The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 10/01/15
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: It has been another tragic news
day here in the United States while Russian bombs continue to fall in Syria
today, we will have more on that later.
We are awaiting at this hour a news briefing from Oregon on that mass
murder at that community college there today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There`s been another mass
shooting in America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exchanging shots with him, he`s in the classroom –
OBAMA: Somehow, this has become routine, we`ve become numb to this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gunman killed in an exchange of gunfire with
OBAMA: It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on
other people to get his or her hands on a gun. We collectively are
answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the largest massacre in Oregon state history
and it`s just awful.
OBAMA: This is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our
common life together, to the body politic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We are just a few minutes away from a briefing – a press
briefing in Oregon, which we believe will include the governor and police
officials on that shooting there today.
Police have identified the shooter in America`s latest mass murder. This
time, the shooter – well, the murder was in Oregon, the shooter was a 26-
year-old man who police say was not a student at the school.
At 10:38 a.m. Pacific Time, police dispatchers received the first 911 calls
from Umpqua Community College.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The UCC – this is going to be the Snyder Hall. The
– somebody is outside one of the doors shooting through the door.
There is a female in the computer lab, we do have one female that has been
shot at this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They exchanged shots with him. He`s in a classroom on
the – it`s going to be the southeast side of Snyder Hall.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Copy Roser 17 exchanging gunshots right now with a
male. He`s in a classroom on the southeast side of Snyder Hall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Code 4 – the suspect is down.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Police exchanged gunfire with the 26-year-old shooter, killing
him at the scene. According to the Roseburg sheriff, the shooter killed
ten people and injured another seven.
Multiple law enforcement sources tell “Nbc News” that four weapons were
recovered from the scene, three handguns and one assault-style rifle.
Joining us now, Kristen Brady, a student at Umpqua Community College, she
was on campus today when that shooting started. Kristen, can you tell us
where you were and what you heard, how it began for you?
KRISTEN BRADY, STUDENT, UMPQUA COMMUNITY COLLEGE: I was actually outside
by my car with a friend.
I was putting away my anatomy and physiology book and as I was putting it
away, my friend and I heard these popping sounds.
And at first, we thought it was an engine firing back until a teacher or
administrator told us that it was a live shooting and told us to get into
O`DONNELL: And you then got into your car?
BRADY: I got into my car and then I rather panicked and tried to lay down
as much as I could in the car.
My friend was able to drive away and on her way out of the school, she was
able to pick up a couple of people on her way that were trying to get away
from the shooting.
O`DONNELL: And at some point, did you get out of your car? What happened
BRADY: What happened was, I started worrying about the other students in
the science building and my teachers.
And as I was worrying about that, I saw a student coming out of the science
building with earbuds in her ears and looking down at her phone.
And I chose to get out of my car. I ran to her and shouted – there`s a
shooter, there`s a shooter get in the building, and she looked at me and we
both ran for the science building.
And on our way, I saw Dr. Richards, our Science Department, head of science
teacher and then Dr. Champion, my anatomy and physiology teacher opened the
door for us and we all went to the center of the science building.
Which I found out later is actually probably a very safe place to be.
O`DONNELL: And so this sound that you were hearing, if you had just had
earbuds in, you`re saying this other student had earbuds in listening to
something on her phone and she didn`t hear it.
BRADY: The shots were actually very muffled. I doubt anyone would
actually associate these pops with a gun. They could have been mistaken
for anything, firecrackers, BB gun – like I said, an engine firing back.
It didn`t sound anything like a gun.
O`DONNELL: And Kristen, how long did you stay in the science center? And
what happened in there?
BRADY: Well, it felt like it was about an hour. We probably had stayed
there for about 30, maybe 45 minutes. And while we were there, we all
contacted our loved ones.
We went ahead and let them know what was going on. We started sharing
phones with each other for those that didn`t have their phone.
And later on, those that couldn`t contact their siblings, most were able to
contact their siblings and loved ones.
O`DONNELL: What was the sequence of the gunshots that you heard? I assume
you heard an initial burst of gunfire, but then at some point, the police
entered the scene after some period of time.
And then do you hear gunshots again that would include the police gun fire?
BRADY: Well, actually, the first round of shots was just a sequence of
pop-pop-pop and then silence. And that was when everyone started panicking
– or I started panicking, even.
