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Gunman Shot Grandmother Before Killing 21 At Elementary School; House-Passed Gun Safety Measures Stalled In Senate. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 25, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: We are told by authorities the school massacre in Uvalde, Texas happened after the shooter first shot his grandmother. CNN's Ed Lavandera is now in the community where the grandmother live. Let's go live straight to Ed. Ed, what are you seeing?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, here the neighborhood you see behind me is where the gunman, the 18-year-old who's suspected of killing his grandmother in the home right now. You see state troopers outside the home. The entire block is essentially cordoned off. And John, we've also seen FBI agents canvassing the neighborhood talking to residents who live around the grandmother and grandfather's house here in Uvalde, Texas. And all of this is where yesterday's tragedy started to unfold.

And this is the neighborhood where investigators believe they're going to find some of those clues that might be able to provide some link to some sort of motive in this tragic shooting. But right now, we're seeing the investigators here continuing to work the scene. We've talked to a number of neighbors who talked about the massive law enforcement presence that they saw here.

Many residents say they didn't hear the gunshots. They believe that the grandmother was shot inside of her home and because of that they didn't hear the initial blasts of gunfire coming from the home here. And then we are just about a half mile, less than a half mile away from Robb Elementary where it is presumed that the 18-year-old gunman left this area here.

And then at some point, started driving toward the elementary school which is just literally down the road that you see behind me and off to the right. And that is eventually where the suspect ended up crashing his car into a ditch before running inside the school and starting to fire at the elementary school students inside Robb Elementary.

But right now, we are seeing that heavy law enforcement presence here canvassing the neighborhood talking to residents and neighbors in trying to gather any kind of information that might be able to shed any kind of light into the family dynamic that might have been some sort of motive in this case. John?

[12:35:07] KING: Ed Lavandera on the ground for us live. Ed, appreciate that reporting very much at the White House. Officials tell us President Biden now making plans when appropriate to visit Uvalde as soon as possible. Last night, in an address to the nation, the President began by addressing Uvalde's pain and disbelief.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To lose a child, it's like having a piece of your soul ripped away. There's a hollowness in your chest, you feel like you're being sucked into it and never going to be able to get out, suffocating. It's never quite the same. That's the feeling shared by the siblings and the grandparents and family members and the community that's up behind.


KING: Then the President turned to America sad history of mass shootings and Washington sad history of doing little or nothing.


BIDEN: I am sick and tired of it. We have to act. And don't tell me, we can't have an impact on this carnage. The idea that an 18-year-old kid can walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons, it's just wrong.


KING: With us to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Lauren Fox, Toluse Olorunnipa of The Washington Post, and Margaret Talev of Axios. President was compelling and he was urgent. He has great empathy because of personal tragedy in his life.

But on this morning after you work up on Capitol Hill, Senator Murphy says let's get something done. He's the one who every day wants to push this. Most of the others, you already see it today and it's frustrating. Well, it's hard. It's too political. It's an election year. We got recess next week.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, and there are two different approaches, really from Democrats. There are some Democrats who say let us bring up the House passed background check bills, and put them on the floor, make Republicans take the vote, even though we know where they stand on those issues.

Then you have some Democrats like Murphy who are arguing, I want a solution. Even if it's small, even if it's incremental, even if it's just a little bit of something that may have stopped this or future shooting, I think it's worth doing that.

And he's actually asking leadership to give him a little more time to have some negotiations with the Republicans. He's not optimistic. They're going to yield any outcome. But it is a different approach than what you're hearing from some -- KING: And so what often happens in this debate is that everyone goes off into their corners, and they ignore the facts of what's actually before them. And they debate whatever it is. So here's what's in the House bill, HR8, the bipartisan background check says, it requires a background check on all gun sales, makes it illegal to sell firearms without a license. It does not create a federal gun registry, which is a giant concern of those who say big brother will track my guns. That's what it does. Listen to several Republicans today, where they say I don't even want to talk about it.


SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): There are millions and millions of gun owners in America and to be able to say this one 18-year-old is not going to wipe out gun ownership across the country is absolutely not acceptable.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): You see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens.

SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R-OK): I had the same reaction. I would every time there's anything that comes up, they want to buy guns.


KING: If you could just put the graphic back up there what this bill does, it does not take away anybody's guns. It might make it take an extra day or several more hours for somebody to buy a gun. Is that too much to ask when you see 10-year-old kids mowed down in a classroom.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: In this Congress, and in the last Congress, and the Congress before that, that all dealt with mass casualty events from gun violence, it does seem like that's too much. There have been several of events and efforts to try to get bipartisan support for these background check bills. And there's polling that supports it.

There's the American people that are behind it. There are Republicans who are voters who are OK with the idea of having people get background checks before they get guns. But because a number of these Republicans are not in favor of moving and they think that it's going to be a slippery slope, or they think that there's going to be a broader effect, rather than just having, you know, these background checks.

They think there's going to be gun confiscation and registries and all of these things that, as you mentioned, are not in the bill. They're reluctant to even have this conversation. And it appears that the mass shooting that we saw in Buffalo, the mass shooting that we saw in Uvalde, in Texas, none of those are moving the needle. We're not seeing very many Republicans say let's have this conversation.

