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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Questions Emerge About What Happened During The Approx. Hour Gunman Was Inside The School; Buffalo Shooter Evaded New York Red Flag Law; N.Y. Governor Proposes Stricter Gun Laws In Wake Of Mass Shootings; New York Attorney General Accuses NRA Of Tax Fraud; CNN Goes Into Trenches On The Front Line With Ukraine's Army; Sen. Warnock Urges "Pro-Life" Colleagues To Enact Gun Laws; GOP's Sen. McConnell Says He Directed Sen. Cornyn Of Texas To Engage With Dems About A "Bipartisan Solution" On Gun Violence; California Implements Statewide Water Restrictions. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 26, 2022 - 17:00   ET



LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nine-year-old Ellie Garcia was just a week from her 10th birthday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sweetest girl you've ever had a chance to meet.

KAFANOV (voice-over): Ten-year-old Nevaeh Bravo, her first name spelled backwards is heaven. Angels now to their families, 19 children and two teachers. This is the pain of their loss.

ANGEL GARZA, RAISED AMERIE JO GARZA: How do you look at this girl and shoot her?

KAFANOV (voice-over): Angel Garza who raised Amerie Jo Garza wants you to know that she tried to call 911 to save her classmates and teachers.

GARZA: She was the sweetest little girl who did nothing wrong. She listened to her mom and dad. She always brushed her teeth. She was creative. She made things for us. She never gotten in trouble in school.

KAFANOV (voice-over): Lexi Rubio loves sports. And at just 10 years old, she dreamed of traveling the world.

FELIX RUBIO, LEXI RUBIO'S FATHER: She wanted to go to Australia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She wanted to go to Australia.

KIMBERLY RUBIO, LEXI RUBIO'S MOTHER: She wanted to go to law school.


K. RUBIO: Yes. At St. Mary's, because it's (INAUDIBLE).

KAFANOV (voice-over): Jackie Cazares' father Jacinto, called her a firecracker, posting his range of emotion. First, at the freaking cowardly way his daughter was killed, it hurts to our souls. Then a note to his daughter, "Be in peace with the rest of the angels, sweetheart. Baby girl, we all love you with all our hearts."

At a community vigil last night in Uvalde, the dead are mourned. They include teacher Irma Garcia, who was in her fifth-year teaching alongside Eva Mireles. Both died their family say shielding students from gunfire.

Not lost here, the Children's still being treated in the hospital. A pediatric trauma director describes them as critical but stable, wishing there were more lives she could save.

DR. LILLIAN LIAO, UNIVERSITY HEALTH PEDIATRIC TRAUMA DIRECTOR: I think that's what hit us the most not of the patients that we did receive, we are honored to treat them, but the patients that we did not receive, that is the most challenging aspect of our job right now.

KAFANOV (voice-over): The Flores family was among those who rushed to hospitals in search of their children. It was there that Jose Flores, Sr. lived the moment that would befall 21 families in this close knit community.

JOSE FLORES, SR., FATHER: So I didn't get to hold him no more. I didn't get to see him no more.


KAFANOV: And Jake, so much grief loss and frankly trauma for everyone involved those who lost their lives the families and those who are recovering in the hospital. Yesterday we told you four patients remain here at University Health. We know one of them now from authorities is 66-year-old Celia (ph), the gunman's grandmother who was shot in the face, she remains in serious condition.

And those three little girls are still being treated we know now large -- they're being described as destructive wounds, large areas of their body missing -- large areas of tissue missing from the body. I know that sounds graphic but that is the reality that the trauma surgeons at University Health are dealing with, that these families are dealing with and that these little girls will be dealing with as they recover, not just from your physical scars, but the emotional ones as well. Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Lucy Kafanov in San Antonio, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

New Video shows parents yelling -- sorry. New Video shows parents yelling, screaming at law enforcement officers, begging for them to do something, anything while the gunman was inside the elementary school in Uvalde on Tuesday. I want to play some of the video for you. Just a warning, it is difficult to watch.

