67 percent of Americans favored a nationwide assault weapons ban, right, that has risen steadily over the last five years. 2013 just 56 percent were in favor. Out of all recent polls have found the numbers are even higher and a majority of Republicans would support a ban.

So when Trump says there's no political appetite, is he really saying he doesn't want to take on his good friends at the NRA?

GENOVESE: Well, I think that's clearly what we're talking about. And in the Congress, Mitch McConnell is not going to do anything until Donald Trump tells him to he's playing the role of Trump's poodle, so Congress won't act when it must.

The president won't lead and he must and therefore we're going to end up with is more of the same which is more of nothing. We will have tragedy after tragedy and no response and no response.

VAUSE: Which is interesting because the midterms in 2018, a lot of you know, sort of pro-gun reform ballots actually got through, a lot of candidates who had very bad ratings from the NRA still managed to be elected despite those bad ratings and despite a campaign by the NRA.

That was 2018, not another round of mass shootings. Will this be a major issue you know, come the presidential election in 2020?

GENOVESE: It will for a variety of reasons. One, is because the NRA is in disarray right now. They're having internal squabbles, internal problems. They are weaker internally than they've been in 25 years. It will also be important because the Democrats think this is an issue on which they can run and win.

It will also be important because they think they can taint the Republicans with failure to respond to crisis. Crises like this happen. They will happen again and again. But the role of the president is to be a unifier in times of tragedy.

I think of the time when Ronald Reagan after the Challenger disaster gave meaning and purpose to a horrible act and told us it will be OK and reassured us, or Bill Clinton after the Oklahoma City bombing of the white terrorists. President Trump is unable to do this.

He took the grievances from Dayton and turned it into his own grievances. He's incapable of doing this. And so not every president can do everything that's on a presidential to-do list. Some do some better, some do some don't. Donald Trump is incapable of getting beyond himself. And there are times when a president like Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton in the tragedies mentioned have to get beyond themselves and actually lead a grieving nation.

VAUSE: Even mourned on that. What we saw on Wednesday, you know, it was just a couple of days after that hostage video like performance on Monday when Trump condemned white supremacist, and racism, and bigotry, he was watering it all down. This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I am concerned about the rise of any group of hate. I don't like it. Any group of hate whether it's white supremacy, whether it's any other kind of supremacy, whether it's Antifa, whether it's any group of hate, I am very concerned about it and I'll do something about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Just like there are good people on both sides at a Nazi rally. You know, the pattern here is obvious. You know, when he has this vacant eyes and he delivers a speech with the enthusiasm and passion of wet lettuce, he does not believe it. Just wait a couple of days because then you'll hear the real thing.

So with the racists and the bigots in this country, would they know the drill? They just need to sit tight, wait a couple of days to have a message more to their liking?

[01:10:08] GENOVESE: Well, I think they're accustomed to it by now. They've gone through this drill before. They know how it works. They know how it ends. And so the question becomes for us, who's the real Donald Trump. Is it the man who almost and as a robot, a Stepford Wife kind of reading of a speech or is it the Donald Trump of his rallies and of his tweets.

Thus far Donald Trump has been kind of a Teflon president in the sense that he's gotten away with some incendiary, racist, ugly remarks, and his basis stayed with him.

VAUSE: You know, a senior source -- sorry, go ahead, Michael.

GENOVESE: I was going to say, but at what point -- and maybe we've reached the point. Does the American public say this really is who he is and it's not good enough for us?

VAUSE: Because what that means though, what the president says and how he acts, it sort of manifests its way in policy. And this is what we heard from a senior source who is involved in discussions with the White House about the threat for domestic terrorism telling CNN's Jake Tapper. Homeland security officials battled the White House for more than a

year to get them to focus more on domestic terrorism. The White House wanted to focus only on the jihadist threat which while serious, ignored the reality that racial supremacist violence was rising fast here at home. They had major ideological blinders on. Ultimately the White House just added one paragraph about domestic terrorism as a throwaway line.

And that's the real-world consequences of the president who many believe is a racist and sees good people on both sides that Nazi rally in Charlottesville.

