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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 5/26/22

Guests: Dana Goldstein, Marq Claxton, Tammy Duckworth


The Uvalde, Texas community mourns 19 children and two teachers killed by an 18-year-old gunman. Texas` efforts and spending to harden schools didn`t prevent a massacre in Uvalde, Texas. The police have conflicting stories about the engagement with the shooter. Investigators say victims are found in multiple classrooms. Law enforcement in Texas is against loosening gun laws. Governor Greg Abbott is scheduled to speak at the NRA convention along with Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Senator Ted Cruz as, well as the ex-President Donald Trump.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: There is no such thing as pro-life. That term should be banished. Let`s bury it. It isn`t real. There is no country on Earth where people run for office by cosplaying as a mass shooter like casts playing -- shooting massive guns as if you`re in a military conflict. Nobody does that but this country.

Kurt Bardella, thank you. That`s tonight`s "REIDOUT." ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voiceover): Tonight on ALL IN.

STEVEN MCCRAW, DIRECTOR, TEXAS PUBLIC SAFETY DEPARTMENT: It was reported that a school district police officer confronted the suspect that was making entry. It`s not accurate.

HAYES: Massive new questions about the timeline of the school shooting as dystopian distractions to actual solutions continue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God help us if we don`t harden our schools and protect our kids.

HAYES: Tonight, what we`re learning about what actually happened in Uvalde, how school security ramped up in the wake of previous mass murders continue to fail, and why law enforcement concerns about more guns keep getting ignored.

And as the architects of America`s gun crisis meet at the NRA convention, what we know about the potential for progress in Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But why does this only happen in your country? Why only in America? Why is this American exceptionalism so awful?

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. What we know happened at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas is that 19 children and two teachers were shot and killed. They were murdered by an 18-year-old who purchased two weapons as soon as he was legally able, right after his 18th birthday.

There`s a lot we do not know in particular about the timeline of just what happened on Tuesday. There are a lot of outstanding questions about when the police arrived at the scene, how long the shooter was in the building. How long was before he went in the building, what officers did or crucially did not do to stop him.

This afternoon, local officials held a press conference and it was clear there are still many holes in the story. We`re going to talk more about that later in the show. But something that I am certain of is that the most wrongheaded, downright dystopian response to the murder in the town of Uvalde is to call for "hardening schools."


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to harden our schools not soften them up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most important thing we can do is harden the schools.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hardening schools.

TRUMP: Hardened sites, we have to have hardened site.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God help us if we don`t harden our schools and protect our kids.


HAYES: Do you ever notice when that happens like some nasty new bit of lingo that just didn`t exist before, and then now like everyone is saying it? Like, clearly there was some memo somewhere, right? That was the enraging response from the right after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, another horrific school shooting where 17 people were killed.

They said to harden the schools, because in the wake of mass shootings, people who want as many Americans as possible to have as many guns as possible, they have to come up with something to say in these moments with arguments to deflect blame from the obvious culprit here which is a nation that has more guns than people and more guns per capita than any country on Earth. They have to have something to say.

And in that context, they try to place the blame on all sorts of other things just to get through the segment, to get through the first few days. It could be anything, it doesn`t matter. It`s just what`s flying around. It was violent video games, mental illness. Lately, it`s been all about school safety. But here`s the thing, that ad hoc reverse engineered rhetorical opportunism of like well, what do we say, school, harden the schools, it becomes policy. It has now become policy that has changed the lives of everyone`s children, all of our children.

It`s being done in Texas. They have been hardening the schools. They`re rock hard. After 10 people were killed in a 2018 school shooting at Santa Fe High School, Governor Greg Abbott unveiled a so-called school and firearm safety plan with more than $100 million in funding. That`s real money. That`s actual policy. And yesterday, in the wake of another massacre at another Texas School, Governor Abbott wanted everyone to know they hardened schools.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): We allocated more than $600 million, more than a half a billion dollars to address school safety. An entire platform that was addressed as what`s called school hardening or hardening schools.


HAYES: OK. So, there`s a school shooting, you harden the schools, there was another school shooting. What are we to conclude here? What does that actually look like? Well, in Uvalde, it looks like this. It was a real thing, OK. This is the Uvalde Police Department SWAT team that went around visiting schools in the district in full tactical uniforms according to this Facebook post from February 2020.