CNNs Ed Lavandera is in Uvalde where investigators are trying to pin down exactly what played out at the school.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two days after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary, the story of what happened when the gunman arrived on the campus has fundamentally changed.

VICTOR ESCALON, SOUTH TEXAS REGIONAL DIRECTOR, TX DEPT. OF PUBLIC SAFETY: There's a lot of possibilities. I don't have enough information to answer that question just yet.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The new details revealed in a bewildering press conference with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you explain to us how he was barricade?

ESCALON: I hear you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we've been given a lot of bad information, so why don't you clear all of this off?

LAVANDERA (voice-over): As parents arrived at the scene of the shooting at Robb Elementary --

DEREK GONAZALEZ, PARENT: Like shooting and shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hitting the dirt on the floor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bullets were hitting -- close bullets from where?

GONZALEZ: I guess he was coming from the school this way.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): They were frustrated, police wouldn't let them help save their children despite safety procedures that keep people away from an active crime scene.

GONZALEZ: Dads were screaming like, give me the vest, I'll go inside. People are just -- they wanted to get inside and get their kids.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): According to investigators, the gunman walked in unobstructed and was inside the school for almost an hour before police forced their way into a classroom and killed him.

ESCALON: He went in at 11:40. He walks and I'm going to approximate 20 feet -- 30 feet, he makes a right. He walked into the hallway, he makes a right, walks another 20 feet, turns left into a schoolroom, into a classroom that has doors open in the middle.

LT. CHRIS OLIVAREZ, T.X. DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: We estimate anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour. So we're also trying to establish also as far as how far with those officers inside the school.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): There was a standoff for close to half an hour after he fired on students and teachers at the school according to Congressman Tony Gonzales, who was briefed on the timeline. OLIVAREZ: As that gunman entered the school way into that hallway of the school, those police officers also follow right behind that shooter. At that point there was gunfire exchanged.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): They were frustrated police wouldn't let them help save their children despite safety procedures that keep people away from an active crime scene. In all more than 100 federal officers responded to the shooting in addition to local police, for one young third grader hiding from the gunman it seemed like even more.

CHANCE AGUIRRE, 3RD GRADER, ROBB ELEMENTARY: What we saw were 1000s of police and orbital coming in to the cafeteria. And we were all hiding behind the stage in the cafeteria when it happened.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The Uvalde school district did have a safety plan with a system in place to provide a safe and secure environment, 21 measures including a locked door policy.

OLIVAREZ: We're still trying to establish if there was any type of locking mechanisms on the doorway from the inside of the classroom because the gunman was able to barricade himself.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The timeline of the massacre begins at 11:21 Tuesday morning. According to text messages, Ramos told a friend he shot his grandmother and was heading to an elementary school. At 11:28 he is close to the school.

ESCALON: He walks around he sees two witnesses at the funeral home across the street from where he wrecked. He engages in fires towards them.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Authorities say he climbed a fence giving few details but revising earlier reports that he engaged with the school resource officer as he entered the campus. At 11:40, they say he was able to enter the school through an unlocked back door.

OLIVAREZ: He walked in undisrupted, initially. He was not confronted by anybody to clear the record on that.


LAVANDERA: And Jake, what is really frustrating families here in Uvalde is just the dramatically changing storylines of what investigators are saying at this point. Many people just clearly want answers.

And the still outstanding question right now is from 11:44 on Tuesday morning to 12:44 when the ordeal inside the school ended, what exactly was happening during that time? What were officers doing? At one point DPS officials said today that they were bringing in SWAT team members, tactical teams and negotiators. Questions like, why were they trying to negotiate with an active shooter? Jake.

TAPPER: Lots of questions. Ed Lavandera, thanks so much.

Joining us now Phil Mudd. He's a former CIA Analyst and is a CNN Counterterrorism Analyst and retired Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey who served for the L.A. Police Department.

Phil, let me start with you. I'm want to run through what we know of the day. 11:28, the gunman crashes his car, 11:40 a.m. the gunman gets into the school, 11:44 a.m. law enforcement, quote, make entry, they go into the school too. Now, after that there's more than an hour gap where officers say they were calling for backup, they were evacuating other kids. At 1:06 p.m. the attack is reported to be over.

