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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Texas Massacre Puts Attention On Armed School Resource Officers; U.S. Gun Culture, A Global Outlier; Miami Heat Urge Fans To Demand "Commonsense Gun Laws." Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 26, 2022 - 05:30   ET




BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): And now, after this school shooting, a similar conundrum in Congress. House Democrats passed legislation strengthening background checks. Now, Democrats in the Senate can either try to ramrod that through quickly with the likelihood that it would lose, or they can take more time to try to negotiate something bipartisan with Republicans, with the outcome of that far from certain.

Brian Todd, CNN Washington.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for that, Brian.


The Uvalde shooter was confronted by an officer right after crashing his truck outside the school. So, why wasn't he stopped?



ROMANS: The shooting in Uvalde, Texas is reenergizing the debate over putting more officers and weapons inside of schools.

Here, a law enforcement officer did confront the shooter when he emerged from this crashed pickup truck outside the school. Officials say no shots were fired during that encounter.


STEVEN MCGRAW, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: There was a brave consolidated independent school district resource officer that approached him -- engaged him at that time. There was not -- gunfire was not exchanged. But the subject was able to make it into the -- into the school.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: There are a lot of questions there. But this whole issue of hardening schools was raised on the Senate floor on Wednesday. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson moved to pass a school safety bill by unanimous consent, but he was shut down by Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Hardening schools would have done nothing to prevent this shooting. In fact, there were guards and police officers already at the school yesterday when the shooter showed up.


JARRETT: Schumer says more guns in schools will not protect children. He says lawmakers need to pass common-sense gun reform like expanded background checks -- something some Republicans have resisted so far.

ROMANS: So with growing calls for more armed officers in schools, the question is how effective is that.

CNN's Tom Foreman looks at the evidence.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The nationwide push for armed guards in every school began with Columbine High in 1999. The murders at Sandy Hook Elementary, 13 years later, reignited the cause.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Now, up to an estimated 20,000 armed school resource officers (SROs) are on duty, paid for by close to $1 billion from state and local governments hoping to stop violent attacks.

But the Justice Policy Institute's Marc Schindler says there's a problem.

MARC SCHINDLER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JUSTICE POLICE INSTITUTE: Listen, I'm a parent of high school kids. If there was evidence to show that school police officers would make their school safer I would be all for it. But at the end of the day, there is literally no evidence to show that police in schools make schools safer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we've got shots fired. Possible shots fired.

FOREMAN (voice-over): At Stoneman Douglas High in Florida, security cameras recorded an armed SRO standing outside the building where 17 people were shot and killed.

MARK EIGLARSH, ATTORNEY FOR SCOT PETERSON: My client is not pleading guilty because he did nothing wrong.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Scot Peterson faces charges for his inaction but says he just didn't know where the gunman was.

SCOT PETERSON, FORMER BROWARD COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE DEPUTY: There is no way in hell that I would sit there and allow those kids to die with me being next in another building and sitting there. No way.

FOREMAN (voice-over): At Santa Fe High in Texas, armed SROs traded shots with a gunman and helped force him to surrender, but 10 people were killed.

At Red Lake High in Minnesota, an unarmed guard confronted a shooter only to be shot and killed himself. Nine died there.

So, in Texas, the attorney general wants more than just officers.

KEN PAXTON (R), TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: We can potentially arm, and prepare, and train teachers and other administrators to respond quickly because the reality is we don't have the resources to have law enforcement at every school.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But the National Association of SROs says what's needed is more mental health care for students, more realistic expectations about how their officers can and do reduce violence.

MO CANADAY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS: If you've got a person with a weapon bent on killing people you're probably going to lose some people on the front end, and I just hate to say that. And our job becomes trying to contain that and stop further killing.


JARRETT: Tom Foreman, thank you for that piece.

Let's bring in Jennifer Mascia, news writer for The Trace, an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit newsroom working to shine light on America's gun violence crisis.

ROMANS: Good morning.

JARRETT: Jennifer, so glad to have you. You are exactly who we need today because you have been studying this so close -- so closely and doing such great reporting.

What does the data tell us about putting armed guards at school? In the places that have done that, do you see lower levels of gun violence?

JENNIFER MASCIA, NEWS WRITER, THE TRACE (via Skype): No, and for the reasons that were just brought up. There were armed guards present at several of these shootings.


The question is, is it really practical to expect school resource officers and smalltown police officers to be on a war footing? I mean, unless you're going to station a SWAT team directly outside very school permanently, ready to respond, there are -- there are limits to this argument. There have been armed officers unable to stop and, as you mentioned, have paid with their lives. So, having a gun and having officers right there is no guarantee, unfortunately.