And then once we were inside the building itself, we couldn`t hear
anything. I almost wonder if that area of that building was just too far
in for us to be able to hear anything at all.
We didn`t know what was going on until the police came to the science
building and told us that they had the all-clear and then they were
checking everyone at the school to make sure there weren`t any other
individuals apart of this gunman –
O`DONNELL: And –
BRADY: Or with the gunman –
O`DONNELL: And Kristen, do you know of any of the victims or any of the
victims of this shooting friends of yours?
BRADY: No, none of the victims already – one that I know closely or I
have – I don`t know if any of them are classmates of mine.
There are classmates of mine that I haven`t been able to get in contact
with because I don`t know their phone number or I don`t have them on my
And I am hoping that they`re doing fine and they made it out OK.
O`DONNELL: Kristen Brady, I`m very sorry for what you and your school
endured today, and thank you very much for joining us tonight and helping
explain this to people who are just hearing about it now. Thank you very
BRADY: Thank you for having me.
O`DONNELL: Here`s what President Obama had to say tonight, some of what he
had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: In the coming days we`ll learn about the victims; young men and
women who were studying and learning and working hard.
Their eyes set on the future, their dreams on what they could make of their
lives. And America will wrap everyone who`s grieving with our prayers and
But as I said, just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that
and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and
prayers are not enough.
It`s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger
that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from
being inflicted someplace else in America next week or a couple of months
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, two fathers who have suffered this kind of
violence; Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher and five others were
murdered at the University of California, Santa Barbara last year.
And Andy Parker, whose daughter Allison; a local television reporter was
killed on live TV while reporting a story this Summer. Richard Martinez,
give us a feeling for what it`s like.
You went through this shooting at the school where your son goes to school,
there are parents of every student there waiting for the phone call, just
waiting for that phone call.
They`re hoping to hear from their son, their daughter as soon as possible
that they`re OK. What is – what is that day like for the people who don`t
get the call from their son or daughter?
RICHARD MARTINEZ, FATHER TO A VICTIM OF MASS SHOOTING: Well, Lucy
McBeth(ph) who lost her son Jordan in Florida once said, it`s as if every
fear that you ever had for your child comes crashing down on you in one
And I`ve said that when I got that call, it took – it took us down to a
place we`d never been before. You know it`s bad to lose a child, but I`m
telling you, when you get that call, it`s – it takes you down to a place
you`ve never been before.
And we`ve got to do so much better in this country. And I know what those
people are going through.
And you know, you send your kid off to school in the morning and they`re
living their lives and everything is fine, and the next moment,
O`DONNELL: Richard, do you have any advice from your perspective on this
now to the families that we know, at least ten families who are going to be
going through your experience?
MARTINEZ: Well, I think it`s helpful to talk to other people that have
been through the same experience. One of the most useful things for me has
been talking to people that have lived through this same thing.
Because we have a lot in common and it`s just – it is so sudden and so
violent and so – you know, for most of us, it`s unexpected.
I mean, 88 Americans are shot and killed in this country every single day
and hundreds are wounded. And we`ve become – we`ve come to accept that
situation as normal.
There have been more American civilians killed in this country since 1968
and in all the wars that we`ve ever fought. And begin with the
revolutionary war, all the way through to Afghanistan.
More American civilians have been killed in this country by gun violence
than American soldiers.
O`DONNELL: Andy Parker, we just heard from Kristen Brady, that she doesn`t
know if some classmates of hers may have been lost.
This is news that will be – will probably take 24 hours or so to get
through to the entire community there about exactly who`s been lost.
When it happened to you and it`s so fresh in all of our minds because it`s
just months ago that it happened to you with your daughter, you became a
gun safety activist fairly instantaneously.
What was your reaction to what we heard the President say tonight about
ANDY PARKER, FATHER OF ALISON PARKER: Well, he was absolutely correct in
that. You know, your heart goes out to the families and my heart breaks
But there has to be an outrage. And my second emotion was, I`m outraged
that this has happened again. You know, it`s – we`re at war.
This is – this is like domestic terrorism and politicians do have to be
held accountable for it. Virginia is very unique and that we have off-year
elections and I`ve joined every town for gun safety and I`m going to be
working with Governor McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring to kick
the politicians out.
That told the lie and they`ve had blood on their hands because they are in
the pockets of the gun lobby – they won`t do sensible – they won`t enact
sensible gun legislation.
