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Don Lemon Tonight

Deadly Shooting At Texas Elementary School: 19 Children, Two Adults Killed; Sergeant Confirms Shooter In Also Dead; Instagram Account Linked To Gunman Posted Images Of Weapons Just Days Before Texas Elementary School Shooting; Texas: Department Of Public Safety: Gunman Was Wearing Body Armor; Deadly Shooting at Texas School: 19 Children, Two Adults Killed. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired May 25, 2022 - 00:00   ET


LEIGH WALDMAN, REPORTER, KSAT, SAN ANTONIO: Prayer services throughout this evening tonight, we do know that tomorrow night at the Fairplex, just up the road about three miles from where we are, there's going to be a mass vigil. They're expecting around a thousand people to be showing up. That's at 7:00 tomorrow. That will be another opportunity for families who've been affected this community to come together and get through this together one minute at a time.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Leigh Waldman on the scene for us from our affiliate KSAT. Thank you, Leigh. We appreciate that.

I want to bring in now CNN's Ed Lavandera, also Evan Perez, they both join us.

Ed, good evening to both of you. Evan, let's start with Evan first. Evan, you have been talking to your sources about this investigation. I understand that you're getting some information. What do you have for us?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, you know, one of the things that we're still trying to gather from federal law enforcement that is over there is a little bit more about this timeline of how this shooting occurs.

At this point, we only know from the Department of Public Safety that he drives into a ditch. This is after the shooting, where the grandmother is shot and some time after that, he's in this incident where the car ends up in a ditch, and then somehow manages to get past the shootout with law enforcement there to get into the school and kills these 19 kids.

So, that's what we know at this point. And we don't know very much about the motivation. We know from law enforcement that that is the focus right now, talking to people who are in touch with him on some of the social media. We've heard now from some people who were in touch with him, we talked about him being a very quiet person, very -- a loner, so to speak. And that appears he was posting pictures of some of the weaponry that we now know he bought just days ago, he turned 18 and was able to purchase some of these firearms legally.

So, that's now the focus of federal law -- law enforcement to try to support the work there of the local authorities that are doing this investigation.

LEMON: We're learning about the shooter, according to a classmate of classmates said that he had been -- this again according to classmate that he had been bullied, that he worked at a local fast food place. What else are you learning about him, Evan?

PEREZ: All right, yes, that's right. One of the -- one of his classmates says that he worked at a Wendy's. I'm sorry, the former classmate talked about him being very quiet, that he was bullied. It's not clear exactly what exactly he was being bullied over. He describes a very tough home life for the shooter. There is a coworker who describes that he again, worked at a local Wendy's didn't interact very much with his coworkers. Again, we're what we're getting a picture of, Don, is somebody who perhaps kept himself and had some kind of obsession with firearms recently.

That doesn't exactly explain what happened today and how this incident goes from, again, a shooting at the grandmother's house to a shooting that kills all of these kids in their classrooms there today. That doesn't quite explain what happened today.

LEMON: Evan, also the FBI is warning about a rise in roving shooters. Explain what this is and how it applies to this attack.

PEREZ: Yes, look, just in the last 24 hours, the FBI released this report, 61 active shooter incidents in 2021. That's up more than 50 percent compared to 2020, Don.

And one of the phenomenon -- one phenomenon that the FBI identifies in this report that they issued yesterday, is this concept of roving shooters, people who not only carry out one -- are shooting in one location, but multiple locations. That's kind of what happened here today.

According to police, carries out a shooting in the grandmother's home and then, goes to another location. And this is where the mass casualty happens today, so it fits into the pattern that the FBI is seeing. It's very, very concerning obviously. It's much harder for law enforcement to do anything about it. If you're, you know, doing multiple locations for these types of incidents. Again, something that only happens in America.

LEMON: Ed, similar question to what I asked to Evan there. Again, a classmate of the shooter saying that he was bullied about the way he dressed, also his family's financial situation. And then, there's a coworker apparently from the fast food place where he worked who's speaking out as well.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and apparently that coworker was talking about how this shooter had worked a day shift. He's supposed to be a senior in high school but had been working a day shift as far as she knew from dating back until February. So, it raises real questions as to, you know, whether or not this

suspect was even attending classes and what kind of -- what kind of way was he attending school? What kind of, you know, supervision that he had before he turned 18 just a short while ago.


