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CNN Live Event/Special
Deadly Shooting At Texas Elementary School; President Biden Addresses Nation On Horrific Texas School Shooting. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired May 24, 2022 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Explain to us, talk to us about the DNA match. Are they taking DNA from parents, from relatives? What is going on?
ROLAND GUTIERREZ, MEMBER, TEXAS STATE SENATE: So, they're taking DNA from parents and family members and trying to match them to those children that are deceased or the ones that are in the hospital. Not all of the children have been reunited. It has a very, very devastating sight right now when we have people that have -- that are finding out, as we speak, that their loved -- that their child is deceased. It is just devastating. Again, I apologize for having to move out here to this location. This is where they have asked me to move to.
LEMON: So, when you --
GUTIERREZ: Okay, I think we are good.
LEMON: Okay. So just for clarification then, senator, you said not all the kids have been reunited. You mean there are kids there who haven't been reunited with their parents or do you mean that the parents have not been told?
GUTIERREZ: The parents have not been told that their child has passed or is in the hospital because of the carnage. It was 18. Now, we are hearing possibly 19 children that have passed on.
LEMON: It is confirmed, 19.
GUTIERREZ: One of them was a tutor. That's rough.
LEMON: Hmmm. So, we are having some issues with the senator's wi-fi. He warned us as we were going to him. We are going to try to get him on the phone. If you guys can call him quickly. I will just dance around here for a little bit. So, that was Senator Roland Gutierrez. He is a Texas State senator. He actually represents Uvalde, and he has driven there from San Antonio. We are going to grab him on the phone in just a bit.
In the meantime, we have our correspondent, Ed Lavandera, who is on the scene. Ed, you heard what the senator was saying, that there are people who still have not been reunited with their children. Some of the children are still in the hospital. I presume they are alive and they don't know or have not been reunited with them. And some of them have not been notified that their children have died because they are getting DNA matches at the moment.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and the gruesome reality, Don, is given the weaponry that we believe was used in this attack at the school and the conditions of the victims, that the DNA swabs could very well be what is needed to be able to confirm the identities and to confirm the connections between the deceased and family members.
And that is the horrifying reality of what dozens of family members are dealing with tonight. And that is just as painful as it is to even say these words tonight. That is what those family members are dealing with.
It harkens back to 10 years ago, Sandy Hook, those family members who were in a very similar place. I remember hearing the reports where you could hear the screams of anguish as relatives were reunited with children that had survived and the last people left in the room there were the very ones whose children had been killed in the attack. And we are seeing that literally play out before our eyes again tonight.
And the anguish you can see -- we have a brief interview with a father out there in Uvalde tonight, Jesse Rodriguez, who is desperately looking for his 10-year-old daughter, Amber. You can hear the pain in their voices as they brace for the horrible news that is probably coming their way.
LEMON: Okay. Do we have that? Okay. So, Ed, we will get to that in a little bit. So, pardon --
LEMON: -- pardon us for interrupting it.
I want to get back now to Senator Gutierrez. State Senator Roland Gutierrez, he is back with us on the phone. Again, he represents Uvalde in the state legislature, and he is there tonight.
So, senator, thank you for joining us once again, this time by telephone. So, you were talking about the families who have not been reunited with their kids if they are in the hospital. And also, they have not been notified if their kids, sadly, have been killed in this tragedy. And they are getting DNA samples, taking DNA swabs from parents and family members.
GUTIERREZ (via telephone): That's right, Don. That is the process that is going on right now as we see people coming out just terrorized and crying. One by one, they are being told that their child has passed on and witnessing that, witnessing the horror in my constituents. It is just so devastating and so tremendously sad that we are here having this discussion today.
Uvalde is a wonderful hardworking community, a very picturesque town. I cannot believe that this community is undergoing this trauma.
LEMON: So, you are being updated and briefed on the situation. Is there anything else that you can tell us that has not been reported? As we understand, you said there is possibly 19. We have gotten confirmation from the public safety -- from the Texas Department of Public Safety that it is indeed 19 adults and -- 19 children, excuse me, two adults --
GUTIERREZ (via telephone): Nineteen.