GENOVESE: And the Justice Department in the past has tried to do exactly what they're saying. They tried to focus on domestic terrorism as a source of great evil and threat. During George W. Bush's presidency after 9/11, they made motions in this direction and then it's stopped.

Then when Obama tried to revive it about 2014, you know, they brought it back but it died with Donald Trump. His priorities are clear. His base and the message to his base is clear. He's saying to the base I'm going to protect you, and the nation, well, let's see what they get.

VAUSE: We also have from the former vice president now candidate for president Joe Biden taking Trump's hate speech and really turning it what may seem was very in a very effective way against Donald Trump. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Our president has aligned himself with the darkest forces in this nation. We have a president with a toxic tongue who was publicly and unapologetically embraced the political strategy of hate, racism, and division. Our president has more in common with George Wallace than he does with George Washington. His incompetence, his immorality, his carnage stops with us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: And welcoming George Wallace than George Washington was a bit of a killer line. But Donald Trump was asked yet again if he believes his language, his choice of words has been a problem. This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I don't think my rhetoric has at all. I think my rhetoric is very -- it brings people together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Which -- this is another consistent play from the Trump team, ignore reality, deny responsibility, blame everyone else.

GENOVESE: Well, let me put this in more personal terms. My wife was born in Mexico City. She's proud of her Mexican heritage. And the question I would ask is, is the president contributing, contributing to putting a target on her back? And that's not what presidents do. Presidents bring out the best not the worse than us.

Their rhetoric is important. Their words matter. Their words influence people especially people who are a little bit unhinged as many of these mass murderers are, maybe all of them are. And when they find a president who they think speaks their language, it only encourages and emboldened them as president Trump's rhetoric has embolden white nationalist, white supremacists and racists across the country.

They think may be accurately, maybe inaccurately, that he speaks for them, he speaks to them. And when I think of my -- when I personalize it, I think of my wife, I think this is so wrong on so many levels. This is so unpresidential. This is not the American presidency that I remember from Ronald Reagan, from John Kennedy, from Dwight Eisenhower, from Bill Clinton even, from Barack Obama. This is a very different person with a very different message.

VAUSE: And you are one of many, people out there who you know, who have those feelings right now. What was also seemed unpresidential was the way Donald Trump turned this moment of national grief into essentially a political fight with Democrats, but he said that mischaracterized his visit to a hospital in Dayton.

Trump's director of social media tweeted this. The president was treated like a rock star inside the hospital which was all caught on video. They all loved seeing their great president. This is the video released by the White House. It was actually closed to the press. No media were allowed in so these are the only images that we have.

We've gone through it. You know, the question is does it look like a rock star welcome or is it more like the description which Trump took exception with that came from Senator Sherrod Brown. This is what Brown said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[01:15:10] BROWN: He was comforting. He did the right things. Melania did the right things. And it's his job in part to comfort people. I'm glad he did it in those hospital rooms.

People at the hospital were terrific and people showed -- when the President of the United States came, they showed respect for the office and a number of them said to me they're not great admirers of him privately but they clearly showed respect for the office because the President of the United States was in town.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Rock star welcome or polite respect to the office of the presidency? How do you see it?

GENOVESE: Well, Sherrod Brown didn't say anything that should pick a fight but Donald Trump sees everything, even slights that are so minor that they're almost you know, unimaginable to take seriously. He takes everything seriously.

Sherrod Brown and the Mayor of Dayton both said Donald Trump did a fine job. He was we treated with respect. You know, he was -- tried to be comforting. The president should be thankful. Instead, he says, well, they didn't say I was a rock star. They didn't say I was the greatest. And so, therefore, they must be terrible people. They've done terrible things.

What's wrong with this man? Why can't he simply get beyond his own grievances and think about the people who are suffering, the people who were killed, the families who survived and who after mourned their losses. He's thinking about his own ego, very unpresidential.

VAUSE: Yes. And we've see that time and time again. Michael, thank you.

GENOVESE: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Puerto Rico has a new governor, the third one in less than a week. Justice Secretary Wanda Vazquez was sworn in Wednesday even though she seems initially rotten to take the post. Her predecessor Pedro Pierluisi lasted just five days until the Supreme Court ruled his swearing it was unconstitutional because he had not been confirmed as Secretary of State by both chambers of the legislature.