LAVANDERA: And then, that really kind of leads to the questions of what the state senator from the Uvalde area was telling us that this gunman essentially went on his 18th birthday and bought these assault style rifles, almost as a way of celebrating his 18th birthday, when we have those pictures of that weaponry, which could very well be the weapons that were used in the attack at the school today.

LEMON: We're also learning Ed, about officers and border agents being injured responding to the shooting. What do you know about that?

LAVANDERA: Yes, we understand that a number of Customs and Border Protection officers were some of the first agents and officers and law enforcement to respond there to the scene at the shooting. And this isn't totally out of the norm.

Remember, Uvalde is a town halfway between San Antonio basically and the U.S. Mexico border. This is an area that is swarming with all different types of law enforcement agencies. So, it is not out of the ordinary to be driving through the streets of Uvalde and see Border Patrol agents or federal agents, that kind of so.

When the alert goes out that something like this is happening, it is not uncommon to see state troopers, Border Patrol agents respond to the scene. We are told that one of those Border Patrol agents was wounded, shot in the head, but is going to be OK, that it is not a life threatening injury.

LEMON: All right, Ed, Evan, thank you so much. Appreciate that.

I want to bring in now CNN National Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem and Law Enforcement Analyst Anthony Barksdale. Anthony and Juliette, good evening to both of you.

Anthony, what are the most important things that law enforcement officials are doing tonight to determine why this gunman opened fire in that elementary school?

ANTHONY BARKSDALE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, they have to execute search warrants, gather as much evidence as they can, what computer was he on social media, they can go into social media and figure out the conversations he was having, what he was posting, really look for motive. I think they also have to take a look at the fact that now this is the second incident that we know of where the shooters, these young shooters are coming in and killing elderly black people. They're killing kids, and they're wearing body armor.

So, this is something where law enforcement executives have to say, look, if these shooters are coming in, and taking this many lives this fast, and now, officers are shooting them, making contact with them, or the off duty officer in Buffalo actually hit the suspect. But it didn't stop him, then what are we doing to stop these individuals when we confront them the next time? Because there's going to be a next time.

LEMON: Juliette, you are -- you want to respond? I see that you were -- I think you're shaking your head in agreement with what Anthony's saying.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, that's exactly right. It's just there's just no amount of preparation, training, exercises, all the things that law enforcement does. Guns, arming more people that would stop -- that would stop this. I mean, it's just it's -- the facts are clear, you could have armed -- you can have a former police officer as we -- as they had in Buffalo, who actually shoots the perpetrator and still can't stop the murders in time. And you have totally vulnerable young children at a school that may or may not have had someone actively engaged with or still learning how many police officers may have been there.

It's just this kind of weaponry is intended to kill, kill, and then kill quickly. And until we sort of, you know, the motive is going to be important. The everything else is important, but we just have to get to the basic fact, as Anthony was saying is that they're coming in with body armor and they're engaging people with guns and it's still not working.

So, the idea of arming more people, you know, the burden is on those saying this to say how is that going to be helpful?

LEMON: Anthony, based on what you are learning about the timeline here, right? About how he crashed his car in a ditch by the school. Does it seem like this gunman intended to go there?

BARKSDALE: I'm really not sure at this point, Don. But the point is whether he intended or intended to go there or not, we see the horrible results. If he was heading to another location, could he have done even more damage? Could he have taken even more lives? I don't know. But we do know what he did there at that location.

I do think about what could have been possibly changed if the -- if the school had a drill for this type of incident. Did the cops know how to form what we call the package where they all come together to go in and get him but we're seeing the cops were wounded, those poor little kids, the teachers, the grandmother, this is a crisis. And we're just not seeing enough from leadership on this issue at this time.


LEMON: Listen, it is refreshing to hear both of you earlier in the candor that you have been speaking about this with. And I can see that that is deeply affecting you, Anthony, and also you Juliette.

Juliette, when you said earlier, look, this is a reality that were identifying the bodies of their little kids, right? That's exactly what is happening right now. And you said the word shooting sanitary for what happened.

KAYYEM: It says too sanitized. So, here's where we know where we are right now. And I'm going to just be graphic for obvious reasons. So, the families now know that they lost a child, this is clear, we've heard the reporting, because all the children in hospitals have been identified and their parents are with them.