LEMON: -- plus the shooter that are dead in this situation.
GUTIERREZ (via telephone): Yeah. The last briefing that I got from DPS, from Texas Rangers, was at 5:35. What was most startling to me and which we reported earlier in one of your shows with CNN was the access in which this young man was able to get these weapons just on his 18th birthday. And so, you have already been reporting on that. I think your reporters have. I am astounded by it, quite frankly.
But, you know, this is a state where, unfortunately, my colleagues in the legislature have opened up access to these types of weapons rather than sought to restrict it.
So, this is the world that we live in in Texas. We have seen some of the worst shootings in the last several years and yet we still have people on the other side of the aisle that are unwilling to create any change on this issue. Today is not a day for a policy discussion, but at some point, we need to have this discussion. It needs to happen very, very, very soon.
LEMON: Listen, what is -- what is your response to those who are saying that folks like you are rushing to politicize this? Do you think that is because they don't want to be criticized or trying to blunt criticism by making this into some sort of talking point that, oh, don't politicize this because, you know, it is too early in this tragedy to do that?
GUTIERREZ (via telephone): Listen, listen, there is -- my heart goes out to each and every one of my constituents that are standing across the street from me right now. My heart goes out to this entire community.
I've got two little girls, and I take them to school every morning in San Antonio 90 miles away from here. And just the very notion that I can take them to school one day and not be able to ever see them again and wait hours on end to find out that they had died, this is enough in this country of not doing anything.
And for those people to say, oh, let's not politicize, thoughts and prayers, listen, I am all about praying for these people.
But if as a policymaker, if we do nothing, if we do nothing, then what have we done to remember, to honor, to do something? Because, my God, I mean, how much more do we have to deal with this?
An 18-year-old should not have access to weapons, to militarized weapons. This is not -- I am a gun owner. I hunt. But I don't have an AR-15 at home. These are not weapons that you go hunting with or to the gun range with. These are weapons that used by our soldiers in a military setting.
People should not have access to these types of weapons. And certainly an 18-year-old should not be able to be given the liberty to be able to go to a store in his community on his 18th birthday and buy two of these.
LEMON: State Senator Roland Gutierrez, we appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much. You be well.
GUTIERREZ (via telephone): Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Just now, I was talking to our Ed Lavandera, and he mentioned that he spoke to a parent who was frantically trying to find their child after the shooting at the elementary school. I want you all to listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSIE RODRIGUEZ, FATHER OF MISSING ROBB ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENT: I'm looking for my daughter. After the shooting, they don't know where she's at. I mean, the list -- her name is not here. We don't know the list of who has gotten flown out and you are not even seen at the hospital right now. So, where -- we don't know where to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, let's bring in now CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez, and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. He is now a senior law enforcement analyst. Hello Evan, once again. Andrew, good to see you. Wish it was under better circumstances. Thanks for joining us.
Evan, I'm going to start with you. You have been talking to your sources about this investigation. What are you hearing now?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, I think one of the -- the great -- the big puzzles at this point is still the motivation for this gunman. Usually by this point, you know, hours after one of these shootings, this thing happened 11:30 local time in Texas, you know, usually we have a lot more information about things, postings, things that might have indicated a motivation. And one of the things that I am struck by is the lack of that information.
And, you know, just some strange parts of this, we have the shooting or the attack on the grandmother that preceded the driving into the ditch near the school. At this point, law enforcement is not even sure that he intended to go to school, whether this was something that just happened as a result of the crash. They don't know.
And so, there is a lot of work to be done by the FBI, by the Department of Public Safety there in Texas to try to get to friends, people who he knew, to try to understand a little bit more about him.
Some of the things we are learning, Don, from some of the interviews, it appears that people who knew him said he was quiet, he was bullied in school. [23:10:03]
LEMON: So, again, those are things that kind of explain perhaps his mindset some time ago. We don't know what happened today, what happened at the home with the grandmother, and then what happened in the subsequent minutes and hours after that happened, Don.
