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CNN Tonight

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) Slams Trump In Anti-LGBTQ Video; White Lotus Star: Bigots And Homophobes Can't Watch My Work Following Supreme Court Ruling; How To Diversify Without Affirmative Action; Adversity Scores Become A New Way To Measure Students Without Affirmative Action; Baltimore Police Search For Suspects On Sunday Mass Shooting; Carowinds Park In Charlotte Reported For Unsafe Ride. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 03, 2023 - 22:00   ET


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hi, Kaitlan. Thank you very much.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to a special holiday edition of CNN TONIGHT.


The Republican infighting is taking a nasty turn. Ron DeSantis is attacking Donald Trump with a campaign video that slams Trump for one supporting LGBTQ rights, like this moment in 2016 weeks after the Pulse Nightclub massacre.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens.


CAMEROTA: Our panel is going to explain what this ad says about Ron DeSantis and what he really believes.

Plus, Michael Imperioli, star of The Sopranos and White Lotus, has a new rule for who can watch his hit T.V. shows and movies. He says the Supreme Court has given him the right to ban bigots.

And two people shot to death, 28 injured in a mass shooting at a block party and Baltimore on Sunday. We wanted to hear from gun owners and strong Second Amendment advocates about what reforms they can live with to stop mass shootings. Hear what they say in tonight's Pulse of the People.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My guns are not a factor. My point being that my right should not be taken away because a mental health gun issue and somebody else's house, in somebody else's community in Chicago, in New York City.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: Okay. But let's begin with this bizarre campaign video from Ron DeSantis advertising the fact that he does not support the rights of LGBTQ people. Here with me tonight, we have Molly Jong-Fast, Vanity Fair columnist, Jay Michaelson, rabbi and Rolling Stone columnist, Eva McKend, CNN national politics reporter, and Jason Osborne, communications strategist for Ben Carson's 2016 presidential campaign. Great to see all of you

Jason, let me start with you. Let's just play a little bit more of this ad from DeSantis that seems to proudly highlight the fact that he has draconian policies.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot think of anything more horrifying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It really has shut down drag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just produce some of the harshest, most draconian laws that literally threatened trans existence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, Ron DeSantis, mission accomplished. You win.


CAMEROTA: Jason, as a strategist yourself in politics on a presidential campaign, if he's trying to add voters, how is this additive, this ad?

JASON OSBORNE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think, first of this, wasn't a campaign ad, so to speak. I mean, it was, I think, personally a dumb decision to re-tweet it out by a campaign staffer. So, there is that aspect of it.

But I think what he's trying to do -- well, I can't even say what he's trying to do, but, generally, I think that the idea is that DeSantis is trying to show voters that, wait a minute, I'm further to the right than Donald Trump. And if Donald Trump is going to sit here and campaign and say that he's the consensus candidate, then you're going to have to fight Ron DeSantis to get that primary vote.

Now, what he does after that, I don't know. And I think, quite frankly, the underlying message of that DeSantis is trying to get parental rights and their kids in schools is going to be lost on this kind of ad, and I certainly hope that they change their tactics moving forward.

CAMEROTA: Molly, he's basically telling gay voters, I do not want your vote.

MOLLY JONG-FAST, COLUMNIST, VANITY FAIR: It's a natural present progression of the Don't Say Gay laws. Remember, Don't Say Gay laws were these Florida education laws started by Ron DeSantis. They first went to third grade. They said, oh, it's just going to go to third grade and then they went to high school and now he's coming after gay people. I mean, this is what happens. This is always what happens. They go after speech and then they go after people themselves.

And, I mean, I think strategically DeSantis is doing it because he wants to run to the right of Trump. But you're seeing they're pushing each other further and further right.


JAY MICHAELSON, COLUMNIST, ROLLING STONE: Yes. I mean, first of all, I love that this ad's sounds like has gay techno club anthem, I don't know if I'll be hearing a July 4th in the Pines tomorrow, but it's an interesting choice. But bring it on, Ron. It's great when the bigots say the quiet part out loud. We are coming up on July 4th. I'm a patriot.

