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Don Lemon Tonight

Uvalde Victims Named; Families Broken In Horrific Shooting; Uvalde Shooter Posted Online His Plan To Kill; Police Responded Fast; Some People Don't Agree To Hold NRA Convention; All Talk No Action From Lawmakers; Former President Trump Confirms To Attend NRA; Beto O'Rourke Confront Texas Leadership. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 25, 2022 - 22:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Anderson, it is really about remembering the victims of this, and for all the family members who are just really at the beginning of the griefs. Some of the interviews that you've conducted tonight are just -- it's heartbreaking to witness.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes. It's a -- you know, I mean, we have all been through this before. We have all seen this before, but it is -- it is just stunning, it's sickening, and still a lot to be learned. I know you're going to be going over what we do know at this hour, but there is still a lot of information of what we learned about what exactly went on here and this was able to happen, Don.

LEMON: Anderson Cooper on the scene for us. Anderson, thank you so much. We appreciate that. I'm Don Lemon.

And there is a vigil tonight in Texas, in a town many of us didn't know much or maybe anything about, but that was until yesterday. And we've learned really a lot about Uvalde, the kids who lived and died there. But we saw parents in the community trying to rally around them. And a lot we haven't learned yet. Maybe we never will about the motive behind this senseless killing. And the police response, the timeline, of what happened in the small town, on awards day at the end of the school year, all those families that will never be the same again.


ANGEL GARZA, FATHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM AMERIE JO GARZA: She was the sweetest little girl who did nothing wrong. She listens to her mom and dad, she always brushed her teeth, she was creative, she made things for us. She never got in trouble in school. Like I want to know what she did to be a victim.


LEMON: That was one of the interviews that I just mentioned to Anderson. It is heartbreaking. A small town that will never be able to forget what happened, ever. And like I said, there are so many unanswered questions tonight. But we are learning more about the 18- year- old shorter, about what happened yesterday morning. And exclusive new details about chilling warnings just minutes before

the shootings started. The gunman texting with a teenage girl in Germany who he had met online. Describing how he had just shot his grandmother.

Authorities are saying that the grandmother was shot in the face. But made it to a nearby home and called police. She is in the hospital tonight. His next text, I'm going to go up an elementary school right now.

We've got a lot more to come on this in just a moment. But it tells you that this was an intentional act of on children in their classroom. And new tonight, also, officials say that the shooters were on the school premises for about 40 minutes to an hour before law enforcements burst into the classroom and killed him.

We've also got newly-obtained video tonight showing the shooter repeatedly throwing punches, a former friend in the classmate says that he received a video that is more than a year ago. And also says quote, "that he would always get into fights at school."

That as the President of the United States, Joe Biden says that he will go to Uvalde, Texas in the coming days and calls for backbone to stand up to the gun lobby.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The idea an 18- year-old can walk into a store and buy weapons of war, designed and marketed to kill, is I think just wrong, just violence common sense. Even the manufacturer, the inventor of that weapon, thought that as well. You know, where is the backbone? Where is the courage? To stand up to a very powerful lobby.


LEMON: I want to get right now to CNN's Jason Carroll live for us in Uvalde, Texas. Jason, hello to you. State officials revealing a lot of new details on how this massacre played out. What are we learning tonight?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As you say, Don, a lot of new details, many of the details very was disturbing. You heard the president just talk about one of those details. The shooter in this case, apparently, just last week, purchased those semiautomatic weapons on two different days last week. He was 18 years old. Purchase them legally.

Also finding out that the gunman purchased 375 rounds of ammo. Some of that ammo we're finding out, Don, ended up right outside the school here. As he was entering the school running inside, he dropped a bag loaded with ammo as well. Also learning some more details about what happens in the moments, the very few moments leading up to the shooting.

Apparently, he sent a text message to a girl that he had met online, saying, in part, that he had just shot his grandmother. And when it comes to his grandmother, it turns out that she was one of the people who called 911 after she had been shot. Telling them what had happened.