So, all family unification is done at this stage. So, we're just at family notification, there are 18 families that know their child has died, there are 18 bodies that have been --

LEMON: 19 now.

KAYYEM: Excuse me, 19 bodies that are -- that are -- there have been shot by a gun that destroys adult males. And you can only imagine what it does to kids. So, you've got the 19 bodies and the 19 families, but no definite match yet.

You've got to get those bodies and the parents are now getting DNA from hair brushes, from toothbrushes, from hair, whatever they have at home, because now you're going to have to get that identification.

That is what is going on overnight now, it is past midnight now. And all the family knows is that my child is dead. And the -- and the bodies have not been removed. And so, we just -- we have to be graphic about it because otherwise, you know, then there's always another one. Oh, it's another one. And I just think it's important.

I was thinking, you know, I had to move places. I came to the studio (INAUDIBLE) and I think, I have three children, like what feature of each of them would I be able to know that only a parent knows that would let me identify them. The birthmark on the thigh, the scar on a wrist because of a biking accident, whatever it is. That's what these parents are going through. Like, what identification, because they may not be able to be identified simply by facial features. That's the reality of what those families are going through.

LEMON: What are you thinking, Anthony?

BARKSDALE: I think that what Juliette has said throughout these horrible tragedies has been absolutely true from there's no lone wolf to the damage that a 5.56 round or two to three round could do to a small child.

The damage is so significant. I've seen it in adults. And to think that this happens to little kids, it's just too much. So, that's what I'm thinking, Don.

LEMON: Thank you both, be well.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

LEMON: Just three days ago, this photo of two AR-15 style rifles appeared on the Instagram account tied to the suspected gunman. And for more now, I want to bring in the former ATF Senior Executive Scott Sweetow. Scott, thank you for joining us. SCOTT SWEETOW, FORMER ATF SENIOR EXECUTIVE: Thank you, Don, I appreciate the invitation.

LEMON: We don't know yet if these weapons are the exact guns used in today's attack, but you say lots of these AR-15 style weapons have been used of late in these shootings, talk about that.

SWEETOW: So, the AR-15 is incredibly common. There are probably in excess of a hundred companies that manufacture some version of that rifle. And typically, people just kind of refer to them as AR-15.

So, as some of your other guests have discussed, it's a magazine fed rifle that uses a 5.56 millimeter, two to three caliber bullet and you can get everything from five round magazines all the way up to 100 round drum magazine.

So, they have a lot of firepower. They can be bought fairly cheaply. You can -- you can pick up an AR-15 in Cologne for as little as $500 or $600, all the way up to, you know, well in excess of $1,500 for some varieties, but it's very popular for people to use. And unfortunately, it's becoming very popular in some of these shootings.


LEMON: Yes. Why? Why is a weapon like that available? Do you think it should be available?

SWEETOW: So, without getting into the politics of this, because that's obviously a really fraught discussion, I can tell you that the government did try to ban these back in 1994. They had what's commonly called or kind of colloquially called the assault rifle ban. And that bill, that law sunsetted automatically in 2004, there were some efforts to resurrect it. But really, it was based kind of on cosmetic features, things that could be very quickly modified by firearms manufacturers. And in fact, they were immediately modified. So, really, even before the law was established, it was largely ineffective.

And I want to say, Don, there were somewhere around the neighborhood of 10 total prosecutions attempted in 10 years. So, even the federal government really didn't try to prosecute people with that law that was in existence.

LEMON: How long do you think it may have taken for the suspect to cause this type of carnage with this assault style weapon?

SWEETOW: It was all over in minutes. And that's really one of the reasons why law enforcement had to change their tactics.

So, you know, back in the day, it used to be people would -- law enforcement would try to wait the suspect out or try and negotiate with them. That is not effective.

And right now, and you've really seen this Don for several years, whether you're a single police officer there, or you have backup, you have to go in and you have to try to stop the killing. Because when you have a magazine fed rifle, as it appears the shooter has. And you also have a handgun, you can kill a tremendous number of people very, very quickly.

So, they really got to get in there and stop the person. But obviously, even though they were there incredibly fast, it was not enough to prevent this tragedy that keeps occurring in the United States.