I believe in American values, and I think most Americans do not support this kind of outrageous targeting. Even if they might agree on some of the things about parental rights or some of those issues, this message that just says I'm the biggest bigot in the room is not going to resonate with mainstream voters. So, as a progressive, I say, bring it on.

CAMEROTA: Eva, one of the things that has been pointed out is that the quote that he uses from Trump is right after the Pulse Nightclub massacre. I mean, again, I know that they just re-tweeted it, but, still, I mean, how tone-deaf can you be in Florida, when that was, I think, 49 people were mowed down. Here's what two of his opponents, Republicans, had to say about this. Let me play Chris Christie and Will Hurd.



CHRIS CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am not comfortable with it and I'm not comfortable with the way both Governor DeSantis and Donald Trump are moving our debate in this country.

WILL HURD, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I wish they would focus their attacks on war criminals, like Vladimir Putin, not my friends in the LGBTQ community.


CAMEROTA: Eva, what is the DeSantis campaign thing about this?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Alisyn, all indications are they are proud of this and really sort of taking a victory lap here. A spokesperson for the governor tweeting out that taking issue with the concept of pride month all together, saying that it is pandering, there isn't a similar sort of celebration for straight people, and calling identity politics toxic. So, this is right on brand for a Governor DeSantis and his team.

Listen, they are trying to speak to a certain segment of the electorate. When I was at the Faith and Freedom Forum in D.C. not long ago, speaking to Christian evangelical voters, these are the voters that Republicans need to capture in the early state of Iowa. They told me that their number one concern was they're concerned about transgender Americans, how gender identity is taught in schools.

And I would push back and say, really? Out of all the issues that we are confronting in this country, whether it be abortion, or the economy, they said no, it's transgender issues. It's gender issues.

And so Governor DeSantis is speaking directly to those anxieties. And he is probably relishing that the likes of Secretary Buttigieg, Will Hurd and Chris Christie are going after him, because those are people that Republicans, base Republicans would characterize as the elites. And so he is leaning into this.

CAMEROTA: So, Jason, will that work, in other words, for the primary?

OSBORNE: I think the bottom line is the fact the people are talking about it, right? And for several months now, everybody has been focused on Trump and his cases and his trials and his statements. And then now, we are actually talking about Ron DeSantis, and he is developing a list of enemies that don't like him for these statements.

And so I think that is going to maybe drive some more enthusiasm for his campaign. Is it right? I don't think so. But sadly the fact of the matter is, to the previous commentator, that in Iowa that's what they're looking at, in New Hampshire, that's what they're looking at, in South Carolina and Nevada.

CAMEROTA: Right. So, you win the primary and then you just say, just kidding?

MICHAELSON: Well, if he's compiling an enemies list, he can count this gay rabbi as one of his friends, because I love it when they get way ahead of their skis and think that Middle America agrees with them, which they don't.

CAMEROTA: So, you don't think this is a winning strategy in Iowa.

MICHAELSON: I mean, I don't know about Iowa, but I'm focused on the general, right? And I'm focused on the people who are actually going to decide the next president of this country. And these are not American values. So, when someone gets so over their skis that they think the extreme 10 percent of their base represents the consensus of America, that's good news for someone on my side of the spectrum.

JONG-FAST: Except it's dangerous for children who are gay or young teenagers who see this and think, should I hate myself? I mean, it causes more -- just like when Trump would attack a certain group, then there would be violence towards that group. I mean, this is what happens. There are unintended consequences that reverberate in ways that none of us can even realize.

CAMEROTA: And, Eva, one of the strange ironies of this is that you have reporting, I mean, and we can all see that this is the most diverse group of Republican candidates ever. Now, we're not talking LGBTQ, but in terms of racially and ethnically.

MICHAELSON: That we know of.

CAMEROTA: Correct, that we know of. That's right, I mean, that we know of, yes. And so, Eva, tell us what they are saying about this.

MCKEND: Yes. So, it is quite striking that about half the feel is comprised of folks of color. But I think that it's all the more striking because of the politics of the candidates. So, Vivek Ramaswamy, for instance, rejects to the characterization of person of color. He doesn't like that terminology. He told me that now that this dispels the mythology of the left that the Republican is somehow a racist party, it will be truly a bizarre brand of racism.

