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At This Hour

President Biden Marks New Gun Safety Law At The White House; Hundreds March To Demand Answers On Uvalde Shooting; Demands For Monkeypox Vaccine Exceeds Available Supply. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired July 11, 2022 - 11:30   ET




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Claims for sport were to haunt. But let's look at the facts. Most common rounds fired from an AR-15 move almost twice as fast as that from a handgun.

Coupled with smaller lighter bullets, these weapons maximize the damage done coupled with those bullets, and human flesh and bones just tore apart.

And as difficult is to say, that's why so many people, in some in this audience, and I apologize for having to say need to provide DNA samples to identify the remains of their children. Think of that. It's why trauma surgeons trained for years for these moments.

Now, it's unlikely that someone's shot with a high-powered assault weapon will make it long enough for the ambulance to get them to the hospital.

It's why these scenes of destruction resemble nothing like a weekend hunting trip for deer or elk. And now we continue to let these weapons be sold to people with no training or expertise.

Case in point, America has the finest fighting force in the world. We provide our service members with the most lethal weapons on Earth to protect America.

We also require them to receive significant training before they're allowed to use these weapons. We require extensive background checks on them and mental health assessments on them.

Require that they learn how to lock up and store these weapons responsibly. We require a military to do all that. These are common- sense requirements.

But we don't require the same common-sense measures for a stranger walking into a gun store to purchase an AR-15 or some weapon like that. It makes no sense. Assault weapons need to be banned. They were banned.

I led the fight in 1994 and got under pressure from the NRA and the gun manufacturers and others that ban was lifted in 2004. In that 10 years, it was law, mass shootings went down but the law expired in 2004 and those weapons were allowed to be sold again, and mass shootings tripled.

They're the facts. I'm determined to ban these weapons again, and high-capacity magazines that hold 30 rounds and that lead mass shooters fire hundreds of bullets in a matter of minutes. I'm not going to stop until we do it.

Here's another thing we should do. We should add safe storage laws requiring personal liability for not locking up your gun. The shooter in Sandy Hook came from a home full of guns and assault weapons that were too easy to access.

Weapons he used to kill his mother and then murdered 26 people including 20 innocent first graders. If you own a weapon, you have a responsibility to secure it and keep it under lock and key.

Responsible gun owners agree no one else should have access to it so lock it up, and have trigger locks. And if you don't and something bad happens, you should be held responsible. I have four shotguns, two are mine, and two are my deceased sons.

They're locked up, lock and key. Every responsible gun owner that I know does that. We should expand background checks to better keep guns out of the hands of felons, fugitives, and those under domestic violence restraining orders.

Expanded background checks are something that the vast majority of Americans, including the majority of gun owners agree on.

My fellow Americans, none of what I'm talking about infringes on anyone's Second Amendment rights. I've said it many times I support the Second Amendment.

One, guns are the number one killer of children in the United States of America. Let me say it again. Guns are the number one killer of children in the United States more than car accidents, more than cancer.

And over the last two decades, more high school children have died from gunshots than on-duty police officers and active-duty military combined. Think of that.

Now we can't just stand by. We can't let it happen any longer. With rights come responsibilities. Yes, there's a right to bear arms but we also have a right to live freely without fear for our life in a grocery store, in a classroom, in a playground, in a house of worship, and a store, at a workplace, and nightclub, a festival, in our neighborhoods, in our streets.

The right to bear arms is not an absolute right to dominate all others. The parental pressure living in a community with others as being neighbors or being fellow citizens is that we obey the laws and customs and ensure that frame -- what the framers call domestic tranquility.


That's what civilization is. That's what we have been at our best. That's what America must always be, a place where we preserve the rights but fulfill our responsibilities.

I know this. There can be no greater responsibility than to do all we can to ensure the safety of our families, our children, and our fellow Americans.

When I spoke to the nation after Uvalde, I shared how a grandmother who'd lost her granddaughter gave me and Jill a handwritten letter, we spent four hours, almost five hours with them.

And I read it. It reads "a race, the invisible line that is dividing our nation to come up with a solution and fix what is broken, and to make the changes that are necessary to prevent this from happening again."

