Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: February 14, 2018 Guest: Chris Murphy, Mark Follman
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: -- continues now with Chris Hayes. Chris?
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Thank you, Chris. Good evening from New York. I am Chris Hayes. And on this Valentine`s Day on this Ash Wednesday when Catholics are called to think about their mortality, 17 people are confirmed dead in a mass shooting at a high school in South Florida, at least the 12th, 12th school shooting this year here at February 14th. We know 15 people are injured, now being treated in area hospitals. The gunman, a former student is in police custody. We will walk you through the details of how this happened in just a minute. But first, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy represents the family who`s lost loved ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School over five years ago. He was there in Newtown on the day of the massacre. And today, as the horrors in Florida were still unfolding, Chris Murphy took to the Senate floor.
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Let me just note once again for my colleagues, that this happens nowhere else other than the United States of America, this epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting. It only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction. We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else. As a parent, it scares me to death that have this body doesn`t take seriously the safety of my children. That seems like a lot of parents in South Florida are going to be asking that same question later today. We pray for the families and for the victims. We hope for the best.
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HAYES: Senator Chris Murphy joins me now. Senator, what goes through your head when you see a story like this and you represent the people you do and you have the job you have?
MURPHY: I mean, my heart drops to my stomach because I know what this community is going through and what it`s about to go through. When something like this hits you, and you lose these many kids in such a short period of time, the ripples never end. People always ask me how Newtown is doing. Newtown will never ever recover. Many families have moved away. The trauma of the kids who survived to the sisters, the friends, those who stepped over the dead bodies as they left that school are with you forever. And so, what you have to realize is that after the T.V. cameras are gone from Parkland after people moved to the next story, their grief is just beginning. And that`s maybe for those of us who have lived through this, what we think about on days like this.
HAYES: I have covered probably, I don`t know, probably 20 of these at this point. I was in Las Vegas, I was in Orlando, I was in San Bernardino. I`m sure you have -- you have sat there and you`ve watched a number of these. There`s a kind of learned helplessness. You feel like you`re sitting in a car in neutral and gunning the engine as you watch this transpire. Do you feel that way?
MURPHY: I don`t feel helpless. I don`t feel helpless because as I said on the Senate floor, the responsibility for this lies in our hands. It is Congress that has applied a kind of quiet unintentional endorsement to these murders. These are copycat killings. It used to be that there was a greater diversity of weapon used. Not anymore. It`s an AR-15 every single time and there`s a deadliness to that weapon that is absolutely unique. Come and talk to those of us how have seen the crime scene reports from Sandy Hook. And by doing nothing about it, by refusing to have debate about criminalizing the purchase of these weapons, we`re sending this just very strange perverse signal to these unhinged young men who are contemplating these crimes of violence that if it comes with no condemnation from the highest levels of government, then maybe they`re green-lighted. And I know that`s not what my colleagues mean to do. But people listen to what we say and do. And when we do nothing, it has impact.
HAYES: I want you to elaborate on that point. That is a very different way of thinking about this than I`ve heard before and it`s very different than talking about the restrictions on the sort of statutory side. You`re essentially saying that there`s a kind of like implicit symbolic tacit, I don`t know, approval, winking and nudging, toleration of this ritualized mass slaughter because you and your colleagues don`t do anything on the law side?
MURPHY: I think we have to ask ourselves why this is happening in the United States and nowhere else. Now, we don`t have the details about this young man but this profile exists in every country. There are disaffected, deeply troubled young men in every first world nation but only here do they go to weapons of mass destruction to try to deal with their inner turmoil. Now, some of that is because they have access to weapons here that you don`t have access to other places. But some of it is because of a celebratory culture of violence that yes, is endorsed by the United States Congress when we don`t take seriously our obligation to make sure that kids like this don`t have weapons like this. So no, I don`t think that inaction is an explicit endorsement but I think it is part of the story as to why these young men make the decision to do this, a decision that kids like them don`t make in other countries.
HAYES: We have later in the show Mark Follman who`s a fantastic journalist from Mother Jones who has covered mass shootings and particularly the copycat nature which you just mentioned, and I struggle with this and I`m saying this right now live on air as we cover this and as we roll this footage about whether covering it makes it worse, whether essentially we`ve created a doom loop of imitation here. Should we ignore these?
MURPHY: No, you shouldn`t ignore them because ultimately this will move this country to action. And I`ve seen of the anti-gun violence movement get stronger and stronger every year. And I think we have to look at what happened today that you didn`t cover. There were 90 other people who died from gunshot wounds today. None of that gets covered and it still happens week after week, day after day. So there`s no evidence that not covering shootings prevents them because nobody at the national level covers what happens in Chicago every night and it continues to happen in large part because they have access to these weapons that other countries don`t have access to.
HAYES: When I look at Congress at this moment in our history and the President, and I look at statistics and I look at America, between opioids and guns about 100,000 Americans are dying a year, about 65,000 and 35,000. It`s a sort of shocking thing to get your head around when you just look at those two and there seems like there`s something fundamentally broken in the levels of representation with the United States government that those two specters grind on creating the trauma and death and grief that they do with essentially no response from the government.