So 90 minutes from the start of the attack until the shooter is dead. And it doesn't seem as though they breached the classroom where the shooter was with these kids until the very end. Does it sound normal to you?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: It sounds like a long period of time. Look, one of the questions I'd have is whether the reports of people who went in there, the SWAT team members are consistent. One of the reasons we might not be getting good answers on why it took so long is classic that is there'll be inconsistencies among unreliable witnesses.

But the side-by-side question, Jake, that we haven't talked about as you've got that timeframe, that time gap, I want to know what the training was for responding to active shooter and whether the actions of the individuals who went in did what they were required to do under training or else whether that gap was a result of them not applying their training. So there's the gap and whether that gap corresponds to what they've been told to do and training exercises. Jake, we just don't know the answer that yet.

TAPPER: And Sergeant, correct me if I'm wrong, but after Columbine police protocol changed. It used to be the tradition that if there was an active shooter, police would wait it out, try to negotiate, et cetera, but after Columbine the guidance changed and police were supposed to just go in, go in and stop the shooter. That does not appear to be what happened here. Tell me if I'm wrong here?


CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED LAPD POLICE SERGEANT: Well, listen, I think part of the problem is, is that we assume when we talk about police departments that we're talking about large agencies, and we understand now that training is not uniform, it's not standardized. And I've heard reports that this is a very small department in Uvalde. I think, six officers, and that includes the police chief and a couple of detectives. And so, Lord only knows what kind of training they may have had.

And so, note to self-police departments going forward. While you may not have had a murder in your town or you may have never dealt with an active shooter, you absolutely need to be proactive in your training and make sure that your officers know how to respond. It sounds like they were relying on the response and assistance of nearby agencies to do this very delicate, tactical work that required as a result of this shooting.

TAPPER: Phil, what questions do you still have about this investigation? Obviously, the shooting was just two days ago. What more are you wondering about that we haven't found out in terms of the actual shooter?

MUDD: Boy, there's a lot that people aren't talking about that occurs to me after all the cases I watched. Think of a human being, an individual in the middle of a spider web, that spider web is what we used to call in the business a pattern of life. That pattern of life in this case includes, were there signs to the family? I've heard very little about what the family has said to investigators and what they think we've heard more about friends.

Let me give you another one, what his search patterns were on the internet and whether those search patterns changed over time. We don't know that.

Let me give you a big one that's answered. This individual on his 18th birthday, this individual who evidently was not doing well in school and dropped out of a Wendy's had enough money to buy two weapons and to buy a whole boatload of ammunition, who gave him the money? What was the intent behind providing that money? And did that person or persons know anything about what he was going to do with that money?

Boy, there's a lot of stuff building pattern of life, that web of life around this, the shooter that we don't know yet, Jake.

TAPPER: Sergeant, the gunman had no prior criminal history, no known mental health history, he just turned 18, he legally bought his two AR-15 style rifles. His grandfather said he didn't know that he had guns. Would a red flag law, would a stricter background check have stopped this?

DORSEY: Well, if the information was known, and while the grandfather may not have known, I would imagine the grandmother who got shot in the face by this individual knows that he has some issues with anger management. Where are the parents in all of this?

And while, you know, there is no record of criminality and no reports of mental illness, I don't think that's a factor. I can imagine that there are certainly plenty of instances of him being incorrigible, him not having any respect for authority, he dropped out of school. And so somewhere, there needs to be a list now made of folks like that who don't rise to the level of criminality or insanity, but certainly would give background investigators pause before they just give them to ARs and a boatload of ammunition to go out to the public.

TAPPER: Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey, Phil Mudd, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

A few 100 miles away from the massacre in Uvalde, the NRA convention is set to start tomorrow with some high-profile politicians in attendance.



GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): Am I supposed to just leave all the flags at half-mast?


TAPPER: The New York governor will join us talking about her plan for combating gun violence.