So, that`s – I think, the nation has to be looking at Virginia and we have
to hold these people, these politicians accountable for their non-action
and Barbara and I are going to do just that.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to another thing the President said tonight. He
said that this is – this kind of violence is a political choice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen
every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those
families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Andy parker, that sounds like what you`ve been saying.
PARKER: That`s exactly right. I`m glad the President said that because
that`s – in Virginia and across the country, you know, it shouldn`t be a
Democrat or a Republican issue, but I`m afraid that there`s one party that
is completely silent on this issue, won`t say a thing.
So, it`s time for these people to be held accountable and to stand up and
say, you know, OK, well, I`m all right with what`s going on.
You know, let`s arm every citizen and let`s have a shootout or let`s have
sensible – you know, universal background checks, sensible gun
I can say until I`m blue in the face – we`re not coming to take away your
guns, people that think that we`re going to assault the second amendment.
We`re not doing that.
We just want to keep guns out of the hands of people that shouldn`t have
them. And unfortunately, most Republicans, every – in the presidential –
the Republican presidential race right now, you hear nothing from these
You know, on the – on the flip side of it, you`re not hearing a lot from
Hillary Clinton either and Bernie Sanders has a horrible record on gun
So, you know, it`s – it kind of cuts both ways, but right now in Virginia,
the Republicans are silent on this issue, the Democrats led by Governor
McAuliffe has stood up and said we are not going to take this anymore.
And if – and folks, if you – if you agree with this and you want to join
us in this fight, text now to 877-877.
Join Rich and I in this fight. Now 877-877, because, you know, we have to
– we have got to do something, we`re going to mobilize and we are.
O`DONNELL: We did get a statement from Hillary Clinton tonight, a support
of a new gun control legislation, new gun safety legislation.
Bernie Sanders appeared on this network with Chris Hayes, saying
essentially the same thing as Hillary Clinton.
Chris Hayes did discuss with him his voting – Bernie Sanders voting record
where he`s been for some gun safety bills and against others.
PARKER: Yes –
O`DONNELL: But Richard Martinez, the President said tonight that he, of
course, was going to be accused of politicizing the issue and he then took
that straight on and said this is an issue that needs to be politicized.
MARTINEZ: Well, first of all, I want to say that I agree with everything
that Andy just said. And I can tell you, I have a sense of urgency.
The longer it takes us to make common sense changes to our gun laws, the
more people are going to die for reasons that are completely preventable.
And, you know, 26 and 7-year-olds were shot and killed in the Sandy Hook
Elementary School, six adults. And we as a nation did nothing. That`s
You know, we`ve got to do better than this. I mean, if we had taken the
steps that we needed to take after that shooting, there would be a lot more
people that wouldn`t be dead today.
You know, there`s not one single solution that`s going to solve all of
these problems. But universal background checks on all gun sales is a good
place to start.
O`DONNELL: Richard Martinez, the President talked tonight about how this
has become routine, how our news coverage of it has become routine.
He feared that his own statements about it had become routine, although
tonight`s statement that he made, there was nothing routine about it, it
was very emotional.
For you, there is a tragic routine in the campus shooting, the college
campus shooting. And here we are again at a college campus shooting.
And I think as you and I and Andy sit here tonight, we know this is not the
last time we will be discussing a mass murder on an American college
MARTINEZ: Well, it`s – it`s not just the college campus situations and
it`s not just the mass shootings and it`s not just the mental health issue.
I mean, there are more women and children killed in domestic violence
situations in this country every single day.
The mass shootings in this country, according to the last FBI report in
2013 shows these active shooter incidents on the increase.
And we`ve seen it over the past Summer. But it`s not just those cases and
it`s not just an issue of mental health.
There`re situations where it`s anger management, alcohol and drugs combined
in domestic violence situations, too.
So, we need to look at all aspects of the gun violence problem. We need to
have sensible solutions. This is the 21st century in the United States of
We`re most technologically advanced country in the world and we can do
better than this.
O`DONNELL: Andy Parker, your daughter can claim to have been a unique
victim, the first one to have been killed on live television.
And it makes her in many ways uniquely memorable. It`s one of the easiest
cases for anyone to bring back in their minds.
What happens to you as a parent, what happens to you as an emotional person
on nights like this when America revisits this kind of violence that your
family went through?
