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Students Demand Action On Gun Violence In National Walkout; Interview With Florida Rep. Ted Deutch Discussing Passage of School Safety Bill Without Gun Control Measures; Accidental Gunfire Sparks Questions About Arming Teachers; Inside The U.S. Nuclear Sub Challenging Russia In The Arctic. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 15, 2018 - 07:30   ET


[07:33:52] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Nearly a million students walked out of their classrooms Wednesday in a nationwide protest demanding action to stop gun violence. The show of student solidarity coming one month after the Florida school massacre and in response to a lack of action by Congress.

But one thing is happening in Congress and Florida Congressman Ted Deutch knows all about it. He joins us now. Good morning, Congressman.

REP. TED DEUTCH (R), FLORIDA: Good morning, Alisyn. How are you?

CAMEROTA: I'm well. Before we get to what's happening --


CAMEROTA: -- in Congress tell us about what -- I know you marched alongside the students yesterday so what was the scene like?

DEUTCH: Well, we walked out of the Capitol onto the lawn and greeted thousands of students who were part of this national movement that refuses to allow things to go back to the way they were. That refuses to allow the gun lobby to try to push this issue off of the center of the agenda and to keep it where it belongs and to now allow the extremists to control this debate.

There are common-sense measures that we can take right now to make our communities and our schools, especially, safer. These kids know it, the American people know it, and they're going to continue to speak out until we do.

CAMEROTA: OK, so let's talk about that because you introduced a bill -- a bipartisan bill. It was passed by the House. That is noteworthy, I think -- about gun violence.

[07:35:09] So let me just tell people what's in it. Fifty million dollars a year for a new federal grant program to train students, teachers, and law enforcement on how to spot and report signs of gun violence. We have a graphic that also says that it's funding for metal detectors and better school security. So you admit, however, it does not do the tougher work of banning bump stocks, or fixing the background system, or getting weapons of war, as you call them, off the streets.

So how do you feel about this? Good start, doesn't go far enough?

DEUTCH: Sure. Well, let's be clear about one thing, Alisyn. This is not a response to the tragedy that happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. This is a piece of legislation that I introduced a couple of weeks before the shooting.

It's a good bill. It's the kind of thing that can help. It can help identify potential threats and keep schools safe.

But a lot of people are trying to suggest that this is the response. It is not the response. I'm glad it passed and I'm glad that we were able to do something in a bipartisan way. And the fact that it was even on the floor is only because of the advocacy of families and these students.

But this isn't -- this isn't the necessary response. We do have to move forward on all of those things that have broad bipartisan support.

It is outrageous -- and this is what the kids were saying yesterday. It's outrageous that now more than one month after the shooting the speaker of the House and Senate majority leader refuse to let us debate the common-sense things like banning bump stocks, like raising the age to buy a gun to 21, and especially, universal background checks -- refusing to let us debate those on the floor. That's what needs to happen.

Yes, this was a good bill but we can't allow the gun lobby or anyone else to let us -- let anyone believe that this is the response to the shooting. We know what we have to do to keep our schools and communities safe. We just need the increased pressure of these kids to make that happen.

On the 24th, the "March For Our Lives" when there are marches in more than 700 cities in the United States and around the world, the pressure to act will only be greater.

CAMEROTA: I'm glad you clarified all of that because obviously, it is confusing.

One of your colleagues in the Senate, Marco Rubio who, of course, represents Florida and was there with you at our CNN town hall, he introduced a bill yesterday. It was about Daylight Saving Time. He wants to make it year-round.

Do you think that helps gun violence?

DEUTCH: (Laughing) I assume that's a rhetorical question, Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, I guess my point is that things are being done in -- DEUTCH: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- Congress but they're not being done on this issue of --

DEUTCH: Of course.

CAMEROTA: -- even his home state. And I just want you to explain why --

DEUTCH: I don't --

CAMEROTA: -- this would be his priority.

DEUTCH: Yes. I can't explain that and I will not debate the merits of making sure -- of extending Daylight Saving Time year-round. That is not a serious debate that we should be having right now a month after 17 people were slaughtered in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

It's crazy -- come on. We know -- Alisyn, you were there. You met with these kids. You know how passionate they are and you know that they're going to continue to force this onto the agenda.