And a live look at the 21 wooden crosses now standing outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde representing the 21 lives cut short by that gunman. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Topping our politics lead, in New York Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul is proposing a slew of new actions to affect the state's gun laws, including raising the legal age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21. Governor Hochul was also proposing state police do daily check ins at schools until the end of the school year. The governor says it's time to harness the anger and pain and act.


HOCHUL: I'm asking myself as governor, am I supposed to just leave all the flags at half-mast? They're still at half-mast from Buffalo.


TAPPER: And New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, joins us now.

Thanks for joining us, Governor. So, let me ask you about the fact that New York State has a red flag law on the books but it willfully failed to be used to stop the Buffalo shooter before his deadly rampage. The school, his family, law enforcement, mental health clinicians, no one escalated their concerns about this young man by going to a court even though there were concerns he had written about a murder homicide. There's a report that he decapitated the family cat.

What needs to change? I mean, you had that law, it's obviously not your fault, but the law was there, it could have been used and yet it wasn't.

HOCHUL: Jake, you're absolutely right. You know, we're watching the stories of parents who are, in disbelief, are in shock and his parents were just so stunned along with them that this could happen to little 10-year-old girl also happened in Buffalo to my neighbors. We're still bearing people from the Buffalo massacre that happened 10 minutes from where I live.


Yes, we are examining every element of the investigation. The federal government has taken over the investigation to find out what happened, why the red law -- red flag law wasn't activated in this case, because there was evidence that surfaced later. So, that is a shortcoming. But also, this individual would not have been able to have this mass execution if he wasn't able to get his hands-on high capacity magazine cartridges literally across the border in Pennsylvania from where he lives.

So, we also have to focus on what's going on nationally. We can pass all the laws we want to protect people. And we're also have to deal with the social media influence. That's another whole topic that we're leaning hard into. But there have been a failure at a number of levels.

But one of the failures is the inability of Congress to give us national laws that we can use so other states are not touring our hard efforts in the state of New York to protect New Yorkers. So, there was a failure on many levels, Jake. It's not acceptable.

TAPPER: New York State already has a minimum age requirement of 21 to have a handgun. In fact, I think that's a national regulation, you have to be 21 to have a handgun. You want to raise 20 -- the age for any purchase of any gun to 21. Do you think you can pass that kind of law for long guns, for AR-15s? And do you think it will survive court challenges?

HOCHUL: Right now, we're looking at the AR-15. That is the same weapon that was used -- purchased by an 18-year-old in New York and in Texas. So, when you think about the fact that an 18-year-old can go out on their birthday and buy an assault weapon that should be used on battlefields and they can't even buy a beer at the corner bar, something's wrong with our system. That age between 18 and 21, as we're seeing from these last two cases, seems to be a time when common sense would dictate that we have laws that say you cannot buy a weapon.

And when we do buy that weapon, I want there to be not just the ability to purchase this category of weapons, and we're talking about the semiautomatics, we're talking about the AR-15s, also, where's the background check? There should be national background checks. We do background checks in New York. I want to make sure they're available.

Background checks are being executed in these cases as well because a background check needs to go deep. It has to be -- have an opportunity to talk to your neighbors, have an FBI background check, mental health examiners. And now, we need to be really focused on social media where people often will telegraph their intent, but it's not being captured. And that's a conversation we need to have with the social media platforms that are allowing these posts to continue, whether it's the manifesto that was used in Buffalo, whether it's the conversations that the shooter had just -- news is just coming out about conversations he has had with different people. So, it's a multifaceted crisis of problem, but we have to hit it at all different levels.

TAPPER: All right, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, thank you so much for your time today. Appreciate it .

Coming up, the NRA is going ahead with its convention tomorrow in the same state where the school massacre happened. But they are banning firearms when one particular guest speaks. Stay with us.



TAPPER: The National Rifle Association begins its annual convention in Houston tomorrow, just days after 19 children and two teachers were murdered with guns at an elementary school in the same state. Former President Donald Trump, Republican Governor Greg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz are all expected to speak despite criticism from some quarters. That meeting in Texas right now is especially inappropriate.