The Uvalde school district also has its own police department. It consists of six officers. And like nearly every school in America, they had regular lockdown drills at Robb Elementary School. But as Times reporter Dana Goldstein notes in the New York Times, "There is little evidence that lockdown drills mitigate risk, and lots of concerns from parents, educators, and mental health experts that they cause fear and anxiety for children."

In some cases, it seems plausible to me that lockdown drills may even be planting the idea of being a school shooter in the brains of kids. And this isn`t like some isolated incident. An entire industry has grown up around so-called school security, and it certainly lined a lot of pockets. As of 2017, it was a $2.7 billion market. But still, for some, we`re just not hardening schools enough.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): We don`t have all of these unlocked back doors. Have one door into and out of the school and have that one door armed police officers at that door. If that had happened, if those federal grants had gone to this school when that psychopath arrived, the armed police officers could have taken him out.


HAYES: Well, are we sure about that? Are we sure the police officer would have taken him out? So, what are we going to do here? Some choices? Are we going to conceive of every school in this nation as first and foremost the site of a possible massacre and redesign and engineer every building with that in mind?

Should we make mass gun massacre prevention a core part of what schooling is and what schooling procedures look like? As a parent and as a citizen, I say no, no, no, I don`t accept that. Schools are public places. They`re places of learning for children, and teachers, and staff to grow and flourish and play together. They are not prisons, they are not fortresses, and they should not have to be. No more hardening schools, no more lockdown drills, no more.

The actual massacres are bad enough. The grief and the trauma it`s bad enough. The trauma for the families in Uvalde, or Parkland, or Santa Fe or on and on and on, the trauma of the ritualized child sacrifice of American gun culture. And we have chosen to add on top of that the burden of making our school places where every single child is subjected to the experience of hiding for their lives as an exercise.

Obviously, there are common-sense security measures, OK. Every school I`ve ever been to wants to keep track of who comes and out, for example. I don`t even think like the doors thing is preposterous, depending on how it`s designed. Whatever. Yes, you should know which adults are in your building. You should know how they come in. Sensible, fine, but no more of this hardening school nonsense. The manifest failures of that strategy are on display tragically in Uvalde now. And it absolutely cannot be the case that our response to another massacre is to repeat those failures.

Dana Goldstein is the national correspondent for The New York Times covering education policy. Her latest piece is titled popular school security strategies have not stopped mass shootings. And she joins me now.

Dana, this was a really excellent piece of reporting. And I feel like amidst this awful, horrible situation, useful information that I didn`t know. So, thank you for doing it. Just tell me a little bit. I mean, Uvalde and Texas schools really did get money and really did put into place a bunch of procedures to try to make them more secure.

DANA GOLDSTEIN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: They did in recent years. They drastically increase their budget for school security. And they had drills. They had a system that would scan IDs when you came into the building that would check for whether you were on a child predator list or a noncustodial parent.

They had the SWAT team exercises that we found the local city police sort of boasting about on Facebook and also saying if you see us, don`t be scared, knowing that potentially seeing adults coming into the building outfitted that way could be alarming for children.

They had many high-tech apps that they were using to scan social media, for example, to see if there were any threats there from students. They had suicide prevention experts and a huge focus on bullying. They had counselors they have social workers. So, it was really a lot of the best practices that folks talk about.


HAYES: Yes, again, it`s -- there`s a spectrum of stuff here. And I mean, I think, you know, the software you talked about which I wasn`t aware of the niche -- not niche, large business. This one`s called Social Sentinel which monitors student`s social media posts for threats, an app called Stop It, which allows anonymous reports of bullying, which are two also common practices.

Like, again, it`s like some of the stuff seems perfectly reasonable, some of it seems like I`m a little skeptical, but I guess the question of like, what evidence do we have, like lockdown drills? Just is there -- is it an evidence-based practice? Do we have any -- do we have evidence that they are accomplishing anything?

GOLDSTEIN: You know, folks who support the drills say that they`re not supposed to prevent shootings, they`re supposed to give students strategies for what to do if they`re in that situation, which is almost too horrible to contemplate. But we do contemplate it so often because we cover these so often as journalists and people live through them in our country.