KING: Well, it's cowardly. It's cowardly. And Democrats should bring it to the floor since they're still in power now. They should bring this stuff to the floor every day. And they should separate one piece by one piece by one piece. So if there is a piece in there, that's controversial. That's fine. One of the things that people say all the time since, well, you know, we don't know if it will work.

Well, ask Americans out there. Every day they have to try things they don't know they're going to work to solve some family crisis. And then if it doesn't work you come back and you try something else, just look at this decade of school shootings. This is just school shootings.


There are a host of other mass shootings we're going to get to a little bit later in the program. Just look at this the last decade of school shootings in the United States, if you put the graphic up on the screen there. It went down a bit during the coronavirus pandemic.

You see that drop in recent years. That's during the pandemic when kids weren't in school. You see it go down like that. And again, President Biden said something last night, he's standing in a position where it guess what, let's go back in time, this unfortunately, has become part of being President of the United States.


BIDEN: I'd hoped, when I became President, I would not have to do this again, another massacre.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want to be very powerful, very strong on background checks and especially as it pertains to the mentally ill, we're going to get rid of the bump stocks.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad. And by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Schools should be places of safety. It should be a sanctuary of learning.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must do more to keep guns out of the hands of children, to help our young people express their anger and alienation with words, not weapons.


KING: Doesn't that convince you that maybe we should try some things. I mean I'm not saying take away guns. I was raised by a jail guard. I know, I've had shot since I was a little kid. I have no problem with guns with owned and used responsibly. Does it the fact that we can go back to Bill Clinton and go through these that maybe we should try some things?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, there is. The polling tells us there is this consistent and persistent gap between what the public wants particularly on the easy stuff? Well, let's call the easy stuff, was that easy, I'd be done. But the background checks, the waiting periods, that kind of stuff. I think like as we talk about this as people who cover politics, we're conditioned to talk about the reasons why it hasn't happened yet, or why it can't happen.

And we know what those reasons are in the filibuster as a reason why it can't happen. And the lobbying disparity between the amount of spending on gun rights versus gun control is a factor and the kind of cultural baked in significance of gun rights. These are all real pervasive factors.

But the truth is two things could happen to change this instantly. And one is that about 10 to 12 Senators, Republicans, could just change their mind and say, I'm going to do it differently. And the other thing that could happen is that voters could say, this is so important to me, it's such a priority more than inflation or whatever, that we will vote based on it. But until one of those two things happens, there won't be a change.

KING: Right, it'll be interesting to see if the President takes that part, takes this value issue whether the gun safety is part of it. It takes the value issue to the country in this midterm election year. Unfortunately, this town does not have a good track record. Just have the conversation. Just actually get in the room and have a good faith conversation, what the hell is wrong with that.


It is tragic, but it is true, mass shootings have become an almost daily occurrence here in the United States, the Texas attack, the second deadliest grade school shooting in our country's history behind only Sandy Hook, nearly a decade ago. We'll be right back.


KING: Just think about this. We are not yet to June of this year. Uvalde is the 39th school shooting in America this year, but shooting after shooting as we were just discussing has produce little or no action here in Washington. Let's just walk through some of the history here. This is just school shootings.

Back in 1999 of course, Columbine, in Colorado, 2012, Newtown, Connecticut, 26 killed there, Parkland, Florida in 2018, 17 killed, Uvalde, Texas yesterday, 21 killed there. These are major school shootings, get the headlines. But just follow along with me here. Just watch. This goes back to 2008. I'm going to be quiet. Just watch the map fill in. These are just school shootings in the United States of America since 2008.

KING: Those are our children. Those are our children. That's just school shootings since 2008. It is everywhere in America. Everybody has to be part of this conversation. Whatever your views, demand the conversation, whatever your views. And of course it's not just school shootings. Charleston, 2015, nine people killed during bible study at a historically black church.

Orlando, Florida, 2016, 49 people killed, their crime, they went to a gay nightclub. Look at that. This is Pittsburgh, October 2018, 11 people killed during Shabbat services at the Tree of Life Synagogue. In El Paso, Texas, 2019, 22 people killed at Walmart, 83 percent of that community, Hispanic. And of course just in recent days, Buffalo, 10 people killed at a supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood.

This is all across America. We have to have the conversation about because this is what happens in Washington if we don't demand the conversation. In 2004, the Assault Weapons Ban expired passed during the Clinton Administration. Look at the studies. It did reduce mass shootings. It did. 2013, bipartisan background check proposal fails. In 2019 there was a federal ban on bump stocks after the shooting in Las Vegas.


Now house pass legislation sits stalled in the Senate. There's a conversation that has to be had. Some people will want more. Some people will want less. What's the harm? What's the harm? Go back to that school shootings, just the number of our children at risk. Let's have the conversation. We'll be right back.



KING: A quick update now on yesterday's important primary election in Georgia. Republican voters they're delivering a remarkable rebuke of Donald Trump and the former President's desire for revenge against two top Republican state officials who would not help him reverse Joe Biden's 2020 win in Georgia.

Look here, the incumbent Governor Brian Kemp projected to win and win big against Trump-backed Senator David Perdue. It sets up a rematch against Democrat Stacey Abrams in November. And the incumbent Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger also fending off a stronger challenge from Trump-backed Congressman Jody Hice.

Thanks for joining us today on INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you back here this time tomorrow. Ana Cabrera, Alisyn Camerota, pick up our coverage of the tragedy in Texas after a quick break.