Pierluisi was former Governor Ricardo Rossello's hand-picked successor. Rossello stepped down after weeks of anti-government protests. Still to come, from bad to worse. We'll have the very latest on the deteriorating relationship between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Also ahead, as American has apple pie and baseball, the U.S. obsession with guns. A look at the staggering numbers behind the headlines.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Ties between India and Pakistan are fraying after India revoke the special autonomy for the disputed Kashmir region. On Wednesday, Pakistani lawmakers downgraded diplomatic relations and suspended trade with India.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[01:20:06] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Suspend (INAUDIBLE) bilateral trade with India.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: India's action gives New Delhi greater authority over this contested region which critics say could lead to a demographic change in India only Muslim majority state. CNN's Nikhil Kumar now has more from New Delhi.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: It's been two days since New Delhi's said it was stripping Indian-controlled Kashmir of its special status and changing the way the disputed territory is governed. We still haven't heard from the people most affected by all of this, ordinary Kashmiri. They're still living to an almost all- encompassing security lockdown and communications blackout with phone and internet lines still down now.

We've seen lockdowns and blackouts before. This, after all, is one of the world's most dangerous military flashpoints with the de facto border called a line of control dividing the region between Indian and Pakistan controlled sections. But this time authorities have gone many steps beyond anything in recent memory with severe restrictions on the movement of people in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Prominent politicians in the territory were also placed under house arrest ahead of the announcement Monday when the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it was repealing a decades-old provision that gave the local government in the territory autonomy over most policy areas.

Modi's government also moved to downgrade India's Jammu and Kashmir state which includes Indian-controlled Kashmir to a union territory. And in a remote part of the state called Ladakh will be carved off and made into a standalone Union Territory.

In the Indian system, states retain far greater control over their affairs than union territories which are run mostly from New Delhi. This is also becoming a geopolitical issue. Pakistan's military has condemned India's move. It says it will "go to any extent to fight the changes raising the troubling specter of another conflict between these two nuclear-armed rivals. Nikhil Kumar, CNN New Delhi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Canadian police say they are confident they found the bodies of two teenage murder suspects. Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod were wanted the murders of an Australian man, his American girlfriend, and a Canadian University teacher in July.

The manhunt for the teenagers stretched across four Canadian provinces. We have details from CNN's Paula Newton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The relief was palpable on the part of police. They have been searching to no avail for these two suspects for several weeks. They found them in dense brush together and many people in the community now will be relieved.

Remember the police had always said that these two suspects were dangerous, that they should not be approached. So of course, the community can now be at ease knowing that these two suspects have been found. Again, the police still have so many questions. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANE MACLATCHY, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER, ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE: At this time we believe these are the bodies of the two suspects wanted in connection with the homicides in British Columbia. An autopsy is being scheduled in Winnipeg to confirm their identities and to determine their cause of death.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: And that's going to be the mystery here. Again, how did they die? Was this suicides, was this a murder-suicide that they died of natural causes. That's one mystery. But again the other thing that people are wondering here is motive. Why did these two teenagers do what they did?

That young couple, those tourists who have just been trying to have a nice vacation together and that unsuspecting lecture from the University of British Columbia also losing his life. And these will be the kinds of clues that police will try to piece together over the coming days and weeks.

The problem here, of course, is the two suspects were found dead and they will never really know the whole story about this rampage and what the motive could have possibly been. Paula Newton, CNN Ottawa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Let's turn now to the situation in India controlled Kashmir. It remains locked down and in communications blackout. On Facebook, Kashmir politicians Shah Faesal described the crackdown as like this. You can say that the entire eight million population has been incarcerated like never before. People are in shock, numb. It makes sense what befell them. Everyone is mourning what we lost.

Shah Faesal joins us now from New Delhi. So what essentially has been lost here because this is all about article 370 of India's Constitution which is scrapped. That provision gave Kashmir a great deal of independence overall decision-making except for defense and foreign affairs. So they're basically -- they're now what, basically under the rule of law directly from New Delhi?