Everything that's done in this town where the gun lobby is involved is meant to distract and to change the subject. We cannot let that happen.

If you find some other members of Congress or the Senate who want to debate Daylight Saving Time go ahead and do it. I'm not doing that. I'm going to talk about the need to take action on gun violence.

CAMEROTA: I mean, listen, I don't know. I'm not as confident as you are that the kids' action and the kids' marches and these national movements will get the Senate or your colleagues in the House to begin debating the things that the students are calling for. I mean, I just can't be sure of that.

DEUTCH: Well, can I just point out a couple of things though?

It's a month after the shooting. We're still talking about it. That's unusual.

There will be millions of people participating in this march. That will drive the debate -- that's important.

But let's look at the accomplishments already. More than a dozen companies who have broken off their relationship with the gun lobby.

Companies like Dick's who have made the right and courageous decision based on principles to say -- and morals -- that we're not going to continue to sell the weapons of war like the one that was used to slaughter all of the people in Stoneman Douglas and is the weapon of choice in mass shootings.

Those steps forward are unlike what we've seen after other mass shootings. Things are changing. I understand that here, members of the Senate and some in the House

may choose to debate the merits of year-round Daylight Saving Time. But for kids who are worried in their schools, for parents who are worried whether their kids are going to come home at the end of the day after they drop their kids off in the morning, they know what we need to be debating.

[07:40:09] I -- let me just point out --


DEUTCH: -- everyone's been focused on the outcome of the election in western Pennsylvania. That's a huge win but what Conor Lamb did even on this issue. He and I may differ on some of the gun issues. I know we do but he supports background checks -- expanded background checks -- as do most members of the NRA.

We can't allow the gun lobby to try to distract us and we can't allow members of Congress to try to move on to talking about Daylight Saving Time when what we ought to be talking about is keeping our kids safe.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Ted Deutch, we appreciate you being on NEW DAY. Thank you very much.

DEUTCH: Thanks, Alisyn. Great to be with you.

CAMEROTA: You, too -- Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Some sad news for lovers of Geoffrey the Giraffe. Toys 'R' Us is announcing that it's going out of business. Why the iconic store is being forced to close, next.


CUOMO: Critics of the plan to arm teachers in the wake of the Florida school massacre are pointing to two separate incidents now on the same day where trained school employees accidentally fired their weapons.

CNN's Miguel Marquez has more.


STUDENT PROTESTORS: What do we want? Gun control.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With debate raging over guns, schools, mass shootings, and arming teachers --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened.

[07:45:04] MARQUEZ: -- with the president pushing an arm the teachers agenda, shocking reminders of the danger.

On the same day in Virginia and California, two schools on opposite sides of the country, guns accidentally fired by members of staff.

FERMIN CHRISTIAN GONZALES, INJURED BY BULLET FRAGMENT: I looked at my shirt like that and there was like blood on my shirt.

MARQUEZ: Seventeen-year-old Fermin Gonzales was hit in the neck with a fragment after his teacher and Sand City, California police reserve officer Dennis Alexander accidentally fired a single shot into the ceiling during a gun safety demonstration.

FERMIN MATTHEW GONZALES, VICTIM'S FATHER: I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it.

MARQUEZ: Gonzales' father, who was warming to the idea of arming school staff now has second thoughts.

F.M. GONZALES: This was an incident with a trained professional. If it is given to everybody this could happen again and again.

MARQUEZ: It did happen again, the same day. This time, a middle school -- George Washington in Alexandria, Virginia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It appears to be an accidental event.

MARQUEZ: A school resource officer and 5-year veteran of the Alexandria Police Department accidentally fired off a single round. It went through a wall injuring no one but has parents questioning the wisdom of arming teachers and staff in schools.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here we have a highly-trained 5-year veteran of the police force here to protect our students and somehow -- we don't know how -- his service weapon was discharged.

MARQUEZ: The teacher in California is on leave from the school and the police department. The Virginia resource officer is also on leave. Both incidents are under investigation.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Los Angeles.