LEMON: Yes, that was the reason for that I asked you the previous question about should this be available to everyone besides law. I should preface it by saying law enforcement, besides law enforcement or members of the military?

Well, let's move on and talk about something else. Authority say that the suspected gunman was also wearing body armor during this shooting, and you say that used to be unheard of, why?

SWEETOW: It did used to be unheard of. So, I was an agent in Los Angeles in the 90s when the infamous Hollywood shootout happened. And that was really a scary moment for law enforcement because LAPD was not expecting to encounter people armed with machine guns. And really from head to toe and body armor.

Those sorts of things have been very rare, but unfortunately, they have started to pick up recently, the Buffalo shooter, for instance, who murdered 10 people or is accused of murdering 10 people, he was wearing body armor. The Aurora theater shooting, he had body armor of San Bernardino.

So, it appears that this is becoming somewhat more common. And that's going to make it even tougher for law enforcement to go in and try to stop these killers when they're terrorizing our schools.

LEMON: So, they are literally -- this type of tactical gear, they're literally outgunned law enforcement and sort of it puts them in a position where they can't even take the suspect down, put down the suspect in these kinds of attacks.

SWEETOW: It sure makes it difficult. Typical police body armor, like what I used to wear as an ATF agent is designed to stop pistol rounds.

So, what happened in the -- in the case of Buffalo is apparently the shooter had rifle plates. He had military type plates that some law enforcement agencies used as well, which then makes it almost impossible to take them down. Unless you incapacitate them by hitting them in the head or hitting them somewhere else.

And that's a scary thing for law enforcement to encounter. Because literally the type of weapons that most law enforcement are carrying when they first get on the scenes, is unable to stop that person unless they hit them somewhere where they're not wearing body armor.


SWEETOW: And I will say, it appears that the Border Patrol, tactical agent, the BORTAC guy that showed up, BORTAC is very often armed with M4 carbines, which is a select fire version of the AR-15. And they were apparently able to stop this person before he killed even more people.

LEMON: So, just so -- you know, the question is Scott, what is the solution? Like, what can stop this?

So, if the country won't do anything, or lawmakers won't do anything about these assault style weapons, right, you started talking about the assault weapons ban, and that was sunsetted and so on and so forth. And what is the solution as someone who is -- who should be able to answer? What do we do?

SWEETOW: I've been talking to friends of mine, both in law enforcement and outside of law enforcement since this happened. And I'll be honest with you, I don't think anybody has a good reason to be optimistic that we're going to be able to solve this.

There are 400 million firearms in the United States, the vast majority of them are not criminally misused. But when you have people that are willing to criminally misuse them, as was the case here, they can cause absolute carnage with them.

So, you can -- there's been talk of putting armed personnel off duty, or retired police or military in the schools to kind of act as a sheepdog to be there to prevent these shootings, because there simply not enough law enforcement, active duty law enforcement around a cover all these schools.

Maybe that's a possible solution. I think hardening the schools by putting fencing around them so that you control the access is something else. But I think more than anything, Don, you're talking about a mental health crisis in this country where you know, young men who have a propensity for violence and easy access to guns are able to act out on these crazed fantasies or plans that they have. And they're able to do it with increasingly lethality.

So, I don't think it's going to be any one thing that is a silver bullet that stops this carnage.

LEMON: Oh, boy, some of the schools become prison, like when I was in elementary school, it was just us and the nuns, not even a fence.

SWEETOW: I was -- I was telling someone earlier today, the high school that I went to was a completely open campus, you can come and go as you please.

Last time I saw it, it looked like a penitentiary. And I don't think that's what people want to see in the school system is, is all the schools looking like their jail.

LEMON: Yes, maybe a fence but there was no gate to lock it. It's there as a border.


LEMON: Thank you very much. I appreciate it, Scott. SWEETOW: Thank you, John. Appreciate it.

LEMON: A small Texas town in America in mourning for 19 little kids and two adults shot to death in their elementary school. And if we don't do something, it's going to keep happening.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to have the courage to take action and understand the nexus between what makes for reasonable and sensible public policy. To ensure something like this never happens again.




LEMON: 19 children, two adults dead after a shooting at a small town Texas elementary school.

Earlier tonight, I spoke with Kim Hammond, a Uvalde resident who lives just houses away from the school. And I just want you to hear what she told me about her community and what can be done to stop anything like this from happening again.