LEMON: Could it be, Andrew, that they know and they are just not talking about it at this point because they are trying to first get the families notified, and then, you know, maybe it's not enough to give to the media, to the public that it would actually make any sense of this?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF FBI: That is very possible, Don. And we have to remember that notifying the family members and the loved ones is often more complicated than it seems.
There could be, you know, families that are split where one parent lives in another state and one parent is local, and you want to contact both of those people. People are sometimes hard to reach, not expecting, of course, that something like this would happen. So, there can be all kinds of issues in getting those notifications done.
It is also, I think, helpful to remember that our most recent experience with an active shooter mass killing was, of course, just about a week ago in Buffalo, New York. In that case, because the subject had posted this screed online, this manifesto that made clear his motivations, we knew about it very quickly. That is not typical. It happens in some cases. Clearly, it doesn't seem to -- doesn't seem to be the case in this one.
So, executing the search warrant at the residence, going through all the documents, going through all the electronic devices, cellphones, iPads, computers, browsing history, social media, that takes some time. So, it may be -- it may be a day or two before we have a really good understanding of what this guy was all about.
LEMON: I think that is very important, what you're pointing out right now, because in Buffalo and in other instances recently and even beyond, that we have been spoken about the suspect or the person who committed the act left a manifesto, left a reason why they did it. It was a racist act. So, we focus on race or racism, right, or white supremacy or what it is, because that was what was left, that is what they know.
This -- this is not that yet. I mean, I should say, so far, there is no evidence of that at this point. Right, Andrew?
MCCABE: That's right. We may find that eventually. We may find the manifesto or the writing in his, you know, in a notebook, in his bedroom or something like that. But we haven't found it yet. It doesn't mean that we won't. But a lot of work needs to be done by our investigators and our police officers to really uncover that stuff.
We don't want to get out in front and try to start jumping to conclusions without solid evidence upon which to base them. So, I think we just need to give our investigators a little bit of time.
LEMON: Yeah. So, the suspect posted some images of weapons, Evan, on Instagram just days before the massacre. What kind of role will social media play in this investigation because, as you know, they are going through that?
PEREZ: Right, exactly, Don. I think we already know from people he was in touch with on Snapchat and other social media platforms, we know law enforcement is reaching out to those people. So, that is going to be a tremendous part of this.
You know, someone who is 18 years old, you know that even if he didn't have a lot of friends and, you know, was a quiet person who kept to himself, probably was on social media. We can see from those images that he had acquired that firearm.
He's only 18 recently. So, he had to have bought those from what we can tell. From what we know, he bought them legally. That would've been just perhaps days ago that he was able to buy these firearms. And so, that is where a lot of this investigation is being focused on right now, Don.
LEMON: Andrew, I want to talk to you about this, because we've heard so much about, you know, good guy with a gun and all of that. I was looking for the information that I had here. I can't find it at the moment.
About border patrol agents engaging with the suspect, about police officers and law enforcement engaging with the suspect. Good guys with guns who were not, at this point, able to save the lives of so many, sadly. So, that whole good guy with a gun argument, do you think that plays in? Does that work here?
MCCABE: Yeah, Don, it is not guarantee, as we saw in this attack where you had two border patrol agents and a, I think, security officer, school security officer who engaged the subject in the school and were not able to stop him, you know, at that point.
We saw it last week in Buffalo where you had an armed security guard in the grocery store who engaged the subject and actually landed around but was not able to stop him and he died for his efforts.
School security officers play a number of very vital roles. There are all kinds of security issues at schools that don't involve active shooters and security officers on the premises are able to handle those things.
But having a school security officer, a good guy with a gun in a school, is no guarantee that that officer is going to be in the right place at the right time under the right circumstances to be able to prevent a trained, heavily-armed -- in this recent case, you know, Kevlar-wearing, very focused attacker who is entering the premises with a couple of assault weapons. I mean, there is -- it is not a guarantee that you are going to prevent the loss of life. So, people who talk about these absurd theories about arming teachers and just flooding the environment, the school environment with guns, it is a fantasy. The facts and the figures do not bear out the effectiveness of those sort of theories.
LEMON: Andrew, Evan, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
PEREZ: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: A community and a nation in mourning tonight. The sad fact is that we have been here before. Another mass shooting taking the lives of 19 children in their elementary school. Is anywhere safe anymore?