CAMEROTA: OK, so those are fascinating stories, right, because that's what critics of arming teachers fear was going to happen or worse.

But what I was talking to kids in Parkland about was in terms of all these plans, in terms of all these ideas, what are the data points? Do they work -- does arming teachers work or not? If it works we do it, if not it doesn't.

So here are two more data points. We just don't know enough yet but here are two that went wrong.

CUOMO: That's true. But look, the unknown works both ways, right? They'll say well, we haven't tried it before so how do we know if it will make it --


CUOMO: -- a harder target.

The problem is one, mass shootings don't just happen in schools. And two, there is a practical problem about applying this.

You have schools all over the country -- you probably know this where you live -- where they're losing sports teams because they can't get insurance. But do you think that carriers are going to insure people who are armed in schools around children? You've got to think about the practicality as well.


Meanwhile, it is time for "CNN Money Now."

After 70 years, Toys 'R' Us is going out of business closing all of its U.S. stores.

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is in our Money Center with more. An end of an era.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It really is and guys, I know you remember this powerful jingle -- listen.




ROMANS: I know, can't you sing it? There will never be another generation of Toys 'R' Us kids. The iconic toy store is liquidating, closing or selling all 735 U.S. stores.

Toys 'R' Us hasn't turned a profit since 2012, first losing sales to big-box retailers like Walmart and Target, and then Amazon. Toys 'R' Us declared bankruptcy in September but it could not balance a huge debt load while trying to reinvest in its stores. The turnaround didn't work. Thirty-three thousand American jobs at risk.

It's also bad news for toy companies -- think Hasbro and Mattel. Toys 'R' Us is the last megastore dedicated to toys. In fact, without it, analysts say 10 to 15 percent of all toy sales will be lost forever, Chris.

You know that jingle, right? Can't you sing it?

CUOMO: Lived it --


CUOMO: -- lived it. It was an aspiration for me as a kid and now my Geoffrey the Giraffe collection is now worth something.

CAMEROTA: That's good news. You've waited a long time for that.

CUOMO: I've paid a lot in storage. I have 450 of them.

CAMEROTA: Disturbing. CUOMO: CNN goes to the Arctic for a threat that you cannot see. How is the U.S. trying to stay ahead of Russia? A potential battle under the ice. A CNN exclusive, next.


[07:53:18] CUOMO: All right. Now to a CNN exclusive.

This is some kind of look inside the USS Hartford. It's a nuclear- powered submarine challenging Russia in the Arctic.

CNN's Jim Sciutto got extraordinary access with the Navy under the ice to deal with potential threats. Jimmy joins us now.

I can't believe you fit in that thing.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I was there on my birthday if you can believe it. That's just how crazy --

CAMEROTA: Lucky you.

CUOMO: What a gift.

SCIUTTO: That's how crazy I am, but I had a ball.

Listen, why the Arctic? Why do we care about the Arctic?

The ice is shrinking. What does that do? Opens up oil there, opens up shipping lanes, but also new ways to project military power.

Who's our neighbor in the Arctic? Russia. We're 50 miles away from Russia in the Arctic up by Alaska and this is a new front. It's why the U.S. is making a very clear signal here to Russia that they can operate anywhere in the world here and with their most advanced submarines and weapons.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): More than 100 miles north of the northernmost tip of Alaska we set down on a runway carved into the Arctic ice. Our objective, U.S. Navy submarine exercises called ICEX. CNN was granted exclusive access.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ice here is about three feet thick and it may not look like it but it's moving all the time. It's a giant kaleidoscope of giant pieces of ice.

SCIUTTO: This is the harshest sea environment in the world and a new front in the expanding global competition between the U.S. and Russia. These 5.5 million square miles are under an intense battle for dominance as the ice shrinks and opens new oil exploration, new shipping lanes, and crucially, new paths to wage war.