So, I think it does make it more difficult for Democrats to knock some of the positions of Republicans, but Democrats I speak to say, hey, listen, do not give Republicans so much credit for this diversifying field. Ultimately, that would be a disservice to voters who -- voters of color, who have given a very specific message when it comes to the policies that they support, and the representation can only go so far. But I think it is something to note, that this field is so diverse.


CAMEROTA: Yes. Jason, I mean, you obviously worked with Ben Carson in 2016. Back then, there were four candidates of color in that 17-person Republican field. So, I mean, this is the way the country is going.

OSBORNE: Yes. I mean, I think I'd like to say that the candidate I worked for was the last one that actually led Donald Trump in the field of Republicans and we quickly lost that race, but I do think she's right.

I mean, the problem that we have is that we do have such a diverse field but none of their messages are getting out, and none of America is being able to hear what they have to say and how they're going to change American or what they're going to do for America if they're elected because of all the noise that Donald Trump is creating and now Ron DeSantis.

And so I hope that in the coming months, we actually see what that diversity, our candidates that are diverse out there talking about their own life experiences and then their policies that they based off of those experiences.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, we do that with some of our town halls on CNN and obviously in debates, et cetera, so I think that that is ahead of us. Thank you all very much for your thoughts on this.

Coming up, you, of course, know Michael Imperioli for his memorable so performances in Sopranos and White Lotus.

Well, now, he says, the Supreme Court has given him the right to ban bigots from seeing his hit shows. That's next.


[22:15:00] CAMEROTA: White Lotus star Michael Imperioli has a message about the Supreme Court ruling on LGBTQ rights. He wrote this on Instagram, quote, I've decided forbid bigots and homophobes from watching Sopranos, the White Lotus, Goodfellas, or any movie or T.V. show I have been in. Thank you, Supreme Court, for allowing me to discriminate and exclude those who I don't agree with and I'm opposed to. USA, USA.

That was his response, of course, to the Supreme Court ruling in favor of that Christian web designer who refuses to create websites to celebrate same-sex weddings.

Let's bring back Jay Michaelson and Jason Osborne, also joining us is Evan Osnos of the New Yorker and Constitutional Law Professor Gloria Browne-Marshall. She is the author of the book, She Took Justice, the Black Woman Law and Power. Great to have all of you.

Professor, I do want to start with you. I assume the Imperioli rule is unenforceable in terms of who can watch his shows. But is his point valid in that it's sort of what Sotomayor was saying in terms of the balkanization of providers being able in the future to decide who they want to serve and who they don't serve?

GLORIA BROWNE-MARSHALL, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: I think it is. It's directly on the point that Justice Sotomayor is saying that not just the protected class, women, people of color, immigrants, anyone could be prohibited from being served in restaurants or being allowed into particular movie theaters.

And now we see that the other side of that is to say, well, anything I feel is an area that I want to preclude other people, I should be able to do it based on the Supreme Court decision. It opens the floodgate and it goes back to what is wrong with the Supreme Court decisions. It doesn't have the legal rationale that the American people can follow, or businesses. And that's what the Supreme Court is supposed to do. It's supposed to give us a rule to follow. And right now, as it is pointed, out we can do about anything we want based on these very vague decisions by the court.

CAMEROTA: Jay, do you agree?

MICHAELSON: So, I want to respectfully disagree with the professor. So, first, obviously, Michael Imperioli, thank you for your allyship and I understand he was kind of making a lighthearted point. That being said, my general sense is we should not be giving our enemies, our opponents more rights than they are already taking away.

When we say -- so, this was, I think, a -- so, first of all, this opinion was wrong. This does provide a pretext for discrimination because you can go to this website, it was a web designer and get a website, no, I cannot, that's discrimination. However, it is limited to cases where there really is a free speech interest.

In this, case both parties agreed that creating a website, typing in the words of a website, is speech. And that means that it is not a sort of blanket license to discriminate such that anybody can make that decision. And, again, I'm not interested in getting the Supreme Court off the hook. People who know me know that's not my interest. Rather, I don't think we should be -- as they sometimes say, don't comply in advance. We should not be giving away more rights by saying they've taken away all these rights when they have not. That's what I think is actually dangerous.

CAMEROTA: Professor, do you want to respond to that?