LEMON: So, here is our breaking news tonight. A horrifying day in South Texas and in America. A gunman opening fire on little kids in a school, killing at least 19 students and at least two adults.
Joining me now is Chris Swecker. He is a former FBI assistant director for the criminal investigative division. Chris, hello to you. Thanks for joining us.
CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION: Hi, Don.
LEMON: Awful, awful, awful. A picture is starting to emerge in the last hour or so. A photo of the two AR-15-style rifles have appeared on an Instagram account connected to the suspected shooter just three days before this massacre. A former classmate is telling CNN the shooter was bullied. A friend said that he would get severely bullied, made fun of a lot, saying that he was taunted for the clothes that he wore and his family's financial situation. How do you analyze this?
SWECKER: Yeah. Well, I would say in a nutshell that these events are predictable, this one in particular. And in being predictable, they are preventable. I mean, all these young shooters, the ones that are 18 and below that have been bullied at school or they don't fit in or they have emotional problems, they are flashing red. I would defy anyone to find a case where that wasn't happening.
And I think what we are going to find again, Don, it is another situation where there was an opportunity for an intervention by law enforcement or a family and it was a missed opportunity. Such a tragic, senseless act. No mental illness probably comes into play here. But I also think, Don, that there was a pursuit going on here and that may have triggered him going into the school.
LEMON: Talk to me more about that. What do you mean?
SWECKER: Yeah. I'm getting reports that after he shot his grandmother, there was a BOLO, be on the lookout, a general BOLO that went out for him and the fact that there were so many law enforcement officers there so quickly. In fact, I understand that he was engaged with independent school district officers, which makes me think there were officers very close by. His car was in an accident. He abandoned the car.
So, I think there is a lot of information that is being withheld at this point as they reconstruct what happened, but I think we are going to find out a lot more over the next -- by tomorrow morning.
LEMON: I don't know if you heard my interview just a moment ago with Andrew McCabe talking about, you know --
LEMON: -- the armor the suspect had -- was wearing and so forth. He was wearing body armor just like the shooter in Buffalo. Is this something new that we are seeing? How accessible is this type of gear?
MCCABE: Yeah, body armor is not hard to get a hold of. You know, the type of equipment that we saw in Buffalo and in other shootings were not hard to get at any surplus store, any cop shop. They don't ask you to show your credentials as a police officer to get this type of equipment. So, not too difficult to get a hold of.
The AK, unexplainable. The two AKs is unexplainable. You know, an 18- year-old gets two weapons like that on the day that he is eligible to get them. Too much firepower there. The ICP has come out against these assault weapons. That is because we as a law enforcement officers don't want to be outgunned.
LEMON: Should they be legal? You don't think that they should be out there? They should be legal?
SWECKER: Well, you know, I own guns. I am a conservative. But like many law enforcement officers and those that have been in the profession, we don't like to see them in the hands of people who are not law enforcement, frankly. And especially, I heard Bill Bratton talk about the red flag law. I think most law enforcements are all for that.
This is what falls through the cracks. When there is a situation where you can't charge somebody but you know there is a problem here, it is a mental health problem, these threats have been made but they don't rise to the level where you can make an arrest, at least get what amounts to a restraining order. Put them in the system so that when the background check is done, that it pops up as a red flag.
LEMON: Okay, let's -- okay, Chris, let's have this difficult conversation about the Second Amendment.
I think most people are for the Second Amendment, right? I understand that when the Second Amendment was established, they were talking about muskets and they are guns that you could shoot multiple people with -- in a second, right, within a matter of seconds. Other countries -- you know, we heard Bill Bratton talking about the internet. Okay, so we have the internet. But the internet is all over the world. People have mental issues all over the world. People deal with stress all over the world. But we are the only country that deals with mass shootings on a semiregular basis. We are just a decade out from Sandy Hook.
We are also the only country that has a proliferation of guns, the number of guns, and the access to guns more easily than any other country in the world. Why aren't we doing anything about that? It seems it is common sense. It seems like we just won't deal with the obvious.