You know, in Oxford, Michigan, which was one I covered late last year, teenager streaming out of that building told reporters that they felt that they knew what to do, how to escape and run quickly because of these drills. But there is very little rigorous evidence that these mitigate risk, and we have to weigh them against the fear and anxiety they do cause for children who have to participate in these several times over the course of every single school year.

HAYES: Yes. I mean, again, I can`t tell if it`s a generational thing. Obviously, I did not grow up with them. I don`t believe you did as well. I mean, many people pointed out like, obviously, at this point, the people doing the shooting had been through the drills. So, there`s like a generational aspect.

There`s also just this question of like -- I guess there`s a larger social question, right, which is like, how do you conceive the school as a place? And, you know, the hardening idea is like thinking about it the way that you think about a courthouse?


HAYES: A prison, you know, an airport, right, as opposed to like, I don`t know, like a store or rec center. You know what I mean? Like, that seems to be one of the things here. And there`s an enormous business has been built up, as I`ve learned from your reporting and your colleagues at the Times, it`s over this school security.

GOLDSTEIN: Absolutely. And here, there actually is much stronger research to talk about, the hundreds of millions and billions of dollars that have been spent in this industry of school hardening have not resulted in any measurable decreases in gun violence for kids in schools. So, we do have to ask the question, are these good expenditures. And there are some simple low cost, actually free things that people who study school shootings do point to as effective.

HAYES: Like?

GOLDSTEIN: For example, just locking doors, keeping them locked. Because in very few instances, have mass shooters stopped to pick a lock, or attempt to, you know, break into a locked door because they usually do want to get to victims, and they move quickly.

HAYES: There`s also I think -- there`s this question of the -- like, the actual numerical risk of this, which in the grand scheme of things is relatively low, even though firearms are the leading cause of death for children. Most of that is happening not in a kind of context like Uvalde or Santa Fe, right?

But also, it`s also not crazy that this looms large in the minds of parents as just a cultural fact. And one of the things that policymakers have to do is sort of navigate that. And you can see how the math of it is always going to line up to like, cover yourself with more security.

GOLDSTEIN: Yes, absolutely. I mean, I`m a parent. I dropped off my kid at school this week while I was covering this atrocity.

HAYES: Same.

GOLDSTEIN: And it`s terrifying. And policymakers should respond and they do. I will say that over the past 20 years, more ordinary crimes in schools have plummeted. Schools are generally the safest place for kids. Most violence that kids experience happen in homes and in neighborhoods, sadly, not at school, which are -- schools are really safe havens for most children.

HAYES: That`s a really important point of context here.

GOLDSTEIN: Yes. So, you do have to remember that. But at the same time, we can`t accept these mass shootings either.

HAYES: All right, Dana Goldstein, as always, fantastic work. Thank you.

GOLDSTEIN: Thanks for having me.

HAYES: Thank you very much for doing it.

So, as I said above, there`s still a lot we don`t know about what happened in Uvalde, with a lot of outstanding questions about the timeline of the police response. We`re going to sort through it all, try to get to the bottom of what should be a set of pretty simple questions to answer, like, was there or was there not an officer at the School? That`s next.


ABBOTT: Officers with the consolidated Independent School District, they approached the gunman and engaged the gunman at that time.

TOM LLAMAS, NBC NEWS SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Was there a school officer on campus and was that school officer armed because that`s what we`ve been told?





HAYES: Two days after the Texas School shooting left 19 children, two teachers dead, there`s still a lot we don`t know about what happened. There`s also a lot of conflicting information out there. For example, initially, official said a Student Resource Officer engaged the shooter before he entered the school. That was the statement made by Texas Governor Greg Abbott yesterday afternoon repeated by the director of Texas Department of Public Safety.


STEVEN MCCRAW, DIRECTOR, TEXAS PUBLIC SAFETY DEPARTMENT: As he was approaching, as the governor mentioned earlier, there was a brave Consolidated Independent School District resource officer that approached him, engaged gave. And at that time, there was not -- gun fire was not exchanged. But the subject was able to make it into the -- into the school.



HAYES: OK, let`s just hold that for a second that description there. Even that description itself was always a little unclear, like no gunfire was exchanged. What does engage mean? Do you say like, hey, where are you going? Then he busted the school. Like, even that was unclear.

But it also seems like that event either happened or didn`t. Well, then today, the New York Times reporting "that that police officer was not stationed at the school, but was instead in a car nearby and rushed to the scene after the first calls came into 911 of a gunman near the school."