BROWNE-MARSHALL: When we say first amendment right to free speech and there are no limits on what that speech is, then it has to be interpreted by regular people who are business owners, regular people who are in the marketplace. And that is why I say the decision is so vague that someone then can prohibit a person, a group, because of the vagueness of the decision, and then an action has to be brought for the Supreme Court or lower courts to give us some meat on these bones to better understand what these limitations are and how widespread we are supposed to interpret this decision.

MICHAELSON: I certainly think that's true. I would say that this is not -- there is not an analogy, if I put it a television show or something like that, I'm not being forced to say any things, I'm not being forced to say any words. And I agree, there could be a flood of litigation, and you and I both know there will be more of these lawsuits, just continuing to kind of open the window to exclude more and more of our lives.

That being said, I just am worried when we kind of do that in advance, because that does, exactly as you said, it creates a social reality where businesses and others, you know, we saw after the Masterpiece Cake Shop case, pizzerias are putting signs on their windows saying, no gays allowed. That was not justified by the Masterpiece Cake Shop decision, as written. But just to your point, it's how it's interpreted that matters.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Thank you both for those perspectives. I want to bring in Evan right now, because, Evan, so you just do this podcast that I listened to a portion of, and it was great, about the Supreme Court and how political so many Americans believe that it has become. And, in fact, you did it with Jane Mayer, a New Yorker reporter, who coined the term, the dark money Supreme Court.


What does that mean?

EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. As many, I think, people will remember, Jane Mayer really gave us this concept of the dark money force in politics, talking about electoral politics. She helped identify the ways in which large sums of money, often from donors that we didn't know the full identities of, going to organizations whose names we were unfamiliar to us, were having a big impact on politics.

We used to talk about people like the Koch Brothers, for instance. Well, these days, what you are seeing in the actions of the court is that it is increasingly shaped by similar kinds of dynamics. Take, for example, somebody like Leonard Leo, who is a very prominent conservative legal activist, who oversees a set of organizations, this sort of web of groups involved in a number of cases.

Take, for example, the affirmative action case. The litigant in that case, the plaintiff in that case, Students for Fair Admissions, in 2020, a third of their revenue reportedly came from an organization that Leo runs, and then many of the briefs that were submitted in support of that position came from organizations that he also supports. So, we need to be thinking as much about money affecting the court as we used to think about money affecting electoral politics.

CAMEROTA: Jason, it makes Americans uncomfortable to think that all of these machinations are going on with the Supreme Court, particularly the Leonard Leo thing, because it's as though he has an agenda and then he finds a plaintiff and a case to fit it, concocts it, basically. And it went wrong, by the way, with the web designer case, because they forgot to tell the plaintiff that they were concocting him into it, and so that one was sort of exposed.

OSBORN: Yes, I agree. I mean, I think I've said this last week, and I think Jay and I tend to be on the same side of this aspect of it, although I'll go a step further and say that I think we're making a problem where there isn't a problem to be had, in the sense that, clearly, this website hasn't even gotten into wedding planning or wedding website services, and then all of a sudden concocts this case.

Now, I don't necessarily -- I don't agree with how it came about, but I also love of the mind that we live in a capitalist society, and if you don't want to do business with somebody, then don't go and do business with them. And, likewise, I don't think the services that this person is going to provide are going to be in line with what the services of a gay couple wanting them to do their website.

But all that being said, in terms of the dark money aspect of it, I think let's not kid ourselves in thinking that this is just one sided. The other side, the left has folks like George Soros, that are out there funding campaigns and organizations that are out there not only doing kind of oppo research on judges or people that could be judges, the same is on the right side. So, if we're going to change this, then we need to change it across the board for everybody, and let's not kid ourselves and just say it's the Republicans and Leonard Leo and these folks that are corrupting the system.

CAMEROTA: Is that right, Evan?

OSNOS: Well, I think one of the things that my colleagues Jane and Susan Glasser and I tried to draw attention to is the fact that you've seen this really dramatic effect, what everybody is seeing that Donald Trump was able to put three conservative justices on the court in the span of a single term, had a dispositive effect on the overall composition of the court, and you've seen the results now over the last couple years, particularly the Dobbs decision, and now the affirmative action and the LGBT decisions. And you see this showing up in attitudes that people have about the court.