The gunman was also finding out right before the shooting happened had crashed his car nearby the school. Got out of the car, and ran into the western side of the school. And as you say, we are just now learning that he was able to barricade himself inside that school for some 40 minutes to, up to an hour before law enforcement was finally able to kill him. And it ended up being a border patrol agent, as you know who ended up doing that. So, a lot of new details coming out tonight, Don, all of them disturbing.

LEMON: Jason, I have been watching your interviews, you are there on the ground reporting. Talk to us please about what you are hearing from the community members, and the people who lost loved ones in the attack there. There was a vigil tonight.

CARROLL: There was a vigil tonight, and much of what you hear at the vigil is what we heard throughout the day. Actually, at one point, I spoke to Felix and Kimberly Rubio. Their 10-year-old daughter, Lexi, was a fourth grader here at Robb Elementary School.

And Don, just very quickly, what had happened was, you know, they thought it was going to be a great day. They had come to the school on Tuesday morning because Lexi -- Lexi made the honor roll. And so, there was a big award celebration so they were here in the morning to celebrate all of that.

They went home, and 30 minutes later they got a call that there was a shooting. It turns out that Lexi's father is an Uvalde County sheriff's deputy. And so, you can imagine his heartache, he hears about the shooting, he rushes to the school and find out -- finds out that his own daughter was one of the victims. We spoke to them just a short while ago. Here's what they had to say.


FELIX RUBIO, FATHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM ALEXANDRIA RUBIO: All I can hope is that she is just not a number. Hopefully something gets resolved. That's all we ask. Hopefully something gets resolved.

CARROLL: I know this is very difficult, but what would you like to get resolved? What would you like to see resolve?

RUBIO: Gun violence, guns. I'm a cop. I'm a deputy here in Uvalde County. This is enough. This is enough. Nobody needs to go through this. We never needed to go through this but we are. Thank you.


CARROLL: Incredibly painful there. And Don, I think one of the most difficult moments to experience something like that, was Lexi's mother. Before the interview started, she came out and she kept saying over and over again, she's like, this is my fault, my fault. She's like, I made a mistake, I made a mistake, I never should've left her there.

And you know, how many times, you know, I told her that it was not her fault, that her husband said this is not your fault, it's this overwhelming sense of guilt that her mother has at this hour. There is that here in this community. But there's also people here in this community who are trying to wrap their arms around each other to help people, to help everyone here get through this. but it's going to be a very, very long time for this community to heal. Don?

LEMON: You are right about that, Jason, if ever, if ever, right? I just want to tell our viewers that we are going to speak to Lexi's great-grandparents in just a moment here. Jason Carroll, thank you for joining us this evening in Uvalde. Keep doing the great reporting and focusing on what matters, the victims and all of this.

Now I want to turn to CNN's exclusive reporting, chilling text sent by the Texas shooter about his attack plans right before they unfolded. CNN senior investigative correspondent is Drew Griffin and he has the latest for us tonight.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: This is the text conversation captured just moments before the 18-year-old shooter would attempt to kill his grandmother. Then in his words, shoot up an elementary school. You know what I'm going to do right now? He writes. Tell me is the response. I can't, since my grandpa hasn't let. I'm waiting for this dude to leave.

Shortly after 11 a.m., Texas time, the suspect then complains about his grandmother and his phone bill. I'm waiting for this bitch. I'm going to do something to her right now. She is on with AT&T about my phone. It's annoying. Five minutes past, then, I just got my grandma in her head. I'm going to go shoot up an elementary school right now.

That last message sent at 6.21 p.m., German time, which would have been 11.21 a.m. in Uvalde Texas. Eleven minutes later, police received their first call of a shooting at Robb Elementary School, the person on the receiving end of the text, a 15-year-old girl in Germany. She had never met him in person. They connected through a live streaming app called, Yuba. Then facetime, texted, and he sent her videos of himself. She says the shooter told her he had bought some ammo Monday. But she told CNN she had no idea what he was planning.


