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CNN TONIGHT: Son Of Buffalo Massacre Victim Urges Senators To Act; Teacher Who Survived School Shooting Slams Police Response; Matthew McConaughey, Actor & Uvalde Native Calls For Bipartisan Action On Guns. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 07, 2022 - 21:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: A quick reminder. The House January 6 hearings, begin, on Thursday. Our primetime special coverage starts at 7 PM Eastern Time.

The news continues, now. So, let's hand it over to Laura Coates, and CNN TONIGHT.


LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: John, thank you so much.

I am Laura Coates. And this is CNN TONIGHT.

Now, you remember that old TV sales pitch? You know the one. "But wait, there's more!" Well, that used to mean something good was going to come next. Not in this case!

The Department of Homeland Security is now warning about, wait for it, an America facing more volatile threats, from within, in the months ahead.

It's issued a really alarming new bulletin, warning that violence, in this country, could get even worse, in the summer months and the run up to the midterm elections. The reasons why are frankly as stomach- turning as they are eye-opening.

They're saying that people on extremist online forums are encouraging Uvalde copycat attacks. How cool!

But wait, there's more. There's America's old foe. Disinformation. It seems disinformation is popping up to an extent that it too could fuel further violence.

But wait, there's more. As campaigns are gearing up, for the midterms, the DHS expects calls for violence by domestic extremists, to not only continue, but actually to increase.

But wait, because there's still more. It's not all about elections. And no, the DHS also does warn to look out for the fallout, from potential Supreme Court decisions. That must shock you. I mean, namely, we're talking about the Roe v. Wade decision. It should surprise no one that there will be a visceral reaction to wherever the court's final ruling ends up being. But Homeland Security says the reaction could not just be visceral, but indeed violent. And it's not limited to just one side of the issue, because the agency has actually flagged both abortion rights supporters, and opponents, for advocating violence.

And the summary, well, let me tell you what it says, the summary is that the primary threat, of mass casualty violence, in the United States, stems from lone offenders, and small groups, motivated by ideological beliefs and/or personal grievances.

Now, just pause on that for a moment. That's the primary threat of mass violence in this country? It comes from within the United States. Now, that does not mean that foreign adversaries are not stirring the pot. They certainly are. But the primary threat to the U.S., remains, us.

So what does that mean, I'm wondering, for our global standing? Has America lost its ability, to condemn violence, in other places, when our own government is warning of threats, right here, in this country? Imagine what that would mean to a world that refers to our own President, as the Leader of the Free World.

Now, this Homeland Security alert, the new one, comes out as the Senate is holding a hearing on the threat of domestic terror, after the racist massacre, at Tops supermarket, in Buffalo, New York.

And I was absolutely transfixed, today, by the words of the son, of the oldest victim killed, in that attack. Her name, Ruth Whitfield. His name is Garnell Whitfield Jr. He's a retired Buffalo Fire Commissioner.

And now, he's a grieving son, who's directly challenging people, in power, to step up, and finally, do something.


GARNELL WHITFIELD JR., SON OF BUFFALO SHOOTING VICTIM RUTH WHITFIELD: You're elected to protect us, to protect our way of life.

Is there nothing that you personally are willing to do, to stop the cancer of white supremacy, and the domestic terrorism, it inspires? Because if there is nothing, then, respectfully, senators, you should yield your positions of authority and influence to others that are willing to lead on this issue.

My mother's life mattered. My mother's life mattered. And your actions here today would tell us how much it matters to you.


COATES: It brings tears to your eyes, to think about that question. It reminds you a lot of what Senator Chris Murphy had to say, about why are we here, if not to do something.

And I'm wondering, if the senators that he was addressing, and talking about the value of his mother's life, did they hear him?

Will House lawmakers listen closely, tomorrow, the testimony of 11- year-old Uvalde survivor, Miah Cerrillo? She is the little girl, who smeared her own friend's blood, on her own body, just to have the gunman think that she too was dead.

Did any member of Congress watch Uvalde native, and actor, Matthew McConaughey's emotional plea, for action on guns, at the White House, today?



MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, ACTOR & UVALDE NATIVE: 9-year-old Maite Rodriguez. And Maite wanted to be a marine biologist.

These are the same green Converse on her feet that turned out to be the only clear evidence that could identify her after the shooting. How about that?

Can both sides rise above? Can both sides see beyond the political problem at hand and admit that we have a life preservation problem on our hands?


COATES: Well, for Miah's (ph) sake, can both sides actually walk the walk? Her shoes, the only way to identify her little body!