[07:55:08] SCIUTTO (on camera): Do you have a sense of greater competition up here for capability in this space? REAR ADMIRAL JAMES PITTS, COMMANDER, UNDERSEA WARFIGHTING DEVELOPMENT CENTER: We are well aware that we are in a great power competition environment and the Arctic is one piece of that.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): We went under the ice on the USS Hartford, one of many U.S. submarines taking part in a competition raging sometimes miles below the surface.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open your weapons, three, two, one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open three, two, one, aye, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next, two, one.

SCIUTTO: The Hartford, a Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine readies to fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two, one primary go back up high.



SCIUTTO: In an instant a 2-ton, 20-foot long torpedo speeds towards an enemy submarine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long should it be to (ph) get to the target?

SCIUTTO: Target acquired and destroyed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stationary dive, stationary dive.

SCIUTTO: These are just exercises. The Hartford training for its primary mission, hunting and destroying enemy ships and submarines.

SCIUTTO (on camera): Why is it more important now to demonstrate that capability?

COMMANDER MATTHEW FANNING, COMMANDING OFFICER, USS HARTFORD: You know, this is our exclusive economic zone and that our submarine force is capable of operating here just as we operate along our east coast and throughout the world. It shows that we are capable of doing it and willing to come up here.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): Operating under the Arctic presents unique challenges with no access to GPS navigation, limited communications, and dangers from below and above.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ice keel depth times zero-seven, 55 feet.

SCIUTTO: Ice keels as long as 150 feet extend down from the ice sheet.

America's biggest challenge, however, comes from Russia. The Russian military has assembled an arc of steel along its Arctic coast comprising dozens of military bases, ports, and airfields. And it is building and deploying faster, quieter, and more capable subs of its own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, eight, zero.

SCIUTTO (on camera): Have you had specific encounters, if not in the Arctic then elsewhere, with Russian submarines or Chinese?

COMMODORE OLLIE LEWIS, SUBMARINE SQUADRON 12: Again, we'd never try and speak to those specific operations for the clear intelligence value that that would be to the adversary.

Fundamentally, we're -- we are watching and we are engaged and I think our adversaries recognize that as well.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): This year, these exercises are taking on new urgency. A British submarine joined for the first time in a decade and U.S. submarine forces are refocusing on a mission dating back to the Cold War deploying and demonstrating deadly firepower on the top of the world.

But everything is harder here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five degree up angle, .23 upper velocity and increasing.

SCIUTTO: Surfacing through the ice requires enormous power and skill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, one thousand. Two, one thousand. Three, one thousand.

SCIUTTO: We were on board as the submarine ascended with the full force of its 6,000 tons.

SCIUTTO (on camera): We've just broken through two feet of Arctic ice. The North Pole is this way, Russia is this way, and Alaska this way. And a mission like this is all about sending a message. The U.S. Navy can operate or wage war if necessary in the harshest environment in the world.

SCIUTTO (voice-over): A harrowing message these nuclear submarines are sending to Moscow and the world.


CUOMO: Wow, what conditions, what access. High cool factor and high information factor.

So you're doing this just at this point in relations where the idea of how Russia may be a threat to the United States is in full peak. How did that feed into those types of operations?

SCIUTTO: Listen, they are talking about it everywhere, not just in the Arctic. But think -- let's connect all these dots. Russia is more active with submarines up there. Those submarines are popping up off the coast of Florida.

They have invaded Crimea and the Ukraine, they interfered in the U.S. election, and now it's believed that they murdered a former Russian spy on the streets of the U.K. very aggressively. They've even done that before.

Connecting all these things makes U.S. military planners, I don't want to say nervous but with a great sense of urgency that this is a -- it's a real competition with real threats that the U.S. has to respond to in each of these places. It's a serious thing and it is very much at the top of their minds right now.

CAMEROTA: Jim, that was really, really cool but I'm just curious who did you piss off in management to get that done?

SCIUTTO: I begged to go on this trip and that's -- because Chris knows -- he's known me a long time. I'm just that crazy.

CAMEROTA: Well, it worked. Thanks so much for showing us all of that.

CUOMO: I'm surprised he wore the mask. Jimmy never takes an opportunity not to show that face.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my God. Jim, great reporting. Thank you very much.

We're following a lot of news. Let's get to it.

CUOMO: We went to college together.

CAMEROTA: I know that.