SHAH FAESAL, POLITICIAN, KASHMIR: Article 370 gave certain extraordinary protections to the people of Jammu and Kashmir state. And this was based on a certain kind of a covenant between the Union of India and the state of Jammu and Kashmir as they entered into an accession agreement in 1947.

To give a very simple analogy it would be like if the president of America you know, imposes an emergency in the state of California, divides the state into two states, and then says that OK, this is how I want to win an election.

I think this is basically how Jammu and Kashmir state has been dismembered in last you know, under the last amendment. And one important region has been separated from this which is the Ladakh region converted into a Union Territory. Jammu and Kashmir state has also been converted into a Union

Territory, and those -- all those protections under Article 370 have been abolished. And this has definitely led to a lot of outrage anger and rage in the region of Jammu and Kashmir more so in the Kashmir Valley region.

[01:25:39] VAUSE: We're looking at a lockdown which began I think well on Monday. There are reports that as many as 10,000 Indian troops being deployed in the region in recent days. How long do you think this will continue and what is the immediate impact right now the lives of people of Kashmir?

FAESAL: This is an unprecedented security lockdown in the Kashmir region. And in last 30 years of conflict, we have never seen such tremendous security deployment there. As of now -- I was there yesterday and my understanding of the situation is that as of now, there is a very uneasy calm. People are numbed. It's yet to sink.

I mean, most of the people do not have access to televisions. Most of the people are yet to understand what has befell them -- what has befallen them and what has happened basically. People are yet to make sense out of it.

And my understanding is that once the telecommunication starts, once people start making sense of what all has happened in last couple of days, I think this situation there is going to turn very, very volatile. Security clampdown cannot withstand you know, the collective rage of an entire people.

VAUSE: Kashmir is like the only child in a nasty divorce, both sides claiming sole custody. You know, the Pakistanis and the Indians both arguing with this piece of land. Kashmir had at least in principle the promise of independence.

And you post it on Facebook, it's the loss of statehood that has hurt the people deeply. This is being seen as the biggest betrayal by the Indian state in the last 70 years. Has there ever been an attempt of consultation with either New Delhi or -- from New Delhi or Islamabad? As to what sort of future the people of Kashmir actually want?

FAESAL: The most unfortunate and the hurtful part of this decision has been that it has been taken unilaterally without consulting anybody in Jammu and Kashmir, without even consulting the political mainstream which has been so far upholding the Indian Constitution in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

And it has been done completely by enforcing a curfew and incarcerated the entire eight million population of the state and more so in the Kashmir Valley region. That is something which kind of reflects the unilateral and the ruthlessness with which this decision has been taken.

And my worry is that once the security clampdown is over, once people get to you know understand what has happened, and once the logic consequences of this decision start unfolding on a population, this is going to intensify the conflict and take the conflict to a new and a very, very tragic stage.

VAUSE: India has long complained that Pakistani terrorist groups have been operating in Kashmir. The Pakistani government is well aware of this. They know where these terrorist groups are. They're doing nothing to stop it. Are you expecting at some point either days or weeks an uptick in activity by those Pakistani terrorist groups?

FAESAL: What has happen when the voices of political moderation, they get discredited, once the political mainstream gets you know, it gets totally demolished, then it's very much possible that the extremist elements they get credence.

In fact, today, everybody is asking that all those people who believe that armed resistance or maybe militant approach was the only way to deal with the political rights in Kashmir. Those people are feeling vindicated.

And my worry is that if that happens unfortunately then Kashmir is going to be a very huge battleground for all these forces together, and then we might see a new phase of bloodshed in Kashmir and that's something which nobody in the region, unfortunately, I think they should -- they should think about.

VAUSE: Yes, Kashmir both Pakistan and India claiming to be you know, a Shangri-La or a paradise there up in the Himalayas. But clearly, there are some troubling days ahead. Shah, thank you very much for being with us. Shah Faesal, Kashmiri Politician.

A short break. When we come back, living in fear in America. Under the gun, how guns have created yet another generation trying to cope with the phenomenon of mass shootings. And in the aftermath of last week's carnage, many are asking the same question as this former leader from Australia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why on God's earth does anyone need a semi- automatic weapon other than being a member of the United States military?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:32:03] VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Welcome back, everybody.