That's why we're here. That's why we're here. Today, I want to thank those in Congress, both Democrats, and Republicans, who raised that invisible line dividing our nation and moved us forward on gun safety.

It's an important step. And now, we must look forward. We have so much more work to do. And I might add the $75 million in there for mental health reasons, a whole range of other things.

I'm not going to take time to go into it today, but it's important.

May God bless all of us with the strength to finish the work left undone. And on behalf of the lives we've lost and the lives we can save, may God bless you all. And may God protect our troops. Thank you.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We've been listening -- we've been listening there to President Biden speaking at the White House at a very big event marking the bipartisan gun bill. Let me bring in CNN's Arlette Saenz who's live at the White House. She's been following this with us.

Arlette, the president going through in speaking to what this bill and this legislation and this effort aims to do, but also very quickly saying that he believes that there is much more to be done.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Yes. This was certainly a celebration of this bill that President Biden signed into law just a month ago that really represents the most impactful gun safety legislation in three decades. But President Biden was also very blunt in saying that there is still more work to be done.

The president ticked through some of the measures including in that legislation, including funding to implement red flag laws, as well as crisis prevention intervention programs, also closing the so-called boyfriend loophole, which will prevent those convicted of domestic violence from obtaining firearms, additionally includes mental health funding and enhances background checks for those between the ages of 18 and 21.

But President Biden once again returned to his desire for Congress to pass an assault weapons ban. That is something that he did as a senator, but for the time being those votes just simply are not there up on Capitol Hill.

Now, the president gathered activists as well as family members and survivors of so many mass shootings in this country dating all the way back to Columbine, including Parkland, Sandy Hook, most recently Uvalde, Buffalo, and then also that Highland Park shooting that happened just one week ago.

And in fact, there was a moment during the president's remarks where the father, Manuel Oliver who lost his son in the Parkland shooting stood up and voiced his belief that this bill that Congress has passed is simply insufficient.

Now, the president when he traveled to Uvalde, Texas, one thing he repeatedly heard from people in the crowd were these chants of, do something, and that is what he is trying to show today with these events after signing that legislation into law.

He says that there is still much more work to be done. But what Congress has passed in a bipartisan manner, a very rare bipartisan manner, he believes will save lives.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And we know that Manuel Oliver was on CNN earlier today, Arlette, and he made very clear that this bill he believes doesn't go far enough, also says he's been calling out even the idea of calling it a celebration.

SAENZ: Right.

BOLDUAN: Because obviously, he and so many others do not see there's anything to celebrate right now. It's good to see you, Arlette. Thank you so much for that. I really appreciate it.

Let's go from Washington now, let's go to Uvalde, Texas where hundreds of people took to the streets on Sunday to demand answers about that elementary school massacre that killed 19 young students and two teachers.

The president spoke about this massacre at the White House just moments ago. But also new this morning, the Texas State top law enforcement official is testifying once again before the Texas House committee investigating the police response to the attack.

Let's go to CNN's Rosa Flores. She's live in Uvalde with more on this. Rosa, what are you hearing about this testimony?


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am -- I believe we are having some technical difficulties. I hope you can hear me.

I'm actually in Austin at the Texas State Capitol just outside of the hearing room where top brass from Texas DPS including Colonel McCraw are tested -- are testifying today here in the Texas Legislature.

Now, this is the Texas investigative committee that is expected to release a report on the Uvalde shooting within 10 days.

Now, this is the second time that Colonel McCraw testifies. Now he just walked out of the room within the last half hour, I tried to catch up with him asked -- to ask him why he's testifying a second time.

He didn't answer that question. We do know that there's at least two other witnesses who are scheduled to testify today including the Uvalde County Sheriff, and also the assistant director of alert.

Now, that's the organization that released a review last week that raised a lot of red flags because that review included one police officer from Uvalde saying that, that officer had an opportunity to shoot the gunman before the gunman entered the school and that did not happen.

And so, Kate, we're here, we're waiting to hear what else we learned from this Texas Investigative Committee. And again, this report could be released within 10 days.