PARKER: Well, Lawrence, it just – it just rips your soul and your heart
out again. And as I said, it`s – there`s – it`s outrage, it just makes
your soul angry and it just makes you want to do more to help – yes, get
this thing solved and find a solution.
O`DONNELL: And Andy, you immediately became activated on the gun safety
issue legislatively after – sorry, Andy and Richard, we have to go to this
live briefing from Oregon right now.
JOHN HALIN, SHERIFF, DOUGLAS COUNTY, OREGON: Is on the families and of the
victims of today`s horrific incident.
We have paired up deputies and detectives with the family members of the
deceased to help work through the process of grieving and answering
questions to the families of these victims.
Also in an attempt to help identify the victims that we have mentioned
earlier. As we talked previously, this is considered a mass casualty.
And with a mass casualty comes protocols, protocols that will likely result
in us not being able to release the names of the victims until at least
Obviously, notifications of the families is our priority. And we would ask
that the media respect that. Respect the victims and respect the families
as they manage these most difficult times.
We have information that leads us to believe that we know who the shooter
is. The official ID will come from the medical examiner`s office.
Let me be very clear, I will not name the shooter. I will not give him the
credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act.
Media will get the name confirmed in time. But you will never hear me
mention his name. We would encourage media and the community to avoid
We encourage you to not repeat it. We encourage you not to glorify and
create sensationalism for him. He in no way deserves this.
Focus your attention on the victims and the families and helping them get
through this difficult time.
We do know that we have at least two heroic officers who responded, entered
the building within minutes and exchanged gunfire with the suspect.
The Oregon State Police is handling the aspect of the officer-involved
shooting and will release any information surrounding that portion of the
investigation at some point in the future.
Tactical teams and bomb squads have cleared all the buildings on the
campus, they are currently going through the hundreds of vehicles that are
parked in the parking lots to clear those as well.
Evidence teams from the FBI and from the Oregon State Police are working to
process the crime scene.
Again, I want to thank the hundreds of law enforcement officers, mental
health counselors, victim specialists and others from all over this state
that have responded here today to help my agency and to help this
With that, I would like to introduce the president of the Umpqua Community
College, Rita Cavin.
RITA CAVIN, PRESIDENT, UMPQUA COMMUNITY COLLEGE: Thank you very much. I`d
like to begin by offering my heartfelt condolences and the condolences of
everyone connected with UCC.
To the families of anybody who was hurt today in any way, emotionally or
physically. This has been a long, sad, tragic day at UCC, and the thing
that we should take away from it, is the power that love can bring to this
We saw people rush to our help, rush to assist us, rush to comfort us,
people all over the community came in. I think that`s one of the blessings
of a small town is that we`re so interconnected.
Even though I have only been here a short period of time, the friends that
I knew we had all came and did everything they possibly could.
They`re still here helping us and they will continue to help us as we go
back to normalcy. This is going to take us some time and we need the
patience of the community.
But we plan to have the college functioning safe and comforting as soon as
possible for our students to return.
This is a crisis and we are asking for help and receiving help. It`s
important, I think, we can focus on what would cause somebody to do this
And I absolutely agree with the previous statement that the focus should be
on how many people open their hearts to help us today. Thank you.
HANLIN: I will be headed over to the candle light vigil now. And with
that, I will ask my public information officer, corporal Dwes Dweshutson to
come up and answer any questions and discuss any other administrative
DWES DWESHUTSON, POLICE OFFICER: So just a couple of items here. We will
be continuing to post information to our Twitter account and we`re using
the hashtag UCC shooting and that`s it, Douglas C-o-s-o.
Further updates will be posted to that Twitter account as well as
flashalerteugene.net. It`s not determined when the next briefing will be,
but when that`s decided, we will post that information – flashalert.net
and our social media accounts.
And that`s all I have. I just have a couple of logistics items, if you
could just bear with me for a few minutes here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you suspect that we`re going to have a briefing
tonight or is that still not clear?
DWESHUTSON: It`s not determined.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These two officers that he mentioned, what agency do
they work –
DWESHUTSON: We`re not taking any questions tonight –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK –
DWESHUTSON: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When do you expect to get your update, can you just
spell your name for us?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: D-w-e-s-h-o-t –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First name, sir?