I have an update now on the top news this hour.

Ties between India and Pakistan continue to fray after India revoked the special autonomy for the disputed Kashmir region. On Wednesday, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic relations and suspended trade with India, also asked the U.N. to intervene.

For the third time in less than a week, Puerto Rico has a new governor. Justice Secretary Wanda Vazquez was sworn in Wednesday. Her predecessor Pedro Pierluisi was ousted by Puerto Rico's Supreme Court. He was former governor Ricardo Rossello's hand picked successor.

U.S. President Donald Trump met with first responders and survivors of the shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas. Hundreds protested his visit in both cities. Before he left the White House, Trump said he would like to see stronger background checks for gun purchases

Three years ago, after another mass shooting in the United States, the British poet Brian Bilson wrote, "America is a Gun".

"England is a cup of tea. France a wheel of ripened brie. Greece, a short, squat olive tree. America is a gun.

Brazil is football on the sand. Argentina, Maradona's hand. Germany, an oompah band. America is a gun."

There are two more versus but you get the idea.

Americans have a constitutional right to bear arms. But that right is now sparking a very real fear of guns. This is at the New York's Times Square Tuesday night.

There was panic as New York Police Department tweeted "No active shooter. It was only the sound of a motorcycle exhaust backfiring."

Times Square is safe, but in the panic to escape nine people were hurt. The Broadway production of "To Kill a Mockingbird" was halted and theaters in the area went into lockdown.

At the Valley Fair Mall in Utah, the loud bang of a falling sign was enough to spark this stampede to the exit.

Compared to every other developed nation, Americans are more likely to be shot and killed by a stranger with an assault type fire arm at the mall, a concert, cinema, school, university, church, mosque, synagogue, bar, restaurant, a park, food festival, a workplace, anywhere.

This is a nation where bullet proof back packs are advertised as just another back to school supply and sales are blooming. Little wonder that Amnesty International is the latest to issue a travel advisory for the U.S.

People worldwide should exercise caution and have an emergency contingency plan when traveling throughout the U.S.A. This travel advisory is being issued in light of ongoing high-levels of gun violence in the country.

Juliette Kayyem is not only a CNN national security adviser, not only a former assistant to the Secretary of Homeland Security. She's also the author of "Security Mom: an unclassified guide to protecting our homeland your home".

So Juliette -- it's good to have you with us.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Thank you for having me.

VAUSE: Just ask me this -- how can this country even agree on the definition of a mass shooting. There's no official government count. There's no one taking records of this. How can you seriously tackle a problem you don't the basics like when and where and how often?

[01:35:04] KAYYEM: I mean it's inexcusable. There is no rational explanation for it. And when it came to the opioid crisis that we have -- the epidemic that we have here in the United States where it's like, you know, learning about one death there and death there.

And then not be able to see the big picture which is, you know, thousands of people are dying from drug overdoses. It's the same way with guns that if we view each of them separately we don't see gun violence as the, you know, high likelihood, high consequence event that we should be addressing.

VAUSE: And we also have this generation of kids who are now growing up --

KAYYEM: Yes.

VAUSE: -- in a school system where active shooter drills are normal. Children -- they're five or six years old are essentially told get ready kids because one day a bad man could come with a military type weapon. He's going to come to your schools for no other reason than to hunt you down and kill you. Let's just practice sitting quietly in a closet. This doesn't happen any other countries.

KAYYEM: I know. And it is one of the most, you know -- I have three kids who are now teenagers. So they're active shooter training. They go to urban high school but, you know, pretty serious, right, that you want things to -- they have to practice to get out of the school.

And I have to admit I sort of accept it now because the alternative, them not being prepared seems so pie in the sky. So I'm realistic because of the kind of school violence that we've seen.

And that's something that we now normalize the likelihood that one, if not many of us will be in an active shooter case and that is the fear in your lead up. That's the fear you're seeing in New York and these other places that it's no longer it could never happen here. It's literally oh, it's happening here this time.

VAUSE: And then every time there is one of these shootings, you know, wherever it might happen --

KAYYEM: Yes.