Due to safety concerns with the former president in attendance, the Secret Service will not let attendees bring firearms inside. As CNN Sunlen Serfaty reports, this is not the first time the NRA has pushed ahead with a convention in the same state as a recent school massacre.


MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D-TX), HOUSTON: With all due respect, you should not come.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The NRA defiantly on yielding.

TURNER: It would be respectful for the families who are planning funerals for their children for them not to come.

SERFATY (voice-over): Releasing a statement calling the shooting "evil" but pushing ahead to kick off their annual conference in Houston tomorrow, only three days and 300 miles from the side of the mass shooting in Uvalde.

REP. SYLVIA GARCIA (D-TX): I just think it's shameful and it's shameful for any politician to attend this conference.

SERFATY (voice-over): Former President Donald Trump will give the headline address with a roster of high profile Republicans like Senator Ted Cruz, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott scheduled to speak.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): I'm living moment to moment right now. My heart, my head and my body are in Uvalde right now.

SERFATY (voice-over): This moment eerily similar two days after the Columbine shooting, which killed 13 people in 1999. The NRA's conference that year was also scheduled shortly after and just miles away in nearby Denver. A private audio recording since obtained by NPR revealing the tense deliberation within the top brass of the NRA, whether to cancel or pare down the event.

JIM BAKER, NRA LOBBYIST: At the same period where they're going to be burying these children. We're going to be having media trying to run through the exhibit hall looking at kids fondling firearms, which is going to be a horrible, horrible, horrible juxtaposition. SERFATY (voice-over): The conference went on as scheduled but shortened (ph) without the plan to gun show. That decision shaping the NRA's response to mass shootings ever since. Leading to this provocative moment the following year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From my cold dead hands.

SERFATY (voice-over): All this comes as the NRA is facing a slew of other financial and legal problems. In March, the New York State Supreme Court blocked an effort to dissolve the organization, but allowed a lawsuit from the Democratic New York Attorney General to go forward. The suit accusing the NRA's leadership of violating laws governing nonprofit groups using millions for personal use and tax fraud, alleging, quote, greed, self-dealing and lax financial oversight at the highest levels of the NRA.

The NRA sticks by their claim that they always operate in the best interests of their members. In January 2021, the NRA filed for bankruptcy, which was dismissed last May, for not having been filed in good faith. And revelations from NRA Leader Wayne LaPierre that he used a friend's yacht for free as a security retreat after the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012 and the Parkland shooting in 2018.


SERFATY: And at least three musicians who were set to perform at the NRA Convention this weekend have now canceled. One of them Don McLean saying it would be disrespectful and hurtful to perform. And Larry Gatlin saying he cannot in good conscience, Jake, go on to perform this weekend either.

TAPPER: Interesting. Sunlen Serfaty, thanks so much.

To Ukraine next, CNN goes into the trenches with Ukrainian forces relying on U.S. weapons to push back the Russians. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, the Biden administration is preparing to step up the kind of weaponry it's giving to Ukraine. Multiple officials say the U.S. is sending advanced long range rocket systems that are now the top request from Ukrainian officials.

CNN's Nick Payton Walsh finds a new vantage point inside the trenches with Zelenskyy's forces where Ukrainian soldiers have a surprisingly positive outlook.


NICK PAYTON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): Putin would leave little of what he claims to liberate. An artillery jewel has been raging for days, torching around the vital Russian held town of Izium. Up on high, in a position we were asked not to reveal, these Ukrainian troops dug in and buoyant, have a clear view of the damage below, but also the enemy.

(on-camera): So the Russians are just a kilometer on the brow of this hill in that direction.

(voice-over): This unit only here two days, but say they have already destroyed a Russian tank. Yes, they play to the cameras, but it's pretty clear up here, their morale is sky high.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Where is my armored Hummer?

WALSH (voice-over): They are exposed but ready, keen to show off actually gleeful at the international menu of weapons they've been sent, almost a silly amount. The Swedish anti-tank munitions, and of course, a British N-law (ph).