DWESHUTSON: Dwes, D-w-e-s –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) –
O`DONNELL: We`re joined now by Pete Williams, “Nbc News” Justice
correspondent, Pete, we just heard from the sheriff that they do have the
identity of the shooter as we have known for a while now.
He has said, “you will never hear me mention his name.” That`s actually a
policy I`ve been employing for a couple of years now in these matters.
The name is I think useful to get out there in the event that some people
might be able to add information that the police might want to know about
Certainly, it`s worth getting out there in the early stages of these
investigations. But there`s a point to just how repetitive we should be
with that and how much – as the sheriff was concerned, how much glory or
crazed glory in the minds of these kinds of shooters – shouldn`t we give
them after the fact.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: Sure and I totally sympathize with what the
sheriff is saying. But you`re right, at the same time, the FBI is offering
a tip line and asking for information.
So, you can`t ask for information about the gunman if you don`t identify
who the gunman is. Nonetheless, law enforcement officials have told us
that he is a 26-year-old man who had a home in the area – Chris Harper
Mercer, but they are puzzled about why he chose this particular target.
They say he wasn`t a student. They don`t know that he was working there,
perhaps he was doing some part-time work, but they don`t – they`re not
aware if he was an employee.
They`re trying to figure out what his connection was to the college and why
he chose it as a target.
They say – we`re told that they have found some documents, some things he
wrote and which he expressed what one official called a philosophy of hate.
We don`t know whether these were notes that he left behind at the shooting
scene or things that they have found subsequent to the shooting, searching
The other thing we`re told is, what fire power he had with him. They say
when he entered the school, he had four weapons, three handguns and an AR-
15 style assault weapon.
So they`re looking through his background now, they`re trying to figure out
what he was doing in the days and hours leading up to this.
Whether anyone else was involved, no indication anyone was involved.
There`s been quite a lot of talk about a possible social media tip-off that
something was going to happen.
A couple of law enforcement officials tell us they`re well aware of these.
They`re on a sort of chat room site called Fourchan(ph) and they don`t –
haven`t reached a conclusion about it. But their initial assessment is
that these are postings unrelated to the shooting, not from the gunman
himself. But, they are still looking into his background.
O`DONNELL: Pete, on the issue of the location, in a community like this,
this a small town community, if a mass shooter is looking for population
density, the choices are movie theaters or community college campuses like
WILLIAMS: Well, yes. I mean sure, but I supposed that we can sit here and
think of lots of other place where people congregate. And, in fact, where
mass shootings have been carried out in the past. Fast food restaurants,
churches, even people on the street.
So, why he chose this school, I do not know. I mean your supposition that
he was just looking to kill the largest number of people, that could be.
Perhaps, that what they will conclude.
O`DONNELL: And, Pete, in your experience in these investigations,
especially with the smaller town – or smaller county investigative force,
how heavy is the federal involvement at this stage of the investigation?
WILLIAMS: So, at this point, and it is always different when the suspect
is dead, because that sort of changes the equity about trying to build the
case and whether it is going to be the locals or federal agencies who will
There is not going to be a prosecution here unless other people are found
to be involved, which we do not think is the case. It is a murder case, so
the local authorities have the lead. The federal authorities will offer
their assistance. Now, you just heard the sheriff say the FBI will help to
process the crime scene.
The FBI has very experienced evidence technicians, lots of technology and
experience that they can bring to bear on trying to reconstruct how the
shootings happened, the ballistics involved.
The ATF can help trace the weapon – weapons, I guess I should say, figure
out where they came from, whether they were purchased. But in a situation
like this, the federal agencies are there to help. They are assisting the
locals, who are in charged in the investigation, and it will probably
remain that way.
O`DONNELL: Pete Williams, thank you very much for your reporting on this
WILLIAMS: You bet.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Pete.
Coming up, more on what President Obama had to say about our latest mass
murder. You are looking at live pictures of that candle light vigil that
the sheriff said he was going to right now. That is tonight in Roseburg,
O`DONNELL: Tonight, at the White House, President Obama said that he will
surely be accused of politicizing the mass shooting in Oregan today. But,
he said, “This is something we should politicize.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA, CURRENT U.S. PRESIDENT: There is a gun for roughly
every man, woman and child in America. So, how can you with a straight
face make the argument that more guns will make us safer. We know that
states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths.