She is not the only person he was communicating with, the shooter's Instagram account showed a photo of two AR style weapons, and tag another young woman who he messaged the morning of the shooting saying, I'm about to, but didn't finish his sentence, and then, I got a little secret.

(END VIDEOTAPE) GRIFFIN: The teenage girl who spoke to CNN from Germany, Don, with her mother's consent, tells us, her only communication with the suspect had been fairly innocuous texting but she did tell us of one conversation that alarmed her when the shooter allegedly told her, he threw dead cats at people's houses. Very disturbing.

LEMON: It is very disturbing. I mean, Drew, how does this relationship with this girl and the shooter began? She was just 15, right?

GRIFFIN: Yes, they started talking just two weeks ago, met on this live streaming up that I knew nothing about, Yubo. It's apparently some kind of live streaming with a group of friends, but then you can peel off with some direct messages. That's what they did. But again, they never met in person. They never even were on the same continent at the same time.

LEMON: Wow. And she didn't notice anything alarming?

GRIFFIN: She claims no except for those unanswered questions. The ammo purchase, she asked what's it for? No answer. And then she told us about that cat thing. Alarming to her, she says, but not enough to send a warning.

LEMON: Drew Griffin, our chief investigative correspondent, thank you very much, Drew. We appreciate that. Tomorrow will set to be the last day of school at Robb Elementary before summer vacation. Instead, parents of 19 children and two teachers are now making funeral arrangements. The parents of 10-year-old Amerie Jo Garza had just given her a phone for her birthday. And tonight, her dad told Anderson that she tried calling the police during the shooting to save her friends.


GARZA: So, I got confirmation from other students in her classroom that she was just trying to call authorities. And I guess he just shot her. How are you going to look at this girl and shoot her?

My baby, how can you shoot my baby?


LEMON: The bodies of at least nine victims of the massacre are being released to funeral homes this evening with the remaining bodies later tonight or tomorrow. That word from Eulalio Diaz, Justice of the Peace for the precinct four in Uvalde County. It is his job to coordinate the official processing of the victims. He was present at the civic center last night assisting the families and working to return the bodies of their loved young ones as soon as possible and he joins me now.

Eulalio Diaz, I know your people call you Lalo, Lalo. Do you mind if I call you Lalo? I think you want us to call you Lalo.

EULALIO DIAZ, JUSTICE FOR PEACE, UVALDE PRECINCT 4: It's fine. LEMON: I couldn't -- as I was reading that I couldn't believe that

those words were coming out of my mouth, that's why I hesitated. It's just so heartbreaking. I'm glad that you are here, but I'm so sorry to meet you under these circumstances. How are these families coping right now? And how are you coping?

DIAZ: It's a tough time. I mean, it's a -- I know it's heartbreaking for a lot of families here in the small community. For myself, haven't had to go into the scene yesterday. And see what I saw, it's very -- very tough, very tough to have to live with.

But you know, I had to be strong, stay professional, do my job, know that at that point my job was to ensure that the victims were all taken care of in a proper manner. And identify property and then work to get them to the medical examiner's office in San Antonio and now working to get them back.

LEMON: You know I spoke with a reporter last night from our affiliate KSAT who told me that that she could hear screaming from inside that civic center where you were. Can you just, if you don't mind, and if you do mind, I understand. Telling us what it was like being there with those families? Is this something that you -- I'm not sure if this is part of your training.

DIAZ: Well, I was not at the civic center. I was actually at the crime scene. So, my job was to be at the crime scene, work with the Berea County medical examiner, Dr. Molina (Ph) who came down to assist us in the identification of the victims and work the process to them to get them over to Berea County.

Working through the night, I think my last -- my last conversation with the Berea County medical examiner's office was at 2 a.m. in the morning. And then back at 6 a.m., making sure that they had the proper information.


That they had names, dates of birth, that they had next of kins, so that whenever they were done processing them and finish with the autopsy, that they could release these families, these victims of families back in Uvalde.

That was -- that was the number one most important thing that I was working on to get them out to be.