SWECKER: It depends on where we are talking about. Gun trafficking is huge in Eastern Europe, the former satellite countries. As you move toward Western Europe, there are gun laws in place but tons of gun trafficking going on.
But, to your point, I mean, it is too easy to build a ghost gun. You can get the parts in the mail, build the gun. It is essentially unregistered. You get any weapon you want at a tradeshow without going through the background check.
The NICS system has tons of holes in it. That is the National Instant Check System. We saw that with Dylann Roof in the shooting there where his background check was ambiguous. They had to do research. Meanwhile, he got the gun and the rest is history.
So, I'm a gun owner, but I don't think certain guns ought to be available to anyone but law enforcement. That is just -- I think that is the way many law enforcement officers think.
LEMON: I come from the deep south, from Louisiana. Gun owners all over my family. I believe in the Second Amendment. But I also think there should be laws for -- you need a driver's license, then you have to be at certain age. You know, you have to follow the speed limit. You have to have insurance.
There should be sensible restrictions on guns. I think that is where most Americans -- what most Americans believe. I just don't understand why we can't get there, Chris.
SWECKER: Yeah. Well, the reality, too, is that there are a lot of them out there. It is hard to put the toothpaste back in the tube here with the proliferation of the guns that are out there now. And the reality is, too, that criminals know how to get their hands on guns. Now, do 18-year-olds know how to get their hands on them? I don't think so.
SWECKER: Those are the ones you want to deter. Those are the things that I think are preventable when we talk about being predictable and preventable. So, we've got to come to some reasonable place here where these guns that are made just to kill people --
LEMON: We have to get to a place --
SWECKER: -- are not available to just anybody who wants it.
LEMON: I agree. We have to get to a place where you can actually talk about this and people don't call you names or un-American because you may disagree with them on this particular issue. We are all Americans and everyone is trying to say -- they are trying to save lives here. The intentions and the motivations are not bad if you are trying to save lives here.
Since I have you here, Mr. FBI, I got to ask you about the investigation. So, we've got looking at the I'm sure the suspect's social media. If the grandmother will pull through, they are going to be looking at this and also speaking to people who knew him. What is happening now, identifying, quite frankly, the children and the parents who belongs to whom here. So, what is happening with the investigation, Chris?
SWECKER: Yeah, all hands on deck in several different areas. One, as you mentioned, the identification that has to happen quickly. You have to get the DNA experts. I heard about that. That is tragic. It just compounds the tragedy.
The social media, any writings, you know, search warrants in the house, cars, interviews of anyone within his social network if he had one, family, friends. You know, there is so much available out there now that is stored and easily accessible.
So, you know, this is -- that type of investigation takes a little bit of time, but I'm pretty sure that investigators at this point have a picture of what is going on or what motivated this individual. We see that there are some postings people have found already.
Law enforcement has been notably quiet. I think that is because they are at a very -- this is a very sensitive investigation. I think there was more going on in this case. For example, the pursuit. They are trying to reconstruct who did what during the pursuit. They're are reconstructing everything from the time that he had the domestic dispute with his grandmother and shot her all the way up to what happened at the school.
LEMON: Chris, thank you. I appreciate it. Thanks.
SWECKER: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: President Biden addressing the nation in the wake of a Texas elementary school massacre. He is a demanding that the pain be turned into action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God's name is our backbone? (END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: An emotional and angry President Biden addressing the nation after a gunman killed 19 children and two adults and Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. He says that the country has to act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Good evening, fellow Americans. I had hoped when I became president, I would not have to do this. Again, another massacre. Uvalde, Texas. An elementary school. Beautiful, innocent second, third, fourth graders. And how many scores of little children who witnessed what happened, see their friends die as if they are in a battlefield, for God's sake?
They will go with it the rest of their lives. There is a lot we don't know yet. There is a lot we do know. The parents who will never see their child again. Never have them jump in bed and cuddle with them. Parents who will never be the same.
To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away. There is a hollowness in your chest. You feel like you are being sucked into it and never going to be able to get out, suffocating. It's never quite the same. This is a feeling shared by the siblings and grandparents and family members in the community that is left behind.