MURPHY: Yes, and this week we`re going to be talking about putting $25 billion to a wall to protect ourselves from a fictional enemy. We are screwed up in our priorities here about how to best protect the American citizenry. On this issue of gun violence, it is merely a question of political power. We get stronger year after year. We saw the exit polls in Virginia which tells you that more and more Americans have moved the issue of gun violence up their list when they go to the polls. Hopefully, they`re doing the same thing for the opioid epidemic. Our priorities are screwed up and only the American public voters can change that.
HAYES: Why are those priors screwed up and what conversations -- what are the conversations like when you talk about your colleagues with -- about that?
MURPHY: Well, I think -- I think we are ignoring these two epidemics for different sets of reasons. I think on the gun violence question, it really is a matter of political power. The gun lobby controls Congress right now and behave to break their grip. On the issue of opioid epidemic, it`s about stigma, it`s about discrimination. It`s about people who think that you know, this isn`t a public health problem, this is just about people who need to be stronger. We need to change the way in which people think about it. So I think that there are particularly specific problems plaguing each of these debates that need to be solved independently.
HAYES: There`s a way though in which, you know, this -- I mean, people look at this and I`m watching people`s reaction to it. I`m having the reaction, I think everyone is. I have three kids. I know you are a father of children and you know, it`s really difficult to process emotionally even at an incredible (INAUDIBLE) distance. But there`s a fundamental failure here of the most sacred duty, right, of the government to protect people, protect kids in this kind of place. And the argument you`re going to hear, it will already start is that well, you don`t know the particularities and you know, you take it out and there`s evil people and what do you -- what do you do in the face of that argument?
MURPHY: Well, I mean, this idea that you can`t regulate evil is ridiculous. In fact, that`s the core functionality of government to try to regulate evil instincts. You can`t every stop every single act of evil doing but you can certainly make it less likely. And what we know from the data is that in states and communities that have looser and laxer gun laws, there are more gun crimes committed. We know in states like Connecticut that tightened our gun laws, we`ve seen 40 percent reductions in homicides. So we`re never going to stop every bad act from happening but we have enough data to know that there are policy tools at our disposal to dramatically change the trajectory of violence in this country. And we are absolutely shirking our most basic foundational responsibility when we allow evil to act unabated in this country as we are with inside the debate over gun violence.
HAYES: I want to show you a tweet from your colleague Senator Marco Rubio talking about this. He said it was a day I believe, if I`m not mistaken, we can show that on the air, a day that you pray never comes and then a mother of a Newtown victim said, "Oh, please, you had a chance after Newtown. You did squat because you`re already doing immigration and didn`t want to lose votes for your constituents. In your office, you looked at us and said you couldn`t act. Sleep tight with the blood on your hands, Marco. Nelba Marquez-Greene. Do you get viscerally angry about this with your colleagues?
MURPHY: I do. I do. I`m not someone to shout and scream but the reason that I sat on the floor for 15 hours was because I couldn`t take this inaction any longer. And the reason that I get angry when people send out thoughts prayers and nothing else is that you know, ultimately your thoughts and prayers are pretty meaningless if you`re not actually willing to put action behind your faith. So yes, a lot of these Senators are really nice to the victims of gun violence when they come into their office. And then when they leave, they go back to the business of doing absolutely nothing. And that is infuriating to Nelba, a good friend of mine. That is infuriating to me. And ultimately, my hope is that it is infuriating to the voters of Florida who decide to send somebody to Washington who is going to recognize that Orlando, Parkland are not inevitable. There are consequences of inaction and it is just a matter of changing representation to get a different outcome.
HAYES: You talked about organization and you talked about Virginia. It does seem like there`s always been an asymmetry of the organization between the forces in this country that want to maximally loose regulatory regime for weapons, make them as accessible as possible, having as many people -- places as possible, and people on the other side who want something stricter. You say you`ve seen evidence of that -- of that evening out. What do you mean by that?
MURPHY: Well, I mean, let`s talk specifically about those Virginia exit polls that showed 18 percent of Republicans came to the polls with their number one issue being guns which is not surprising. But 19 percent of Democrat who came to the polls, their number one issue was guns second only to health care. We`ve seen the number of activists. They`re showing up to town halls, to campaign headquarters grow to the point where I think in 2018, we will have more activists than the gun groups do. You`ve seen specific races turn on this issue. Take a look at the Senate race in New Hampshire where Kelly Ayotte was blasted an ad after ad for voting against a backgrounds checks bill. That`s one of the reasons she lost her seat. So I think that you slowly see this issue turning. But it is a social change movement that`s not unlike the others that took decades in order for us to start winning legislative fights. I think it`s changing but it`s certainly slow.
HAYES: Final question and then I`ll let you go, and I appreciate you taking so much time on this -- on this night. The NRA spent more money trying to elect Donald Trump than anyone it had ever. And he tonight didn`t say anything. There was a tweet about thoughts and prayers I believe. Do you want to hear from the President of the United States on this issue?
MURPHY: I don`t know. I don`t know. I mean, I`d be -- I`d be worried to ask more from -- for more of President Trump`s thoughts on mass shootings. I worry that he would make it worse, not better. If I thought that he was going to offer thing that was real, actually consolation, I`d be willing to hear more. I`m not sure that`s what we would get.
HAYES: All right, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, thank you for your time tonight.