So, what can actually get 60 Senate votes? Certainly not banning assault rifles we're told. Listen to what two GOP negotiators, and another Republican senator, said to CNN, earlier.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Why do you think that people need to have AR-15s in this country?

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): Well, you're talking about a constitutional right, to keep and bear arms. People, who are law-abiding citizens, who are in good mental health, and aren't a threat to the public.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): In my state, they use them to shoot prairie dogs and, you know, other types of varmints. And so, I think that there are legitimate reasons why people would want to have them.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): That's used for sporting events, for sporting activities, all the time.


COATES: You shoot prairie dogs, with AR-15s? I mean, I'm from Minnesota. It's the home of the Gophers. But I didn't realize that AR- 15s were used, to actually shoot them. But that surprises me, and probably many of you who own weapons as well. So, what do we want to prioritize, in this country? We've been hearing a lot of positive things, today, on the bipartisan gun reform negotiations. The White House says that President Biden is optimistic, believing any step, quote, is a step forward. Not exactly the definition of high expectations.

Let's bring in some other minds into the mix. We have Kasie Hunt, Ana Navarro, and Jonah Goldberg, with us, tonight.

I mean, I don't mean to sound tongue in cheek, everyone! But the idea of saying you got to have an AR-15, because you might want to kill the occasional prairie dog? I don't understand it's actually going to be persuasive to anyone.

But I'm wondering, from your perspectives, when you think about where we are, is there room for optimism? Is there room, for the United States, to suggest that this time, really, will be different?

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think it's - I think it's really tough. Honestly, the reason why John Thune is saying that? It's not because he thinks it's actually going to make a difference or convince anyone that this is a great idea.

It's because he knows that there are people, in his state, and were going to - he's up for reelection, right? There's people, in his state, who are going to vote against him, if he takes away their AR-15 that they use to shoot prairie dogs, or do whatever else they do with it.

The reality is, there is a deep cultural divide, on this issue. And, I think, the plea that you heard from Matthew McConaughey? He went in there, and he said, "Look, I'm from Texas. I'm from this place. I am not" - I mean, he thought about being a politician. But he's not. He said, "We got to look at this as humans."

And that's what Washington has been so bad at, on this issue. I mean, so I've covered the first - the post-Sandy Hook attempt to do something about this issue. I followed. And it was the most difficult story I have ever had, to cover, in my entire career, following those families, from Senate office, to Senate office, with just the pall of their children's death, on their faces, begging these senators, to do something.

Democrats controlled. They had more seats in the Senate. They controlled the White House. And they could not do anything. They went from this giant package to this tiny, skinny thing, just background checks. They couldn't do it, then. Now, they know they can't even do comprehensive background checks. They had to skinny down the background check bill.

So, I mean, I'd be interested in Jonah's perspective, as a Republican, on this too. But the question that I have is, how much will it matter to actually get something done, anything at all? How symbolic would that be, for Republicans, who could then go and say, "OK, I didn't lose - didn't lose my seat in Congress. We all did this together. Maybe we actually can try and fix this." JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CO-FOUNDER AND EDITOR-IN- CHIEF, THE DISPATCH: Yes.

COATES: But imagine that? I mean, losing your seat in Congress, is the calculus over a loss of human life? I mean, that's really the calculus?


COATES: It seems it is.

NAVARRO: Do you know these people?

COATES: I don't. But you know what? That is the truth. And that's what - that's the hard reality, the rhetorical question.

GOLDBERG: Yes. So, just a quick record. I don't consider myself a Republican. I do consider myself--

HUNT: Oh, forgive me.

GOLDBERG: --conservative.

HUNT: I'm so sorry.

GOLDBERG: And I actually do know people who--

COATES: Time for totally consenting (ph).

GOLDBERG: --I actually literally have a very good friend, who shoots prairie dogs, with an AR-15. So, there's that.


GOLDBERG: But I don't - I don't like shooting cute things, never mind vaporizing them. But that's - that is what it is. And, I think, there are a lot of people, who hear these questions, about why do you need these guns for this theater?

The other thing, if you are an ardent Second Amendment supporter, what you never hear, the way you think about it is, "Why do you need to worship that God? Why do you need to assemble with those people? Why do you need to use that speech?" right?

Because it is a - they consider it a fundamental right. And to say, "You have to justify your fundamental right," is a bad framing of the question, in their minds. I actually--


COATES: But there are other areas, where people have to justify that right. The First Amendment comes to mind, right? The idea of everything is not an unconditional, in a civilized society, notion. I mean, the idea?

GOLDBERG: No, no, I don't-- COATES: I know you're talking about the retort of it. But I mean?