Scripture says, Jill and I have talked about this in different contexts, in other contexts, the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. So many crushed spirits.
So, tonight, I asked the nation to pray for them. Give the parents and siblings the strength in the darkness they feel right now. As a nation, we have to ask when in God's name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God's name we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?
It has been 3,448 days, 10 years since I stood up at a high school in Connecticut -- a grade school in Connecticut where another gunman massacred 26 people, including 20 first graders, at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Since then, there have been over 900 incidents of gunfire as reported on school grounds. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Santa Fe High School in Texas. Oxford High School in Michigan. The list goes on and on and the list grows.
When we include mass shootings at places like movie theaters, houses of worship, as we saw just 10 days ago at a grocery store in Buffalo in New York, 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. I spent my career as a senator and a vice president working to pass common sense gun laws. We can't and won't prevent every tragedy, but we know they work and have positive impact. When we passed the assault weapons ban, mass shootings went down. When the law expired, mass shootings tripled.
The idea that an 18-year-old kid can walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons is just wrong. What in God's name do you need an assault weapon for except to kill someone? They aren't running through the forest with Kevlar vests on, for God's sake. It is just sick.
And the gun manufacturers have spent two decades aggressively marketing assault weapons, which make them the most and largest profit. For God's sake, we have to have the courage to stand up to the industry.
Here's what else I know. Most Americans support common sense laws, common sense gun laws. I just got off a trip from Asia meeting with Asian leaders. I learned of this while I was on the aircraft. What struck me on that 17-hour flight, what struck me was these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world. Why?
They have mental health problems. They have domestic disputes in other countries. They have people who are lost. But these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency that happen in America. Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God's name is our backbone to the courage to stand up to the lobbyists?
It is time to turn this pain into action. For every parent, for every citizen of this country, we have to make it clear to every elected official in this county, it is time to act. It is time for those who obstruct or delay or block the commonsense gun laws, we need to let you know that we will not forget. We can do so much more. We have to do more.
Our prayer tonight is for those parents lying in bed trying to find out, will I be able to sleep again? What do I say to my other children? What happens tomorrow? May God bless the loss of innocent life on this sad day and may the Lord be near the brokenhearted and save those crushed in spirit because they are going to need a lot of help and a lot of our prayers. God loves you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: President of the United States earlier speaking to the American people.
I'm joined now by CNN political analyst Laura Barron-Lopez and CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers. Hello to both of you.
So, Bakari, the president left first trip to Asia, right, having to deal with Buffalo, and then returns to this in Texas. Can he -- as the president said, can we put action behind the words?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First, let me just say that I thought that there is no better president, no better person to deal with a moment such as this than Joe Biden, somebody who was lost two kids, somebody who has been the most empathetic president we have probably ever had. Coming after Donald Trump, particularly, we see that he is built for moments like this.
I think the flip side, though, Don, I said this in the break, I don't think we are going to (INAUDIBLE) about this, to be completely honest with you. That is the frustrating part. I think that when you kill 20 kids in an elementary school and you don't do anything about that, I think this country fully accepted the fact that guns will kill young people. I think we fully accept the fact that this is who we are.
And any time you can kill a bunch of Black folks in a grocery store, the bodies aren't even buried yet, and then a week later you kill a bunch of kids, and then you have people like Joe Manchin -- I mean, I know we are giving Republicans, I guess, as the kids say, we are giving Republicans a lot of smoke today.
But Joe Manchin deserves it, too. I don't think there is anybody that has the courage, that has the fortitude, that is willing to go out and create the change we want to see.
And so, I am not hopeless, but I am very honest and sober about the fact that we have to, as a father, I have to teach my kids what to do during a mass shooting. I have to teach them how to respond. I have a 16-year-old and two three-year-old. This is the America, unfortunately, that they are going to grow up.
I would not be doing my job as a parent if I did not prepare them to go out and live in a world where we have individuals who have the callousness to kill young people, who have the callousness to kill people because of the color of their skin, and then we have leadership that fails on all fronts.