HAYES: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: All right, again, to recap what we know about what happened today. The gunman killed 17 people, murdered them including students and teachers. 15 injured people are being treated right now in area hospitals. The shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida began at around 2:30 local time this afternoon shortly before school was dismissed for the day. A warning that some of the footage we`re about to show you is disturbing.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God! Oh, my god!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The gunman was on the loose for more than an hour in that school. Students who were able to leave ran or walked out with their hands up to indicate they themselves are not suspect. That image that you`re seeing there, that is now an image we know. It`s an image that`s familiar. It`s almost in its own bizarre perversely iconic in America. The helicopter shot of the people evacuating a mass casualty situation with their hands up. We now know what the procedures are. We all know what that looks like. We can all instantly recognize when we see that flashing across our screens what has happened in America on the day that we see that. Others sheltered in place, barricading themselves, hiding from the shooter. Some parents were texting their children during the lockdown. Police apprehended the suspect nearly two hours after the incident began, less than a mile from the school. The suspect was later removed from police cruiser and placed still handcuffed on a stretcher taken to an area hospital. Within hours, he`s being led into Broward County Central Booking, now been identified as Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student of the school, expelled last year or disciplinary reasons. He was armed with a semi-automatic rifle.
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SCOTT ISRAEL, SHERIFF, BROWARD COUNTY: We have a shooter in custody. He was taken into custody I believe about an hour after he left Stoneman Douglas after he committed this horrific, homicidal, detestable act.
We have 17 confirmed victims. 12 victims within the building, two victims are outside, just outside the building. One victim is on the street at the corner of Pine Island, and two folks, people lost their lives at the hospital.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: While students sought safety, SWAT teams conducted room by room searches to assure there were no other shooters. Dozens of parents rushed to the scene. Some reuniting with their children, as you see there, many being informed that their kids if they had escaped the worst have been taken to an offsite location. President Trump tweeted out his condolences, has reportedly offered federal assistance to Governor Rick Scott of Florida (INAUDIBLE). We have NBC`s Tammy Leitner who joins me now from Parkland, Florida. And what is the scene down there right now, Tammy?
TAMMY LEITNER, NBC NEWS REPORTER: Chris, it`s been hours since gunman Nikolas Cruz has terrorize the school. It`s gone on lockdown and I can tell you that police are still going through that school. We have an active scene. They`re still going through with the bomb squad securing the school. Parents are still showing up out here at the school. Not all of parents have still been able to make contact with their loved ones. And we`ve been speaking with students all afternoon. I`m here with Hector Navarro. And Hector, you`re a senior, you`re 18 years old and you were there today when gunshots rang out. Why don`t you just take me through what happened?
HECTOR NAVARRO, STUDENT, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: Well, obviously, it started off as a normal day like any other day would. And we had a fire drill second period, just a normal one. Followed procedure and went to our designated zone and then we had another one when it came 30 minutes before the bell. Obviously, we were suspicious. We didn`t think anything of it though. And then as soon as we were ling up for the fire drill, we heard the shots ringing. And it`s like something I`ll never forget, just hearing those shots on campus that obviously there shouldn`t be shots.
LEITNER: And at this point, you were with about 100 other students and several teachers. And you said that you -- the whole group ran, is that right?
NAVARRO: We all started to go towards this little area against the fence in the canal. And we`re just trying to get as far away as possible.
LEITNER: So you guys are actually running away from the classrooms.
NAVARRO: Yes, we were in the -- we were running on the field, running through the gates and then at one point, me and a bunch of other students has decided to hop the fence and run -- like run with the rest of the class, but not in such a confined area.
LEITNER: So you guys really were worried about getting stuck there in the school with the shooter and so you ran away from school?
NAVARRO: Yes, pretty much. We didn`t want to be there. No one really wants to there be after hearing the shoots.
LEITNER: And I know that you`re OK but you`re not sure about all of your friends at this point.
NAVARRO: No, not at all. I have several people that I have not been able to get in contact with.
LEITNER: I`m so sorry. I`m really sorry about what`s going on. And hopefully, you`ll still hear from them.
NAVARRO: My prayers are out there. And my prayers are with the families of the students that lost their lives today and to all of them. It`s all love from me. It`s all love from everybody in the community and we all come together as one just to try to get past this incident.
LEITNER: Tough thing. Thank you so much for talking to us, Hector. I appreciate it. And Chris, you know, there are -- there are still 15 people that are injured in the hospital, 17 people that were killed in the school shooting. Some of them teachers, some students, a lot of families, a lot of students, a lot of teachers and an entire community grieving this evening. Chris?
HAYES: Tammy Leitner, thank you for that. Thank you, Hector, for taking some time. I really appreciate that, in Parkland, Florida for us tonight. Mark Follman is the National Affairs Editor at Mother Jones. More than two years ago, he wrote about the race to stop school shootings and has been writing about the specific ways in which mass shootings like this school shootings, lone gunman are a sort of distinct phenomenon. What`s your thoughts watching this unfold today and hearing the news about it tonight?