GOLDBERG: I get the point. But Joe Biden says this, all the time, about how, no right is absolute. And he's absolutely right. But the Second Amendment isn't absolute. There are a lot of gun control laws, in this country.

HUNT: Not on a machine gun.

GOLDBERG: Machine guns have been banned since the 1930s.

But the reason I am hopeful about this, is that I do think that Senator Murphy has the right idea that the first - the first thing, you have to do, is convince Republicans that you can vote, on some kind of reform, and not pay a terrible price for it.

You have to take off this notion that any movement, towards gun reforms, of any way, is a death knell, for a Republican. And so, if you go big, it's just not going to work.

NAVARRO: And I saw that happen, in Florida. I live 30 minutes, from Parkland.


NAVARRO: And I saw us pass red flag laws, after Parkland. I saw us increase the age to be able to buy an AR-15 to the age of 21. Listen, I am hopeful, because what choice do we have?

I've, you know, my husband has 12 school-age grandchildren. I've got a 32-year-old teacher, niece, a niece, who is a teacher, and is terrified of going to do her job. I've got a cousin, who was killed, at Pulse, and whose parents, MJ and Fred Wright, also want Jerry's life to matter.

So, what choice, but - do I have, but to be hopeful? And so, what do I see as different? That Sandy Hook, we now know, Sandy Hook was not a one-off. We've seen Parkland. We've seen Uvalde. We now--

COATES: We saw Columbine.

NAVARRO: Yes. We now know that this is not happening--


NAVARRO: --once every 10 years, which should not be acceptable. It's happening once every 10 hours, once every 10 days. We were still burying the victims of Buffalo, when Uvalde happened.

And I say, thank you, to Matthew McConaughey, for using his platform. Nobody can accuse him of grandstanding. He's walked those streets. This is a little town of 15,000 people. He knows that park. He knows that plaza, which is now filled with little crosses.

HUNT: Yes. NAVARRO: And he's using his platform, so that we can be talking about it. And we can all realize that your children are not safe. Your children are not safe. Your child is not safe. And my husband's grandchildren, are not safe.

HUNT: You say that to me--

COATES: I mean--


HUNT: --you say that to me, and I - it's - and I think there are so many mothers, right? I think about my, you know, you drop your kids off at school. I mean, when you have - we had to do that, after Uvalde, it's that's the kind of like visceral deep reaction that I think people are having that the country's having. And, I think, the question for these--

COATES: It's so true. I mean, when you said that, I had a panic attack. I mean, when I - when my daughter--

HUNT: When she saw the TV (ph).

COATES: --when my daughter first--

HUNT: I got chills.

COATES: --showed me her kindergarten classroom, I remember walking into that classroom. And she was so excited to show me her seat. And the first thing I thought was, "My God, it's the first desk, in front of the door."

And I thought about having her seat changed, so she could have some chance, if a gunman were to come in. A gunman of her kindergarten classroom! And then, I thought to myself, "How selfish am I? Because now I'm putting another child in danger."

NAVARRO: But worse than both--


COATES: That's our calculus, Kasie.

NAVARRO: But, Laura? Worse than--

COATES: That's the calculus.

NAVARRO: --worse than both of you having that fear is the fact that there's little children, in America, who are aware of what's happening, that have the same exact fear.

That there are teachers in America, who in addition to being underpaid, and overworked, and being told, what they have to teach, and having all these books banned, and being, feeling shunned, if they are gay, now, they're also being told "You've got to arm yourself, and you've got to protect yourself, and you've got to act as a first responder." Being a teacher in America has become a dangerous profession? What kind of country are we?

And so, it's got to come to a point, and it's got to come to a time, where American citizens, and American voters, pick up the phone, call their senators and say "Enough, dammit! Pass something!"

COATES: Sadly, as you well know, we're going to talk about this more, it's not just schools. Synagogues, it's movie theaters, and clearly, in the name of prairie dogs.

Kasie, Ana, Jonah, stick around, for a moment, here.

Up next, a rare interview, with the Mayor of Uvalde. Exactly two weeks, after the shooting massacre, he was willing, to answer a few questions, from CNN, including this one.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Hearing what you've heard so far, from the officials, do you have confidence, in the local police department--


PROKUPECZ: --to continue their duties?



COATES: Really? Should he? We'll talk about that in a moment.

And plus, some perspective, from a Police Chief, in another small Texas school district, when CNN TONIGHT returns.



COATES: We're hearing from the fourth grade teacher, who was trapped, inside the Uvalde classroom, with the gunman. And after he was shot twice, Arnulfo Reyes says, he had to play dead, for 77 minutes, as officers finally took the killer down.


AMY ROBACH, TELEVISION REPORTER, ABC NEWS: Did you feel abandoned, in that moment, by police, by the people, who are supposed to protect you?