This afternoon, a different official of the Texas Department of Public Safety confirmed that reporting, but wouldn`t even stand by that comment.

LLAMAS: Was there a school officer on campus, and was that school officer armed because that`s what we`ve been told?

ESCALON: So, at this time, no, no. There was not an officer readily available armed. No.

LLAMAS: Was there an officer?

ESCALON: No, nothing. I can`t answer that net yet. I`ll circle back with you.


HAYES: Wait, what? Look, it`s understandable in the moments after shooting like this, even in the hours like this, things get mixed up and confused. It`s a very chaotic situation. That was really true of Columbine, a lot of false information came out, but you know, tonight, we`re more than two days later and there`s still a lot of basic information we don`t know including why it took over an hour for a tactical team to enter the school and confront the gunman in the classroom.

I`m joined now by Kerry -- NBC Correspondent Kerry Sanders who was at today`s law enforcement press conference in Uvalde, Texas. And NBC News Correspondent Ken Delanian who has been tracking all the conflicting information about the shooting. Kerry, let me start with you. You were at that press conference. Do you feel like you got clarity on some of these real basic questions?

KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You know, the questions that the folks here in this community, the parents who lost children, the parents who had kids in this school in general, this was more confusing than anything that they could have anticipated. They have respect for law enforcement here. They see the spokesman come up to the podium, lots of cameras here, but also standing in the background listening in.

And they hear first of all about a 10 minute window that makes very little sense, which is the gunman crashes his stolen pickup truck into a ditch, comes out, has a bag in a gun. People who are rushing over initially think that they`re going to help somebody who is involved in a traffic accident. Shots are fired. Those witnesses then retreat. We assume one of them is the one that makes the 911 call.

Meantime, the gunman jumps the fence, and there`s 10 minutes before he gets into the school. The police department is 1.2 miles from here. I mapped it. If you were following the route, and you were obeying the stop signs and this speed limit, you get here in five minutes. With lights and sirens, you can be here like that.

So, you have the gunman making entry. So, it`s then four more minutes before the officers arrive and get inside. So, that is like 14 minutes before the officers are actually in. And meantime, the gunman has made his way we thought, we were told 20 steps down, 20 steps over and into a classroom. But now Pete Williams and Jonathan Dienst, with their sources, have discovered that there were two other classrooms where the gunman shot and left victims. And then he goes into this other classroom, which seems to be a shared sort of partitioned wall. So, there`s two classes in this room that can be either two classrooms or one classrooms, and then the carnage begins.

The authorities say that most of the gunfire happened very quickly, suggesting that well, most people were killed then and then there was this long wait. And then they said that they began these negotiations. So, I followed up with the news conference to say OK, so negotiations. There was a back and forth conversation. And he said no.

So, there really wasn`t negotiations. There were officers out there attempting to make contact, and then you have this long waiting period. And I think every family member, some of them that I`ve spoken to, has said, well, was my child potentially still alive? And these officers could have gone in or tried to go in and, and my child is dead because they did not? And that`s really the crux of what they left in the minds of everybody here by not answering the question of what happened in that hour.

And you know, when there is an attempted breach, and the door is locked, and they`re not sure how to get in, they didn`t look for another way in. They didn`t call the fire department say can we have your jaws of life, can we have a battering ram. The fire department was not called to help. They did not do the sort of things that other law enforcement has told me since that you should have thought of.


And then ultimately, it was the Border Patrol team that goes in. They got the key from the principal. The officers who were first there never got the key. So, so many questions and so many people who want to know, what about -- what about my child? Was my child potentially still alive if they had tried to go in?

HAYES: Yes, that`s very well laid out. I mean, can you know, -- know, You`ve been reporting on this as well. Like, you know, we`ve seen this cell phone video, right, of parents outside. There`s a report from the AP and now the Wall Street Journal of parents -- and the Wall Street Journal has a story of a woman who is handcuffed by federal marshals, local cops cuffed her as she goes into the building to get her kids.

And there`s this 40 or 50 minutes or maybe an hour where it seems like the shooter is in the building, the cops and parents are outside. And I guess the question to you is, do we know -- are there any police in that building for that period of time? And what happened there?

KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: We do not believe that there were any police in that building during that time. Let me just first, Chris, that the marshals have issued a statement denying, by the way, they handcuffed that woman. But nonetheless, it is indisputable that parents were -- we have many accounts now that parents were exhorting police officers outside the building to go in. Some were even saying, they wanted to go in.

And look, we all know that after that 1999 Columbine shooting, police doctrine on school shootings changed because at that -- during that incident, they waited and they -- that was deemed to have been a mistake. They waited for the tactical team, the SWAT team, and more people died because of it.

So, the doctrine became, you go in with what you have immediately. And that didn`t happen here. And there may be a perfectly good reason for it. But if there is one, we haven`t heard it. Now, you know, if -- we`ve heard about these doors that they have in the classroom that were hardened doors, and they were locked. And it appears that there was some delay because they were worried about trying to breach the door. But as Kerry said, they ultimately got the key from the principal.

We don`t understand, for example, why some officers didn`t go around to the windows of the classroom. There`s just so many questions. I mean, look, there`s a troubling issue here with the way the Texas officials have characterized this and have sort of not disclosed the key information and change their stories you laid out beautifully. But even more troubling, are these gaps, the 10-minute gap, as Kerry laid out, and the 60-minute gap. And they really need to explain those.

HAYES: Yes. I mean, those are the base -- I mean, again, there`s just a basic factual question here. Like, what happened and how. I mean, before you get to like, who was responsible or who didn`t or didn`t do their job, just like literally what happened, in what sequence, which still 48 hours - - again, there`s a kind of fog of war thing that happens the first hour, for six hours, first day. 48 hours now, like it feels like we should have more clarity on these questions.

And I know you gentlemen are going to keep reporting it out. Kerry Sanders and Ken Dilanian, thank you both. I appreciate it.

Coming up, what it means to police the most armed country in the world and the ignored concerns from law enforcement over making it easier to carry guns in public. That`s next.




DAVID STEINGRABER, POLICE CHIEF, MENOMINEE FALLS, WISCONSIN: We`re outraged that as a nation, we failed to act decisively to stem the flow of these guns that have no legitimate sporting use and have obviously become an increasing numbers, the weapons of choice for our worst criminals.

To me, and to my colleagues, this is a simple issue. But there are those that have tried to complicate it beyond comprehension. Weapons designed exclusively for the purpose of killing people should be banned except for police and military personnel.


HAYES: There was a time in America when law enforcement stood shoulder to shoulder with lawmakers in their efforts to keep weapons of mass death off the streets. That was the chief of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin Police Department at an event with President Bill Clinton trying to drum up support for the assault weapons ban portion of what was the 1994 crime bill.

And it was a pretty easy sell. Here, he along with then Senator Joe Biden and Attorney General Janet Reno are as the human backdrop indicates police were squarely on the side of the regulation. That law was allowed to expire intentionally in 2004 by a Republican president, Republican Congress. It was a big thing they did. They sort of hedged about whether you`re going to do that when Bush was running 2000, but they did.

We now have more and more permissive laws around the country. I mean, there`s gun regulations have loosened and the amount of guns have increased. And that includes Texas where Republican Governor Greg Abbott has signed all kinds of laws loosening gun restrictions, including one that allows just about anyone to carry a gun at any time, just about anywhere without a permit.

Now, I should know that law was opposed by law enforcement in Texas. Ray Hunt, Executive Director of the Houston Police Officers Union told the Texas Tribune before law went into effect, "We were completely opposed to the license to carry when it happened. We said all of the same arguments that we`re seeing now, and nothing happened. So we`re hoping that we`re overreacting. We`re just concerned because anytime there`s more guns, there`s a problem." We keep on seeing that exact problem play out in places like Uvalde and beyond.


Marq Claxton spent 20 years in law enforcement retiring as a detective at the New York City Police Department. He`s now the Director of Public Relations and Political Affairs at the Black Law Enforcement Alliance. And he joins me now.

You know, Marq, I was talking to a state legislator the other night, Jasmine Crockett. And she talked about this bill that was signed into law by the governor supported by Republicans, which allows basically anyone to carry in the state. And she said the police unions opposed it. And I said to her, police unions, they`re probably pretty powerful down there on the Capitol in Austin. She said, oh, yes, they`re very powerful. This is the only thing they lost on. How do you understand that?