MARK FOLLMAN, NATIONAL AFFAIRS EDITOR, MOTHER JONES: Hi, Chris. Well, I`m sorry to be with you yet again for this subject and my heart go out to all the people in Florida suffering from this terrible attack. You know, it`s still early so I want to be careful. There`s a lot of misinformation that flies around in the immediate aftermath of these events. But it`s already clear that you know, this is the kind of case we`ve seen over and over again. These do not happen in a vacuum. This person planned this attack meticulously. We know that he was using tactical gear, using some tactics we`ve seen in previous cases. And you know, I think it`s important for the American public to realize that there are often behavioral warning signs that precede these attacks and people need to speak up and reach out for help or they`re going to keep happening. You know, there`s a myth about mass shootings that the shooters just snap. That`s not what happened. They think about doing this for long periods of time and they carry them out. And there are things that can be done to intervene.
HAYES: What are those things?
FOLLMAN: Well, you know, you hear people making threats or behaving erratically. You know, often, especially in a school setting, teachers, administrators other kids are often really important in terms of speaking up when they hear something or see thing that makes them feel uncomfortable. There`s a lot more awareness of this problem now. And there have been a number of cases that have been thwarted with the very scenario where kids have spoken out when they were worried about a kid. You know, from early indications in the reporting we have on this case, a person who was disgruntled and probably had acted in threatening ways before, was expelled from the school, had apparently an obsession with firearms. These are all common signs in these cases.
HAYES: There seems like a replication effect so I want to distinguish two different things. There`s gun violence in America which grinds on day after day and the majority of gun fatalities in the country are suicides. When you just look at homicides, there are many and most of them are not done in this fashion obviously. And then there`s this sort of distinct phenomenon which there`s evidence is a kind of replicating phenomenon. What does that mean?
FOLLMAN: Well, right. So there`s a so-called copycat problem with these attacks. And I think, you know, we`re living in a media environment now where there`s much greater awareness of this. When it happens, the images and details circulate so fast and often you know, there`s kind of sensationalist treatment of it by the media. And there is evidence of study that a lot of cases where there`s evidence that the people who commit these crimes are aware of that and they`re seeking infamy and notoriety in the media and they know that they can get it by doing this. And one of my fears in talking with expert who study this problem is that you know, the kind of social media feedback loop and media feedback loop is really contributing to this more and more because in a sense it`s become a more kind of plausible way to behave and to deal with one`s deep grievances or problems. This is seen as a way by certain vulnerable individuals as a thing that they can go out and do, in some sense that is relatively new and appears to be getting worse.
HAYES: You have written about this and you`ve tweeted and others have -- (INAUDIBLE) has written about this in the New York Times about sort of guidelines for the coverage on precisely this front, things that -- and something that we are very aware of and try to do. One of them is sort of there`s a sort of glory seeking thing here. We`ve seen in mass shooter after mass shooter who want -- they want their pictures plastered everywhere. They want their names plastered everywhere. And that it`s important essentially not to cover it in that way.
FOLLMAN: I think that`s right. I mean, I`ve written about this quite a bit and thought about it a lot, talked with experts you know, given the case evidence that we vary in terms of emulation of previous attackers, there`s reason to think, there`s evidence that shows us that kind of mitigating the repetition of imagery especially of certain kinds of images where shooters you know, pose with guns or aspiring attackers pose with guns and put these images on Facebook. That`s the kind of imagery they want to play over and over in the media. And while we need to cover these attacks vigorously, it`s an important you know, serious problem that it`s in the public interest to learn about and to know about. I think there are steps that the media can take kind of to reduce the repetition of the naming of the shooter and showing these images that are precisely what they want to have seen.
HAYES: All right, Mark Follman who`s reporting on this has been really illuminating for me and something I`ve followed for a while. Thank you for making some time tonight.
FOLLMAN: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: All right, 17 dead in Florida at the worst high school shooting it appears I believe in U.S. history. I will double-check that. Another brutal and grizzly day in America where gun violence is all too common. We`re going to keep covering the story after this quick break. Don`t go anywhere.
HAYES: -- has not spoken on camera about today`s school shooting in Florida, the 12th mass shooting that has taken place during his presidency. Only once has the President addressed the nation following a shooting, something he did after the Las Vegas massacre.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We pray for the entire nation to find unity and peace and we pray for the day when evil is banished and the innocent are safe from hatred and from fear.
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HAYES: President Obama took a much different approach to these sorts of events. He would personally address the nation in the immediate aftermath of the mass shootings, something did he at least 14 times including hours after nine people were gunned down at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 months from now, somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine, my response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation and the aftermath of it, we`ve become numb to this. It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun. And, of course, what`s also routine is that somebody somewhere will comment and say, Obama, politicized this issue. Well, this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic. 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.
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HAYES: As a former White House Press Secretary, MSNBC Political Analyst Josh Earnest has seen from the inside how White Houses has responds to shooting tragedies. What goes through your mind when you watch something like today unfold and when you watch that from the President that you work for?
JOSH EARNEST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, Chris, like so many Americans I get a pit in my stomach. I think other people do too because everybody feels the grim routine that the president was just describing. I was sitting in the front row of the briefing room when he gave those remarks. And I remember talking to him before he went out there. And he didn`t ask for any notes. He knew what he wanted to say. And he didn`t get up -- it`s not as if he spent the night before thinking about what he wanted to say, he spoke just hours after that tragedy occurred.
This is something that weighed deeply, weighted heavily on him. And I think it weighs heavily on all of us who as citizens who observe this is carnage and certainly those of us who are idealistic enough to enter public service to think if we act collectively as a country we can take the kind of steps required to protect our fellow citizens.