LEMON: Were you thinking, when am I going to wake up from this nightmare?

DIAZ: Of course, of course, I have lived here since I was 10. I'm 49 now. I love this town. I went to high school here. I grow -- my family has grown up here. I have my -- my daughter is a senior. My son is in eighth grade. They attend the schools here. We are embedded in this community like anybody else.

And it was heartbreaking yesterday because as I walked through the -- through to the crime scene, seeing victims that I went to high school it. I mean, Irma. Irma Garcia was one that -- she was a year younger than me in school, and her husband was a year older than me. And her husband and I work at HB back in the early 2000s.

He stayed as, you know, a friend of mine. They're well known to the community. I know they got kids in the system. It's just heartbreaking. And then as I got home and I started seeing messages on Facebook of the loved -- of the people that were missing their loved ones, I could put two and two together and start figuring out those are people that I also know.

So, I just, at that time, I couldn't recognize or we didn't -- I didn't know who the children actually belong to. But once we started coming out, it started hitting home really that it really affected a lot of people that I knew, a lot of people that these kids were children and grandchildren.

LEMON: Well, Lalo, listen, you know, a lot of people have been saying, talking about, what happened? And you know, what needs to be done? What the community is dealing with. You lived there all your life, as you said. So, what do you think? What needs to be done? What does the community need? What do you want to see happen?

DIAZ: Well, right now, everybody just needs to come together and provide support, not just for the victims' families but for all students, because everybody was affected at every age group. And because every student was affected throughout the district, it also affected the entire community.

So, the community has to heal first. It's going to take us some time, I don't know how long it's going to take. It's going to take -- it could take a year, maybe a couple of years, but we'll never forget May 24th. It's going to be a nightmare for us. We're going to live here. We are going to drive by Robb school and know what happened in there.

And we are going to remember. Like I said, right now, I hope that the -- when it is early, we get a lot of support, a lot of counseling. But as time goes on, sometimes counseling stops or slows down, and you don't get as much hope. I just hope that they stay around and they assist us long term, maybe even into the next school year because the students are out of school now. They are not going to be around.

And to get these students to the civic center or to the fair plex, it's hard to bring people back. For someone to admit that they are feeling bad or they need help is very hard. We almost have to go out to them, out to their houses and be around when they come back to school next year because this is going to take a lot of time to heal.

LEMON: And to the leaders and politicians, you have any words?

DIAZ: I hope that you come together. We are so polarized right now. We are at different ends of a spectrum. Some people -- one side says nothing -- that we want complete elimination of guns. The other side says, we want all guns available. There's got to be somewhere in the middle that we can come to, to do something because if we continue to do nothing, things are just going to happen. Now, it's not 100 percent guaranteed that it won't happen again, but if we don't try, then we won't know if we can reduce it or stop it.

LEMON: Eulalio Diaz, thank you. I am so sorry that what -- you guys are having to do it. Thank you so much.

DIAZ: Thank you again.

LEMON: I really appreciate it. The families of 19 children, two teachers in mourning tonight. Next, I'm going to talk to the great grandfather of 10-year-old Lexi Rubio. There she is up on the screen. We'll do that after the break.



LEMON: Well, it turns out what these families are going through is just heart-wrenching, the loss of 19 children and two of their teachers.

I want to bring in now Julian Moreno. Julian is the great grandfather of 10-year-old Lexi Rubio, who sadly lost her life yesterday.

Mr. Moreno, thank you so much for joining us. I am incredibly sorry for your loss. We just heard your grieving family just a short time ago with our correspondent Jason Carroll who is on the scene. Can you please tell our audience what you want everyone to know about your great granddaughter?

JULIAN MORENO, LOST GREAT GRANDDAUGHTER, LEXI RUBIO IN UVALDE SHOOTING: She was a wonderful, young girl, beautiful smile, very active in sports, full of energy and a loving child.

LEMON: It's so -- it's un -- it's hard to believe what has happened. And quite frankly, many times, I am in awe of people like you who can come on television and speak at the moment. Why did you choose to do it? Was it to honor your great granddaughter?