Look, trust is declining rapidly. A Gallup poll last fall showed that it is now at the lowest level ever recorded, and it's gone down 20 points in two years. So, it may be, in fact, that there is activity on both sides, but the effect is quite noticeable and quite distinct right now from these conservative dark money groups.

CAMEROTA: Jay, do you want to quickly respond?

MICHAELSON: Yes, I don't think we're kidding ourselves. George Soros is pretty transparent actually about most of the -- about all of the organizations that he funds. I'm proud to say I kind of broke the Leonard Lee story seven years ago at The Daily Beast, and we have no idea to this day who has underwritten his massive campaign. Now, we're talking about money in the billions of dollars.

There's been fantastic reporting, incredible vest investigative reporting for a number of outlets, but we still don't know who is paying for this, and that is not married on the left. That is extremely troubling.

CAMEROTA: Friends, thank you very much. I appreciate all of your information and perspectives on this.

Okay. So, how will colleges achieve diversity now that the Supreme Court says they cannot use race? Well, one California school has become the most diverse in the country by using something called an adversity score. An admissions officer explains, next.



CAMEROTA: A California medical school has become the most diverse school in the country by using something called an adversity score. That ranks applicants on how disadvantage they are. With the Supreme Court striking down affirmative action in college admissions last week, other schools are considering this same metric.

Joining us now is Dr. Shadi Shakeri, the admissions chair at that school, U.C. Davis School of Medicine. Doctor, thank you so much for being here. I am really interested in how can you figure out the level of adversity a student has faced?

DR. SHADI SHAKERI, PROFESSOR AND ADMISSIONS CHAIR, U.C. DAVIS SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Thank you for having me here, first of all. If you would allow me to share with you our multi-pronged approach to figuring this issue out, at least at our institution, at University of California Davis. For years now, we have been thinking about this issue.

And the first thing that we have had to do is define what is our mission, what is our goal as a medical school, admissions committee. And our mission is to matriculate a class of students year after year who will, when they become physicians, meet the diverse health care workforce needs of our community, of our region and our state of California.

[22:30:02] And as you know, California is a very diverse state. We have people of a variety of cultures, people speak different languages, and we have folks who go across a very wide socio-economic spectrum.

And since 1996, some over 20 plus years ago, we have had a ban on affirmative action. And so, we have done an iterative process by looking back and sort of tweaking our process little by little to try and come up with the best way that we can meet our mission. And that is by a process of holistic admissions. And the SCD score, the socio- economic --

CAMEROTA: You used something called an SED, the Socio-Economic Disadvantage Scale.

SHAKERI: Yes, and that has also evolved over time. We refer to distance traveled at this time. This is just a part of what we look at.

CAMEROTA: But let me just show people so that they understand that you have achieved something that other schools have not. So, the U.S. medical school students in the country, this is according to the AMA, 10 percent are black, 12 percent are Hispanic. In your school, 14 percent are black, 30 percent are Hispanic. So, your numbers are much higher than nationally the average of that. And so -- but let me ask you this. Have you determined that Socio-Economic Diversity is more important than racial diversity?

SHAKERI: It is certainly a very important factor to us in our state. And not being able to use any of those personal characteristics, race, gender, et cetera, we want to look at our admissions process so that our physicians that we train are then able to go out there and serve our people.

For example, the rural communities of California, they have a paucity of physicians and we need to have programs in place where we can train people who come from those communities who want to be committed to delivering health care and put them back in those communities.

CAMEROTA: What about adversity that is not financial? What about adversity that is based on illness in a family or trauma of some kind? Can you -- do you measure that? Do you -- are you looking for that kind of adversity?

SHAKERI: We look at all of it and that is an excellent point. So, the holistic admissions process is one where we look at everything in the application. We look at all of our applicants. We look very closely. We want to know what you went through to get to the place you are when you're applying to medical school.

You have achieved so much by getting here, putting in an application. What adversity did you face? Because we're looking for qualities that make a good doctor. How resilient are you? How much perseverance do you have in the face of adversity? Those are all things that we look for.

