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5 Major Retailers Asking Customers Not to Carry Guns; Buttigieg Gets Grilled on the "Breakfast Club"; Charlamagne Tha God Talks to Buttigieg on Polls, Dates, Race; New Evidence Related to Weapon Used in West Texas Killings; CDC: 450-Plus Cases of Possible Vaping Illness Across 33 States. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired September 6, 2019 - 14:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: But in the wake of recent mass shootings in this country, some major U.S. retailers are stepping up where politicians apparently fear to tread.

Earlier this week, Walmart and Kroger announced they're asking customers to refrain from openly carrying firearms in all of their stores. And at least three more retailers are jumping on the bandwagon, Walgreens, CVS and Wegman's.

CNN business and politics correspondent, Cristina Alesci, is with me on these CEOs leading the way.

We were just talking this week about Walmart and how they've written to the letter to -- the CEO -- to lawmakers and now all these businesses following suit. Is this a watershed moment?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: I think it's a turn point because I've reported on retailers in the last couple of years that have moved to ban open carry in their stores. But once Walmart came out on Wednesday, boom, we saw Kroger, the next day Walgreens, CVS, and there was another one as well.

BALDWIN: Wegman's.

ALESCI: And so it was -- it happened very quickly.

Now, to be clear, these companies wouldn't be doing it unless they thought it would benefit them and it made sense from a business standpoint.


ALESCI: There seems to be a shift from customers and from employees who want to feel safe in the stores and do not want firearms around. One of the anti -- or gun safety groups, rather, said that 45 percent of Americans would be more likely to purchase products or services from a company whose CEO spoke in favor of more gun safety legislation. BALDWIN: I'm look at you, thinking of Congress and they go back to

work next week, and I'm thinking of your reporting on this Walmart CEO sending this letter to Congress. What was the message to them?

ALESCI: The message is this is something that customers and employees want. We want to see action.

One of the things the company will have to do is send a clear message on the ground. They'll have to put signage at the front of the stores to say leave your firearms at home. They'll have to train employees on how to deal with situations when customers come in and they don't want to leave their firearm behind. So symbolically, it's very important.

And then, as you point out, legislation. The CEOs are saying we want better background checks and perhaps Congress should debate the reauthorization of the assault weapons ban.


ALESCI: These are specific policies that the CEOs are coming out and talking about.

BALDWIN: CEOs and business leaders leading the charge.

Cristina, thank you very much for the updates

ALESCI: Thank you.

BALDWIN: -- on those additional businesses.

Coming up next, I will talk to Charlamagne Tha God who just talked to Mayor Pete Buttigieg on how he answered blunt questions this morning at The Breakfast Club about polls, and debates, and race.



BALDWIN: South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg making another pitch to African-Americans today. Democratic presidential candidate has struggled to gain traction with black voters. And today Buttigieg made another stop on the nationally sinned indicated show "The Breakfast Club." The show has become a must stop for presidential hopefuls looking to connect with African-American voters.

Today, Buttigieg defended his handling of a policing crisis in South Bend and criticism he hasn't done enough to improve the lives as African-Americans as mayor.


LENARD MCKELVEY, A/K/A CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, CO-HOST, THE BREAKFAST CLUB: They say you struggle with black voters. It says for a number of reasons. I've seen black people question your record as mayor of South Bend, Indiana. I read it and I said, in South Bend, African-Americans do worse in the

city in school and college and they suffer higher rates of unemployment and poverty, and as mayor you haven't focused on addressing those Problems. Why didn't you put that focus on those things?

PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D), SOUTH BEND MAYOR AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, it's absolutely true that the numbers demonstrate in South Bend, just like in the country, it's a worse experience for black residents. You look at employment, housing health, and it is worse.

A mayor's not going to solve these issues overnight that. Doesn't mean we don't work on it. So if the test is, did you fix racism and poverty and crime, of course not. But if the test is, did we work on these things and get somewhere, then I believe we have a lot to talk about in terms of how we've handled this in South Bend.


BALDWIN: With me now is Charlamagne Tha God, co-host of "The Breakfast Club," who we just heard asking Pete Buttigieg about criticism that he has not done enough to improve the lives of African- Americans in South Bend, Indiana.

Charlamagne, nice to have you on.

MCKELVEY: Thanks for having me, Brooke.

BALDWIN: You did not go easy on him and said could have done better in some of the debate performances. How did he do this morning on the show?

MCKELVEY: I think he always done good in settings where he's able to have long-form conversation. Like, you know, where he's able too just get all his thoughts out in a real -- he's always articulate but in a more developed manner, I guess. We're not rushing him.