LEMON: Let's talk about your experience because the school is just two houses over from where you live. Close enough in fact that you usually hear the kids when they are out at P.E. Can you walk me through what you heard and saw unfold around your house this afternoon?

KIM HAMMOND, UVALDE RESIDENT: Sure, I just sat down for lunch. You know, I don't know what the exact time, I didn't look at the clock. But it must have been around 11:25, 11:30. And something just didn't feel right. And I don't know if I had like sensed something and that I heard something and I just dismissed it.

But when I sat down, I thought I heard a couple pop pops. And in my brain it was like man, that sounds like gunfire.

And then I thought, well, maybe the neighbor just dropped some two by fours or something. And I just dismissed it and went about eating my lunch.

And then, my living room started to shake. And then there was a helicopter right above my house. And I thought, OK, there must be something going on.

So, I went outside. And there was a helicopter just circling over the house and around the school, and I thought maybe it was Border Patrol.

And I thought, well, we must have some human trafficking runners again. They've been -- they've hidden in the backyards here before. And so, I just left my screen door. And as I was coming in, I saw all

this action out front of the house. So, I ran out front. And that's when I saw guys in tactical gear. The first vehicles I saw were Border Patrol vehicles. Then, I saw that there was Texas State Trooper vehicles. And then, I saw Uvalde county police vehicles, and Uvalde city police vehicles, it was just a lot of -- a lot of law enforcement converging on this neighborhood.

So, I walked back inside, locked my door and got on Facebook, got on the Uvalde City Police Department Facebook, and it did say safety alert, large police presence at Robb Elementary School.

And I thought oh, my gosh. So, they were just wanting the public to stay away. And that's basically the only information that we had until they updated again and said that this was an active shooter situation.

I had folks texting me, asking me if I was OK, because they said that they had arrested one guy, but there was another guy that was -- his accomplice was out loose. You know how bad news travels fast, and it was fortunate that it was, you know, wrong news. But we still don't know that this guy was actually in the school.


And then, I started counting the ambulances. And that's when I thought, oh, this is -- this is really grave, because if they only shot the shooter, why do they need seven, then eight, then nine ambulances? And then, that was that, so --

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Reality set in.

HAMMOND: Yes. Yes, it did. And, you know, it's just -- it's an emotional thing that, when Sandy -- when Sandy Hook happened, you know, I think the whole nation took it hard, because these were little kids. You know, and who -- who is going to kill little kids like this on purpose?

And then, to have it happen again, Don, is just -- what the hell are we doing? You know, if -- if every red-blooded American isn't just P.O.'d right now, then there's something wrong. There's something gravely wrong.

LEMON: You know --

HAMMOND: So yesterday -- yesterday, I got back from the grocery store, and they were playing on the speakers at this school, "Pomp and Circumstance." And so they were having, like, a little celebration for these kids, and I didn't know what it was, but I was humming the song all day.

And then today, this blew into my driveway out of one of the parents' cars. And, they were having a celebration of perfect attendance and awards. And you know those little kids were so proud to be able to get those awards yesterday. And then, today -- today, they're just happy to get on that school bus and get out of that school.

LEMON: You're going to stay?

HAMMOND: Oh, yes. Yes, I'll stay and do everything I can to help. And in any way I can help. They said they've got everything they need right now, but there is a blood drive tomorrow, so I will go participate in that. And just do whatever I can. I might even just hug a neighbor that I've never even introduced myself to even before.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, we've been talking about Sandy Hook, and earlier, I understand you told my producers that after Sandy Hook, after the massacre there, that you vowed never to own a high-powered rifle.

HAMMOND: Yes, I did.


HAMMOND: Oh, I'm an Army veteran. I packed around with an M-16 in Desert Storm, and I had a reason to pack that weapon around. I don't have any desire for myself, any more, to have anything with those, now that I'm in the civilian world. I just really adamantly disagree with the sale of these to anybody but law enforcement or military, or you know, anybody in law enforcement, somebody that, you know, in their line of duty, in your job, you need that to protect yourself and the public. Absolutely.

What do we need to go hunting with an AR-15 for? You know, we just don't -- it's a .22 caliber weapon. And what -- you'd have to shoot something three times, and then, it's just basically going to bleed out. It's not -- you know, but everybody's, It's my right to have it. It's my right.