Then, from out of the grass, a German one which they particularly like. A Polish grenade, no training on them, just practical use, they joke. Giving them the widest experience of anti-tank weapons in Europe.


WALSH (voice-over): Writing also what the Russians left, thermal optics. And a Soviet era anti-tank weapon that they wind up like a telephone.

Yet still, the Russians persist even as the prisoners these troops have taken have revealed how young the soldiers they're fighting are.

STAFF SERGEANT MAXYM, UKRAINIAN SOLDIER (through translation): They're children who have grown up only under Putin. They don't know any other kind of power. They say, "Putin said so, he can't deceive us. We're doing everything right." Like zombies.

It's like the firmware in their brains was updated because they only quote phrases. Poor and unhappy. Sad to look at them.

WALSH (voice-over): In the village below, the endless shelling is flushing the remaining life out. This woman said, telling me her name would make no difference.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, HRUSHUVAKHA RESIDENT (through translation): There were 11 explosions around my house last night. Holes. Eleven. Go and count them. I sat in the cellar, on my knees asking God to put goodness in people's brains. Will the brain hold up? It will. See? I am here.

WALSH (voice-over): They really don't know where they'll go or what if anything they can come back to. Just that life has no space left here.


WALSH: Now Jake, while you see buoyant troops there on high above Izium to the north of where I'm standing where certainly Ukraine is holding it seems some positions, well, it's a very different story here in the Donbas around Kramatorsk, a key city here and Slavyansk. Two key places so vital to the fight back in 2014, which Russia now appears even by Ukrainian official accounts, to be seeing some success, territory being taken daily, frankly at a pace we haven't seen really in this war, even Ukrainian officials just in and there may be some talent in the tactical command here. A distant rumble of artillery pretty persistent. Jake?

TAPPER: Nick Payton Walsh reporting from the frontlines literally in Ukraine. Thank you so much for that report.


Coming up, Oklahoma's governor just signed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the entire United States. How critics are tying that law to the shooting in Uvalde. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Oklahoma Republican Governor Kevin Stitt signed one of the nation's strictest anti-abortion laws in bills into law. The law bans abortion after the moment of fertilization allows private citizens to sue to enforce the law. Some Democrats are choosing to tie this bill and others like it to recent mass shootings. Take a listen.



SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): What I have to say as pastor, that I'd like to hear where some of my pro-life friends are on this issue. 19 babies died.


WARNOCK: 19 babies died yesterday.


TAPPER: Let's discuss. Paul Begala, as a Democratic strategist, what do you make of Warnock's strategy talking about anti-abortion individuals? You suggesting they care more about babies in the womb than kids once they're born?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, because of what happened in Uvalde. Everybody's thinking about that and I understand that. He is a pastor. He's -- I'm sure it's had to minister to families who've faced gun violence. And so I respect to understand it.

I would extend it, I wouldn't talk just about guns or even only about or at all about guns. You know, Oklahoma is 40th in maternal mortality, 33rd in infant mortality, they do a terrible job of taking care of the babies that they had. And by the way, violent crime is up in Oklahoma under this Republican governor, test scores are down.

So I think it's fair to say, are you taking care of the children you have now already? And I understand guns is on everybody's mind. But I think things like maternal mortality and infant mortality are even more relevant to an abortion debate, frankly, than guns are.

TAPPER: Ramesh?

RAMESH PONNURU, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, unfortunately, of course, violent crime is up everywhere. And I think we're dealing with an increasingly national problem on that. I think that it is totally fair to ask pro-lifers like everybody to come up with our best ideas for how to improve safety.

It's going to be an argument because there's disagreement about the specific measures that people are talking about whether they would work, what their costs would be, and so on. And we're going to have different ideas about this.


GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: But I think now at least you're having a serious sit down about this, about the gun issue on Capitol Hill, which we haven't had in years and years. I don't know if it's going to amount to anything. But Joe Manchin said this feels different, somehow?

PONNURU: He did also say that in 2018, so (INAUDIBLE).


BORGER: You took the words right out of my mouth.