CAMEROTA: I also thought it was very interesting that you give a low score, I believe, correct me if I'm wrong, to the children of doctors. But they are the ones 24 times more likely to become physicians than their peers. Don't you want to encourage kids of doctors to become doctors? Like why disincentivize them?

SHAKERI: We don't want anyone to be excluded. We just want people who want to come in and be a great match for our schools so that they can go out into the communities and deliver healthcare to the people of California.

CAMEROTA: And now other schools are looking at you as a model, right? Other schools are visiting to see how they can do this.

SHAKERI: Yes, yes, and we are excited to talk about it.

CAMEROTA: So, I mean, it sounds like this is going to be the wave of the future, the figuring out how adversity affects people more than diversity.

SHAKERI: I hope that it can be a good match for other schools to follow, yes.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Shadi Shakeri, thank you so much for taking the time to explain it to us.

SHAKERI: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

CAMEROTA: Obviously, we'll talk again. All right. Meanwhile, there's a manhunt tonight for the violent criminals responsible for shooting 30 people in Baltimore. We've got the latest for you next. Plus, I talked to gun owners from around the country on what reforms they would be willing to live with to stop mass shootings.




CAMEROTA: Baltimore Police are searching for at least two suspects in connection with the mass shooting early Sunday morning that killed two young adults and injured 28 other people, most of them teenagers. The shooting happened at the annual block party in the city's Brooklyn neighborhood. Investigators say they still do not know the motive. More tonight from CNN's Danny Freeman.

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, tonight, Baltimore Police still on an all out manhunt looking for potentially multiple shooters responsible for shooting and injuring 28 people and killing two others over the course of the weekend. The mayor today saying unequivocally that the city will find those responsible and bring them to justice and put them behind bars.

But I just want to recap exactly how we got to this moment. It really all started on Saturday afternoon into Saturday evening in Baltimore's Brooklyn neighborhood. They had a block party. It's an annual block party called "Brooklyn Day" and it's happened for the past 20 plus years. But this party -- this block party, does not always happen on the same day, which is why police would later tell us that they did not have as much of a presence at this block party as they normally would have in past years.

Now, then, early Sunday morning, the party went into the evening and into the early morning. Early Sunday morning, just after midnight then, police say multiple gunmen opened fire on a crowd. At some point, there were hundreds of people in this crowd, in this party, and of course 28 people were injured and 18-year-old Aaliyah Gonzalez and 20-year-old Kylis Fagbemi were also killed.

Now, at this point, there have been no arrests. But I want you to take a listen to what the mayor of Baltimore said today, specifically on the topic of gun violence in his city and in this country.


BRANDON SCOTT, MAYOR OF BALTIMORE: This is not just a Baltimore thing.


We have to be honest. This is the United States of America. This is our longest-standing public health challenge, and we need to focus on gun violence, regardless of where it happens.


FREEMAN: Now, Alisyn at this point, there is a $28,000 reward for any information that could lead authorities to an arrest and charges in this particular case. But I also want to mention, this city is also looking ahead to more holiday weekend events, specifically tomorrow on the fourth of July, and the mayor and the city want to reassure folks in the city of Baltimore that they are putting every resource they have to make sure those events that are coming up still are safe. Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Well, let's hope they get those shooters. Thank you, Danny. Okay, not a week goes by on this program that we don't report on gun violence. Maybe it's a mass shooting or a school shooting or random deadly violence in a city. As the debate rages about the Second Amendment rights versus gun reform, we wanted to hear from gun owners themselves. So, we assembled a group of six passionate gun owners from around the country. And as you'll hear, even they cannot agree on the right balance between freedom and safety. But we begin with the reason they each got their guns in the first place.


ERMIYA FANAEIAN, MEMBER OF THE SALT LAKE CITY ARMED QUEERS: I first got a gun in 2020 and I bought a gun because there was a huge rise in violence against trans women that was occurring across the country. And the very first video that kind of sparked my interest was an attack against a black trans woman by the name of Iyanna Dior.

And this attack had occurred in the middle of a gas station one night where she was violently mobbed by 30 plus men. You know, the only thing that would have really, truly defended her from that violent mob at a tractor was a gun. And so, that's when I decided to purchase my own gun.