ROMANS: You point out that teenagers are responsible -- adolescents are responsible for a disproportionate share of the nation's gun violence. Yet, 44 states allow 18-year-olds to buy long guns. We know these long guns -- these AR-style rifles, by the way, are very popular among these young men, frankly, who are, by far, the perpetrators of these crimes.

Why isn't that more an area of focus -- the age of the -- of the assailants?

MASCIA: It's actually quite surprising. New York, a state with otherwise strong gun laws, as we saw in Buffalo. An 18-year-old was able to legally purchase a high-powered weapon. I mean, adolescents are responsible for 18% of gun homicides and they only comprise 4% of the population.

This is a time period where experts say there's some maturity lacking. Brain development is not quite where it should be for such a risky endeavor. It's really totally about 25 or 26 where your brain starts to mature.

And just under 21 -- semiautomatic rifle bans have -- Florida enacted one right after Parkland and that was a GOP governor and a GOP legislature.


MASCIA: You know, it would mitigate some of the deaths. Not all of the deaths, but it would mitigate some of the deaths. And it does seem surprising that you can't legally drink but you can buy these weapons.

JARRETT: Well, and you're not even talking about possession, right? A family member gives it to another family member. We're talking about only just the purchase of it.

And it does seem like in all of these cases they follow such a familiar trajectory, right? A young boy, socially isolated, lashing out usually at women and girls previously. There's just such a common pattern.

ROMANS: And with no -- with no road bumps along the way to acquiring or amassing --


ROMANS: -- the weapons and the ammunition.

JARRETT: Right, right.

MASCIA: Unfortunately, troubling behavior, like has been reportedly exhibited by the gunman before this attack -- it's not enough to get your guns taken away. That bar is extremely high. You have to be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility by a judge. Even in a state like Texas with no red flag law, if you call the police and say this person is acting strangely unless there's a specific threat, usually mentioning a weapon, the police are not really going to do anything.

JARRETT: Well -- so you mentioned red flag laws and that's now the topic du jour on Capitol Hill as a potential path forward. Republican Susan Collins has mentioned this as maybe an area of compromise.

But you've done all this reporting that shows these laws just aren't a panacea for all the gun violence in this country. Just look at Buffalo.

MASCIA: I know. The real effective way, and we've seen this in other countries who don't have this problem and still have millions of gun owners, is to control who is getting these guns at the point of purchase.

You know, in other countries, to get a gun you have to sit for interviews. You have to submit character references. And these are countries that have robust gun populations, like France and Germany. And they put people through layers of vetting -- you know, just saying hateful stuff online. They would find that in another country and incorporate that into their background check.

The idea that would happen here is a longshot given the political realities.

ROMANS: A real longshot. I mean, we will -- we will make sure that you have the skills and training to drive a car because that is a public --

JARRETT: Safety.

ROMANS: -- you know, public safety, but not a gun. That just does not happen here and would not happen here.

Jennifer Mascia of The Trace, come back soon, please. Thank you. I love that she knows the numbers. She studies the data. She knows exactly, kind of, the questionable --

JARRETT: She's dedicated to this very topic.

ROMANS: It's her beat, right?

JARRETT: It's her beat.

So, as we were just talking about, American gun culture -- why is there nothing quite like it in the rest of the world?



ROMANS: America's infatuation with gun ownership is unique. It's gun culture, a global outlier. Here's how the U.S. stacks up against the rest of the world when it

comes to firearms. The United States with only 4% of the world's population, has an estimated 46% of all the civilian guns owned in the world. It is important to note the exact number is tough to calculate globally because of unregistered weapons, illegal trade, and global conflict. Still, that's by far the highest in the world.

The U.S. is the only nation where civilian guns outnumber people. More than 120 guns for every 100 people. The Falkland Islands, a distant second with 62; then Yemen, 53 firearms per 100 people.

The U.S. is the only developed country with a mass shooting every year for the past 20 years. That's defined as four people shot dead or injured, not counting the shooter.

And finally, the U.S. accounted for 44% of global suicides by firearms in 2019, leading the world in that category every year since 1990. Again, 44% of global suicides by firearm when, again, the U.S. accounts for only 4% of the world's population.

This is 21st century American exceptionalism. American exceptionalism leading the world in all the wrong ways.


JARRETT: Exceptionalism in the worst possible way. Thank you for that. It's helpful to see it laid out like that.

Up next, details of President Biden's plans to visit Texas.