Joe Biden did a hell of a job tonight. He did everything he can do. But I wish Joe Manchin was listening to that. I wish Mitt Romney or whoever else was listening to that.
LEMON: There is a lot more that we are going to talk about. Before we do, I just want to get Laura in to hear what she has to say and then we will continue on with our conversation. Laura?
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, one thing that stood out from Biden's speech tonight, which I think he potentially heard Senator Chris Murphy on the Senate floor maybe when he was flying --
LEMON: What are we doing?
BARRON-LOPEZ: Yeah, what are we doing, and Senator Chris Murphy said, you know, there are other countries that have guns and there are other countries that have the mental health issues that the U.S. has --
LEMON: The internet.
BARRON-LOPEZ: But there is a big difference with the U.S., which is that now, I was just looking and recent studies have shown that the number one killer of children is guns. It used to be car accident. Now, it is guns, I think, as of 2020.
And so, you know, Biden said something very similar to Chris Murphy, which is why are we okay living with this carnage and why are we the only country where this appears to be happening?
Now, a lot of people I know will talk about this after the break, feel as though there is more that he could be doing in terms of executive actions to address this issue.
LEMON: We will talk about that. I think you bring up a very good point. It used to be car accident. We put all these safety measures in place with car seats and safety belts, right? We made cars, we improved cars so that -- with the crumple zones and all of those things, right? But are we doing the same thing when it comes to guns, access to guns, mental health issues?
Right? Do you understand where I'm going?
SELLERS: Yes, we do.
LEMON: We will talk more right after this. Don't go anywhere.
LEMON: We are back now with Laura Barron-Lopez and Bakari Sellers. Okay, I said we are going to get into this, so let's do it. You were saying that we are giving Republicans a lot of smoke, right? Do you think they deserve that smoke?
SELLERS: I mean, I think so. I mean, I think that there are a lot of people who do. I think that this is a question about fortitude and where you stand on an issue that is not partisan at all. Instead, it is an issue of whether or not we live or die. I mean, for me, and I think Laura is going to talk about this, it is what the president can do with the hand he's dealt.
SELLERS: And we're going to keep saying that you have to come out and vote to save lives. You are going to keep having these mass shootings that happen week after week after week. But again, where is the legislative action? Where is the executive action? I think that is the pressure that this White House is going to feel whether or not they want to or not.
LEMON: It is difficult for people, especially members of law enforcement, especially for conservatives, any Republican to say, you know, I don't -- these assault-style weapons, I'm not comfortable with them being like -- they are worried about, as you say, the smoke they are going to get just for saying that. What is wrong with them? Why can't a conservative say that? SELLERS: Well, I mean -- thoughts and prayers are like -- my basketball coach used to tell me this all the time because as good as a basketball player I thought I was, I wasn't nearly as good. And he would always say, Bakari, you are about as good as a screen door on a submarine or you are about as good as an ashtray on a motorcycle.
That is what these republican thoughts and prayers are. They are worthless. They are not worth anything. There is no action that is happening in the United States Congress.
There is no action that has been happening for the last five years from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. So, again, I toss it to my friend, Laura, because she knows more than I do. But what is the action --
LEMON: I'm going to talk about that. But as a person of faith, yes, I want your prayers to help me with my --
SELLERS: I mean --
LEMON: -- but it's not going to bring my child back.
SELLERS: As a person of faith, the book of James says that faith without works is what?
LEMON: Is dead. Is dead. So, let's talk about, Laura, what the president can do. He has issued executive actions aimed at taking certain guns out of the hands of criminals, supporting resources in the community, violence prevention. Other actions that the president can take?
BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes. So, what a lot of gun control advocates as well as a number of lawmakers, including Senator Chris Murphy, have called for the president for months. It is not just something that they're calling for after Buffalo or after Texas. But they've been asking him for probably about a year now to use his executive action to declare a national emergency around the gun violence epidemic.
What that does is basically free up red tape and allow the government to more freely move money if they need to. There are other designations under national emergency to give that can give the president the power that he needs to do in the government, how they need to address this.