MARQ CLAXTON, RETIRED NYPD DETECTIVE: I think that a similar dynamic exists in many police agencies and entities that exist in the real world, in the general population, in the electorate, where you have a large number of citizens who are saying at some reports 80 percent say, hey, listen, there needs to be stricter gun laws, there needs to be a restriction on assault weapons, etcetera. But yet, and still, you have elected officials who are supposed to be representative of those -- of the electorate, opposing that movement.

I think in a lot of police agencies, not all, in a lot of police associations, and not all, there is that same dynamic. The rank and file, the main practitioners of street justice, and who have a clear understanding on the streets about the impact of violence, in particular gun violence, who are intimately familiar with the devastation caused by assault weapons, if you will, who have children in these very same schools. They are overwhelmingly opposed to loosening of gun restrictions.

And in fact, I think what have been on the record, the rank and file have been on the record indicating that there needs to be stricter gun laws. And part of that is selfish. They -- police officers come into direct contact with those individuals who wish to cause harm by use of these weapons.

HAYES: Yes, I mean, this is something that I`ve reported on quite a bit. And I wrote a book a few years ago, and there`s a chapter on it, I think I might even quote you in it. But it just seems like an obvious truth to start out with, that the more armed a populace is, the more difficult it will be for police. And the more likely in every direction, there will be bad violence.

CLAXTON: Yes, absolutely. And police officers, a realist about that. And like I said, part of that is selfish. It is much more difficult to maintain order and have some level of control when you`re not sure about who is carrying what firearm, what weapon around the streets. When you loosen up the gun laws is as has been done in particular, in Texas, it makes the job of the police officers that much more difficult. Because like it or not, you have to respond in particular way when there is a firearm in the equation. When there is a weapon in the equation, the police response is different.

So, you increase the likelihood for bad outcomes, for violent outcomes when you have a population that has a lot of possessing of weapons.

HAYES: Yes, and I think, you know, just in terms of what we`re seeing now, we don`t know the full story of police response in that building. But we do know is that there`s someone in that building with two very, very powerful weapons and a ton of ammunition. That creates a whole set of calculations about how one would apprehend him.

CLAXTON: Absolutely, there are 1000 tactical decisions going through the mind of a police officer responding to a scene such as that, and that`s why it`s always wise to get as much information as possible about what actually happened, the tick tock of what was going on, before casting blame or doubt in a position of the professionals assigned there.

You know, look at it this way, there was actually one of the children who were killed there was the daughter of a Uvalde County Sheriff. So, there is an understanding about the level of danger there. And there`s going to be continued conversation about the responsibility that law enforcement has in mitigating and minimizing death.

HAYES: Yes, I mean, there`s going to be a lot of conversation as we learn more. Marq Claxton, thank you very much.

CLAXTON: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Still ahead, while the community in Uvalde is left to pick up the pieces, some Texas Republicans are headed to Houston for a fun-filled weekend with the NRA, including Senator Ted Cruz.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to understand why you do not think that guns are the problem?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is this just an American problem?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is just an American problem, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr Cruz, why is America the only country that faces this kind mass shooting?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): You know what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you can answer that? You can answer that, can you, sir?




CHARLTON HESTON, FORMER PRESIDENT, NRA: We cannot, we must not let tragedy lay waste to the most rare and hard one human rights in history. A nation cannot gain safety by giving up freedom. We will not relinquish it or be silenced about it, or be told, do not come here, you are unwelcome in your own land. (END VIDEO CLIP)


HAYES: On the weekend of April 30, 1999, while the country was still grieving the loss of 12 kids and one teacher who were shot and killed at the Columbine High School ten days earlier, the National Rifle Association held its annual convention in Denver just a short drive from sight of the shooting. Despite thousands of protesters opposing the event, the gun rights organization struck a defiant tone.

23 years later, just days after another deadly school shooting, it`s happening again. The lobbying arm of the NRA is going ahead with its annual convention in Houston tomorrow in the same week a gunman murdered 19 elementary school students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas.