So, the notion that gun laws do not work or just will make it harder for
law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns, it is not
born-out by the evidence. We know that other countries in response to one
mass shooting have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass
Friends of ours, allies of ours. Great Britain, Australia, countries like
ours. So, we know there are ways to prevent it. And, of course, what is
also routine is that somebody, somewhere will comment and say Obama
politicize this issue. Well, this is something we should politicize. It
is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Frank Smyth, who has done in-depth reporting on
the NRA and Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize Winning opinion writing for
“The Washington Post,” and MSNBC political analyst. Also, with us Charlie
Pierce, Writer-at-Large for Esquire. Charlie is also the league political
blogger for Esquire.com.
Eugene, the president feared routine in this. He fears exactly what I fear
when one of these things happen. How do we come on and treat this as
something that is not routine even though it has tragically become routine.
And, the president`s comments were far from routine.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And, I think he is
absolutely right. It was a very powerful speech by the president. A lot
of it seemed to be extemporaneous, certainly from the heart. And, the way
he worked through this issue and the way he sort of appealed in a very raw
way, I think, for people just to listen and pay attention and not let it be
routine, I thought was extremely effective.
I mean, you know, the one step he did not take was to lay out specifics
about what we should do. He said we should not take these things lying
down, we should not just assume that we can do nothing. And, I think that
was perhaps the most important thing.
But, then – OK, once we established that, then one does have to lay out
what are we going to do? What will we go for? Is it backgrounds check?
Is it assault weapons ban. Look, we are going to get to specifics too, I
O`DONNELL: The president talked about our reactions to these events
compared to our reaction to other tragedies like mine disasters. Let us
listen to the way he framed that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. OBAMA: When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make
mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make
communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them, to reduce auto
fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives.
So, the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and
our constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly
weapon. When there are law-abiding gun owners all across the owner, who
could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such
regulations. It does not make sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Charlie Pierce, your reactions to the events today and the
president`s speech tonight?
CHARLIE PIERCE, WHITER AT LARGE FOR ESQUIRE: Well, I have been doing the
politics blog only since the fall of 2011, and this is, I think, the fourth
one of these I have to write about. You know, I was struck by the last bit
from the president, where he talked about other things we react to.
The fact is we only allow ourselves two political parties in this country
and one of our political parties is completely insane. And, it is the
party when we have mine disasters blocks mine regulations. It is the party
that says when we want to fix our roads, you cannot have an infrastructure
bill. You cannot raise the gas tax.
It is the party that when some people have floods like New Jersey marks
Chris Christie lousy because he accepted health from the federal
government. And, we have the same party, which now has somewhere between 3
and 600 people running for president. None of whom will do anything about
the problem of mass shootings in America. So, I am politicizing the hell
out of this and I do not care.
O`DONNELL: Frank Smyth, we did get – there was a response from Jeb Bush
tonight, much shorter than President Obama`s. It was just a tweet. He
said – Jeb bush said, “Praying for the Umpqua Community College, the
victims and families impacted by this senseless tragedy.”
And, Frank Smyth, it seems in your work on the National Rifle Association,
that the candidates supported by the National Rifle Association are
apparently allowed to do nothing but pray.
FRANK SMYTH, JOURNALIST: Every candidate in the Republican Party running
for president accepts the premise put forward by the gun lobby that these
national tragedies, as well as the steady drum beat of daily gun violence
is the price, the necessary price of freedom, or the gun lobby`s
interpretation of the second amendment.
They do not want to say that out loud. They certainly do not want to get
into a debate about that neither do the politicians in the Republican Party
running for president, nor the gun lobby.
But this is the view that the gun lobby puts forth and it is what impedes
effective gun reform in the United States. And, I think if we are going to
move forward, politicians that are seeking gun reform and the gun reform
movement needs to challenge this premise head on.
O`DONNELL: Frank Smyth, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I
really appreciate it.
SMYTH: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, more with our panel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, CURRENT U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: There is few things worse than
getting a phone call saying your child is gone. Your child is gone or your
brother, your sister, your husband, your wife.