It`s not rocket science. There`s no bill that we`re going to pass, Chris, that`s going to prevent every act of gun violence, but there are some common sense things that we can do, and we do have a system right now that is broken.
Just a couple months after President Obama gave those remarks in the White House briefing room, he wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in which he said that he was going to become a single issue voter on this issue, that he would only support Democrats and raise money for Democrats and endorse Democrats who -- candidates, Democrats most of the time, but candidates who supported common sense measures that would reduce gun violence. And it is only when those of us who support these kind of common sense measures, share the same intensity of those who are members of the NRA and are those who are guided by the views of the NRA, that is when we are going to start to see the kind of change we would like to see in congress, but we`re not there yet.
HAYES: I know the president had the occasion and I imagine this president will probably have this occasion to speak with families that are mourning the loss of people they loved deeply that were taken from them in precisely this manner. And I wonder what that effect has where you do it over and over again with essentially nothing to tell them -- I mean, nothing to -- no answer to give them.
EARNEST: That`s right, Chris. I can tell you that I travel to a number of these kinds of locations with President Obama in the aftermath of tragedies, and it took a genuine personal toll on him. You know, when people compare images of him when he was first elected and when he left office and they note how much he aged in that process, a decent chunk of that aging was as a result of comforting people, comforting our fellow Americans who had been through a tragedy like this and it was, you know, it was painful for him as again, as it is for all of us who watch this happen.
But, you know, Chris there was not much he could say in terms of our broken political system but it was important for the most powerful person in America to symbolically express his condolences on behalf of the American people to offer his consolation. And I know that for many people it was very meaningful to them, and often it was people who had not been political supporters of President Obama, but yet it was important and meaningful to their process of healing to know -- again, even symbolically, that the president of the United States was standing beside them.
And that is an important role that we expect of all our presidents. And that is an emotion and a role that our current president does not appear to be comfortable with.
But until our congress starts to make changes, he`s going to have to get comfortable with it because this is going to keep happening.
HAYES: The president did really put his shoulder to the wheel on this politically and it didn`t work, not necessarily because he was inefficiently persuasive, but because of the political structures being what they are. I talked to Chris Murphy about this. Do you think the ground has shifted at all now?
EARNEST: You know, Chris, I would point to the same kinds of things that Senator Murphy did, which is there is some evidence out there to indicate that people on the side of common sense gun reform, gun safety legislation, are starting to increase resolution to increase in intensity and to make clear that this is a voting priority. That has not yet resulted in a change in the composition of congress that will be required to see things like background collection, universal background checks, be implemented, to see things like weapons of war like AR-15s, like the weapon that may have been used in this incident. This is a weapon of war that has no business being on our streets.
There`s no reason congress shouldn`t prevent those kinds of weapons from being on our streets. So, there are some common sense things that we can do. And look, you know, when you look at organizations like Every Town and Moms Demand Action, they are mobilizing, they are organizing. And that is a positive sign, but we have not yet seen their mobilization efforts result in the kind you change in congress that will be required.
And of course, Chris, you noted earlier that President Trump has strongly supported by the NRA. As long as he`s in the Oval Office, I don`t -- I`m not optimistic that he`s going to sign any of those bills. So, it`s not just a change in congress that we are going to need if we want to see these changes, we`re going to have to change the person in the Oval Office, too.
HAYES: All right, Josh Earnest, thank you for joining us.
EARNEST: Thank you, Chris.
MSNBC Contributor Jennifer Rubin is a columnist for The Washington Post.
There`s probably no issue that is more -- more sort of captures the trajectory of our politics than guns, which have polarized extremely starkly and extremely strictly along sort of partisan and ideological lines, and now are bringing -- are sort of brought us to the place we`re at now. What do you think about that?
JENNIFER RUBIN, THE WASHINGTON POST: I actually think it`s gotten worse over time for exactly the reason you said. And even people who are not gun owners have made this into a cultural standoff with what they see are elites coming to change their way of life. And once you make it not about the gun and not about safety, but about your personal identity, it`s hard to have a rational conversation. And I think the change is only going to come when, frankly, not only these groups many bereaved parents, but from places in red America where there is a gun culture, where there is an indigenous movement, and so long as it gets caught up in the culture war, and it`s seen as just another ramification, like immigration, like gay rights, like you list it, I don`t think we`re going to make much progress, because we are just at loggerheads with each other.
So, there`s got to be some way to try to take it out of there. And I do go back...
HAYES: That`s a good point.
RUBIN: ...Mothers Against Drunk Driving where they changed the culture, where it suddenly became not something to wink at, not something excusable, but something that was wholly unacceptable. They changed laws at the state level. They changed behavior patterns. They changed rules regarding personal responsibility, civil liability. So, I think there is a lot to be done. And we`re not going to get any help from this president, that`s the message that I give out every day, which is so long as Trump is there, nothing big is going to get done, but it doesn`t mean nothing gets done. And there are things that can be done in the state houses and state elections. There are things that can be done in terms of mobilizing voters.
And, you know, there are signs that the NRA truck doesn`t work all the time or as much as it did. In Virginia, you had Ed Gillespie run out the they`re trying to steal your guns kind of message. And it bombed, it didn`t help him at all. Now, there were other reasons why he lost, but it`s not a magic -- excuse me, not a magic hour, not a cure-all for many of these politicians the way it used to be.