BOLDUAN: All right, we will see. Rosa, thank you so much for your reporting there. The Austin American-Statesman newspaper, it has reviewed the 77-minute surveillance video from inside Robb elementary school from the time that the gunman entered the school, to the moment that law enforcement finally breached the classroom door killing the shooter.

And moments ago, just before air, I spoke with a reporter who viewed this key piece of the timeline, all 77 minutes of the security camera footage that families of these victims have yet to see.

And joining me now is Tony Plohetski. He's the Austin American- Statesman reporter who watched this video. Tony, thank you for being here. So this is the video that the families of the victims, they all want to see, the video that the mayor and lawmakers want to have released. So what does this video show and what you've seen?

TONY PLOHETSKI, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN: I think it is as wrenching as people probably suspect it would be, it's 77 minutes and you actually see the gunman entering the campus and entering the school, walking down a hallway armed with his AR-15.

And then you hear a hail of gunfire as he enters the classroom. About two and a half minutes later, you do see a group of law enforcement officers enters the same hallway.

They actually proceed down to that room and there is an exchange of gunfire at that point. And you see the police officers actually getting blown back, one of them actually touches his head, I think he believes that maybe he has been injured.

But then over the next more than an hour, you see on this video police officers converging on the scene, arming themselves more and more with helmets, with assault rifles, with ballistic shields, and even with tear gas canisters, but essentially they stand there for an hour as these minutes ticked by.

And ultimately, it's not until 12:50. Keep in mind that the gunman entered the school at 11:33 a.m. It's not until 12:50 that we then see those police officers move to that classroom, breach the door, and take down the gunman.

BOLDUAN: And, Tony, one dispute has been what agencies were present in the hallway? Not just who's in charge, but who all was even there? What tactical gear did they have when they had it? What does this security video show and clarify?

PLOHETSKI: It shows that there were local officers from the Uvalde police department, from the Uvalde School District Police Department, from the Uvalde County Sheriff's Office, but also in addition to that, we know that federal agents were on the scene as well and also the Texas Department of Public Safety you see some of their uniforms and some of their patches as well.

So, really, Kate, this just totally continues to intensify questions about the overall response that awful day.

BOLDUAN: We have one still image that your paper published.


BOLDUAN: I want to focus in on. The caption to this picture that you put out was a security camera at Uvalde's Robb Elementary Schools shows officers arriving at the school with rifles and at least one ballistic shield at 11:52 a.m., 19 minutes after the entrance of the gunman who killed 19 fourth-graders and two teachers.


This is what we were just speaking to, but just why this is critical and important to the timeline, and quite honestly, the finger-pointing that has ensued after the fact?

PLOHETSKI: Well, and that photograph was taken at 11:52. But again, we know as the time ticked away, more and more protective equipment, and more firepower was entering that hallway.

Again as to why it was handled the way it did and why the police did not move with a greater sense of urgency? I don't think we've gotten to the truth of that yet. As you mentioned, there is a lot of finger- pointing going on. I think that different agencies are trying to protect their own reputation.

For example, we know that the sheriff of Uvalde County, according to the chairperson, the chairman of a Texas House committee investigating the shooting, that the sheriff didn't even want to testify, even privately to this committee, this Investigative Committee.

We know that today he is set to do that but that testimony will be private. So it'll be some time before we hear his perspective, once a final report is released. But again, I think just as this video, once it is finally made public, it's going to be very disturbing to many people, and I think really deepens the tragedy that happened that day.

BOLDUAN: It will supply a critical piece of this tragedy, which is what happened and when very distinctly because that, as we know, from the minutes and days following the shooting had been wildly confusing.

I mean, the 77-minute recording now has become at the center of this battle over just very simply how much information should be released to the public at all.

And you talk about the sheriff, but you now have a confusing fight between the mayor, the local DA, the state law enforcement agencies, state lawmakers, and then, of course, the families caught in the middle of this over what the public is going to see. Is it clear to you why they are not releasing it?