When he's on the debate stage, it's 60 seconds and he feels like he has to get things out. He's not a confrontational person. You have to be aggressive. I don't think he's that guy thought.

BALDWIN: It sounds like you're a fan. Listening to -- he is -- do you believe what the only current presidential candidate who really has the best agenda for black America, does that include the black candidates as well?

MCKELVEY: Yes, because Mayor Pete has laid out agendas specifically for black people. It's the Douglas plan. It's not like the rising tide lifts all boats. This is no, something was systematically was done to black people to put them in this bad situation and something needs to be done to put them out. He's put that together with the Douglas plan. It's not the greatest plan, but it's good.

BALDWIN: He's had such a tough time attracting black voters.


BALDWIN: Why do you think that is and why do you like him so much?


MCKELVEY: I think it's because if you look at his record in South Bend as mayor, a lot of people don't feel like did he a lot for African-Americans there. If you're not doing a lot pore African- Americans in the town that you're in --


BALDWIN: How are you going to be the president of the country.

MCKELVEY: We know we're in dream selling season right now.

BALDWIN: Dream selling season.

MCKELVEY: Everybody's telling us what we want to hear.

You get on a platform and you say you want to do this for black people and that for black people, I don't know if we necessarily believe you. That's why we're giving him a chance to explain.

BALDWIN: Why do you believe him?

MCKELVEY: I'm not saying I do. I'm just saying it sounds good, you know. He's a politician at the end of the day. I don't believe any of these things that they say. Actions speak louder than words.


MCKELVEY: Only actions I have to go on is what you did in South Bend as mayor. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt because I'm not going to sit home in 2020 and not vote.

BALDWIN: And he talked about being a white candidate, knowing that white Americans should be allies with black Americans. And you gave props for that. You also had a conversation just about is America even ready for a gay president? What do you think?

MCKELVEY: I mean, America, they didn't think America was ready for a black president. They didn't think America was ready for a woman president. We ended up having a woman as the Democratic nominee for president and she had more of the popular vote. So I think they might be a little bit more ready than we think they are.

But I like -- I like the gay angle. I like the fact that he's gay because I know that he understands oppression and I know that he understands marginalization, even though he's a white man, he has a certain sense of privilege. At least he knows what it feels like to an extent. Not to the extend the of what it is to be black, but he feels it to an extent.

BALDWIN: I wanted to ask you, too -- because the jobs numbers came out today and they were positive. Whether or not you're a fan of Donald Trump's, you know, when you look at what happened, black unemployment fell to a record law in august, to the number of black women on the job, can you argue with those numbers?

MCKELVEY: No. But I don't have the luxury of being a one-issue voter that can say at least the economy's great, at least black people have jobs.

No, I feel like the soul of the country needs to change in 2020. When you end up with the regime with the president that's a fascist, it's going to be black and brown people because we always get the shortened of the stick in America. I don't want to be under a regime like that.

When you look at Trump, it's like OK, who's next to be in those cages? It's not going to be people that look like you. Probably people that look like me. So jobs aren't enough.

BALDWIN: I hear you.

You mentioned the country and someone who said that over and over in stump speeches and in his initial campaign video is the frontrunner, Joe Biden. And he is the frontrunner, perhaps, in part, because of his support of African-Americans in this country. I know you talked to depending on maybe it's generational or older folks.



MCKELVEY: Because he was the vice president to the first black president. I think it's more bro than anything. When I look at Joe Biden and I look at the '94 crime bill and the '88 crack laws, like that's not being in support of African-Americans at all.

BALDWIN: But he has support among black Americans. And I'm curious with you guys, because you're like the go-to spot for a lot of these candidates. We know Joe Biden's been in New York. When is he on your show?

MCKELVEY: Joe Biden has offered to send his surrogate. That tells me a lot about what Joe Biden thinks about our audience.

I think Joe Biden might be suffering from that same white entitlement and privilege and ego where he's just that old-school white male who feels like hey, man, they need me, I don't need them. Or, I got them already. So, yes, my surrogate, my black male surrogate, you go talk to them. That's not respect.

BALDWIN: Would you like to have him on if he offered?

MCKELVEY: Yes, absolutely.

BALDWIN: What's your number-one question for him?

MCKELVEY: I got questions about the old things. I got questions about the '94 -- '94 crime bill. I got questions about, you know, the '88 crack law. I got questions about, given were at Strom Thurman's funeral. I want to know why you thought these segregationists were great.

We all evolve, we all grow, and we all can learn from our mistakes, I just haven't heard him say that those things were mistakes yet. Why? Because that's that white male entitlement privilege and ego that's been the detriment to all of us in this country for a long time, not just black and brown people, women too.