So, I think some really thoughtful people who know more perhaps about cultural change than political change have to begin working on changing the culture and changing the mind-set on getting people from red America who live in a place and communities where the gun culture is very strong to put together an appeal that reaches those people.
HAYES: It`s a really good point. and the point about auto fatalities particularly, which is the one that I`m obsessed with is there used to be a lot more and then we reduced them, and we reduced them through cultural change, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, changes to the law. And there are thousands and thousands and thousands of people walking around and thousands and thousands and thousands of families not in mourning and not in grief and not going to funerals when they`re 15 years old at their high school like so many people do and like I did losing someone in a driving accident, because of those changes.
I mean, there is -- it has been done before. It`s the sort of way in which this government throws its hands up at this problem in a way it doesn`t to others.
RUBIN: Yeah. And you have to contrast it to the instances when we have Islamist terrorist. And immediately the president jumps out there. He doesn`t care whether a specific remedy, which is usually something having to do with persecuting perfectly peaceful Muslims has anything to do with the crime at hand, but he`s a man of action. He doesn`t need any details. He doesn`t need any facts, he`s into it.
But I would say something else, and I`ve written about this about the federal budget in general, if Republicans don`t want to do something about guns, why aren`t they doing something about school safety? Why are we wasting money in all quadrants and why are we hollowing out all sorts of things that could be done at the state and local level, rather than persecuting so-called sanctuary cities, what about giving grants so that we can help to secure schools, that we can put in safety glass, that we can put in buzz in and buzz out systems.
There are a slew of things that we can doing just in the safety area, but Republicans have no interest, because they I think essentially given up on the notion that the federal government should do much for people. And so we have a very big government, a very big debt, but they`re not delivering anything. They`re not security. They`re not delivering safety. And why aren`t they doing anything in that realm? And, you know, I would like to say someone -- stand up and say, listen, I want to make sure we have enough money to put a cop in every school, to have safety glass in every school, to have an alarm system in every school, to have training for teachers. Why don`t we do that with $30 million rather than having a parade of the army to please Donald Trump?
HAYES: All right, Jennifer Rubin, thank you.
We`ll be backing with much more coverage of the shooting in Parkland, Florida right after this.
HAYES: 17 people are confirmed dead in yet another school shooting today. Please be advised the following video from inside a classroom at the school where that shooting took place, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is disturbing. Gunshots are audible and the students clearly fear for their lives.
But if you can stomach it, you should see what this kind of weapon does. It was a scene repeated over and over today as children tried not to get killed for merely coming to school.
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BOY: Oh, my god! Oh, my god.
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HAYES: Joining me now, retired NASA astronaut and navy combat veteran Mark Kelly, whose wife, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was a victim of gun violence in 2011 and co-founded the Giffords Law Center to prevent gun violence.
Mr. Kelly, what goes through your mind having so intimately experienced the effects of a bullet in your life when you see this unfold?
MARK KELLY, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT: Well, a lot of things. You know, first of all, it`s the immediate reaction of not again. And I was hoping that it would be, you know, more months since the last -- since the next horrific mass shooting was to happen.
You know, after that, I think it goes more to the victims and their families, the folks who have died today, but also you know, the folks that survived and are going to have to live with this horrific injury for you know, in a lot of cases these are young people, so possibly for decades. And they`ve got a really long road ahead of them in some cases.
HAYES: What have you learned in this phase of your life and career and you and Gabriel Giffords, this is not something you are spending full time on obviously before your wife was shot, but now is what the two of you work on, and spend a lot of time around people who have been through similar experiences. What have you learned about what recovery and what changes in a person`s life after an incident like this?
KELLY: Well, I mean, there are all different.
Chris, actually what I thought you were going to ask is what have I learned in general about why we live in a country that has this kind of gun violence and why we seemingly can`t do anything about it. But what I`ve learned about, you know, the victims, there`s a lot of strong people out there. I see the strength in Gabby every single day, how she`s motivated to make a difference and I see it other people that he have suffered at the hands of some pretty terrible gun violence.
HAYES: Answer that first question you thought I was going to ask. What have you learned about why we tolerate this?
KELLY: You know, I`ve learned about the power of corporate money in our politics, how that money, the money from the gun lobby matters so much to our elected officials, that it paralyzes them to do anything on this issue.
I mean, how many months the Las Vegas shooting, the worst shooting we`ve had in the history of our country happened on October 1. And what we got from a lot of members of congress and the White House were thoughts and prayers and there will be an appropriate time to do something about this.
Well, is today the time? We know that stronger laws make safer communities. That is indisputable. Just compare Florida, the state of Florida to the state of Massachusetts. In Florida in 2016, you had 12.6 people per 100,000 die from gun violence. It has some of the weakest laws in our country. The place with the strongest laws, Massachusetts, that number is two. So the laws do matter when you have a lot of guns, as our nation does, you`ve got to do a really good job about keeping them out of the wrong hands. And the corporate money in politics is what is preventing us from doing that.
HAYES: Mark Kelly, thank you for your time tonight.
KELLY: Thanks for having me on.