And note I said lobbying arm there, the main part of this event is being run by the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. So, it`s not, you know, local gun hobbyists or dealers coming to show off the collection. No, these are the lobbyists who have "Worked vigorously to pass pro-gun reform legislation at the state level." Like for instance, Texas laws which allow an 18-year-old just to go buy an assault weapon, or the ones which Republican Governor Greg Abbott says authorizes Texas to "defy any new federal gun control laws which he touted during the bill signing event last spring"


ABBOTT: We are pushing back against this narrative across America where people are saying from the federal level to the local level that second amendment rights are under assault, that government officials saying heck yes, government is coming to take your guns. Texas will not let that happen.


HAYES: As of right now, Governor Abbott scheduled to speak at the convention. It make sense, along with Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Senator Ted Cruz as, well as the ex-President Donald Trump. Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn and Congressman Dan Crenshaw were scheduled to attend but they`ve both now dropped out citing scheduling and travel issues.

A number of planned musical acts including American Pie singer Don McLean and country singers Larry Gatlin and Larry Stewart have also dropped out though unlike the lawmakers, the musicians say the shooting is why they won`t attend. Gun Safety protesters say they are planning to demonstrate near the convention this weekend. Leaders from the country`s two largest teachers` unions will be protesting as well.

Of course, any change at federal level, which is the most important change because guns move across states, has to come from Capitol Hill. Senate Democrats have been working to find any common ground with Republicans on gun safety bill. One of those Democrats joins me next.



HAYES: Just days after 21 of his constituents including 19 little children, elementary school children were murdered by an AR 15 wielding gunman, podcaster Ted Cruz, also Republican Senator of Texas will head to Houston to make an appearance to the organization which does a lot to make all this possible, the National Rifle Association.

Ted Cruz in is an A-plus rating from the NRA for his steadfast opposition to gun reform on the lobbyists behalf, his willingness to read from their talking points in even the most tragic circumstances. But of course talking about it`s only get you so far. When the British journalist Mark Stone of Sky News Press Cruz for real answers, Ted Cruz fled the scene.


CRUZ: There are 19 sets of parents who are never going to get to kiss their child good night again.

MARK STONE, REPORTER, SKY NEWS: Is this the moment to reform gun laws?

CRUZ: You know, it`s easy to go to politics.

STONE: But it`s important, it`s at the heart of the issue.

CRUZ: I get that that`s where the media likes to go.

STONE: But it`s not. It`s where many of the people we`ve talked to here like to go.

CRUZ: The proposals from Democrats in the media inevitably when some violent psychopath murders people.

STONE: A violent psychopath who`s able to get a weapon so easily, 18-year- old with to AR 15.

CRUZ: If you want to stop violent crime, the proposals the Democrats have, none of them would have stopped this?

STONE: Why does this only happen in your country? I really think that`s what many people around the world just they cannot fathom. Why only in America? Why is this American exceptionalism so awful?

CRUZ: You know, I`m sorry you think American exceptionalism is awful.

STONE: I guess aspect. I think this aspect of it.

CRUZ: You know what, you get your political agenda. God love you.

STONE: No, it`s honesty. Senator, it`s not. I just want to understand why you do not think that guns are the problem.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is this just an American problem.?

SNONE: Well, it is just an American problem, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Cruz, why is America the only country that faces this kind of mass shooting?

CRUZ: You know what?

STONE: You can`t answer that. You can`t answer that, can you, sir? You can`t answer that. Why is this country --

CRUZ: Why is it that people come from all over the world to America because it`s the freest, most prosperous, safest country on Earth.

STONE: It may be the freest, it may be the most --



HAYES: It`s not the safest on Earth. It just isn`t. I wish it were, but it`s not. People actually voted for that guy. That`s Ted Cruz. He`s one of 50 Republican senators who currently form, of course, the biggest roadblock to any meaningful or even not meaningful gun reform being passed to the Senate. He`s being rewarded for that position with a speaking slot at the NRA convention tomorrow.

Senator Tammy Duckworth is a Democrat from Illinois. She`s an Iraq war veteran, member of the Armed Services Committee, and she joins me now. Senator, just, first of all, what do you think about your colleagues going to address this convention on tomorrow?

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): Sickening, nauseating, but it`s true to form because they care more about checks from the NRA than they do about 19 massacred children, and all of the other children who`ve been massacred before today and the ones who will be massacred after today.

It`s only been 10 days since the shootings in New York. And we`re going to have another mass shooting here, I`m sure, in the next couple of weeks if the pattern remains. And so yes, I`m disgusted by it. But I`m not surprised because they continue to value checks from the NRA over the lives of little babies.