Well, yes, sure, it's your right. But unfortunately, your right is -- is putting these guns in the wrong hands. That's my opinion, my opinion only. I take a lot of flak for that, and I really don't care at this point.

You know, our rights are just getting -- it's just, honestly, Don, it's stupid. It's just -- it's stupid. I believe in the Second Amendment. I absolutely do. And people are going to say to me, how can you believe in the Second Amendment and not believe -- well, I don't believe in assault rifles.

Well, they're not assault rifles.

Well, the only reason they're -- they're manufactured is to be able to squeeze out as many bullets as you can squeeze out of that trigger. So if you're shooting a target, that's great, but when you're shooting at little kids, it -- it really ticks me off.


LEMON: That was Kim earlier this evening. And she also told me that, if you know someone who may be suffering with their mental health, and they have access to firearms, to say something, so -- and to just let somebody know. Doing that could save lives.

So what the former President Barack Obama had to say tonight. We'll talk about that, next.



LEMON: Former President Barack Obama, responding to the massacre in the Texas elementary school tonight saying, quote, "Nearly ten years after Sandy Hook and ten days after Buffalo, our country is paralyzed, not by fear, but by a gun lobby and a political party that have shown no willingness to act in any way that might help prevent these strategies."

Let's discuss now. CNN senior political analysts John Avlon and Ron Brownstein join me. Gentlemen, good evening to you.

Let's get straight to it, John. Nineteen children now dead, nearly a decade after Sandy Hook. Nothing has changed. If not now, when?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That was the frustration you heard from president Biden. Raw pain and frustration. That's what we heard from Senator Chris Murphy. What are we doing? What are we doing as a nation?

We see, in effect, another Sandy Hook. You know, I've got kids this age. And -- and the fact that we have become numb to the amount of violence, the fact that gun violence is leading cause of death for children now in America. And that we feel there's nothing can be done, because there was nothing done after Sandy Hook.

And there are issues in America that have super-majority support. It wouldn't solve all these issues, but it would make -- make a dent in it. Preventing people with mental illness from getting guns. National background checks, more red-flag laws. Things we can and should do. And that's the test of our time. Are we going to be in debt -- indifferent to this kind of slaughter of children again?


LEMON: But you still can't -- John and Ron, there's a Pew research polling. It shows 63 percent of Americans back an assault-style weapons ban.

Eighty-one percent are in favor of expanded background checks on gun shows and private sales.

Why isn't anything changing, Ron, if the majority of Americans want some sort of sensible legislation?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Gun control, as clearly as any other issue, Don, really underscores the crisis of majority rule that we are facing.

After Sandy Hook, President Obama proposed universal background checks. It came to a vote in the Senate. They said, if you assign half of each state's population to each senator, the senators who supported the universal background check represented 194 million people. The senators who opposed it represented 118 million people. That's about as decisive a split as you can get in a democracy.

And yet, the 118 million prevailed because of the filibuster.

If you look today, I just calculated this today from a Rand Corporation report. The 20 states where gun -- where gun ownership is the highest per capita, they account for two-thirds of the Republicans in the Senate.

The 20 states where gun ownership is the lowest per capita account for two-thirds of the Democrats in the Senate.

The low-gun-ownership states have about 130 more million people than the high-gun-ownership states. But because of the Senate rules, two senators per state. They have equal power in the Senate. And the filibuster, in effect, gives a veto to small rural, heavily Republican states over national policy that, as you note, is clearly supported by a majority of the population.

It's true on other issues. It's true on climate. It's true on abortion. It's true on immigration. But on gun control, it may be the most pointed and consequential of this small-state veto.

LEMON: So listen, this is what doesn't make sense to me. You can feel however you want to feel. It's your business, you want to feel however you want to feel about abortion rights, right? The right to choose, the right to life, whatever. However you want to qualify it.

But on this issue, the right to life, the sanctity of life, does it matter?

AVLON: It would be nice to see some consistency on that, wouldn't it?

LEMON: It's not consistent at all.

AVLON: Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Those are things that end when a gun goes into a child, or when a gun goes into more people in our society. The mass shootings that have outnumbered days in the nation so far.

That we become numb to this. And as Ron rightly points out, we don't need to be paralyzed this way. But it's people putting ideology over individual life. That's the sanctity of life we should be focusing on.