MORENO: I wanted to let people know the life of my great granddaughter. Even though it is very difficult, we are heartbroken. My granddaughter, and my wife and my daughters, but it is one of those things that through faith and trust in God, we know that we will survive.

LEMON: Is there any way, Mr. Moreno to describe to people the pain and the grief that you and your family are experiencing now?

MORENO: It is very painful, especially for my granddaughter, her mother, Kimberly Rubio. We just don't understand all that took place. I live close by and I heard all the shooting and I ran towards the school and soon realized that it was not just shooting between the perpetrator and the police. I heard one of the officers say that the man had walked into the school. And when he pointed to the building, I knew that my great granddaughter was in that building.

LEMON: And your worst fear came true. Did you -- when did you learn that Lexi was one of the victims?

MORENO: It was until later on in the evening. I am assuming after all the DNA testing had been done, and it was confirmed that she was not one of the survivors.

LEMON: How is Kimberly, her mom?

MORENO: Yes. I'm sorry?

LEMON: Her mom is Kimberly, correct?

MORENO: Yes, that is right.

LEMON: How is Kimberly doing?

MORENO: Of course, she is heartbroken. Yesterday she was in complete shock. But today she is doing a little bit better.

LEMON: Mr. Moreno, I know that Lexi's dad and uncle are both in law enforcement. And I cannot imagine having to deal with this investigation in such an enormous personal loss at the same time. Why has that been like for them? Do they talk about it?

MORENO: I'm sorry, I did not understand the question.

LEMON: I understand that her uncle and also another family member are in law enforcement. And they are having to deal with the investigation and this enormous loss at the same time.

MORENO: I really don't have any information on that. I talked only to Kimberly and her husband, Mr. Felix Rubio, who is a county sheriff deputy in Uvalde.

LEMON: And we heard earlier on CNN him speaking to Anderson. This is a small community, Mr. Moreno. You live in a very small community. Can you tell us about it and --


MORENO: Yes --

LEMON: Go on, sir.

MORENO: Yes, the population is 16, 000, I believe. And we literally know of or know every family that was affected. We -- I have lived here since 1971. So, I know a lot of these families that were affected also.

LEMON: Is there anything else you would like to say to our viewers and to the world while you had their attention at this moment, Mr. Moreno?

MORENO: I'm sorry, would you repeat the question?

LEMON: Is there anything you'd like to say, sir?

MORENO: I cannot make out the question, I'm sorry.

LEMON: Can you hear me, Mr. Moreno?

MORENO: I can hear you now, yes, sir.

LEMON: I said is there anything else you would like to say?

MORENO: Just that to our community, we -- I know that there are a lot of people experiencing anger, anguish, heartbrokenness -- for us to remain faithful and understanding that we do not understand the reasons and the why's, but we do understand that we have a God that we can trust in. And hopefully, each family will find comfort through His presence.

LEMON: Mr. Moreno, thank you so much. Again, I'm so -- I can't even express the sorrow that we are feeling. But thank you.


MORENO: You are quite welcome.

LEMON: Thank you.

MORENO: You are quite welcome.

LEMON: Thank you. Listen, I was speaking the way I was speaking because there was a hearing issue with Mr. Moreno and I wanted to make sure that he heard me clearly. There is a lot going on. And he -- I'm sure there is a lot in his mind.

So, his granddaughter is Lexi -- great granddaughter is Lexi Rubio. And he wanted to come on tonight to honor her and, indeed, he did. We'll be right back.



LEMON: New details emerging on the timeline of the horrific shooting in Texas. Earlier today, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said this in an update on the investigation.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): The reality is, as horrible as what happened, it could have been worse. The reason that it was not worse is because law enforcement officials did what they do. They showed amazing courage by running toward gunfire.


LEMON: Tonight, we are learning more about the moment the shooter entered the school. And that he was inside for 40 minutes to an hour before he was killed by law enforcement.