ARNULFO REYES, ROBB ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER: Absolutely. After everything, I get more angry, because you have a bulletproof vest. I had nothing. I had nothing.

You're supposed to protect and serve. There is no excuse for their actions. And I will never forgive them.

ROBACH: So, the shooter killed every single student in your classroom?

REYES: Yes, ma'am. I lost 11 that day.


And I told the parents, said (ph) "I'm sorry. I tried my best from what I was told to do. Please don't be angry with me."


COATES: Ah! It's hard - it's hard to hear, the guilt that he is burdened with, and should never have had to bear. "Please forgive me," he's asking those parents. And I can't recall the last time, I heard, from the powers that be, in Uvalde.

But 19 children, and two teachers were killed that day. And we still don't know why it took so long, for police, to move in, and why their stories have changed, multiple times.

Even the Uvalde Mayor says that he is in the dark.


MCLAUGHLIN: We need answers to what happened at the school. There's an investigation going on. And we'll find out what happened. I want those answers, just like everybody else.


COATES: But why is he still waiting too?

I mean, Uvalde County D.A. says, it will be a while, that was the word, it'll be a while, before her office releases any new information. In the meantime, we've got nothing from School Police Chief, Pete Arredondo. So, what does this mean for accountability, and school safety, going forward?

I want to bring in Texas School Police Chief, Bill Avera, who oversees a police force, just like the Uvalde School District.

Thank you for being here, Chief Bill Avera. It's, when you hear this, I always wonder what's going through the minds, of other law enforcement agents, in this country, who are hearing this, who are waiting, as we all are, for answers.

Do you feel sympathy, for the officers, in not being able to provide information? Do you find yourself casting or - dispersions or giving the benefit of the doubt? What goes through your mind?


It is absolutely devastating. As a career law enforcement officer, of over four decades, I cannot imagine, the pain, of the victims, families, and the community, there. It is absolutely unconscionable that this act occurred.

COATES: Why are we still waiting for answers? I mean, I know everyone always wants to play sort of the Monday morning quarterback, on issues that are benign, let alone as tragic as this.

But why do you think they're still waiting for answers? Is it about a Union? Is it about lawyering up? Is it about trying to get all the information, before you have the whole picture? What is the delay about, you can think of?

AVERA: Well, it's hard to say, not being on the ground there, in Uvalde. I suspect some of it is a warning to take enough time to get it right. We did hear some missteps early on, obviously. And it's more - it does create a problem, with survivors, and with family members, by all means.

But I think that it's more of trying to piece together the mountain of evidence that is involved in an incident of this magnitude, to be able to be definitive, in what went wrong.

COATES: You hear these conversations, all across the country. Parents are afraid. They're wondering if their children are safe. For most places, school summer break has not actually begun yet. We're still sending our kids, back to school.

Are you feeling, in your own community, some of those concerns, from parents, from your own officers, who are looking to you, to figure out, "Hey, we got to have a change of plan here, or we have to re- implement something, or follow a different protocol?"

What are you - on your watch, what's happening?

AVERA: Well, of course, we are out of school, for summer, now. We ended - we ended on the 27th of May. So, we're out, right now.

We are having conversations with our community. I have fielded a number of questions, from parents, and from school board members, our administration.

We are working, as a team, to review our processes, and our protocols, and our procedures, to be able to reassure, come August that we are in a position, to do everything humanly possible, to protect their children.

COATES: Do you think you are in that position, though, ultimately? I mean, you're hearing about the 19 officers, and I know we're still learning information, as you're speaking about.


But you just think about the notion of the presence of some of these weapons. Your forces aren't carrying them. They're not the ones, who are going to have all the equipment that might be able to ultimately defend, in a holistic manner, at least initially.

Are you - do you have concerns, given the current laws, that you will have shortcomings, that you will be ill-equipped, to try to thwart an attack, like this, again?

AVERA: Well, I can tell you this, that from myself down - all the way down, through my department, we're going to go in. We're going to make an entry in. We're going to go to the threat. We're going to do our best, to neutralize the threat, and then protect life and limb, thereafter.

We have equipment. And we train regularly. We use the ALERRT protocols, here in Texas, almost exclusively. And in fact--

COATES: What does that mean? The ALERRT protocols? What is that, sir? What are that?

AVERA: The ALERRT is the Advanced - that's the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training. They're an agency at Texas State University, in San Marcos. And they have developed the Rapid Response protocols.

It came to - into being after Columbine that says that we don't stand around, and wait on SWAT teams. The initial responders, it could be one officer, it could be two officers, whatever it is, form a team, and go in, to see what they can do, to neutralize the threat.