MCKELVEY: Those are the people that historically kept their foot on our necks. I look at him when I look at him, that's what I see. I would like to crack that shell, so to speak.

Simone Sanders, she knows where to find us.

BALDWIN: She seriously does.

I appreciate all the conversations you guys are having.

Charlamagne, thank you very much.

MCKELVEY: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Appreciate it.

We continue on breaking news on the mass shooting in west Texas from over the weekend. New details today about who sold the weapon that was used to kill seven people.


Plus, an American Airlines mechanic accused of sabotaging a plane with 150 people on board. The question is why?



BALDWIN: Just into CNN, new details involving the rampage in west Texas that spanned Midland to Odessa. Seven people were murdered and another 25 were injured.

And now there's new information about the man who allegedly sold that gun used in the killing spree. The shooter who was shot and killed by police purchased the weapon in a private sale so no background check was needed. Police say the gunman used an A.R.-15 style weapon.

Let's go straight to our senior justice correspondent, Evan Perez, with these new details.

We know, Evan, investigators have been looking at the home of the man they believe sold the gun. What did they find?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: They did a search of the home belonging to the seller, Brooke, and one of the things they found is they believe they found evidence that indicates that this person was manufacturing firearms and reselling them.

Now, that could potentially be against the law because you're not allowed to make and sell firearms like a firearms dealer without a license. And so that's where investigators now are looking and are working to see whether or not they can bring charges against this individual.

But, you know, this really points to a gaping hole in the background check system in this country. Because, as you pointed out, this is a private sale so there was no background check done. And law enforcement has been asking for a universal background check law for years and years.

And I think this is an example of where you have a loophole, you know, gray market, so to speak. People buy these what's called lower receivers and they add things to it and then they resell it for profit. That's potentially against the law.

I they can bring a case against this individual, we can probably see some charges against him in the coming days or weeks.

BALDWIN: We'll look for that potentially then.

Evan Perez, thank you so much. Good to see you.

PEREZ: Thanks.

BALDWIN: U.S. health officials growing even more concerned about vaping. We have just learned that there are at least 450 possible cases of lung disease that could be connected to vaping. What is being done to address this growing problem? We'll talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta about that, next.

And we're getting reports of people trapped in North Carolina has floodwaters are rising from Dorian. They are about to airlift folks, so stand by for news there.



BALDWIN: Federal health officials just announced they are now confirming three deaths related to vaping. They're investigating a fourth. Plus, the number of cases of lung illnesses linked to vaping has skyrocketed to at least 450 across 33 states.

As the CDC releases thee details, New York state health officials have a key focus on what could be what's making people so sick.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is our medical doctor here on CNN.

Sanjay, I keep seeing all those vaping stories. Before we even get into this mystery chemical, what is making so many people so sick?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it's a real medical investigation, Brooke. You have these people who are typically young and healthy and then develop a series of symptoms, right? They've not had these types of symptoms before, the coughing, fever, sick enough to actually be hospitalized, as you mentioned. At least three associated deaths.

They -- when they go back and look at these folks and say what are they all share in common, that's when they found the association with vaping and that's when they start to zero in on the substances that people are actually vaping. Is it within the vape that's causing this?

But keep in mind, it's pretty frightening, right? So you've not had a medical problem or any kind of medical illness up to this point, you vape and you develop these severe symptoms that's leading to what you're seeing there.

BALDWIN: Is it this chemical?

GUPTA: It's called Vitamin E acetate. It's Vitamin E. It's something that people can take as a supplement and rub on their skin and, in those ways, it's completely safe.

The concern here, Brooke, it's kind of an oily, greasy substance. If you vaporize Vitamin E and it vaporized all of these compounds, you get it into your lungs, what are those compounds and what happens when it starts to turn back into that oily, greasy form now within your lungs? Could that be causing the problem?

They have found these samples -- they have found Vitamin E acetate in many of these samples. It's not something that's necessarily approved or regulated for vaping devices. Interestingly, it was found almost exclusively in THC and cannabis-type vaps, not nicotine. That's another clue they'll be looking at.

At you mentioned, Brooke, New York State so far but the feds are involved now as many states around the country, many people around the country have been affected.

BALDWIN: What should people who vap take away from this be?

GUPTA: This is happening real time, right, Brooke? What we're dealing with is there's not a lot of precedent for this thing.

I thought it was interesting the CDC, as part of their briefing today, they also said, until a definitive cause -- I want to get the language right - "Until a definitive cause is known, people should consider not using e-cigarettes."


OK. So it's a huge industry. A lot of people obviously use them. What they're basically raising the flag on, they're saying, look, something's happening, we haven't quite figured it out, but it's serious. Until we figure it out, stay away from the stuff. That's what they're saying.