I want to bring in now CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe, also the author of "The Threat." Andrew, thank you very much. I appreciate you joining us.

We are going to get into these messages. But I just want to start with this reporting that a school officer encountered the shooter outside the school, that he dropped a bag of ammunition as he ran inside but that the school officer did not engage. Why was that?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Don, we don't know, at this point. There is a lot about the scenario and about the timeline and the events that took place leading up to this horrible killing that we just don't know.

I think, you know, the fulsome investigation of this attack and everything that led to it will get us to the point. But there are a lot of questions about the interaction that the subject allegedly had with the school safety officer, potentially outside the school.

He -- there is some conflicting reporting about another interaction that he had with two local police officers inside the school, in which gunfire was exchanged before he barricaded himself into the classroom. And then there has been reporting that he was in that classroom for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour before the tactical team came and made entry and ultimately killed him.

And so, there are, I think there are very many reasonable questions about what took place at each juncture in that series of events.

LEMON: So, then my question is, since you said they are talking about these tactical units. How do these tactical units work? And could more have been done sooner? Do we just not know? Do we have to wait? Or do you have any idea here?

MCCABE: We do need to wait, but what I can tell you is that the training that the FBI and DHS and other partners deliver to state and local police agencies, the active shooter training, which has been underway for several years now. And it's really a development in the post-Columbine world. It emphasizes two things.

One, that regular patrol officers, not just elite tactical units, but regular patrol officers should have the long rifles and more powerful weapons that they need to confront a shooter like this. And that any officer who responds to a mass shooting should not hold up and wait for a tactical unit, but should rather go in and address that shooter as quickly as possible to try to end the killing.

Because we know from studies that mass shootings, most of the fatalities happened in the very first few seconds and minutes interaction. So, that's how law officers are trained today.

LEMON: So, the -- Andrew, there is new reporting tonight that the shooter had a history of fighting with others. That's according to a former friend. CNN have obtained this video of the shooter throwing several punches. This was, there it is. It was more than a year ago.

The former friend says that that, you know, wasn't out of the ordinary. But CNN has reached out to the Uvalde School District for more information about that. But we haven't got a response. Obviously, we know that they are extremely busy right now. They got -- they're dealing with a lot. How will investigators look at that?

MCCABE: This is the kind of evidence, Don, it's very important to investigators. Excuse me. We know that we don't have a situation here where we have a subject who is adjudicated mentally ill or had been hospitalized for mental illness or depression or those sorts of things.

But these pieces of evidence, these stories from friends and family members, these videos from hostile interactions at school and the workplace, wherever they may have been. All help us build a mosaic of what this person was like prior to this attack. And what sort of things may have happened to him in his life that may have brought him to this place.


None of that is ever going to bring back these victims, but it is important for investigators, and particularly the FBI to know, to it adds to their understanding of mass shootings in a way that could help the FBI train and inform state and local law enforcement in a way to be better prepared to deal with these situations.

LEMON: It's all so bizarre. Because Andrew, hours before the shooting, he messaged another account on Instagram saying, you know, I've got a little secret. Then he pass a -- then he -- excuse me, posted, I should say, photos of the assault rifles on his Instagram, as well.


LEMON: How challenging is it for law enforcement to act on threatening or concerning messages before a tragedy happens? I mean, it's not like the different social media companies are big help either, right?

MCCABE: They're really are not. And you know, if this person wasn't already under investigation for some other reason, there is absolutely -- there no reason to think that these messages would have come to the attention of law enforcement, unless, of course, the other correspondent in these conversations sent it to law enforcement, which, of course, people should do. And that's a message that we really need to get out to the public.

But it doesn't appear to have happened in this -- in this case. You can only imagine, Don, that there are millions of similar messages like this every day that don't get acted upon. So, law enforcement is in a very tough spot, number one, to even know about these conversations.

And, number two, to assess them as to whether or not it's just huffing or young kids kind of saying silly stuff to each other, or whether it's actual planning and you know, up to an attack? We know now, of course tragically after the fact, that this guy was planning this thing for a while, arming himself, buying ammunition, telling others what he was going to do. So, this was cooking for a while with him.