VAUSE: -- over at conservative media they bring out this asinine talking point about the good guy with the gun taking out the bad guy with the gun.

Listen to Sean Hannity on Fox News. This is just one day after the shooting in Dayton, Ohio.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: I'd like to see the perimeter of every school in America surrounded, secured by retired police. Have one armed guard on every floor of every school, all over every mall, the perimeter and inside every hall of every mall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: You know, I first heard this lunacy back in 1999. I was driving to Columbine after the shooting there. If only teachers were armed they could have and it could've taken out those boys.

Apart from being absolutely ridiculous, is that the type of society Americans want? Everyone armed and ready to kill and anyone who dies in the cross fire, well bad luck -- that's the price you pay for living the American dream?

KAYYEM: Right. And it's so crazy because when you actually think about it, if it were true that the more weapons in society had the safer it would be, we would be the safest country in the world. Because first, we have more weapons per individual than any other country.

It's asinine, I mean the idea that more guns help. And the truth is -- I mean this is the other aspect of it that we just saw this weekend.

It's not just any gun. I mean from just the perspective of what we're seeing right now we have weaponry that can just from what we can tell from the data killed ten people in less than 20 seconds with the most brilliant good guy response which is what we saw in Ohio where the first responders killed him in moments, right.

With the best response it doesn't matter. If a shooter can kill ten people in 20 seconds, you have no good guys. There's just simply no time.

And so while we have to talk about the ideology and guns and we also have to talk specifically about the kind of weaponry that's on the streets right now which kills dozens of people in literally moments.

VAUSE: I think the police response time in Dayton was somewhere around 30 seconds, you know.

KAYYEM: It's just ridiculous -- yes. I mean you just -- you don't get that. That's a good response and ten people died, right. I mean that's where we are right now.

VAUSE: And when the good guy came out and shot the bad guy with a gun, it was in Texas and someone screams at the church and even though the good guy was there 26 people were dead and that's considered a success.

KAYYEM: Yes. VAUSE: You know, there's been no shortage of recalcitrant lawmakers from both parties over the years who've refused to deal with this problem in a genuine and (INAUDIBLE) way.

Maybe we should listen to the kids like 11-year-old Ruben Martinez (ph) from El Paso. He was terrified after Saturday's shooting. His mom told him not to live in fear, that most people are caring and loving and maybe he could find a way to make El Paso a little better.

He came up with the El Paso challenge. El Paso challenge -- 22 random acts of kindness every day, one for each victim. He had to change the number because originally he had 20. He said he just wants everyone to be kind to each other all day every day.

It's pretty simple advice which seems to be lost during -- especially during this current administration.

KAYYEM: Right. And I think that they're related. And I've been saying this for the last couple of days. We are seeing in America that combination of course, of access to some kind of weaponry with a change in the ideological threat or the ideological threats or the ideological impetus for a lot of these killings such as white supremacy.

[01:40:01] In America you just believe that if you just look at the numbers, the numbers that we're seeing from the FBI, ISIS is not the predominant terrorist threat. Immigrants clearly are not the predominant terrorist threat. It is white supremacy.

And what you happening with the White House and certainly Donald Trump is a failure to address the systemic problem. Is it -- oh this one had mental health problems. Oh, this one tweeted about, you know, Elizabeth Warren. That's not the issue.

The overall issue is that we have to treat the rise of white supremacy as a community of ideologues that must be addressed holistically. The White House is failing to do that.

And by failing to do that they actually are embracing it because the white supremacist movement feels like it has a voice in the White House. It feels like when the President -- both sides these issues that they're given toward comfort and understanding and acceptance. And that's what breeds the violence.

And so I don't think that the President's words today sort of took back the white supremacy language that we heard him say from the teleprompter yesterday. And now put white supremacy in the litany of all sort of other ideologies that are violent as if they're all equal.

And that actually emboldened the white supremacy movement here in the United States. We've never seen anything like this in our modern era in which the major threat to American civilians is actually the community of ideologues are actually embraced by the White House.

And while I love the FBI and I love the local and state law enforcement, it's very hard to be very aggressive against the movement that the White House fails to acknowledge, fails to address and a fails to end.