HAYES: All right, joining me now is Arizona state representative Daniel Hernandez who was 20-year-old intern with congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords when Giffords was shot in Tuscon in 2011. Hernandez is credited with help saving Giffords` life.
What do you think about what those folks in the hospital and those families are going through right now?
DANIEL HERNANDEZ, ARIZONA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: It is something that`s a completely preventable tragedy. And it`s one that we`ve become way too familiar here in this country. But what we don`t often do is reflect what is actually happening. To those who have been shot, to those that have been killed, the scars are going to last a lifetime for them and for the families of the victims.
So, I`m glad that you showed that video, because it shows this is not a clean thing. This is not a nice thing. This is something that`s horrific, it`s gory, and it`s painful. And the recovery for those that have been injured will last a lifetime, not just the physical wounds, but the traumatic wounds and the psychological wounds.
So, I`m glad that you showed that video, because what the Washington gun lobby has done really well is they make us move on really quickly. They make us move on after Tucson, after the shooting in Las Vegas, because their agenda is one where we say now is not the time and we wait until the clock runs out, news cycle ends, and we move onto the next topic.
So, if we don`t actually show what are the consequences, what is the pain that these victims are feeling, we`re never going to be able to get the change that we need in this country.
HAYES: Talk about yourself. I mean, you witnessed this. You went through watching this unfold and experiencing the trauma of that. What did it do to you? And what did it take for you to get past it?
HERNANDEZ: You know, for me, it was holding the head of the congresswoman. No person should ever have to hold the head of their hero because of a gunshot wound. No child should ever have to go to school and be afraid that they`re going to die or in the screams that we heard fearful that at any minute the gun may be pointed at them.
So, for me, it took a long time. It took years to be able to talk about it in a way where I didn`t feel a gut reaction. And even now, listening to that video, it was a painful experience for me. This is not something that goes away quickly. So, we need to make sure we`re keeping up the heat, we`re telling folks this is what happens. There is devastation to the bodies and to the minds of these people who are injured, and it is up to our elected officials like myself and those in congress to make change.
And we haven`t seen it after Newtown. We haven`t seen it after Tucson. We didn`t see it after Vegas.
You know, the bump stock ban was a really, really minor thing that we were trying to find some common ground. But the Washington gun lobby for the last 45 years has made people fearful. I have Republicans talk to me all the time in the statehouse and in congress saying we`re on your side, we agree with you, but I can`t go against the NRA.
So, what we need now is some courage. That`s why I`m glad that Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly started courage to end gun violence, Giffords, because that`s what it takes from our elected officials to stand up to that Washington gun lobby that has the radical "guns everywhere" agenda.
HAYES: All right, Daniel Hernandez, who is now a state representative, it`s great to have you tonight. Thank you.
HERNANDEZ: I`m sorry that I have to be here yet again. Thanks for having me, Chris.
HAYES: For more on how today`s events unfolded in the White House, I want to bring MSNBC contributor Yamiche Alcindor whose PBS NewsHour White House correspondent, and MSNBC political analyst Phillip Rucker, and the White House bureau chief at The Washington Post.
Yamiche, what was it like there today?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR: Today, like at the White House -- I mean, I think that President Donald Trump`s response was something that was I think incredible for this administration in that he wouldn`t go on camera. There was no briefing today. He called a lid, unlike President Obama who was in front of cameras and was known as the comforter in chief, you have a president who is governing by Twitter. So some people think that the president has spoken about this, he`s at least spoken about this, that he`s at least offered his condolences, he said that the federal officials can offer this local/state -- whatever support they have. But there is this idea that Donald Trump,who is outspoken on so many different issues, has yet to be in front of a camera to speak about this.
And I should tell you, I covered Newtown in Connecticut, and the parents there, especially after the shooting, they were advocates for gun control. A lot of them are even still in court last year, as of last year, trying to sue the maker of AR-15s because they think that the gun manufacturers need to feel the heat and need to understand that they need to do something in this fight.
But I should tell you as a reporter, there was this groundswell where people thought that all this stuff was going to change, and then nothing really happened.
HAYES: You know, Phillip, today was a strange day before this happened, at that White House. There are multiple scandals swirling about them, they have been caught in multiple deceptions and outright outright lies about what happened with the individual, the top aide who has been accused of domestic violence against both his ex-wives, who was kept on with a temporary security clearance, there are questions about prominent cabinet secretaries. It was a very weird day there. There was a question about what are they going to say at the briefing, it kept getting delayed and delayed and delayed, and then the lid.
PHILLIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST: And then the lid. And there are still no questions -- or no answers, rather, to all of those questions about the brewing scandals at the White House. To add a few more, there`s growing scrutiny on the security clearance process at the White House and how many officials there are operating there without a full security clearance.
There`s a lot of heat on Chief of Staff John Kelly, who has lost the support of many of the senior staffers working under him at the White House, and widespread speculation that the president is going to be looking to replace his chief of staff.
So, a lot of questions that went unanswered today in part because of this shooting. As soon as the shooting happened, the White House decided to cancel that long-delayed press briefing. And as Yamiche said, we`ve not seen or heard from the president since then.
HAYES: Well, Yamiche, you raised a really excellent point, which is that because the president offers his opinions about so many things -- ESPN personnel moves, the shoplifting case against the son of a UCLA basketball player, right, like he has opinions about things immediately and publicly on certain things. It creates a standard where when he doesn`t speak, and doesn`t speak out, that itself is a kind of statement.