And I don't get in our arcane conversations about filibuster or anything else right now. But we cannot feel, as a self-governing society, that we are unable to confront these problems. And that's where we are right now.

But that's on us. That's on the senators and members of Congress who have been cowed by an NRA that was more powerful a decade ago than it is today.

LEMON: You -- Do you think, Ron, is this whole issue of mental health-- yes, I'm sure mental health has something to do with it. Do you think that's a cop-out? BROWNSTEIN: Yes, because it's only part of the answer, right? I mean,

you know, as others have said, other countries have people dealing with mental health issues. What they don't have is comparable access to guns that allows people with mental issues to wreck this kind of carnage in the society.

I mean, you know, one is not -- one does not preclude the other. I mean, you can talk about more red-flag laws and better mental health treatment and also make it harder for people to acquire weapons of war that they can use to kill this many innocents this fast.

I mean, really, when President Obama, former President Obama used the word "paralyzed," it's exactly the right word. We're immobilized. I mean, the question is on so many fronts -- and I think gun control as clearly as any -- can the majority rule in America? Can we get around structures in our system and rules in the Senate that allow a clear minority to block action on issues year after year after year, despite the opinions of the majority?

And that is the broader crisis we face that has paralyzed and prevented us from dealing with this epidemic of gun violence.

LEMON: Gentlemen, that's got to be it. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr refusing to talk about basketball tonight. What he is talking about instead. Next.


STEVE KERR, COACH, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: I'm so tired of the -- excuse me, I'm sorry. I'm tired of the moments of silence. Enough.




LEMON: Another unspeakable loss of innocent life to gun violence in America. And for millions around the country, the news from Texas has been met not just with heartbreak, but with anger.

A boiling disbelief that, nearly a decade after 20 children and six adults were killed in Sandy Hook, this could happen over and over again. And a feeling that the words, thoughts and prayers are nowhere near enough for our leaders anymore.

Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr summing up that feeling in a powerful speech tonight.


KERR: When are we going to do something? I'm tired -- I'm so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to -- to the devastated families that are out there, and I'm so tired of the -- excuse me, I'm sorry, I'm tired of the moments of silence. Enough!

And I want every person here, every person listening to this to think about your own child or grandchild. Or mother, or father, or sister, brother. How would you feel if this happened to you today?

We can't get numb to this. We can't sit here and just read about it and go, Well, let's have a moment of silence. Yes, go, Dubs (ph), you know. Come on, Mouths (ph), let's go. That's how we're going to do. We're going to go play a basketball game.

And 50 senators in Washington are going to hold us hostage. Do you realize that 90 percent of Americans, regardless of political party, want background check, universal background check? Ninety percent of us.

We are being held hostage by 50 senators in Washington who refuse to even put it to a vote, despite what we, the American people, want. They won't vote on it, because they want to hold on to their own power. It's pathetic! I've had enough.


LEMON: Not the only one who has had enough. Americans keep dying, and they deserve better. And Steve Kerr is not alone in having to stage the subject. "Sesame Street" having to step away from ABCs tonight, instead, giving advice on how to talk to your kids about shootings.



LEMON: Mass shootings devastate communities, but they take an especially grim toll when children are targeted, like they were in that Texas elementary school today.

It can be hard for kids in your life to understand what is happening at a time like this, so the folks at "Sesame Street" are trying to help, tweeting out this message tonight, and I quote: "Our thoughts are with our friends in Texas. You're not alone. For caregivers, it can be hard to help little ones understand and cope with the effects of violence, but limiting media exposure and making space for them to express big feelings are good places to start."

Unfortunately, it is not the first time that they have felt the need to give advice for helping children process the confusing violence happening in the world around them. Like this clip; it's from 2021.


ALAN MURAOKA, ACTOR, "SESAME STREET": These are tough issues, and they might come to you with tough questions. You can start by letting them tell you what they've heard and encouraging them to talk and share. And most of all, you can let them know you'll keep them safe and be there to listen.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Well, we all wish children should never need to talk about something like this, but violence keeps finding its way into our schools. And tomorrow, in Uvalde, Texas, grade schoolers will be waking up missing their friends.

So that community, and this country, will need to find a way to be there for them.

Thanks for watching, everyone. Our live coverage continues.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.