TAPPER: So Margaret, Senator Warnock of Georgia is not the only one who's thinking about priorities in the world. I want you to take a listen right now to Golden State Warriors guard in Florida Damion Lee, who talked about the Uvalde shooting in another interesting way. Take a listen.


DAMION LEE, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: It's sad the world that we live in, we need, you know, to reform that gun shouldn't be as easily accessible. Like it's easier to get a gun than baby formula right now. That's unbelievable.


MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, talking about a soundbite, right?

TAPPER: Yes. But I mean, it's -- I think it's just all part of like what kind of world are we in?

TALEV: And it's a moment for parents. This is something that we've been reporting on at Axios this week. But think of all the different pressures and frustrations and fears that parents have been facing one wave after the next, it's COVID, it's inflation, it's baby formula, it's shootings, right?

How will all of this play out as a political issue? I know that's we're here to talk about politics, right? We thought this was going to be a year where COVID and inflation were the driving issues. Now, two of the most polarizing issues in the American electorate, gun rights and abortion rights are now going to share the stage with these two issues. And that is going to shake up the political landscape in a midterm year.

But I think in the immediate future, like set it aside in the immediate future, there is a moment of theoretical potential, very fragile potential for bipartisan compromise. And about a week and a half to get something done.

TAPPER: Yes, maybe Cornyn and Blumenthal, I think are working --

BORGER: Right.

TAPPER: -- on something right now. And there's also --

BORGER: Murphy.

TAPPER: Yes, and Murphy and Lindsey Graham is that?


TAPPER: I might be confusing with the team ups.

BORGER: But these are common sense things, by the way, that could have been done a while ago.

TALEV: 20 years ago.

BORGER: 20 years ago. Red flag laws, background checks, that kind of -- expanding background checks. These are things they've been talking about. And suddenly, 19 babies, as the Senator was saying, are murdered. And it feels different, as Joe Manchin says. Well, it should have felt different after Parkland. It should have felt different after Newtown and --

BEGALA: What's different is the radicalization of the Republican Party on the gun issue. You know, Bill Clinton signed the Brady Bill, with Ronald Reagan's support and 54 House Republicans voted for it. 17 Senate Republicans voted for it.

We can't even -- can you imagine? 54. And, by the way, Brady --

TAPPER: If you can explain to our viewers what the Brady Bill is.

BEGALA: The Brady Bill was a background check law, which applies to almost all purchases, and it has kept thousands and thousands --

TAPPER: And they also banned some forms of semi-automatic assault --

BEGALA: Banned assault weapons.


BEGALA: Banned high capacity magazines, which is critical to preventing mass.

TAPPER: But those expired. Those bans expired.

BEGALA: And when they were enacted, when they were in law for 10 years, mass shootings went down 37 percent. When they were allowed to expire by the Republicans who were running things in the Bush administration, they went up 183 percent mass shootings. So we know that these laws can't work. They can't solve everything.

And I think the people in the Republican Party so we have to look at mental health, they're right. They talk about our culture, they're right.


But we're also right that sensible gun safety laws work, we know that. And Republicans used to support them, at least a great -- many of them did, dozens and dozens of (INAUDIBLE), no more.

PONNURU: Of course, Democrats have run away from the issue as well. I mean, you had in 2013, a Democratic Senate, a Democratic president, and the Senate was only able to get 40 votes for a renewed assault weapons ban. Because a lot of Democrats concluded that contrary to what Paul was saying, it didn't have much of effect. And even if it did, they were afraid of the politics of the issue.

TAPPER: So you have something I'm sure you guys are hearing from your friends in places like Scotland and Ireland and England and Australia, where there were mass shootings, and then the government did something that is difficult to imagine ever happening here. Stockpiling, buying back --

BORGER: Confiscating.

TAPPER: -- banning, confiscating guns. I want you to take a listen to a Sky News reporter, asking Republican Senator Ted Cruz, why gun violence is so bad in the United States. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So why does this only happen in your country? I really think that's what many people around the world, just they cannot fathom. Why only in America? Why is this American exceptionalism so awful?

SED. TED CRUZ (R-TX): You know, I'm sorry if you think American exceptionalism is awful.