PAUL KEMP, GUN OWNER FROM OREGON: I grew up in Michigan and hunting was, you know, kind of a rite of passage. And since then, I've acquired four more guns and a shotgun, another rifle and a couple of handguns. I only bought the handguns after getting involved in the, you know, gun violence prevention, gun safety movement, and to get familiar with handguns.

TYEKAH DIXON, GUN OWNER FROM PENNSYLVANIA: I come from a community where guns were just pretty much for criminals or for police officers or law enforcement. I have never liked guns or, you know, I was afraid of them, I had a fear for them. But once I saw that the rise in crime and the fact that I had to be my own, you know, first responder, and then I started educating myself more. I have to be able to protect myself and protect my children and my family.

CHAD KING, GUN OWNER FROM MICHIGAN: I was out one night and I came back home and my place had been broken into so bad that the doors had been kicked off the hinges and I could not repair it. I was living in a townhouse complex. I called police. Police came and took their report, but maintenance was going to take a while. So, I went at that moment and purchased a shotgun.

CAROLINE SULLIVAN, GUN OWNER FROM TENNESSEE: We use our guns for sporting, for hunting. We see the benefit that guns bring to this nation, ammo sales, firearm sales, fund conservation, fund land protections. We see the benefit of hunting more than just, you know, it's fun.

ROBERT ANTHONY, GUN OWNER FROM NEBRASKA: I grew up in a kind of a gun neutral family in the South, a lot of hunters, but not a lot of hand guns. Saw real quick after I joined the military, I was stationed in Oklahoma City. I lived off base there and not in the best part of town. So, I went to a local gun shop and bought my first handgun. Personal protection was important to me.

CAMEROTA: So, show of hands, how many of you support universal background checks? Okay, so three of you support universal background checks.

FANAEIAN: You know, universal background checks, I think sound great in theory. But in all actuality, as we've seen, it's been very unfairly invoked. It's marginalized communities that it's been targeted against.

CAMEROTA: Who is targeted and not allowed to have a gun because the government is targeting them or singling them out?

FANAEIAN: For example, the Black Panther Party, when they first practiced their right to self-defense and carrying arms, the California state legislature introduced further restrictions on the ability to carry arms. And so --

CAMEROTA: But do you feel that things have changed since the 1960s? FANAEIAN: I don't, unfortunately. I think that the United States still

continues to invoke the law in ways that is quite unjust.

ANTHONY: You just look back in any history of, you know, gun control and the slippery slope from one day is the uniform background check. Next day is red flag gun laws. Next day is gun registry. Next day is gun confiscation. Jim Crow era, the Black Panther example, they just keep that slow erosion.

SULLIVAN: I hear that talking point a lot where, you know, almost for verbatim, slippery slope, it starts with background checks, then it leads to a database registry, and then they take your guns.


But can you give a more modern-day example?

ANTHONY: So, to give you a modern-day example, you know, I know there's some states that are doing it.

CAMEROTA: All right, hold on. Just so I understand, Robert, you're saying that there are some states that are doing it. What states are confiscating guns?

ANTHONY: No, I didn't say any states were confiscating guns. I said there are some states pushing for gun registries.

SULLIVAN: I guess I don't fall into that line of thinking of like, if I give an inch, they're gonna take a mile because of the constitution.

ANTHONY: This country has a mental health problem. It doesn't have a gun problem because the guns in my house have never killed anybody. You know, so we love to blame the gun. We love to blame the law- abiding gun owner for lack of support for more gun control.

CAMEROTA: But Robert, we do not have any higher a mental illness rate than any other country in the world and yet we have the highest mass shootings, school shootings and an incredibly high gun violence rate. So, it can't just be mental health in this country. Why don't you think that guns are a factor in our gun violence?

ANTHONY: My guns are not a factor. My point being that my right should not be taken away because a mental health gun issue in somebody else's house, in somebody else's community, in Chicago, in New York City.

CAMEROTA: How many of you support red flag laws? Okay, the same three who support universal background checks support red flag laws.

KING: I believe that red flag laws have this potential to create these extraneous points of interaction between police and black communities, other minority or marginalized communities, where there's already, you know, this strain and mistrust.