VAUSE: I don't think there's been a time like this before in this country. And we'll see what happens.

Juliette -- thank you.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

VAUSE: The U.S. President has been quick to blame this epidemic of gun violence on mental health, video games, the Internet -- everything it seems except for guns. Most countries have mental health issues. Most countries have video games. Most countries have the Internet. What no other country has however is the staggering number of privately-owned fire arms. There are more guns in the U.S. than people.

Here's Tom Foreman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The American population stands at almost 330 million people but a recent study found Americans own ever more guns, north of 390 million. We're not talking about cops here or soldiers. We're talking about private citizens exercising their constitutional rights.

Which means Americans have almost half of all of the privately owned guns on the planet.

And gun rights advocates will say not only is it their right but it's a good idea. People need to defend themselves in a dangerous world. But another study found that in fact, your odds of getting shot and killed are higher in the United States than they are in any other big wealthy country.

Look at this. Yes, South America has problems but your odds are worst in the U.S. based on the studies than they are in all of Africa, all of Europe and almost all of Asia, too.

Now what's the real cause behind this? Some people are going to say what about violent video games.

Think about this. Japan actually spends more per gamer on video games than the United States does and yet rarely do they have even a dozen fatal shootings in the course of the year. That's how many the U.S. has in a matter of hours typically.

What about things like mental health care? The United States does lag behind some other nations in spending on mental health care but it's not the last and certainly there are people with mental health issues all over the planet.

What about divisive politics? Yes. politics have been very divisive here but so have they been in Germany and France and India and in Greece and in many other places as well.

The United States still stands alone among the big wealthy countries in terms of dealing with horrific levels of gun violence. So much for the Brady campaign says if you add up all of the crimes, the accidental shootings, and the suicides, there are more than 300 shootings every single day.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: The United States once had a nation-wide ban on civilians owning military-style firearms. But President George W. Bush allowed that law to expire 15 years ago. And since then there's been little enthusiasm by Republicans to revive it despite assault-style weapons being used in almost every mass shooting since.

That's mystifying to leaders in both Australia and New Zealand. Mass shootings there are rare but when a lone gunman killed 51 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch last March, New Zealand acted quickly to try to keep it from happening again.

Less than a week after the massacre, the prime minister announced a nationwide ban on all military style semi-automatic automatic weapons.

For Australia that moment was the Port Arthur massacre of 1996. 35 people lost their lives in that tragedy. The Australian government responded quickly by restricting ownership of many assault-style weapons and paid gun owners to turn them in. A nationwide gun buy- back scheme.

01:45:08] Former prime minister Kevin Rudd recently spoke to CNN about the impact that had on Australia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN RUDD, FORMER AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: As a friend and ally of the United States, I would just appeal to the President of the United States to demonstrate leadership by banning all semi automatic weapons in the United States of America.

We did that in Australia. In fact my conservative predecessor Mr. Howe (ph) did that and with bipartisan support from us. And it had a huge effect in Australia so far in frankly removing these mass shootings from our day to day, you know, political experience.

That needs to happen in America. Why on God's earth does anyone need a semi automatic weapon other than being a member of the United States military? There is no rational need for this, it should happen. I'd call on the President of the United States to take action.

I'm sick and tired of hearing American political leaders offering their thoughts and prayers. I go to church too. But you know something? A gun in church and praying is well and good but banning semi-automatic weapons, that's a real action. And that's what needs to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Former prime minister Kevin Rudd there.

And please join us at the top of the hour for a CNN Town Hall, Chris Cuomo hosts "AMERICA UNDER THE ASSAULT: THE GUN CRISIS" at 7:00 in the morning in London, 2:00 in the afternoon in Hong Kong right here on CNN, about 30 minutes from now.

Coming up, it was a murder that sparked calls for criminal justice reforms in the United States. Cyntoia Brown released after spending half her life in prison. Her remarkable story of redemption just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: A 31-year-old woman sentenced to life in prison for a murder she committed as a teenager walked out a prison in Tennessee on Wednesday.

