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Florida high school shooting. TRANSCRIPT: 2/14/2018. Hardball with Chris Matthews

Guests: Richard Blumenthal, James Cavanaugh, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Christine Hunschofsky, Bill Nelson, Amos Fernandez, Frank Figliuzzi, Ashley Cech, Matt Bennett, Anita Kumar, Clarence Page

Show: HARDBALL Date: February 14, 2018 Guest: Richard Blumenthal, James Cavanaugh, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Christine Hunschofsky, Bill Nelson, Amos Fernandez, Frank Figliuzzi, Ashley Cech, Matt Bennett, Anita Kumar, Clarence Page

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Thank you so much, Brian.

That, of course, is the question so much about American exceptionalism is wonderful. How different we are from the rest of the world is wonderful. The country of opportunity and true freedom. And in this part of the American exceptional story isn't so easy to sell to the rest of the world. We are the only country, Brian, that has Columbine and Texas surge, Virginia tech and, of course, Sandy Hook.

Well, good evening. I'm Chris Matthews in Washington.

We are following the latest on that horrific scene at a high school in Florida where 17 people were shot and killed. Broward County sheriff Scott Israel briefed reporters during the last hour. Let's listen to the sheriff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY SHERIFF: It's horrible. It's catastrophic. And the -- sad to say 17 people lost their lives. Nikolas, he spells name, N-I-K-O-L-A-S Cruz was the killer. He is in custody. We have already began to dissect his web sites and the things that social media he was on and some of the things that have come to mind are very, very disturbing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he have wounds, injuries.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What can you tell us about him? He may be a former student?

ISRAEL: He is 19 years old. He was born in 1998 in September. He was a former student of Douglas high school. He got expelled for disciplinary reasons. I don't know the specifics. I think he might have surfaced at Terra Vella high school. We are still trying to confirm that. And this morning when he woke up, whether he was a student or not I don't know. He had countless magazines, multiple magazines. And at this point, we believe he had one AR-15 rifle.

We have 17 confirmed victims, 12 victims within the building. Two of 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 VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS: Well, gunfire broke out this afternoon at Marjory Stoneman Douglas school in Parkland about 45 miles from Miami this afternoon sending students running into the streets as you see them. First responders swarmed the scene.

Amateur video showed students in the school hiding as gunshots could be heard nearby. We should warn our viewers this video is very dramatic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, adding to the confusion there, the fire alarm went off shortly before gunfire went out. And here's one eyewitness report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the fire alarm rang at 2:19, no one expected anything was going to happen. Like we all just like, oh, someone pulled the alarm like we were walking out of class casually. Like our teacher was like leave the stuff in the room. And like I, somehow I grabbed my backpack and thank God I did because I had all my stuff in it. And just like we just had no clue that like anything would be a shooting. And as soon as we starred seeing people running, we knew we have got go.

By him pull the fire alarm, that was like our escape. But for the kids in the freshman building, man, I prayed for every single kid that got hurt, any like their families, everything. I just hope everyone is OK. No one like anything serious. I like I just really hope everyone is OK. So I mean, I go to school with these kids every day. I would never want to see anyone get hurt.

I'm shocked. I don't know how long it's going to last. But I'm shock. I still can't believe this happened. I still can't believe I got out, you know. I'm just blessed that like I was able to get out. But like for everyone else, I just hope everyone else is going to be OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, the suspect was apprehended and taken into custody near the scene about three-quarts of a mile from the school.

For more I'm joined by Tammy Leitner who is on the ground in Parkland, Florida.

Tammy, I have been watching you. It looks like and (INAUDIBLE) school. It looks a great place to go to school with some diversity. Everybody is dressed in casual clothes. The weather looks perfect. And hell broke loose. Your reporting has been powerful.