COATES: Well, Godspeed! Thank you, Chief Bill Avera. Thank you for your time, tonight.

AVERA: Thank you, it's a pleasure.

COATES: Something has to change. I mean, a lot of people are trying to help make a difference, including some with very famous faces that you recognize, like actor Matthew McConaughey, a Uvalde native.

We're going to show you some more, of his very powerful appeal, for gun law reforms, from the White House Briefing Room. Next.



COATES: Whatever you thought, of Matthew McConaughey's words, from the White House lectern, this afternoon, it was undoubtedly a remarkable moment, in the Briefing Room.

The Oscar-winning actor got very real, in the 22 minutes, he spoke, from the microphone of presidents, and press secretaries, pleading for lawmakers, to take action, following the massacre, in his beloved hometown of Uvalde. His mom was actually once a kindergarten teacher, less than a mile from Robb Elementary.

McConaughey shared numerous personal stories, about some of the victims, like Irma Garcia, one of the teachers, who was killed. She, and her husband, Joe, had been putting away money, for the past three years, to paint their house. Their goal was to eventually retire. Irma's husband died, a day after his wife, possibly from a broken heart, according to his family. And McConaughey spoke of 9-year-old victim, Maite Rodriguez, and he brought her green Converse sneakers, with a heart drawn on them, to highlight how so many of the victims could only be identified, through items, on their bodies, or through DNA.

We thought it was important to share more of his profound message, which the nation saw, on live TV, today, for 22 minutes. Here are some of those key moments.


MCCONAUGHEY: We need to recognize that this time it seems that something is different.

We are in a window of opportunity right now that we have not been in before, a window where it seems like real change - real change can happen.

You know what every one of these parents wanted, what they asked us for?

They want their children's dreams to live on. That they want their children's dreams to continue to accomplish something after they are gone. They want to make their loss of life matter.

Look, we heard from - we heard from so many people, all right? Families of the deceased - mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers. Texas Rangers, hunters, Border Patrol, and responsible gun owners, who won't give up their Second Amendment right to bear arms. And you know what they all said? "We want secure and safe schools, and we want gun laws that won't make it so easy for the bad guys to get these damn guns."

We need responsible gun ownership - responsible gun ownership.

We need background checks. We need to raise the minimum age to purchase an AR-15 rifle to 21. We need a waiting period for those rifles. We need red flag laws and consequences for those who abuse them.

Responsible gun owners are fed up with the Second Amendment being abused and hijacked by some deranged individuals.

These regulations are not a step back; they're a step forward for a civil society and - and the Second Amendment.

This should not be a partisan issue.

There is not a Democratic or Republican value in one single act of these shooters. It's not.

But people in power have failed to act. So we're asking you, and I'm asking you, will you please ask yourselves: Can both sides rise above? Can both sides see beyond the political problem at hand and admit that we have a life preservation problem on our hands?

Maybe set an example for our children, give us reason to tell them, "Hey, listen and watch these men and women. These are great American leaders right here. Hope you grow up to be like them."

And let's admit it: We can't truly be leaders if we're only living for reelection.

So where do we start?

By voting to pass policies that can keep us from having as many Columbines, Sandy Hooks, Parklands, Las Vegases, Buffaloes, and Uvaldes from here on.

We start by making the loss of these lives matter.


COATES: He spoke for 22 minutes. Extremely powerful words!


Know what's also powerful to hear? For 55 more minutes, a teacher, had to play dead, in a classroom, with 11 dead children, around him. Will the people, with the power, to act on his pleas, will they do something?

We'll continue this conversation, next.


COATES: A powerful plea, for action, on guns, at the White House, today, from actor Matthew McConaughey. We've been playing a lot of the sound, this hour, really because it's resonating with so many people.

And I want to bring back our panel, who were nodding along, and reacting to, as we're all listening to it.

You had some really visceral reactions, and really strong ones, about what you were hearing.

You push back a little bit?

GOLDBERG: Yes. So, look, I think, I agree with everything that he said. And I share the moral outrage, entirely. And I share the moral outrage, with everybody, on this panel, about how horrific, and just morally repugnant, these slaughters are.

But when I listen to you guys talking about how you're scared for your own kids? And I have a daughter. I get being scared. If you were - if we're going to start telling people that they should be scared, about this could happen to them? We should at least put some of this in perspective.


There're about 54 million kids, in Americans, who go to K through 12, in America. In the last 29 years, a 170 kids have been killed, in school shootings. That's--

HUNT: But how many - how many - how does that compare to like, if my kid goes to school, in Great Britain, or Canada?

GOLDBERG: Yes, no, right, look--

HUNT: I mean, you see something, or feel like, should we leave, you know?

GOLDBERG: --one - one school shooting, look, it's--

HUNT: It's too many.

GOLDBERG: For me, my approach is the exact same way, it was, about the - about terrorism. The number of people killed on 9/11 was not - you know, you can say, "Well, more people die in car accidents, every year." I don't care. It's unacceptable. The moral outrage is entirely valid and justified.

But if we're going to be telling people, you can't switch lanes? You're absolutely right, to be outraged about the crime. But if we're going to tell people, they should be terrified, about their kids, being dropped off at school, we should remind them--

HUNT: Yes. But I don't think we will--

GOLDBERG: --that their kids are more in danger, to drive to school, statistically, than they are at the school.

NAVARRO: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

HUNT: We weren't going to say--

NAVARRO: Jonah, we can't do this.


GOLDBERG: But that's the fact of matter.

NAVARRO: No, but we can't--


HUNT: They should be scared.

NAVARRO: No. But listen, a child's life cannot be a statistic, right? You can't tell the parents of Joaquin Oliver, of Parkland. You can't tell Fred Guttenberg.

GOLDBERG: Yes, but that's moral bullying.

NAVARRO: You can't tell my cousin's--

GOLDBERG: I am making a basic point to say that you shouldn't tell people that they should be terrified.

NAVARRO: If it were your child that was not going to - it would not be a statistic. It would be a tragedy--

GOLDBERG: I don't just do that.

NAVARRO: --or you would never ever pick up the phone (ph).

GOLDBERG: That's moral bullying. And that's the--

COATES: Why is it moral--

HUNT: It's not moral bullying.

COATES: Why is it moral bullying? Well, let me ask you--

GOLDBERG: Because you're making it sound as if I don't have compassion, for these people. Of course, I do.


NAVARRO: No. You're seeing the matter (ph) as if it's a statistic and probabilities--

HUNT: No, I'm--


NAVARRO: --that we should accept and live with.

GOLDBERG: I'm saying you shouldn't tell Americans - you shouldn't tell the audience that this is the thing that they should be so terrified with, paralyzed with fear, about their own kids, when their kids are more likely to die from a lot of other things.

COATES: Well, hold on, Jonah.

NAVARRO: And so, they're more likely to die of--

COATES: Jonah? But that--

NAVARRO: --of going to school? And you know what happened because of that? What happened because of that is that we have car seat laws that passed.


NAVARRO: That we have seatbelt laws.

GOLDBERG: I didn't say that--

NAVARRO: That we have speed laws.


NAVARRO: And so, it used to be that more people died of car accidents, more kids died of car accidents, more people died - more kids died of pool accidents. We have fences around pools.

GOLDBERG: More kids didn't die (ph). NAVARRO: Because we've passed regulation. And this is one of the only places, we're not doing anything, has become status quo, on something, as a country, we accept. And shame, on us, for accepting that!

GOLDBERG: Yes. I don't--

NAVARRO: And I'm not morally bullying you.

GOLDBERG: I don't disagree--

NAVARRO: I've got children I care about. And you do too.

GOLDBERG: Yes, I do. But when you - when you're making it sound, as if you point out that there are - the risks to your kids, are that - there are greater thing - if you want to protect your kids, there are other things that we have more control and agency over than random madmen shooting up schools--

NAVARRO: So, we shouldn't do anything about it?

GOLDBERG: No, I don't know why you keep wanting to go to that. This is--

NAVARRO: Because you're making this into a statistics conversation.

GOLDBERG: No. I'm trying to--

NAVARRO: Instead of about the fact that there's children, being buried--


NAVARRO: --in coffins, adorned with Superman--


NAVARRO: --decals.

GOLDBERG: And I'm - and I said, I am morally outraged by that. And, I think, it's grotesque, and one shot child is too many, as far as I'm concerned.

But if you're going to take that moral outrage, and then tell people they should be paralyzed with fear that this is going to happen to them, and their kids? You're doing them a disservice.

NAVARRO: I am not telling them they should be paralyzed with fear.

COATES: Jonah, hold on, hold on.

NAVARRO: I am telling them--

COATES: But no one is saying--

NAVARRO: --they should pick up the phone, and call their senators--

GOLDBERG: That's fine.

NAVARRO: --and telling them--

COATES: Hold on.

NAVARRO: --that it's been 10 years, since Sandy Hook, and that we haven't done anything. It's a national shame. So paralyzed with fear, and paralyzed with acceptance, and resignation, is what we've been, for the last 10 years. And it's enough of that.

COATES: Kasie?

NAVARRO: No more paralysis.

HUNT: Yes, what--

NAVARRO: Get your asses in gear, and call your senator.

HUNT: The point--

GOLDBERG: That's fine. I'm doing analysis. I am not doing activism. And if you want to tell everyone to call their senators? That's fine. That's not my job.

NAVARRO: I have a dead cousin--

HUNT: The point--

NAVARRO: --who got killed at Pulse.

COATES: Wait a second. Hold on!

GOLDBERG: That's moral bullying.

COATES: Wait a second. Everyone?

HUNT: No, it's not moral bullying.

COATES: Excuse me. I want to hear from both of you. And I want to hear from Kasie. But I also want to clarify this point. Moral bullying, the idea of providing, you want to provide perspective, you want people to know that there are other ways that children die? Got it.


COATES: But both can be true. You can also be fearful of gun violence.


COATES: And also talk to your kids about other aspects of it.


HUNT: Yes.

COATES: I mean, you have the same moral outrage. But you also have the idea of the objectivity and an approach to it. What can be done?

HUNT: Right. Well, so I just want to say to your point, Jonah, that I was not saying people should be afraid of this. That was not what the point I was trying to make, earlier. I was trying to say people are, because they see what has happened.

GOLDBERG: I get that.

HUNT: They are afraid. And your point is well-taken that there are a million different ways that your kid can be harmed. But the reality is, as Ana was saying, there are regulations and rules that we all agree on.

It is much, much harder to get a driver's license, and buy a car, than it is to buy and use an AR-15, which is kind of when you think about it, we regulate cars, because they're giant machines that are capable of killing people.

GOLDBERG: I get that.

HUNT: Right?

GOLDBERG: And that's why I used the comparison to terrorism. The whole point of terrorism is to scare people. And, as I said, the statistics are not - are beside the point, in how you should - seriously should take terrorism--

HUNT: Right.

GOLDBERG: --whether it's domestic terrorism, or international terrorism.

HUNT: But our system is not equipped, currently.



HUNT: And this is part of a much bigger conversation, about whether our entirety of our government, is equipped, to handle the challenges.

Because it is so divided, and, in many ways, our system of electing representatives, and how they operate, in Washington, is so broken, that it doesn't line up with this - the vast, you know, Matthew McConaughey used the phrase, the middle, right? He talks about both sides. And those words have become like verboten, in our D.C. language, right?


HUNT: But it's the - it's literally, it's not a political statement. It is the vast center of the country, who frankly are completely just outside of our political process, because they see it, and they're like--

GOLDBERG: Well that's-- COATES: Well guess what? Hold on. You know what?


COATES: You know what of the middle? A commercial break is coming, in the middle of this discussion, right now. We're coming right back to Kasie, Jonah, and Ana, in just a moment.

And, in fact, the most populated state may send a message to the entire nation, tonight. Just three years ago, we saw a famously red California county, turn blue. But are voters in two key liberal cities ready to shake things up themselves? We'll look at the heated issues, including a recall campaign, a lot around the issue of crime and violence, in this country.

More, in a moment.



COATES: Do you feel safe? A simple question, with a simple answer that for far too many is just, "No." And not just for mass shootings. But, for many, it's about the uptick, in violent crime, overall.

As I'm speaking to you, right now, there are voters that are answering the question of whether their elected officials keep them safe, or make them feel safe. And they're answering it, in the voting booth.

In San Francisco, the progressive D.A., is facing a potential recall. While in L.A., the race for mayor, is centered around the questions of crime and homelessness. And it's part of the reason, U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass, is being challenged, by former Republican, Rick Caruso.


RICK CARUSO, (D) LOS ANGELES MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I'm running for mayor, because the city we love, is in a state of emergency. Rampant homelessness, people living in fear for their safety.


COATES: Now, the number of people, living, without a home, in California, far exceeds any other state. Of course, we can't conflate homelessness, or housing insecurity, with crime. But some voters do.

And images like this are far too common, in California. And they have a powerful influence on voters.

L.A. and San Francisco are two of the most liberal cities in our nation. And both are experiencing quite a dramatic shift, in the perception, of the role, of policing, and accountability, from just two years ago, in the wake of George Floyd's murder.

But, from then to now, the numbers of assaults, and auto theft, in San Francisco, well they're up, even as things like robbery and burglary numbers are down. And in L.A., both murder and property crimes and violent crimes are up. Those numbers are reflected, nationally. A majority of Americans say, they worry, quote, a "Great deal" about crime.

Let's talk about what this means, for Democrats, in November.

When you guys hear this, and think about what is the top-of-mind issue, for voters? It goes back to your point about what people are concerned with. You talk about the moral bullying, you mentioned. But there's the reality that crime is up, and there is cause for concern.

HUNT: It is up. And you can see it in this statistics across the board. I mean, anecdotes are not data, right?

But I certainly have experienced this, as a resident, of Washington D.C. that there is more crime, in my local neighborhood. In my community, there are more carjackings. We're hearing difficult stories.

And, I think, the way that this ties into our national narrative, you've got a couple things going on. I mean, you've got a lot of social factors that are really hard to solve, with policy.

The income inequality, the mental health crisis, we're having difficulty, many people are on the streets, because they're, they have mental health problems, et cetera. And that's sometimes what people equate with crime, or people who simply are dealing with other issues.

But there's this lawlessness, this sense of lawlessness, in the wake of the pandemic, I think, that has a lot of people unsettled. And when you combine it, with the recent history, of some Democrats, using the slogan, "Defund the Police?" You've got a lot of people connecting these two things.

They're connecting what they're seeing and feeling in their own lives, to what Democrats were saying, to the point that a lot of national Democrats are trying to run away from that "Defund the Police" slogan. And it's a tough one to do.

GOLDBERG: There's also just a very 1970 show feeling to all this, right, where people aren't necessarily rational about these things. Inflation is feels like it's out of control. Gas prices feel like they're out of control. In the wake of COVID, we had huge spikes, in air rage, road rage, people didn't like being cooped up.

HUNT: They're still driving like maniacs!

GOLDBERG: Right. They definitely are.

HUNT: It's insane!

GOLDBERG: So, when you feel like things are out of control, and it's--

NAVARRO: I live in Miami. You want to talk about driving like maniacs?

HUNT: I could never--

GOLDBERG: --and it's in a city or in a country that has one party rule, or one party is in control of things, and the status quo feels incredibly unsettling? It's a big problem for whichever party it is.

And so, places like San Francisco, and L.A., in particular, where homelessness really is out of control, public drug use is really is out of control? It's all put together in a big blob.

NAVARRO: Look, I think the common thread here is accountability, and holding authorities accountable, right?

And so, there's things that you depend on, your local authorities, to be in charge of, like crime in your city, like potholes, like traffic, like, there's things that you depend, on your state authorities, to be in charge of.

Like, I really like Ron DeSantis, to make sure I can buy home insurance, which, right now, has been canceled. And there's thousands and tens of thousands of other Floridians, in the same boat.

There's things that we depend and we want from our federal authorities.

And so, the people that are in power, if they are Democrats, if they are Republicans, are the ones that are going to be held accountable, when citizens, are unhappy, with the way things are going, at the different levels.

COATES: It's called a democracy, right?

NAVARRO: Which is why do you even vote in (ph).


COATES: I mean, it is.

HUNT: Yes.

COATES: The idea, one thing that's very concerning, and we all talk about, is if the response is taking it to the voting booth, to address these issues? I think we're all fine about this notion.

HUNT: Yes.

COATES: But we're what, two days away, from the first public hearing, on January 6, where you take it to a violent extreme, if you're unhappy?

HUNT: Yes. Well, and that's the thing that, I think, really, is what we're grappling with.


And you started the show out, with this, with the Department of Homeland Security saying that increasingly, people are going to try to solve their own - whether it's their own personal problems, or what they perceive to be problems, in the world, with violence.

And, for me, January 6 was an attack on my workplace. I was covering the Capitol. I was there. And it was one of these things that was just incredibly unsettling, not just for all of the public, and critically important democratic-related issues, but because it was a demonstration of a deep insecurity, in my personal sphere, in my personal world.

And, I think, there are more and more Americans, who are starting to experience that. And the more instances we see that are publicized, and become, these huge things, the more there are copycat attacks. There are other people, who think this is how we're supposed to solve our problems.

And you combine that with the fact that there are fewer and fewer people, who have faith? Even if they don't want to be violent? They don't have faith that our political system can fix it.

NAVARRO: Listen, I fled a revolution and a--

HUNT: Well--

NAVARRO: --civil war. For me, it was an attack on everything I thought America stood for that was different, from places like Venezuela, and Nicaragua, and Cuba, and the places that--

HUNT: Yes.

NAVARRO: --that people flee from, and come to America, as the refuge.

HUNT: Yes.

COATES: If we're asking those questions, we're in a different world, aren't we?

We'll be right back.


COATES: Thanks for watching. I'll be back, tomorrow night.

"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.

Hey, Don Lemon?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, DON LEMON TONIGHT: Hey, Laura Coates? And we'll see you, tomorrow night. A big show, to get to, tonight.