PLOHETSKI: It's not. I mean, there are reasons being given from all perspectives here. I think notably, the Texas Department of Public Safety said in writing and a publicly released letter late last week that they're in favor of releasing it, that they believe that it would promote transparency.

And in addition to that, and I thought this was a striking thing to say, they don't believe that it would in any way impede the investigation into what happened.

To be clear, they are pointing the finger three hours away at the Uvalde county district attorney saying that she is the one who doesn't want it released.

She has made no public statements about why that may be if that is in fact the case, why she does not believe it should be released. So again, a lot of finger-pointing back and forth about whether or not it will be released and when it will be released.

To be clear, the Texas DPS could release all of the information that they have in their possession. There's nothing in Texas law preventing them from doing that. They could make that decision themselves.

However, it is customary here in Texas for police to defer to prosecutors, when in fact that there is a question about the release of information.

BOLDUAN: Yes. A mess compounding the tragedy and the school year is fast approaching now. Tony, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.

PLOHETSKI: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: We'll be right back.


[11:54:04] BOLDUAN: New this morning. You're looking at long lines that we're showing you here of people in New York City trying to get a monkeypox vaccine. The city is facing a growing public health crisis here from the rapidly spreading virus and the demand for the vaccine right now, exceeding the available doses.

Joining me now for more on this, and what to watch for, CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen. It's good to see you, Doctor Wen. You say there are two problems with monkeypox and the response to the outbreak so far as we've seen it, what do you see here?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: The problems that we're seeing with the monkeypox response are actually reminiscent of the early missteps around COVID and it's very disappointing that we haven't learned our lesson.

I think the first and most important mistake is the lack of testing. And this is particularly an issue with monkeypox because early on in the course of somebody's exposure, there's actually something that can be done in order to prevent them from proceeding to more severe elements.

So, for example, if somebody was exposed within four days, if they're able to get tested and find out them -- and find out that they have -- that they may be exposed or they have -- they know their contact is exposed, or their contact has monkeypox, if they're able to get the vaccine, they're able to prevent from even getting monkeypox.


Within 14 days, it could reduce the severity of their symptoms. And so the under-testing really has severe consequences when it comes to having much more spread that we can actually control and when it comes to preventing people from developing more severe symptoms later on.

BOLDUAN: There's also speak to kind of at least a slow rollout of what is an available vaccine, which is different, obviously, from what we were dealing with when it came to COVID.

You would think that with the availability of a readily -- somewhat readily available vaccine, that they could get control of it really quickly. I mean what do you see with that?

WEN: Well, that's exactly right. I know that the vaccine supply is being ramped up but this is a major problem. But again, comes down to the issue primarily, first and foremost of testing because right now we have less than a thousand confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S. but the number may actually be five times that number.

If we know who has monkeypox, then we're able to trace their contacts and have a much more limited number of people that we're giving the vaccine. But because of the lack of testing, we have to assume that a much larger sample of individuals may be at risk.

And we just don't have enough vaccines for that entire number and so we have to fix the vaccine problem. But ultimately, I believe this is a problem with the lack of testing.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, this does not spread like COVID. It is not -- this is a very -- this is a very different virus. So at this point, who should be concerned about this? And what do people need to be watching for as there is concern that the government is kind of losing the fight to kind of get their arms wrapped around this?

WEN: Right. So individuals should be looking out for symptoms like fever, lymph node swelling, and most importantly, these blisters or lesions that may resemble pimples that may occur in different parts of the body.

Certainly, if you are an individual exposed to someone you know has monkeypox, you have to get tested immediately, and you need to try to get the vaccine as quickly as possible.

Also, if you're somebody who is a man who have sex with men, and if you have other exposures to communities where monkeypox is more prevalent, you should also be particularly on the lookout.

But again, underscores the need for having testing readily available, and then also having a broad vaccination campaign.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Lessons as they're dealing with this out -- this outbreak with the monkeypox virus here. But also, this applies to abroad lessons that still need to be learned, post-COVID of pandemic preparedness or just purely outbreak and epidemic preparedness. It's good to see you, Dr. Wen, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

And thank you all so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR. INSIDE POLITICS begins after a quick break.