TAMMY LEITNER, NBC NEWS REPORTER: Chris, yes, I can tell you this is a fantastic neighborhood from everybody I have spoken to. People love it here and people are heart broken and shocked. One thing tell you is we have seen parents showing up all afternoon. Parents like Amos Fernandez. And Amos tells me he has still not been reunited with his daughter. Is that correct?

AMOS FERNANDEZ, PARENT: Yes. Again, my daughter called me about like a quarter after 2:00 and she said something bad has happened at school. And of course, I got worried. I was working. So I told my boss I need to go. I came here. I'm still waiting for her. We haven't talked to her on the phone. (INAUDIBLE). But she says she is inside the school still. But they question her, all the students right now. And she is on the way to come back home.

LEITNER: So Amos, she is with police, we know that. And she is being interviewed by them but she is safe. That's correct.

FERNANDEZ: She is safe.

LEITNER: You have spoken with her and you know she is OK. Has she told you anything about what happened?

FERNANDEZ: No, she hasn't called me. She said daddy, there was a shooting in school and looks like something is very, very bad. And they was going away with a bunch of people. And then basically that's what she told me. And then when I came here, I found there was other people here and stuff. But I don't know how many or I don't what the situation is now. But I'm just waiting for her so we can go back home and my daughter is safe.

LEITNER: One last question for you. We now know there are 17 people that died in this school shooting.

FERNANDEZ: Oh, my God.

LEITNER: It's been hours. What is it like not being able to hug your daughter, not being able to see her?

FERNANDEZ: I tell you it's a terrible feeling. The worst feeling I have ever had in my entire life. The one of the reasons I moved to Coral Springs is to live (INAUDIBLE). My daughter, she was born in Connecticut. And one of the reasons I came to Coral Springs that's because of the school. We want a better school. And this is really, really good school. That's what everybody said so.

LEITNER: Very good neighborhood. Well, I hope, Amos, that very soon you will be reunited with your daughter. Thank you for speaking with us.

FERNANDEZ: I want to take my daughter safe to home. And you know, tell her that I love her very much.

LEITNER: Give her a hug. I understand. Thank you very much. Hopefully that will happen very soon.

FERNANDEZ: Thank you. I appreciate it.

LEITNER: Sure thing.

And Chris, as you can see, I mean, hours and hours and hours after this has happened, parents are still here. They are still hoping to hug their children and see them and, you know, squeeze them and it's very emotional time for a lot of parents out here. Chris?

MATTHEWS: Tammy, I noticed in the police procedure there, it may be a regimental reason to do it, but they had all the kids and the students there drop their packs. Now kids today, as we know, carry all their books in bags. They don't go to lockers anymore. They carry everything with them. And they had to separate their packs and leave them in a big pile there on the ground. What was that about? Do we know what that procedure was about?

LEITNER: Well, I can tell you what most likely it was about. I mean, they were going through, firs of all, we know that they wanted to make sure that the shooter was not there amongst the students. And we know also that this student came in -- the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, he came in with quite a few magazines. And so they were probably going through there to make sure that there were not any explosives or anything.

I can tell you that hours and after hours after the school has already been cleared, the bomb squad is going back through the school and clearing it yet again to make sure there's no explosives or anything left in the school.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you so much. NBC's Tammy Leitner.

Let's bring in NBC's Tom Costello, our colleague, with more on the gunman.

Tom, what do we know?

TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS REPORTER: 19-years-old, Nikolas Cruz is his name, as you have heard. He was viewed by many as somebody who was volatile, who had some preoccupation with guns and had posted that preoccupation online.

He was identified by the school last year as being somebody who might be a threat. And in fact was expelled from the school last year because he was viewed as a threat. But in many ways, he fits this demographic. He fits this M.O., if you will, of suspects we have seen time and time and time again involved in not only school shootings but mass shootings.