We are basically the only civilized country in the world, where we have
these massive murders in our country. And, 87 percent of the American
people agreed with the proposal I put together for the president on
background checks and gun safety.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Coming up, President Obama gets tonight`s “Last Word.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I know there is a
way to have sensible gun control measures that help prevent violence,
prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands and save lives, and I am
committed to doing everything I can to achieve that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We are back with Eugene Robinson and E.J. Dionne and Charlie
Pierce. Eugene, I am hoping that the questioners at the first democratic
presidential debate are going to be start working on specific questions
about gun control, gun safety legislation.
ROBINSON: Yes. I mean this is – you know, this is not all that
difficult. There are measures that we know that have been proposed that we
know could be taken and that would reduce gun violences.
Not just mass shootings. There are – what? 30,000 gun deaths a year in
the United States. About 20,000 of them are suicides. Many of which I
think would be prevented if a gun had not been right there. And, 10,000 or
11,000 are homicide by guns.
That – I mean that is just astounding when you think 30,000 lives a year
and many of them could be saved if we could get a handle on the gun
problem. The gun scourge that we have in this country?
O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, Bernie Sanders said tonight, we need sensible gun
control legislation, which should be used by people, who should not have
them. Is that going to be good enough in the democratic campaign?
E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: I do not think so. I mean, you know, if
there is any issue on which Bernie Sanders is vulnerable and in the
Democratic primaries, it is the gun issue, where he has kind of voted
opinion in his states and he has been critical of gun control.
I mean I think there should be – it should be easy enough to get a
consensus, but there will not be politically, around the idea that there
ought to be as hard to get a license. Yes, we should have licenses. A
license to use a gun as it is to get a license to use a car.
If you look at states that have passed tough gun laws, they have fewer gun
deaths. In every town, the gun control group has put out a chart and it is
just very clear there are things we can do. Background checks can help.
Smaller magazines can help. Restoring the assault weapon ban could help.
I mean we are not lacking for proposals that work. My Twitter feed is full
of people saying, “We will propose one thing that would really reduce this
violence.” There is a lot of things we could do, but one party does not
want to bring it up to a vote in the senate. And, unfortunately, there are
a lot of democrats who are afraid of the issue, particularly in rural
O`DONNELL: And, Charlie Pierce, when you try to reduce it to the one
thing, then you are setting it up as an impossible exercise at this point.
PIERCE: Right. I mean maybe this is a door, maybe this is an opening for
Martin O`Malley, who knows? But, I mean I look at this and I look at the
gun as merely as the technological manifestation of a real wildness in our
politics and our culture.
I mean we just found out a little while ago that Sheriff Hanlin, who has
been all over T.V. today after Sandy Hook, he wrote a letter to Vice
President Biden saying that he and his deputies would not enforce any
federal regulations that might have been forthcoming because of their oath
– to what they perceived to be their constitutional duty to their
That puts him in with Richard Mack and it puts him in with the oath
keepers. And, so this kind of – this kind of, you know, fetishization of
the gun. It does not just extend down into the population. It extends
down into law enforcement, too.
O`DONNELL: Eugene, it is going to be interesting to watch Sheriff Hanlin
over the next couple of days in this.
O`DONNELL: Because in the past, before this kind of violence came to his
community, as Charlie says, he was way out there on the National Rifle
Association extreme edge of this issue.
ROBINSON: Right. It will be interesting to see how he reacts now that it
has happened to his community. And, what he thinks might have prevented it
or made it any better.
You know, the interesting notion about the sort of wildness that is maybe
inherited in the American character or whatever, but in fact – Look at
Australia, which is a pretty wild place, a frontier society.
A lot of, you know, there is mental illness there, just like there is
mental illness here. Yet, after a gun massacre, they managed to get
control of the problem. The managed to get control of guns, and we can do
this if we want to. The problem is we do not want to.
O`DONNELL: And, that was one of the examples the president used tonight
without mentioning Australia specifically by name. Eugene Robinson, E.J.
Dionne, and Charlie Pierce, thank you all for joining us tonight. I really
Coming up. President obama Will get tonight`s “Last Word.”
O`DONNELL: On this tragic night in America, President Obama gets “The Last
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. OBAMA: I hope and pray that I do not have to come out again during
my tenure as president to offer my condolences to families in these
circumstances. But, based on my experience as president, I cannot
guarantee that. And, that is terrible to say. And, it could change.
May God Bless the memories of those who were killed today. May he bring
comfort to their families and courage to the injured as they fight their
way back. And, may he give us the strength to come together and find the
courage to change. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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