HAYES: Do you -- I mean, there`s some talk. Chris Murphy is talking and maybe McConnell is going to talk with someone. The Senate is in recess June 6th, so everyone is back in their district. I mean, there`s a kind of learned helplessness that everyone has about this at this point and you can`t really blame them. You`re one of 100 U.S. senators, how do you think about it? What are the prospects?

DUCKWORTH: Well, I`m calling for us to suspend the filibuster and pass sensible gun legislation at the 50 vote minimum, at the 50 vote threshold, 51 vote threshold. I mean, we have a bill that`s already passed the House that we could pass in the Senate. We can do anything if we put our mind to it.

And by the way, 95 percent of Americans support universal background checks, getting rid of the gun show loophole. You know, ever since the assault weapons ban was allowed to expire, the number of mass shootings and deaths from mass shootings has tripled in this country. So, there`s two things we can do right there is getting rid of assault weapons, reinstating the ban, and let`s do universal background checks. That`s a good start.

HAYES: Let me -- let me sketch out the gun -- the gun reform paradox as I understand it. So, America has a highest level of gun ownership in the world. It`s twice this next highest nation which is Yemen per capita. We`ve got more guns than people. We`ve got -- and guns are durable, right? They last for a long time. It`s just a ton of guns out there.

Meaningfully reducing gun violence in America would require some pretty significant changes to the policy landscape. But of course, that`s not possible. It might not even be very popular. There are things that would matter, background checks, the things like an HR8. But of course the people who oppose further legislation understand that is the nose under the camel`s tent, right? The camel`s nose under the tent. Like, they get that that`s the first opening salvo to try to get more and so they don`t want to do any of it. Like, how do you convince them otherwise?

DUCKWORTH: Well, they need to listen to their -- to their constituents. 95 percent of Americans, including hunters and outdoorsmen, and Republicans, and even MAGA Republicans, some of them support universal background checks. This is not about the camel`s nose under the tent, Chris. This is about politicians who care more about a check, a pay day, a payoff from gun manufacturers than they do dead babies. That`s the bottom line here.

Some of -- you know these, we`re talking about getting rid of the assault weapon, you know, restoring the band. We`re talking about getting rid of high-capacity magazines. If that shooter got into that room full of little babies and didn`t have to AR-15 but had, you know, a single handgun because he couldn`t get his hands on to assault weapons at the age of 18, then we wouldn`t have to high death rates if we do today.

There`s a lot that we can do right away. And frankly, my colleagues care more about a check in their account than they do about babies being killed while they`re supposed to be at school.

HAYES: How do you think about -- what is your relationship to guns? How do you think about guns?

DUCKWORTH: Well, I am a marksman. I actually have an expert marksmanship patch from the army and I grew up with guns. My dad was a world-class shooter and a judge at the world shooting championships. That`s where they belong. You know, they belong out on the range. They belong in war. I carried an M 16, later an M-4 in my time, my 23 years of service in the military.

I`ve seen what these weapons do to adult bodies, let alone little babies bodies. And you know, these colleagues of mine, at the drop of a hat, put a picture of a fetus on the floor of the Senate have blown up in giant poster size format. And yet they refuse to look at what a little body that has been destroyed by an AR-15 looks like. You know, it`s hypocrisy at best and I`m just disgusted by them.

Look, I -- there`s things that we can do that would get the hands -- get, you know, assault weapons out of the hands of people who would come and commit these mass shootings. Again, as I said, just the assault weapons ban alone was -- by allowing it to expire has allowed the mass -- the deaths for mass shootings to triple in this country. There`s stuff that we can do.

Chris, I spent the other night doom scrolling on my phone looking for ballistic proof backpacks from my 4 and my 7-year-old and looking for ballistic proof whiteboard markers that I could buy to donate to my kid`s classroom. And guess what? It was already bookmarked because it`s not the first time that I`ve looked it up. That`s wrong. We shouldn`t be in this situation.

HAYES: Senator Tammy Duckworth, thank you so much for making time tonight. I appreciate it.

DUCKWORTH: Thank you.

HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Thursday night "MSNBC PRIME" starts now with Ali Velshi live from Uvalde Texas. Good evening, Ali.