But in the case of school shootings, too often a white male, a boy, a teenage boy or a 20 something boy who is disenfranchised. The FBI profilers will tell you very often they are disenfranchised. They have been cut off for whatever reason from the other students. Maybe it's bullying, maybe it's social awkwardness, maybe it is a relationship that they wanted to pursue with some girl that didn't work out. And for whatever reason they turn to violence, they turn to dark violence and video games or on the internet. And that seems to be, yet again, what has played out here again today according to people who knew him and according to at least one teacher who said that he was a threat to other students last year.

Chris, I looked up, you know, God, I hate doing this because we do this and we report on these mass killings and we think this can't have happened again. But let me run through the numbers here. Las Vegas massacre, how easily we forget, 59 people killed there. The Orlando nightclub massacre, 49. Virginia Tech, 32. Newtown school shooting, that was 27. You remember the Southerland Springs church shooting last year in Texas in November, 25 died there. Columbine in Colorado, my hometown, 13 dead there. And that was 19 years ago.

This according to Bill Bratton the former NYPD commissioner is yet another example of how this country seems to have this sick preoccupation with guns. And it manifests itself into these really terrible mass shootings.

MATTHEWS: We have talked about criminal situations where all it takes is motive and opportunity. You know, when you to a courtroom, that's the questions that are asked. In this case, the opportunity -- you talked about the possible motive, disenfranchised, anger, a sense of being outside the in-crowd, whatever it is.

What about the opportunity, open carry state Florida. It is how hard is it to get an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon with multiple magazines, ammunition magazines? How hard is it for a person? Is it simply a retail operation, you go in with the cash, you buy it.

COSTELLO: Well, listen. A lot of states do I have open carry laws. And I can't speak specifically to Florida. And let me make very clear my comments about, you know, the preoccupation with guns. That's not my view necessarily. That is the view of many in law enforcement who say that in the wrong hands, in the hands of somebody who is unstable, it can become as we have seen time and time again a sick preoccupation.

Listen. I'm from Colorado. I have, you know, been around people who were hunting all, you know, my whole life. My own family hunting. But what's happened now in terms of these individuals who seem to turn to these mass killing machines and mowing down people in schools in, cafeterias, in churches, at rock concerts or country music concerts really has taken on a life of itself.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, NBC's Tom Costello for NBC News.

Joining us right now is Senator Bill Nelson of Florida.

Senator, you know, everyone says in these situations don't talk politics. There has been a horror. Talk about prayer and talk about thoughts. This is the only instance in which we do talk about guns. What is your reaction to the use of guns by this shooter? All these people dead. He had an AR- 15. He had multiple magazines. What do you make of that situation?

SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: I want to answer that specifically, but let me give you some new information. He wore a gas mask and smoke grenades. He set off the fire alarm so the kids would come out into the hallways. And thus, he had the opportunity with a crowded hallway to start picking off people.

And again, it illustrates the horror as Tom just outlined. You know, pulse nightclub was just a couple of years ago, 49, 59 in Las Vegas. When is this going to stop? So your question is the politics. It's not going to stop until the American people say enough is enough.

And when is that going to occur? Remember a year ago, two years ago, we tried something that was common sense. It was senator Feinstein's bill. And it was, if you are on the terrorist watch list, you can't buy a gun. And Chris, we couldn't get that passed. So I don't know what it's going to take for enough to be enough.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the timing of this. What is this about valentine's day, ash Wednesday? Have we got any word, I guess it's early to tell, why this day? Because one thing that commissioner Bratton, Bill Bratton, talked about is the one person who had this day organized was the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, the suspect. Everyone else was operating in confusion and surprise. But one person knew the ammo, how many magazines he was going to bring, what rifle he was going to have, when he was going to do it, how, as you said, set off the alarm to bring people out for his targets. He had it all planned. Why today? Do we know why this Wednesday at the beginning of lent?

NELSON: No, we don't. But if that ends up being a factor then it shows all the more how this is a sick guy. And, of course, when you approach these things mental health always plays in it. And that's something we are going to have to confront, as well.

MATTHEWS: Senior senator from Florida. Of course, Bill Nelson of Florida, thank you for coming on tonight.