JARRETT: Now to this remarkable moment before last night's NBA Playoff game. The announcer encouraging fans to take a stand.


Andy Scholes has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Andy, this is incredible. I've never seen this before.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I've never seen it either, Laura. Good morning to you.

You know, the Celtics and Heat holding a moment of silence last night before their playoff game in Miami. And then the public address announcer had this message for the fans.


PUBLIC ADDRESS ANNOUNCER: The Heat urges you to contact your state senators by calling 202-224-3121 to leave a message demanding their support for commonsense gun laws. You could also make change at the ballot box. Visit to register and let your voice be heard this fall.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHOLES: You see a lot of the fans there cheering on that message.

As for the game, it was a rather ugly one. The Celtics were down five at the half and only had 37 points. But in the second half, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown just turning it on. Boston going on a 24-2 run in the third quarter. And in the fourth quarter, Jaylen Brown kind of put an exclamation mark on this moment -- the huge slam.

The Heat missed 38 three-pointers, the second-most in playoff history.

Boston wins 93-80 and are on the brink of their first NBA finals appearance since 2010. Game six is in Boston tomorrow night.

The Warriors can clinch their sixth trip to the finals in eight years with a win over the Mavs tonight. Game five at 9:00 eastern on our sister channel TNT.

All right. You know, what happened in Uvalde continues to be on the minds of athletes and coaches across the country. And Dodgers manager Dave Roberts called on politicians to do their job.


DAVE ROBERTS, LOS ANGELES DODGERS MANAGER: You know, the people who are supposed to lead our country are supposed to take care of our walls first, and that's kind of both sides of the aisle. And if you have Americans killing Americans, I just don't think we're doing the job that -- they're doing the job that they're called to do.

DAK PRESCOTT, DALLAS COWBOYS QUARTERBACK: I mean, I don't know how something like that doesn't impact anyone -- everyone -- I don't care if you're an athlete or not. We're talking about children. We're talking about the future. I mean, I don't have kids and can't imagine having to send my kid to school with that anxiety -- with that. Honestly, it makes me fearful to have children and that's not right. That's sad.


SCHOLES: All right, and finally, six years after taking his last nap, Colin Kaepernick could be getting another shot in the NFL. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the 34-year-old quarterback worked out for the Las Vegas Raiders yesterday. Kaepernick hasn't been on an NFL roster since 2016, which is when he began kneeling during the National Anthem in protest of racial injustice.

So it will be interesting to see how this plays out, guys --



SCHOLES: -- and Kaepernick ends up back in the NFL. Raiders owner Mark Davis has said he deserves another chance.

ROMANS: And we have a -- we have a question about Miami. I mean, who makes the call to like say the number -- the phone number of the Senate switchboard?


ROMANS: I mean, was that the team owner?

JARRETT: Was it the team?

ROMANS: Who does -- who does that?

SCHOLES: The P.A. announcer did say the Heat organization encourages you. So it looked like it was a team decision.

JARRETT: Definitely sanctioned. All right, Andy, thank you.

ROMANS: Thanks, Andy.

I've never heard of anything like that before.


ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Looking at -- looking at markets around the world this Thursday morning, a mixed performance in Asia. Those shares are now closed. Europe has opened slightly higher.

Stock index futures are mixed here. No real decisive trend there just yet. We'll see when the market opens in a few hours.

U.S. markets rose across the board yesterday on news the Federal Reserve plans to keep raising interest rates to tamp down inflation. The Fed on the job with a stock market like that.

There's also a boost for retail as well. Kohl's jumped nearly 12% on word that bidders are still competing to buy the company. And over at Nordstrom, it climbed more than 14% after it beat analysts' forecasts and raised its outlook for the year against a strong consumer.

Finally this morning, the business of guns. Share prices of gun and ammunition makers usually rise after mass shootings. Investors anticipating a spike in sales ahead of calls for stricter gun laws. And that was indeed the case on Wednesday. Smith & Wesson and Vista Outdoor stocks both rising nearly 7%. Sturm Ruger gaining more than 4%.

Remember, overall, the stock market was up about 1%, so those outperformed the market.

And you -- you know, how many times have we seen this where people get uneasy and buy more --

JARRETT: During the pandemic.

ROMANS: -- gun stocks and more ammunition stocks, and that is certainly the situation here. It's -- you know, you just saw our segment -- more guns than people, and that is a profitable business.

JARRETT: That's a fact.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us this Thursday morning. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Thursday, May 26. I'm John Berman live in Uvalde, Texas. Brianna Keilar is in Washington.

And behind me is the Robb Elementary School where 19 children and two teachers were killed.