LEMON: Andrew McCabe, thank you, Andrew. I appreciate it.

MCCABE: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: So, what do Americans really think about guns in this country? We're going to break that down next. And I'm going to speak with Houston's mayor ahead of the NRA meeting there on Friday.



LEMON: Gun legislation has been at a stalemate in Congress for years. That's despite a significant number of reforms that a majority of Americans actually agree on.

CNN's political analyst John Avlon and he is here with me at the magic wall to break it all down. John, good evening to you. So where are Americans agreeing when it comes to gun reform?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: This is the thing. You know, people look in the wake of Sandy Hook, nothing got done. So, people have given up. But there is this bipartisanship support on some responsible, common-sense gun reform. Here's one, 87 percent of Americans according to Pew survey from a year ago support preventing the mentally illy from purchasing guns, 87 percent. Eighty-five percent are Republicans to that number.

Let's look at background checks, another close to this. Gun show loopholes, a private gun sales, 81 percent of Americans, 70 percent are Republicans. So, you see. Now you go further, 66 percent of Americans support a federal database to track gun sales, 64 percent support banning high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

So, you see what we are dealing with there. Even assault weapons ban which we had from 1994 to 2004, 63 percent of American support. Those are super majorities, Don. You don't see a lot of places where over 60 percent of Americans agree on something even on guns.

LEMON: I think it's fair to take a look at where there's been some serious gun reform implemented and it actually worked, and that is Vermont.

AVLON: Yes. And that may surprise people. Look, Vermont has a robust gun culture. It also has a Republican governor. In 2018, Republican Governor Phil Scott work with the legislator to pass some gun control legislation. Eliminating unlicensed firearms transfers, no sales to people under 21. Should be able to buy -- not be able to buy a beer but buy an AR, ban on large capacity magazines and ban on bump stop fire stocks.

Now here's the thing, one year after that, according to John Hopkins University --


AVLON: -- a 27 percent decrease in Vermont gun deaths, one year. LEMON: Yes.

AVLON: That's a hundred different stories but that's -- that's real.

LEMON: I want to get this in because in 2021, NPR obtained an audiotape of top brass at NRA discussing whether or not to talk about this to cancel a convention in the wake of the Columbine shooting. Listen to this.


UNKNOWN: I got to tell you, we got to think this thing through because if we tuck tail and run, we're going to be accepting responsibility for what happened out there.

UNKNOWN: That's one very good argument, Jim, on the other side. If you don't appear to be deferential in honoring the dead, you end up being a tremendous (muted) head who would tuck tail and run.


AVLON: It is Tim (Inaudible) who got these tapes from NPR, debating how to respond after Columbine, that first mass school shooting. And you see there the templates are being set. They are seeing this as a P.R. for them. Not a public health problem or public policy problem that they could play a constructed ruling.

And that's been the pattern. So now they are going to be meeting in Houston, the same state where this just occurred. You know, Donald Trump is going to speak there. You know what's not going to be allowed, guns.

LEMON: Guns. There you go. Thank you, John Avlon, I appreciate it. The NRA is meeting in Houston, Texas. That's on Friday after everything that has happened this week. I'm going to speak with the mayor next.

And parents of the victim at Sandy Hook and parkland shooting speak out here. Make sure you stay with us.



LEMON: So, the former President Trump confirming that he is going to speak at NRA's convention in Houston this Friday, just three days after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in the same state.

Singer Don McLean, though, feels differently. He released a statement to this show saying this, and I quote, "in light of the recent events in Texas, I have decided it would be disrespectful and hurtful for me to perform for the NRA at their convention in Houston this week. I'm sure all the folks planning to attend this event are shocked and sickened by these events, as well. After all, we are all Americans. I share the sorrow for this terrible, cruel loss and the rest of the nation."

So, joining me now is the mayor of Houston, Texas, Sylvester Turner. Mayor, thank you. I appreciate it.

MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D), HOUSTON, TEXAS: Thanks, Don. Thanks for having me this evening.

LEMON: So, I understand that you can't cancel the NRA convention coming to your city on Friday. But what do you say to all the people, including your governor and one of our senators coming just days after this massacre?


TURNER: Well, certainly, they don't have to come. I think it would be respectful for the families who are planning funerals for their children for them not to come. You can say two days ago, yesterday, that you offer prayers and condolences to these families, and then three or four days later, appear at the NRA promoting the use of guns and assault weapons.

So, what I would say to the governor, congressperson, legislators, elected officials, with all due respect, you should not come. And then what I would say to the NRA, even though the city cannot cancel a contract because we don't agree with their position on guns, certainly, the NRA can postpone their convention for a week or two to allow the families to bury their children.

LEMON: So, you, legally, you can't do it? And there is no, you know, emergency loophole or extraordinary -- you just can't do it, right?

TURNER: Don, you know, we've looked at it, but you can't conventions and conferences because you don't like the politics --


LEMON: I get it.

TURNER: -- or the positions that they hold.


LEMON: I just know that people at home are going to wondering why the mayor couldn't cancel the convention. So, I just want to make sure I got the explanation for the viewers at home.

Listen, mayor, according to the NRA web site, advertising Donald Trump speech, no firearms will be permitted in the hall while Trump is present. Why not? If guns in the hands of good guys make everyone so much safer, clearly, that is not what the Secret Service believes.

TURNER: Well, and I think that speaks volumes. So, for the former president to come, no guns at the convention hall in a convention hall. But if you are attending graduations, if you are attending concerts and other events, guns are allowed. And in the state of Texas, the legislature has made it very --

literally, the state of Texas has preempted local officials like myself, mayors, county judges from imposing restrictions on where guns can be allowed. If we say no to certain venues, then we are violating state law.

But the president, the former President of the United States can come to the NRA, and in that particular venue, no guns are allowed in order to protect the president and the other people who will be there to listen and adhere to them. Now that -- if that doesn't speak volumes, I don't know what does.

LEMON: Listen, I've got to ask you this because I know your city sadly has been no stranger to shootings. There had been several shootings in your city in just the past few weeks. What are you doing in Houston to deal with this rise in gun violence, Mayor?

TURNER: Well, we put forth, Don, what we call one safe. In January, basically, what it is, we are tackling it on all fronts. We are not just adding more police. We are after the years of our time. We are also utilizing more technology. We are putting on great delivery sources and fighting domestic abuse, which is up about 40 percent over a year ago.

We are addressing what we call crisis, people who are in crisis, people with mental behavioral health issues, the homeless, substance abuse, and then we are putting a great emphasis on working with the community, credible messengers, programs.

A lot of those as a community plus law enforcement working together. What we are seeing, Don, since February -- since January when homicides were up 65 to 70 percent over last year. As of this morning, when I looked at the number, we are down to 6 percent. And in almost every other category of violent crime, we are down, we are below where we were a year ago.

So, we are investing about $52 million in our one safe Houston initiative. It is a holistic approach. And Don, the numbers are trending in the right direction.

LEMON: Well, we --


TURNER: It needs all hands on deck.

LEMON: We hope that it continues to trend in the right direction, and that you can be a model for the rest of the country. I've got to ask you this, because I think it was an important moment today. And this is -- I want to get your take on Beto O'Rourke. He is a Democratic nominee for the governor of Texas confronting the current and other officials during a press conference today on the shooting.


FMR. REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX): The time to stop the next shooting is right now and you are doing nothing. you're offering us nothing. You said this was not predictable, this is totally predictable when you choose not to do anything. I'm standing up for the kids of this state to stop this from happening again.

UNKNOWN: Sir, you are out of line. Sir, you are out of line.

UNKNOWN: get out of here.

MAYOR DON MCLAUGHLIN, UVALDE, TEXAS: I can't believe you're a sick son of a (bitch) that would come to a deal like this.


UNKNOWN: This is not the place to do that.