ALCINDOR: Especially because you have a president that people think wasn`t really at least traditionally ready for the job in the way that his predecessors had been.
So he`s really learning on the job, and the people around him, including his voters, have really given him the space to grow into the job of the presidency.
But what we have right now is someone that, as of right now, has not wanted to be the consolor-in-chief, he`s wanted to talk about the people that he wants to pick fights with. He`s wanted to make sure the Democrats understand that he has the upper hand, that his party is in power. But in terms of something like this, I don`t think anybody really thinks that President Trump, or at least in the near future, is going to start saying, OK, we really need to look at how these manufacturers are happening, we need to look at what kind of legislation we might look at, even if it`s not going to be coming out, he`s obviously a traditional Republican president, he`s not going to come out and say we need to change all the gun reforms, we need to crack down.
HAYES: Phillip, quickly, do you think we`ll see the president tomorrow on camera?
RUCKER: I assume so. I assume thta he`s going to want to get out on camera and address the American people. But I do not think he`s going to take on the gun law issue, it`s something after the Vegas shooting, that he said it was premature to discuss, and would not engage that topic.
HAYES: Perpetually premature, it seems. Yamiche Alcindor and Phillip Rucker, thank you for your time.
Barbara Boxer is, of course, former Democratic Senator from California who introduced the school safety bill in the wake of Sandy Hook, which never made it out of congress, and Josh Marshall, editor and publisher of Talking Points Memo.
And Senator Boxer, let me start with you, your thoughts having actually legislatively worked on this in the wake of a mass slaughter in a school while you were serving.
BARBARA, BOXER, FORMER SENATOR FROM CALIFORNIA: Well, I wrote that bill after Sandy Hook. I wrote it more as a grandmother than I did as a senator.
Our children go to public schools.
But you know, this was a horrible day. This was Valentine`s Day. And it will be forever tarnished.
I send my love and support to everyone, and I have done it over and over again.
We are failing our children. We are failing our families. We, as Mahatma Gandhi said, we should be judged by how we treat the most vulnerable and helpless people, and these children are going to school and we can`t protect them because we`re too scared of the NRA? We couldn`t even do the bump stocks bill? We couldn`t even do my school safety bill, which one of your other analysts was talking about, the simple things we could do to fix those infrastructures around the schools to make it harder for people to break in, to get in with guns, to have more police presence around the schools. We couldn`t even do that.
And we have a president who can`t even speak out against a wife beater. We are failing our citizens in what is the greatest country in the world. And we better look inside and step up. We have to step up.
HAYES: You know, Josh, you`ve written about the sort of cultural politics at play here. And one thing that`s been really fascinating is the NRA has really become this -- they almost don`t even talk about guns anymore, in some ways because their victory has been so total that they survey the landscape and look for new worlds to conquer.
JOSH MARSHALL, TALKING POINTS MEMO: In some ways, too, I think they probably realize that the culture war is what buttresses their victory in the gun war. So since they`ve kind of gotten everything they want on the gun front, they just need to keep stoking the culture war because that`s the root of their strength.
The thing -- you know, every gun safety activist that is out there, you know, working on background checks and, you know, a ban on maybe AR-15s, all these things are critically important. We know they will each have a marginal effect, but they build over time. But when this happens, it`s a such a disgrace that we let this happen. And a key reason why this keeps happening is we send a signal by doing nothing. We validate it.
And that is something, that I think that is actually a cause and a driver much more than we think, because we send a message that we are impotent and that we truly value the total right to have guns in every circumstance over this. That`s more important, when we send that message.
HAYES: This is a point Chris Murphy made, that Senator Murphy made earlier, senator, do you agree with that, that actually the inaction itself sends this kind of symbol to people that might do this?
BOXER: It`s a terrible signal, it`s an awful signal, it`s the same kind of signal that we saw the president send to the Neo-Nazis.
But I will say one good thing, in California we have seen over the past 20 years over a 50 percent reduction in gun deaths because we do have some tough laws. So I think I will never give up on the U.S. Senate and the House, because we can`t. We have to hold their feet to the fire. But in the meantime, the states have to act.
HAYES: And in some ways, that cultural force you talk about, in some ways Donald Trump is such an unlikely vessel for it, and yet here he is, the most supported NRA candidate ever.
MARSHALL: Yeah, it`s one of the many crazy things about him. I mean, I want to come back to that point, and Jennifer was talking earlier about MADD and drunk driving. What happened there is something that oh, you know, we all have a little too much to drink and then drive sometimes.
And then it just became not at all OK.
HAYES: Taboo. Not OK.
MARSHALL: And then I think the key here is, there is -- we are resisting any recognition that the person who wants total rights to have guns anywhere and everywhere and never hurts any of them, it never hurts anybody, him or herself, that person -- that`s responsible.
We allow that sense that guns matter more than anything else.
HAYES: And that clip is going to be on an NRA broadcast soon, precisely for the reasons that you`ve identified. Former Senator Barbara Boxer and Josh Marshall, thank you for making time tonight.
That`s all for this hour. Our coverage continues now with Rachel Maddow. Rachel, good evening.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.