CRUZ: You get your political agenda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's honestly --

CRUZ: God love you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is America the only country that faces this kind of --

CRUZ: You know what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- mass shooting?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you can't answer that. You can't answer that. Can you say, you can't answer that? Why is this country --

CRUZ: Why is it that people come from all over the world to America? Because it's the freest, most prosperous, safest country on earth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It maybe the freest, it maybe the most --


TAPPER: Stopping a propagandist, would you think?

TALEV: There are two senators in Texas. And I actually think in the moment, it's the other senator from Texas --

TAPPER: John Cornyn.

TALEV: -- that we're -- I know his name actually -- that we're all going to be watching in the next week --


TALEV: -- or two. Cornyn is not going to go ahead with this plan to the NRA. Cornyn is the one who Democrats say we want to talk to him. Cornyn potentially has the ability, the bar is low, to bring together some kind of a combination of background check and red flag. And I do think what's different about this moment, I do think there's a difference. It happened in Texas.

In Florida, where Rick Scott is the head of the Senatorial -- Republican Senatorial Committee, there already is a red flag law.

BORGER: Right.

TALEV: And he is open to a federal red flag law if not --

TAPPER: And they also raised the age in Florida --

BORGER: That's right.

TAPPER: -- after Parkland '21.

BORGER: It wasn't that long ago remember that Donald Trump actually had those Parkland families to the White House and almost cut a deal, almost cut a deal.


BORGER: And then he invited the NRA in the next day. Remember that? And that deal --


BORGER: -- came right off the back (ph).

TAPPER: Thanks to one and all of you, appreciate it.

Sunken cars and boats re-emerging is one of the key reservoirs out west. It's terrifying new low. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our Earth matters series, a weekly update from the U.S. drought monitor shows drought conditions now cover 11 percent of California that's up from under 1 percent last week.

CNN's Bill Weir has the latest in all of this. Bill, well what are these drastic new drought numbers mean for California and other western states?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, one correction, no offense, Jake, off the top, it's 11 percent of the entire western United States that's under drought, 60 percent of California. And what that means, obviously is a long, hot, thirsty summer and beyond. They got a bunch of snow in December and then January, February, March were the driest on record. Worst 22 years in 1,200 years we know from studying tree rings.

And also, you know the Colorado compact was written back in the 20s between the seven states and Mexico after one of the wettest periods ever. So this water in this basin has been over promised from the beginning. And now it's getting to the point where the reckoning is coming in for tens of millions of people. I don't know it's desert.

TAPPER: I appreciate the correction. We want to be accurate. No, I do -- I'm serious. There's another issue that's connected to this, the water level in Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir had dropped to its lowest point ever this week. It could theoretically drop another 12 feet this fall. And now water restrictions are being put into place.

WEIR: Exactly. This is the scariest stuff, because last August water officials said worst case scenario by, you know, this time May of '22 memorial day, it will be at 1,057 feet above sea level. It's 1,049 now. It could go down to 1,008 by 2023. That's 41 feet below where it is now which is the worst case scenario.

So California is going to, you know, this will tear up as it gets worse. So California will not then see, you know, 5 percent restriction and droughts. Arizona is already seeing a restriction of enough water to supply 1.5 million homes for a year. The people tasting that pain are farmers, Alfalfa, cotton farmers, water intensive crops in the deserts.

But eventually, you know, folks who have big lawns in Beverly Hills are probably going to have to start rethinking the wisdom of that in the desert. And, you know, it's whiskey is for drinking water, is for fighting is the old saying that attributed to Mark Twain. We're going to see how communities decide to divvy up the stuff of life literally.

TAPPER: And scientists think that this is directly a result of manmade climate change, yes?

WEIR: Yes, I mean, droughts come and go but this one is on steroids as a result of, you know, we've completely changed the chemistry of the sky and the oceans.

TAPPER: All right. Disappointing news, depressing.

Bill Weir, thanks so much.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. If you miss an episode, you can always listen to our podcast wherever you get your podcasts.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He's right next door in a place I like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM."