Return to Transcripts main page
State of the Union
Interview With Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL); Interview With Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL); Interview With Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX); Interview With State Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-TX). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired May 29, 2022 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Fear and anger. A town grieves 21 lives cut short and reels from news of the delay in trying to save them.
STEVEN MCCRAW, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: Of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision, period.
BASH: How did things go so wrong? Texas state Senator Roland Gutierrez will be here.
Plus: Will anything change? President Biden making another somber visit, as bipartisan leaders say again this time is different, but will Congress act?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): As our kids run for their lives, we do nothing. What are we doing?
BASH: Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin on the latest negotiations and two Republican congressmen with different approaches, Dan Crenshaw Texas and Adam Kinzinger, ahead.
And unimaginable loss, young children full of enthusiasm and hope for their future.
ADRIAN ALONZO, UNCLE OF SHOOTING VICTIM: Right this next Saturday on the 4th, she would have been 10.
BASH: A look at who was lost this week.
BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Uvalde, Texas, where the state of our union is so sad and wondering when enough will really be enough.
I'm joining you today from a community in shock, a community grieving the 21 people brutally murdered in an elementary school on Wednesday, a community so overwhelmed by loss. The parents of 9-, 10-, and 11- year-olds have to wait weeks to bury their own children because the funeral homes are so busy dealing with the small, broken bodies from Robb Elementary School rooms 111 and 112. As these parents learn about the excruciating delay by 19 law
enforcement officials who waited outside the door where children were trapped with a gunman, as they learn about a young man who made violent threats, but able to buy a legally weapon of war, and as they call for action from their elected officials, but say they know it's unlikely, it's hard to feel hope that things will change.
President Biden is on his way here to Uvalde this morning. He will try to comfort grieving families, as he's done so many times before, enough times that the political reality seems to have set in.
We asked for a White House official to join us to talk about solutions this morning, but no one was made available. The governor and lieutenant governor of Texas and the state's two U.S. senators also declined.
But we are going to focus on solutions with our guests today, as we honor the lives cut short this week.
I spoke with Adrian Alonzo, the uncle of Ellie Garcia, who was shot at Robb Elementary just a few days shy of her 10th birthday.
ALONZO: Ellie was a beautiful little girl.
She was filled with so much joy, so much life, so much -- she had a good heart. She was never angry at anyone. She loved everyone. She was just such a good kid.
BASH: What did she like to do?
ALONZO: She loved basketball. She loved to ride bikes. She loved to -- she loved going to church with us. She loved the lord. She loved school, dancing, TikToks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELLIE GARCIA, STUDENT: Hey, guys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALONZO: What a 9-year-old kid would like to do.
BASH: She's about to have her birthday.
ALONZO: Birthday is next Saturday on the 4th, yes. She would have been 10. Well, she still will be 10.
BASH: That's so tough.
ALONZO: It's very hard. I imagine that weekend will be a tough weekend for the family, because her birthday is on the 4th, and, two days later, on the 6th, we will bury her.
BASH: It's probably hard to say those words. ALONZO: It is.
BASH: Do you remember the moment you heard about the shooting?
ALONZO: It wasn't until the moment where I saw a message that the bus routes were not going to run that day, and for parents to go pick up their children at other campuses. Police presence will be there.
It was on the school Facebook page. I couldn't -- I couldn't think. And I -- to my boss, I said: "Hey, I have to go pick up my son. There's no bus route."
When I got to the school, just seeing the police presence there, a police officer, Border Patrol agent, highway patrolman standing every 10 feet with a rifle in their hand. It started sinking in, like, what is this? What is going on?
BASH: As a parent, that must be terrifying.
I can't explain the joy I had when I saw my son walk out of those doors and I finally had him.
But, as a parent, I wanted to squeeze him right there, but I wanted to get him out because I didn't want to see all that. "Let's go. Let's go. Let's go."
BASH (voice-over): But then he called his sister-in-law and learned his niece, Ellie, was unaccounted for. He went to the Civic Center to help find her.
ALONZO: A school official told me that:"There 's no more children here. They have all been picked up."
"Do you have a list? Do you have a list of the students that were here? Can you check? Can you check if her name was on there?"
And then that school official, I could see it in her eyes, that her eyes became glassy and teary.
And she said: "Sir, they will make a statement soon."
I said: "But I'm missing my niece. She's not here."
"They will make a statement soon."
I knew something was wrong. I saw a Facebook post being shared around. And it was a whiteboard of all the teachers' names that were in the Civic Center. And Ellie's teachers were not one of them.
So, then I found -- that's when they announced the first victim, Eva Mireles. They announced her. She was Ellie's teacher. And, in my mind, I tried to stay optimistic, but the reality of it was sinking in at the time.
More victims were being -- you know, children were being published. And they were in her class. And it wasn't until my wife told me that they were taking DNA swabs from all the parents, and I instantly knew she was gone.
Why else would they need DNA swabs to find a missing child? And, sure enough, an hour later, my wife called me and said: "They found her. She didn't make it."
BASH (on camera): I'm so sorry.
ALONZO: By far, the worst day of my life. And I will never forget that day.
BASH: What would you like to see happen so that another Ellie is not gunned down in school or anywhere else?
And we -- I know we say that there needs to be change. And we can -- as a Christian, I'm not here to blame anyone. I don't want to point the finger at anyone. Yes, he was the one that pulled the trigger, but I forgive him...
ALONZO: As powerful as that -- I forgive him.
BASH: Already? We're just days away. You haven't buried your niece, and you forgive him already?
ALONZO: The Bible says in Ephesians 4 that we must forgive one another, just as God has forgiven you.
And I hold no hatred towards him. I hold no hatred towards the law enforcement. They -- yes, there were maybe some errors that were made. I am filled with anger, but I feel no hatred towards him.
We were thankful to have Ellie for the nine years of her life with us. We will never forget her. She will always be a part of this family, even in her death.
BASH: And here with me now is Texas Democratic state Senator Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde.
Senator, thank you for coming on.
STATE SEN. ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D-TX): Thank you, Dana.
BASH: Law enforcement did not breach that classroom, those classrooms for about an hour, over an hour.
What I'm wondering, what so many people are wondering, is, how is it that 9- and 10-year-olds had the presence of mind in that kind of terrifying situation to dial 9/11 multiple times, pleading for help, asking for police to come, and the grownups in the hallway didn't come in?
GUTIERREZ: Dana, the whole thing is a shame.
I'm disgusted by all of it. I understand the human condition, the notion that this other guy might have superior firepower. But, at the end of the day, the protocols were breached. The active shooter protocols dictate that you go in.
First, there were seven officers. By 12:03, there was 19 officers. So many things went wrong here. I'm asking a lot of questions. I am told that I'm going to be getting a ballistics report next week, along with many other issues that need to be addressed.
BASH: Did that delay cost lives, cost children's lives?
GUTIERREZ: I sat down with a parent, a set of -- a family yesterday.
Mom told me that her child had been shot by one bullet through the back, through the kidney area. The first responder that they eventually talked to said that their child likely bled out.
In that span of 30 or 40 minutes extra, that little girl might have lived. That might -- that little girl might have lived.
So, absolutely, these mistakes may have led to the passing away of these children as well.
BASH: Senator, so many different law enforcement agencies were here, local, state, federal. All of them have been trained to deal with this.
Certainly, training has changed on a national level since Columbine. As far as you know, did any of them challenge the local school police chief about his decision not to go in?
GUTIERREZ: This issue with operational control is of significance -- of significant concern to me.
I have asked DPS at what point each one of their officers arrived. At what point does the local police take operational control, or should they? At what point does the next superior power, DPS, take operational control, or should they? And, lastly, the federal government, they waited some as well.
At what point should they not have taken operational control?
BASH: You have been talking to people involved. As far as you know, did anybody express their frustration and try to challenge him?
GUTIERREZ: Unfortunately, no. I had a long talk with Colonel McCraw yesterday. He was devastated. As
you have seen on television, he's acknowledged that there were errors here. What I have suggested to him is that it's not fair to put it on the local ISD cop. At the end of the day, everybody failed here. We failed these children. We even failed them in the Texas legislature.
BASH: Do you know if -- when they finally decided to go in, was what a decision made by the school police force chief?
GUTIERREZ: What's been made clear to me is that, at that point, the CBP team that went in, in frustration said, we're going in.
BASH: So that's a no?
GUTIERREZ: That's a no.
BASH: You confronted Governor Abbott when he had a press conference on Friday. You begged him to call a special session of the Texas legislature in order to deal with this, to find some solutions.
You're saying that you're hearing from Republican colleagues that they would be OK with legislation to raise the age from 18 to 21 to buy the kind of firearm that this shooter bought. Do you really think there are enough Republicans to pass that here in Texas?
GUTIERREZ: Well, this is the first time ever I have seen Republicans calling for a special session, the first time ever.
Jeff Leach in the House, high-ranking member in the House, he's called for a special. Kel Seliger in the Senate has called for a special session. I have had other colleagues, Republican colleagues, who at this point don't want to be identified, but have said, we need to raise it to 21.
Those are the kind of things that make sense, red flag laws, waiting periods, making sure that we have a more significant, robust background check.
BASH: Sounds like you're more hopeful than you have been about making some changes legislatively.
GUTIERREZ: I ran for office because I am hopeful. I am -- I have in my life created change at different levels of government.
If I do nothing for the rest of my career but yell at Greg Abbott and others that are not willing to listen, then that's what I'm going to do. We must have change. I have spent time with many of these families. And this is just heartbreaking. I just cannot do this anymore. It is heartbreaking. No family should go through what these people are going through.
BASH: No, they should not.
Senator, thank you for coming on. Appreciate it.
And I'm sorry for the loss of everybody here... GUTIERREZ: Well...
BASH: ... because the community really feels it. You can tell. Thank you.
GUTIERREZ: We need to feel sorry for these families, for sure. I mean, it is a horrible, devastating thing.
Thank you so much.
BASH: Thank you.
And, in Washington a bipartisan group of senators is working on a compromise bill to tackle gun violence, but will things be different there this time?
The very latest with the number two Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin. That's next.
And he's a Texas Republican and a strong proponent of gun rights. Has the Uvalde shooting changed his mind at all? I will ask Congressman Dan Crenshaw ahead.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION live from Uvalde, Texas.
A handful of bipartisan senators say they are making progress on a compromise plan to address gun violence. And they're hoping to have a bill the Senate could vote on by next month.
But after failing to act for so long, are things really different this time?
Here with me now is the number two Democrat in the United States Senate, Dick Durbin.
Thank you so much, sir, for joining me.
So, what is the latest on negotiations? Yes or no, is anything actually going to get done this time?
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL): Well, Dana, I can't say for certain, but I can tell you, I sense a different feeling among my colleagues after Uvalde.
Of course, 10 years ago, it was Sandy Hook, and Parkland, and so many other instances. But it just is so compelling to see the photos of these young boys and girls, and to picture your own children or grandchildren captives of this madman as he's killing them off one by one in that school, and realize, it is time for us to do something. America is sick and tired of political excuses. [09:20:13]
BASH: You are in charge of counting the votes in the Senate. You have done many bipartisan deals over the years with Republicans.
What is realistic right now? What's most likely to be part of any compromise, for example, a national red flag law, raising the minimum age to buy a gun to 21?
DURBIN: Well, I can tell you that what I want to see done is not likely to occur because of the word compromise, which you mentioned earlier.
The question, I think, the real challenge is whether the Republicans will step forward and show courage, political courage, in a very tough situation. There will be some. And I will do everything I can to encourage that.
We, as Democrats, have a different view of the issue. We have to be looking for that compromise that makes things better.
BASH: So, what is that? Of course, we have known that there are different views on this issue for decades now. But there are areas of compromise.
DURBIN: Well, there are some.
BASH: There have to be if you're hopeful. So, what are they?
DURBIN: Well, you mentioned a red flag, a person who has demonstrated the kind of conduct that is threatening or worrisome, to alert law enforcement officials early, to deal with this whole straw purchasing issue.
We lost a policewoman in Chicago, Ella French, last year to a straw purchase, a gun purchased by someone without a criminal record, handed it over to a criminal, and killed this wonderful policewoman and seriously injured her partner.
That sort of thing, enforcing straw purchasing, these are all small, but important and lifesaving steps. How many of those can we bring together on a bipartisan basis? I think there's a...
BASH: Vice President Harris called for an assault weapons ban yesterday. Do you see any chance of that happening?
DURBIN: Well, when we had one, there was a reduction in crime, mass shootings with these weapons. That expired years ago.
And, unfortunately, in the meantime, there's been a dramatic increase in purchases of these weapons. The AR-15 that was used by this individual in Uvalde, there are now 20 million of those owned by Americans across the nation, just to put it in perspective.
So, we have got to be realistic about what we can achieve. But there is absolutely no excuse, in my mind, for a military assault weapon to be sold to an 18-year-old with a backpack of ammunition, who walks in and kills these innocent children. That's just unacceptable anywhere in the world.
It's unforgivable that, as American leaders, we let this occur here.
BASH: Senator, I know you feel strongly about that. You feel strongly about background checks and other more comprehensive gun measures.
But you also are making it pretty clear you know the reality. But if you look back at what we saw happen in the U.S. Senate, for example, after the Pulse nightclub shooting, Democrats actually defeated two Republican proposals because they didn't go far enough.
Are things different now? Are you at the point where you're willing to take half-a-loaf, or are you still waiting for the whole loaf?
DURBIN: Well, I think, last week, it was discouraging that, after the terrible incident, Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate leader, came to the floor and said, we're going to offer a bill on the floor, open to amendments.
It was my bill, a bill on domestic terrorism, just reporting the statistics on it. And so we called that bill for a vote on Thursday and said, this will be our opportunity to bring the best ideas forward, and let's vote on them.
You know, Dana, because you have been around for a few years this is extraordinary in the Senate, basically, an open rule approach. Not a single Republican would vote for it to give us a chance to proceed to the subject matter.
We have got to have a more accepting situation where both sides are willing to understand we have to have compromise if we're going to get anything done. And the American people are sick and tired of political excuses.
BASH: Yes, and I understand the procedure on that.
But, just looking forward, people like your colleague Chris Murphy says we basically have to pick a couple of things and claim victory because of the reality that we're living in right now.
We -- he was speaking as a Democrat.
DURBIN: I'm in touch with Chris. And I'm going to continue to be.
My Senate Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over these issues. Senator Cornyn, who is also meeting -- a Republican of Texas, also meeting with Chris Murphy, he's on my committee.
I said to Chris and I offered to Senator Cornyn, if you can make progress between you, if you can move us forward, don't worry about the committee jurisdiction. Do the right thing and do as much as you can do. And let's join together, if we can, on a bipartisan basis to show the American people that what happened in Uvalde was not in vain. That sadness and tragedy in that small town has been felt across America.
We have to respond to it with something positive that shows America we care.
BASH: Well, it does sound like you have a different tone in your voice, Senator, a little bit more optimistic than I have heard you on these issues in the past.
So, we will see. And we will definitely be in touch as you're in touch with the negotiators in the Senate.
Thank you so much, sir.
DURBIN: Thank you, Dana.
This has been a powerful program this morning. I'm glad to be a part of it. Sorry for the circumstances.
BASH: Thank you, sir.
Yes, so are we.
And coming up, two American war veterans and members of the same party with very different perspectives on how to deal with gun violence.
Stay with us.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION live from Uvalde, Texas.
What is really remarkable about spending time in this very tight-knit community is that just about everybody here in Uvalde seems to know someone affected by the elementary school shooting. And as they all grieve these horrible losses here, parents here and across the nation are asking, will anything be done to keep a tragedy like this from happening again?
Here with me to talk about that is Texas Republican Congressman and former Navy SEAL Dan Crenshaw.
Congressman, thank you so much for joining me.
So, officers were in the hallway for 78 minutes before they got into the classroom where the students were, despite desperate 911 calls, shots ringing out that they could hear.
How are you making sense of this? And, to you, what does accountability look like?
REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): That's a great question. I want to start off by saying, look, it's -- I have seen a lot of bad
things in my life. I have been through a lot of really hard things. I have been desensitized to a lot, but this is not something you can be desensitized to, where there's a madman, a very evil person walking into a classroom and murdering child after child. That takes a level of derangement that's difficult to fathom.
And on top of that, you have issues like you just stated, where police officers were outside for a very long time. Now, look, I know better than most not to necessarily judge the person who's walking through the breach and is in that moment in the arena.
But it does seem clear that protocols were not followed. This isn't a training problem. We have very clear training doctrine on this. The situation changes for a barricaded shooter if there are innocents inside. You have to put away your sense of self-preservation and go through that door.
I mean, the training clearly states, you might get shot, but the guy behind you might be able to get in and save innocent people. You have to put them before you.
It doesn't appear that that happened here. So, what does accountability look like? Well, let's let the investigation play out, but it's hard to -- it's hard not to see how someone doesn't get fired for this, for these very, very bad calls.
And it's the fact that it took Border Patrol an hour later to come in and actually do the job for the police, I think, is -- is pretty embarrassing for a lot of the local police officers. So, we are going to see how this plays out, but there should definitely be accountability.
BASH: Let's look ahead.
Your senior senator from Texas, John Cornyn, he's taking the lead on negotiations for new gun legislation. One option being discussed is a red flag law. I'm sure you know that Rick Scott actually signed one into law when he was Florida governor after the Parkland shooting.
Would you vote yes on a national red flag law?
CRENSHAW: No, I wouldn't.
You know, it's funny. Rick Scott signed it into law. You would think, from the trolls on the Internet, that I'm the number one advocate for red flag laws. That's a bit of a myth perpetuated by my own side.
Now, truthfully, I think there's a lot of problems with red flag laws, especially at a national level. When it comes to criminal law, that really should be democratically decided at the local and state level, but, even so, you have to look at these and wonder what the actual purpose is.
BASH: OK, so would you support one -- would you support a red flag law in Texas? CRENSHAW: Well, no, and here's why, because what we are essentially
trying to do with a red flag law is enforce the law before the law has been broken.
And that's a really difficult thing to do. It's difficult to assess whether somebody is a threat. Now, if they're such a threat they're threatening somebody with a weapon already, well, then they have already broken the law, so why do you need this other law?
That's the question that I think critics rightfully ask about these things. And so it's really unclear, one, how they're properly enforced, how due process is adhered to, and then ultimately how they even solve the problem, because these things have to be reported for them to actually matter.
And, in this case, look, you have a troubled teenager who did some very strange things, shooting at people with BB guns, cutting himself, saying crazy things.
Does this reach the level where you involuntarily -- involuntarily commit him or take his property? Because the thing is, is...
BASH: Well, there's a...
CRENSHAW: ... those -- those things that this teenager was doing could be applied to quite a few teenagers.
There's a big gulf, I think anybody would argue, between committing somebody and allowing him to buy a weapon of war legally in Texas. I mean, if -- and if you change the law, you said that...
CRENSHAW: Well, this gets to a solution maybe we could agree on then.
CRENSHAW: So, maybe the solution we could agree on is improving our background check system, because, look, the -- again, he went through a background check.
So, the problem isn't that a red flag law could have solved this. It doesn't seem clear that that would have happened. The problem is that the background check didn't capture the full story of this person.
So, look, Republicans are the ones that proposed and passed the Fix NICS Act. Republicans have proposed the 21st century Fix NICS Act, which further improves the system. It was the NRA that actually advocated for background checks in the first place, because, look, gun owners do want law-abiding citizens to have guns.
BASH: Would you expand it? Would you make a universal background check?
CRENSHAW: Well, no.
So, people have to understand what universal background checks mean. That means that I can no longer sell a gun to my friend. If my neighbor, let's say her husband is gone for the week and she wants to borrow my gun, that would make us both felons.
That's the problem with universal background checks. And the people who are least likely to adhere to universal background check are the criminals who intend harm. So, again, it's an outcome problem. I don't think they would have the outcome people think they would have.
BASH: So, maybe not in those -- right. I understand there are so many real-world scenarios that are hard to police, so to speak.
What about the gun show loophole? That's a very real situation that happens on a regular basis.
CRENSHAW: Well, that's the same thing as the universal...
BASH: People buy a gun at a...
CRENSHAW: So, the -- right.
BASH: Well, no, no. I mean, it's a specific example.
CRENSHAW: No, there's nothing particular about a gun show.
BASH: If you're at a gun show and you buy a gun -- and you buy a gun...
BASH: ... should there be a background check involved in that purchase?
CRENSHAW: Well, there is.
There's nothing particular about gun shows that actually there's a loophole for. When people say the gun show loophole, they're talking about private transfers, which gets back to the universal background check debate.
CRENSHAW: There's nothing specific in law about a gun show that allows people to do more things than they would otherwise be able to do.
Dealers at gun shows make you go through a background check if you buy a gun.
BASH: Let's -- Congressman, let's get to a couple of other issues because there's so many potential solutions.
CRENSHAW: Yes, sure.
BASH: And I want to hear other ones that you potentially agree with.
One is raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 years old. The shooter in Uvalde, he was only 18. The Buffalo shooter was 18. Sandy Hook shooter was 20 years old. Parkland was 19 years old.
Should you be 21 to buy a gun?
CRENSHAW: Well, I think the question we have to ask ourselves is, should 21 be the age that you're an adult?
As a society, we do have to decide when you're technically an adult.
BASH: Well, should it be?
CRENSHAW: And, right now, we technically say 18.
Well, look, I'm not very impressed by our current swathe of 18-year- olds and their maturity level, so maybe we should have that conversation. But then it has to apply broadly. It has to mean that you're not an adult until 21.
And then what happens then? When we see a 22-year-old commit an atrocity, are we going to raise it again and are we going to raise it again? And, at a certain point, we have to ask ourselves what our limiting principle is as far as that age limit, because, truthfully, the vast majority of these horrible shootings have been caused by an older person.
BASH: Well, the teenage brain -- the NIH has said that the teenaged brain isn't finished developing until mid-20s.
The -- there's medical studies that show that the teenage brain just isn't fully developed.
CRENSHAW: Yes, that's true. That's true.
And does that mean that we -- I think it's 26, actually. So, does that mean you're not an adult until 26? I think I was on my second deployment by then. So it's -- these are hard questions. And we're -- we're grasping for an answer...
BASH: They are hard questions.
CRENSHAW: ... because this is an atrocity that really hits our -- hard.
BASH: Congressman, Congressman, they're -- I mean, I think -- I'm guessing there are a lot of people out there watching this, hearing you say no to a lot of the solutions that people are talking about.
So, what I -- I think people to know is, what is the solution? What would you agree with?
BASH: Because the way the answers are coming out now is that nothing's going to change.
And I don't think people here in this community and across the country want to hear that, after their babies are being massacred by these guns.
CRENSHAW: Well, I think what needs to change is the things that would have the most immediate and succinct effect and tangible effect on these things.
And that's actual security at a school. So, it's not as if Republicans have never proposed anything. Again, I went through some earlier, the Fix NICS Act, the 21st Century Fix NICS Act, which is a new proposal.
CRENSHAW: Looking at the STOP Violence in Schools Act, that one actually put resources towards schools for school resource officers. Increasing the penalties for straw buyers, these people that...
BASH: Why not do both? Why are they mutually exclusive? Why can't you secure schools and...
CRENSHAW: None of these are...
BASH: ... other solutions that have to do with access to guns in a way that respects...
CRENSHAW: Well, because a policy has to respect two criteria.
BASH: ... the Second Amendment and its core and what it was intended as?
CRENSHAW: Well, that's exactly the problem with it, because a lot of these policies that I think the Democrats often propose that are gun control policies, they do two things.
One, they infringe on the rights of million and millions of gun owners. And, two, they probably wouldn't have the outcome that you're hoping for.
So, if you're not going to get the benefit you want, but you're going to -- it's going to come at great cost, that generally means it's not a very good policy. Again, that's why I go back to hardening schools.
BASH: How can you be so sure?
CRENSHAW: Because it should be fairly easy to -- well, we can look at data.
We could have this -- we could have discussion for a while. But the co-relation between gun ownership and gun violence is not very strong. It's not as strong as a lot of people tend to believe it is. You have states like New Hampshire and Midwestern states that extremely lax gun control, but very little crime. BASH: Congressman, it sounds like you're saying that guns in this country are not a problem. Is that what you're saying? I mean, there are 300-something million people, 400 million guns.
You don't see that as a problem?
I think, culturally, we're a country that has long had a Second Amendment that believes in the right to self-defense. I don't think it's a problem that I own guns. And I know that, if I destroyed all my guns, it would have zero effect on crime. It would have zero effect on gun homicides, because I'm not the person who goes and shoots somebody.
I am a person who might protect somebody from being shot. The other thing that gets left out of this -- and this is a CDC study. CDC found that there's hundreds of thousands of cases a year where somebody used a gun to protect themselves or protect others. It happened just this week in West Virginia, where...
BASH: Right. There were 19 people who were highly trained in the hallway, and they didn't -- they couldn't save these children.
CRENSHAW: And that's a problem right there.
I mean, your first question...
BASH: You just mentioned the second Amendment.
The Second -- it is a problem. And everybody agrees on that, no question.
The Second Amendment calls for a well-regulated militia. Do you really think the founding fathers, when they wrote well-regulated militia, intended for enough guns, weapons of war that you are so...
BASH: ... highly trained in using, should be used to massacre children?
CRENSHAW: Well, there's more to the Second Amendment than what you just read, right?
There's -- there's -- and there's a comma after that, so there's two different ideas in the Second Amendment. There's the individual right to own a gun, and there's the right of the people to have a well- regulated militia.
CRENSHAW: But let's talk about the weapons of war thing for a second, because you brought that up. So, having been to war and having used many, many weapons of war, I
don't really classify these rifles as weapons of war. We use them, but we use them -- they're more a self-defense weapon. And I would say that if a SEAL team or an infantry team goes on offense, they're using much, much bigger weapons that are not available to your common civilian.
We use our M-4s, which is an AR-style weapon, mostly for self-defense and for very close-quarters type of combat. So -- and, by the way, they're -- they have capabilities that your civilian rifles do not.
These are still semiautomatic rifles. In the military, we have automatic weapons. I would say we never use them on full auto because they're extremely inaccurate that way, so they're not really useful in that sense.
But, in any case, these are not the same.
Congressman, we're running out of time, but I...
CRENSHAW: And I would add one more thing about rifles.
Well, the one thing I would add about rifles is, they actually make good self-defense weapons.
BASH: I just want to ask you about your trip in Ukraine.
CRENSHAW: Oh, sure. OK.
CRENSHAW: Well, in general, my take...
BASH: You just came back from an actual war...
CRENSHAW: Sorry. This is delay.
BASH: ... in Ukraine. And what was your takeaway?
So, I was in Ukraine all week. We were the -- me and Representative Fitzpatrick were the first to visit the newly reopened embassy. I think that was very special. That was why we wanted to go.
It's good to see Americans back on the ground. And it's much-needed. We're about to spend a lot of money on this fight. You know, $40 billion was passed out of the Congress, which I supported. We need to make sure it's spent right. We need to make sure it's getting to what Ukrainians need. And what they tell us they need are weapons that can outreach the
Russians' reach. So Russians have artillery that reach 50 miles. Ukrainians have artillery that reached 20 miles. That's not going to last much longer. It's not going to be able to hold them off much longer with that in mind.
But the Ukrainians are -- it's important that people know that these are very resourceful people, and they are willing to fight for every inch of their country. They're a lot more like us than maybe some want to believe.
I hear people call them corrupt and unworthy of our support. I think that's crazy. I have toured bombed-out schools, bombed-out apartment buildings, and you know what I see? I see them coming together as a community the exact same way that I have seen here in Houston after Hurricane Harvey.
You have got little old ladies running -- running donation -- running donation centers, running soup kitchens. And you have got good samaritans in there classifying donations and making sure it gets to the right people. It's very similar to what you would see here in America.
And I -- personally, I think that matters. The resilience of these people matters, because I think there are people that we want to help against Russia, who's been our enemy for decades at this point, and wants to commit atrocities and genocide, and reshape the world order to their liking.
I think this is a fight that we should support.
BASH: Congressman Dan Crenshaw, thank you so much for coming on. Thank you.
And thank you to our viewers for dealing with that delay, as I'm here in Uvalde, and you're elsewhere in Texas.
BASH: And my next guest changed his stance on gun restrictions.
Congressman Adam Kinzinger on what changed his mind and if more Republicans may join him. Stay with me.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION live from Uvalde, Texas.
Years of mass shootings have done little to change the dialogue in Washington over gun restrictions.
But my next guest is a Republican who did change his mind about what should be done.
BASH: Here with me now is Republican Congressman, Air Force veteran and pilot in the Air National Guard Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
Congressman, thank you so much for joining me this morning.
You now support universal background checks, red flag laws, raising the minimum age to buy a gun, banning high-capacity magazines. How did your thinking evolve?
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): So a lot of that happened around Vegas.
So, I woke up the morning after the Vegas shooting, and we heard the audio from that. And I had shot a bump stock before. I knew that was a bump stock. And so I called for banning bump stocks. And, at that point, it's like, OK, this is getting out of hand. What are the things we can do to make a difference? I mean, obviously, there's going to be some fundamental disagreement.
And it's like, well, why should somebody be able to buy a gun at 18, particular a long gun, at 18, when, as of recently, they can't even smoke cigarettes until they're 21? It's just the right thing to do. The problem is, everybody is scared to inaction. They're frightened of the loudest voices. And 90 percent of Americans are begging that we do something.
BASH: Is that the reason why you think so many of your fellow Republicans aren't where you are on those issues?
I mean, I have talked to a bunch that are where I am, but they won't say it -- or they won't come out and say it, because, again, it's -- I have experienced this, whether it's talking about Donald Trump, January 6, or the guns issue, is, yes, once you make something that's outside of the cultist position, or outside of that, like, tribal position, you're going to get a bunch of attacks that say, you're crazy, it's my right, the Second Amendment, even though we all believe in the Second Amendment.
We just believe that there are reasonable things to do about it. And, look, if you look at this shooting, you look at -- you look at Buffalo, you look at Parkland, and all these others, there are people taking these guns, these ARs, under the age of 21. Can we stop all of it? No. Can we mitigate it? Certainly. And we should be doing that now.
BASH: Governor Greg Abbott says this shooting shows the need for more laws addressing mental health. Texas Senator Ted Cruz wants to reduce the number of doors in schools, install bulletproof glass, put armed cops on school campuses.
Is that enough to stop mass shootings if the U.S. doesn't also do something about access to guns?
KINZINGER: Yes, I mean, look, ultimately, I do think it's a hard issue, because people have to make a decision to go and do a mass shooting.
But if we think that just hardening schools or reducing -- basically turning schools into military camps is going to be the answer, even if it does work, which it won't, but even if it does, that's not the kind of country I want to live in, right?
I got a kid that's 4 months old now, will be going to school someday. I don't want to have to have a military I.D. to check him into the front gate of his elementary school.
And so, look, any -- what you're seeing right now, Dana, is all these people that are -- these politicians that are scared to death to talk about the gun issue. They know that this is an issue, but they're scared to talk about it. So they launch into this thing about mental health.
We all agree that mental health is a problem. First off, I'd ask, have they actually put any more money into mental health, people like Ted Cruz? Highly doubt it.
But, secondarily, at the same time, why is an 18-year-old buying an AR? So, it's not an if or that. There's always the old saying too about the way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Typically, I agree as well. But there were 150 good guys with guns at this shooting that didn't do anything until basically Border Patrol SWAT showed up.
We have got to take handle of this, man. This is insane.
BASH: Congressman, you do still oppose a ban on the kind of assault weapons that were used in this shooting.
Can you explain why private citizens need weapons of war?
KINZINGER: Look, I have opposed a ban.
Fairly recently, I think I'm open to a ban now. It's going to depend on what it looks like, because there's a lot of nuances on what constitutes certain things. But I'm getting to the point where I have to wonder, maybe it's -- maybe somebody to own one, maybe you need an extra license. Maybe you need extra training.
And so the question is, is it a ban vs. an additional certification? But, yes, I got to tell you, I mean, that 99.9 percent of people that own ARs, we all know, are not going to walk into a school and do this. But the problem is, for those who support the Second Amendment, like me, we have to be coming to the table with ways to mitigate 18-year- olds buying these guns and walking into schools.
My side is not doing that. My side is not coming forward with reasonable ways to defend an amendment that we think is very important. And so I'm looking at this, going, fine, if people are going to put forward solutions about certifying maybe who can buy an assault weapon, I'm certainly open to that.
BASH: wow. So that is another change that sounds like you're willing to make.
Congressman, I want to turn to the topic of January 6. You are, of course, a member of that committee. The House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, says he will not comply with the committee's subpoena to interview him as it currently stands
Are you considering holding the sitting House minority leader in contempt of Congress?
KINZINGER: You know, that's -- that's a that's a big deal.
Obviously, there are things we can do, including whether it's with ethics or other things. Trust me, every day, we're talking about what to do when these members -- if these members don't comply with the subpoena. And so we will see.
But I'm going to tell you, ultimately, it says way more about him than us if he doesn't come in, because, look, he has information, and we want to talk to him. This is the House that he wants to be the speaker of, by the way, and he's saying, you don't have a right to talk -- well, look, I'm not going to be here next year in Congress, but I guarantee, if he is speaker, there's going to be people that are like, wait, you didn't even bother to comply with a subpoena.
Kevin McCarthy has no respect for the institution anymore, for the process. All he wants to do is be powerful, and it's not even be powerful through normal means. It's through really kissing up to Donald Trump. I mean, that's more on him than us.
BASH: Adam Kinzinger, we're going to have to leave it there.
Thank you so much for joining me this morning.
KINZINGER: You bet.
BASH: Even before the massacre here, mental health services in Uvalde were stretched thin, thanks to pandemic-related spikes in need.
Now they are trying to prepare for a tidal wave of grief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELISSA RAMIREZ, DIRECTOR OF CHILDREN'S SERVICES, HILL COUNTRY MHDD: We've been seeing a whole range of different things.
We have been seeing families grieving. We have been seeing individuals that had been in the school that maybe weren't directly in the classroom. We have been seeing members of the community who maybe didn't have any sort of direct relation to any individuals in school, also just having a really hard time processing, going through the motions, seeing all of this tragedy.
And so we have had a range of individuals come in, anxiety, depression, panic, just a lot of shock right now.
BASH: And that's really the key.
I mean, there's still -- this is a community still in shock.
RAMIREZ: Yes, it definitely very much so is.
You're going to see a lot of that shock starting to wear off. And I think, in the next coming weeks, that's when we're really going to see a -- more of an influx of individuals seeking and supporting more professional mental health services.
BASH: Are you prepared for the influx of people who are very likely going to need your mental health services?
RAMIREZ: It's no secret that I think that, as a state, as a nation, there is a big mental health need. I don't think that we are an exemption to that.
We are trying to get as prepared as we possibly can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: And Melissa gave us a phone number that mental health professionals can use if they want to help counsel people here in Uvalde. And we have it up on the screen for you.
She told me that they are grateful for any help any trained counselor or therapist can give from anywhere in the country.
Thank you so much for spending your Sunday morning with us.
Join us again at noon for a special live hour around President Biden's visit here to Uvalde.
The news continues next.