As Rosemary Church reports, Cyntoia Brown's case focused national attention on sex trafficking victims and brought calls for criminal justice reform.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Cyntoia Brown was a victim long before she was a convict.

[01:49:54] An in-depth documentary first shed light on her sad story. It tells of a girl who was exploited, abandoned and abused. She said she was forced into prostitution by a pimp named Cut Throat, describes being sex trafficked at a young age and raped repeatedly.

In 2004 when she was 16 years old, Brown testified that she killed a 43-year-old man who had bought her for sex. The prosecution said it was pre-meditated. She shot him dead, took his wallet and fled the scene. Brown claimed she feared for her life.

CYNTOIA BROWN, VICTIM OF SEX TRAFFICKING: If he does something to me. I'm sitting here thinking what can I do?

CHURCH: Although a teenager at the time, a juvenile court found her confident to stand trial as an adult. She was sentenced to life in prison more than a decade ago.

Years after her conviction, the 2011 documentary revealed new evidence. Brown may have suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause brain damage, something the jury that convicted her never saw. Her biological mother also admitted to drinking heavily while pregnant.

Eventually, Brown attracted national attention after drawing support from celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian-West. Her story stirring debate about juvenile justice in the United States and the tragedy of human trafficking.

After Cyntoia and her legal team tried unsuccessfully to appeal her case, her fate was in the hands of the Tennessee governor, who granted her clemency in January when he commuted her case to parole.

HOUSTON GORDON, CYNTOIA BROWN'S ATTORNEY: Her story though is a story that should be a catalyst for a lot of others and also (ph) of other juveniles. We need to see this as a national awakening.

CHURCH: Now 31 years old, Brown walked free Wednesday for the first time in 15 years, after spending half her life behind bars. She says she now looks forward to helping other women suffering abuse and exploitation.

Rosemary Church, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back -- cue the music -- he went from KGB spy to Russian strongman. How the Kremlin has carefully crafted Vladimir Putin's image over the past 20 years.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: It's been 20 years since Vladimir Putin first stepped on to the world stage. Back then he was relatively unknown and untested. Much of his life spent in the shadows as a KGB spy. Today though he's one of the most recognized leaders on the planet.

CNN's Nathan Hodge looks back at two decades of Putin in power.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NATHAN HODGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was the question on everyone's mind at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2000.

[01:55:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is Mr. Putin?

HODGE: At the time, the world knew little about Vladimir Putin, the man who had unexpectedly become president on New Year's Eve 1999.

Putin had already drawn international attention, as former President Boris Yeltsin's Prime Minister with his tough talk on fighting domestic terrorists. But little was known about the man or his closely-guarded personal life.

Putin, a Leningrad native, entered politics after a career in the KGB -- the feared Soviet secret police. He worked as a spy in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

His first appearances on the international stage were not polished. In an early interview with CNN's Larry King, the new president almost seemed to smirk when he was asked about the tragic sinking of the Kursk -- a Russian military submarine.

LARRY KING, FORMER CNN HOST: You tell me what happened with the submarine?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): It sunk. HODGE: The Kremlin PR machine however was intent on remaking him.

State television portrayed him as a powerful leader, showing him in tightly-scripted appearances Russia's commander-in-chief.

And there's a figure on world's stage. Putin's image was carefully molded to portray him as the leader of resurgent country that had risen from its knees after the humiliating collapse of the Soviet Union, and its loss of superpower status.

And Putin's public image had no room for vulnerability. The Kremlin leader is portrayed in a range of guises -- as a man's man, as a defender of animals, and above all, as an almost sentimental patriot.

His tough authoritarian image was even envied by other aspiring leader. In 2013, Donald Trump wondered if Putin would become his, quote "best friend".

To many Russians, Putin has become the embodiment of Russia's national prestige, but the question remains, what comes after him, after two decades in power?

As thousands took to the street in Moscow in late July to call for free and fair elections, Putin was heading to the bottom of the sea in a submersible. That for some critics was a symbol of a powerful leader out of touch with his people.

Nathan Hodge, CNN -- Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Coming up Chris Cuomo hosts our "CNN TOWN HALL: THE GUN CRISIS". Please stay with us.

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