Another thing that they really want, including more and more lawmakers, Democratic lawmakers, is the creation of a national gun violence preventions czar. They feel as though right now, a lot of these issues are being addressed by the Domestic Policy Council headed up by Susan Rice. And they feel that someone needs to be completely dedicated just to the epidemic of gun violence.
LEMON: Do -- as with the voting rights issue, do Democrats deserve any smoke?
SELLERS: Yeah! I mean, look, voting rights, student loans, criminal justice reform, I think you're going to have some (INAUDIBLE) tomorrow.
LEMON: I meant on this issue.
SELLERS: Oh! But I mean -- I was just saying all these things.
LEMON: Sleep at the wheel when it comes to voting rights.
SELLERS: All of these things. I mean, how many people have to die? I mean, I know we're in an election season, I think that -- I think that there's a lot of things that should've been done.
There are people -- I was having drinks with David Axelrod before we came over and we both said -- I mean, there are people who look at Democrats and say, you have the House, you have the Senate, and you have the White House, and you're still failing to accomplish these things.
LEMON: Yeah. Thank you both. I appreciate the conversation.
When we come back right after this quick break, we're going to have a live report from Uvalde where families are gathering from outside, where families are gathering and they're getting word, sadly, on their children and their loved ones. We'll be right back.
LEMON: So, our breaking news tonight, the deadly shooting at a small town, Texas elementary school, 19 little kids killed along with two adults.
I want to bring in now Leigh Waldman. Leigh is at the civic center where families are learning the fate of their children. She is a reporter for our affiliate KSAT in San Antonio. Leigh, thanks for joining us. I understand that you are seeing and hearing some really disturbing things outside that civic center. What can you tell us?
LEIGH WALDMAN, REPORTER, KSAT, SAN ANTONIO: Well, you can see there are more families showing up behind me, waiting at those doors in front of the civic center. This area has really transformed throughout the day today. We are here around 2:00 this afternoon.
At that point, it was a reunification center. Parents can come here and pick up their children after they were evacuated out of that elementary school, which is just about a mile away from where we are.
At this point now, it is serving as a notification center, which -- that is the most heartbreaking detail. Earlier this evening, this lawn behind us was filled with families holding on to one other, filled with questions, where is my child, what is happening now with my child?
We are hearing some details from inside and that includes that there is DNA swabbing happening in with law enforcement behind us. They are getting those DNA samples to help with the identification process. That death toll, Don, you mentioned 19 little kids at elementary school. We know from the second grade to the fourth grade were attending school at Robb elementary.
So, some young kids, and hear that, there is identification needed with DNA, that's a hard detail to learn. We are sitting out here it and it was silent earlier this evening. You could hear screams coming inside of that civic center behind us as parents learned some truly terrible details, as they hope for the best but are then learning the worst.
We know it's the worst day imaginable for so many families here in Uvalde. It's a small community here. The community is truly wrapping their arms around each other.
Tomorrow morning, we're also learning from the Uvalde superintendent, at 8 a.m. at this civic center behind us, they are going to be having grief counselors for staff and teachers who were at Robb Elementary School.
At 10 a.m., they are opening it up to the community as a whole for people to talk when they need to talk because we know the trauma that ensues from a mass shooting like this one, especially when it involves such young kids, 19 young kids, a teacher. Also, we're learning the shooter's grandmother is also among the dead as well.
It is a heartbreaking situation, and just hearing those cries and seeing those families, it's something that is never going to leave your memory, Don.
LEMON: Certainly. Leigh, I'm wondering, as we're looking at the people behind you just sort of milling about now, you talk about the horrible screams that you heard earlier. I'm wondering, do they have support staff in there? Do you know -- do they spoken to you about who is supporting the families in there?
WALDMAN: We don't know details about support staff at this point. We do know this is also kind of a law enforcement meeting center, so we know there are several different law enforcement agencies inside of the civic center behind us. But we heard that there were counselors coming from San Antonio to offer their support, but we don't know the details of any counselors available inside of the civic center at this point.
There have also been churches opening up their doors throughout this community, offering prayer services throughout this evening tonight. We do know that tomorrow night at the Fair Flex (ph) just up the road about three miles from where we are, there is going to be a mass vigil.