FANAEIAN: I think they can only work if you trust the state and the police and the FBI to do their jobs. And unfortunately, that's not the case. KEMP: That was a common theme for people who argue against passing

Oregon's ERPO law, that it would be abused. And the fact is, I mean, Oregon, we have a little over four million people. But in the years that I've been tracking the number of ERPOs filed, there's less than 200. When less than 200 ERPOs are filed in a year, it's not being abused.

DIXON: I own a gun store, so, you know, a lot of times when we get, well, not a lot of times we get customers that come in, we're actually, you know, making sure that they're not like under the influence. We're making sure that we're listening out for like statements that could be made as far as like mental health about harming themselves or maybe harming someone else.

CAMEROTA: There's no sort of regulation where you have to ask people. You just get, you just have taken it upon yourself for every gun sale or is it like when your Spidey senses are going off?

DIXON: This is how, this is every gun sale. We're paying attention. And there's plenty of times that someone had came in here and might have said some off the wall stuff. And guess what? We had to stop the sale.

CAMEROTA: What was something that raised your suspicions?

DIXON: Oh, I want to buy this gun because I want to kill my wife.


DIXON: It was just like statements, comments that he was making like under his breath and things like that. So, this is why I totally agree with the universal background because had we run his background, guess what? He had a restraining order out against him. We're gonna stop the sale.

CAMEROTA: I wanna talk about the AR-15 because, you know, that is the gun of choice for school shootings and often for most mass shootings. Who has an opinion on whether or not those should be available for sale to the general public?

ANTHONY: My problem is if you outlaw AR-15s or whatever, or you make them super complicated, you're going to have to cover every other rifle in the equation also.

SULLIVAN: We already do outlaw some weapons, right? We outlaw automatic rifles. You still have your other guns. So where, again, like where's the line in the sand? Would you be in favor of zero restrictions whatsoever?

ANTHONY: Yes. Yes.


CAMEROTA: I would love to hear your thoughts on that conversation. You can find me at Alisyn Camerota on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. Okay, next. Imagine being on a roller coaster and seeing this, this huge crack in a support beam. You're gonna hear from the dad who saw it right after this.




CAMEROTA: Well, this fourth of July, one North Carolina amusement park has to shut down its major roller coaster attraction. Here's why.


Take a look at this giant crack in a steel support beam. This is the Carowinds Park in Charlotte. Even worse, as passengers zoom by the beam, you can see here, it clearly separates. Look at that.

Jeremy Wagner was at the park with his family on Friday when he noticed this and recorded it on his phone. He says his daughter and niece had ridden that roller coaster at least six times that day before he spotted the crack. Earlier tonight on CNN, Wagner says he was taken aback by the lax attitude of park officials when he reported it.

JEREMY WAGNER, TOOK VIDEO OF CRACKED ROLLER COASTER PILLAR: I felt there was no urgency in any of the employees and even after they had me airdrop the video, the guest services person walked off and said, I'll send this to somebody. And they just turned around and walked off, you know, nonchalant.

CAMEROTA: Well, inspectors say they've spent the day examining the crack. The amusement park bills this roller coaster as the quote, tallest and fastest in North America.


CAMEROTA: Okay, next. Sources tell CNN that then President Trump also called Arizona's governor to pressure him to change the 2020 election results. You've heard this before in Georgia. We have all those new details next.




CAMEROTA: Welcome to a special holiday edition of CNN Tonight. We have new details on Former President Trump's efforts to pressure state officials after his defeat in the 2020 election. A source tells CNN that Trump called then Arizona Governor Doug Ducey to pressure him to find fraud in the state's results that could switch the outcome.

Sources tell CNN that then Vice President Pence also called Ducey several times but did not put pressure on the governor. CNN National Correspondent Kristen Holmes has the latest details. Kristen, what do we know about this phone call? KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, before we get to Pence's

response to this call, I do want to give a little bit of context around these calls because we did know at the time that Former President Donald Trump and then Governor of Arizona Doug Ducey did speak. We just didn't know the context of what exactly they spoke about. Now, I learned over the weekend that Ducey has told people behind closed doors that it was essentially a pressure campaign from the former president to ty and find widespread fraud to overturn the results of the 2020 election in the state of Arizona.