Joining us right now is Christine Hunschofsky who is mayor of Parkland, Florida.

Mayor, tell us about your town and the attitude towards guns. Let's be honest, I don't want to push any harder than it's obviously in front of us again, the use you have guns by someone who knows how to use a semi- automatic, has access to the ammunition and has a motive.

MAYOR CHRISTINE HUNSCHOFSKY, PARKLAND, FLORIDA (on the phone): Right. Well, Chris, our city here is a very small city. We are a very tight knit community, very family oriented community. So this was quite a shock to all of us that this happened here today. But I think as we are seeing in the country, this is something these days that can happen anywhere.

MATTHEWS: Right.

Well, what do you think the reaction is to this now? Because here he is, shooting these people at random apparently. An angry student kicked out of the school apparently recently. But the pattern is, as the senator and others have been saying and Tom Costello, there's such a profound pattern now, angry student, not one of the in-crowd like in Columbine, gets together maybe by himself. Starts sending the word I'm going to get even with society because they haven't allowed me in. I have been treated as an joust cast. Well, I'm going to get even. We see this pattern in every case practically. And the only thing that can control this is who gets guns. Do people liking this get guns? That's all we can control. We can't control people having attitudes hike this. It seems to be impossible.

HUNSCHOFSKY: Well, I did not know the student. Several of the parents, when their students - when their children were coming out and telling them they were familiar with the student. And as far as what his motives where and why he did what he did, I don't have any information on that.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Let me ask you about, you know, looking at these pictures, Mayor, it looks lake like a wonderful place to go to school.

HUNSCHOFSKY: It is.

MATTHEWS: The kids are casual dressed. They look the way most kids would love to go to school in shorts and casual wear and they all seem to be bunching together. They all seem pretty happy on it. Just looking at the way they gather together here, comfortably. They all have backpacks. Every kid loves their big backpack these days. It just seems like great to go to school there.

HUNSCHOFSKY: Right.

Well, it is. It's a great school. It's a large school. There is over 3,000 students. The schools down here in Florida, I don't know if you're familiar with our system are run by the county. So it's a Broward County school. It's a great school.

I was just there this weekend. They were hosting a debate tournament and I was judging at the debate tournament this weekends. It's a very community oriented school, lots of clubs. All diverse types of clubs, all diverse types of activities. It is a great place to go to school.

MATTHEWS: Mayor, it's great to have you on with a terrible times. Thank you so much. And may God bless your town. You are getting through this.

Christine Hunschofsky of Parkland, Florida.

Joining us right now is Shawn Henry, former FBI assistant director MSNBC law enforcement analyst and Jim Cavanaugh, of course, former ATF special agent and NBC News law enforcement analyst.

Thank you Sean and Jim.

Let me ask you about this. The pattern is so strong here. Tell us both of you, Shawn first, about this pattern that Tom Costello talked about a few moments ago, the pattern of the shooter.

SHAWN HENRY, NBC NEWS LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, yes. Tom is talking about a young guy, teenager early 20s. Disenfranchised. Somebody who has access to weapons and certainly is motivated. And there's some triggering factors somewhere along the way.

I got to tell you those are the same types of characteristics we see in gang members. We see in people who become radicalized. It appears that anytime we have a violent incident, there's a same similar fact pattern, somebody who is shunned. They turn to a different order to try and be inspired. They are looking for a way to let out their aggression. And in this case, this is what we see here, this violent shooting where somebody walks into a school and shoots dozens of people.

I think the pure motivation in this particular incident, it's going to take a few days for that to come out. Law enforcement is going to be doing a lot of interviews, a lot of those kids that were in the school who may have known him are going to be interviewed. Certainly they are going to try to interview the suspect here in this case. And when we finally determine what the motivation was, we will be able to come to a better conclusion. But this is, Chris, far too many, far too often, far too much for our society.

MATTHEWS: But what about background checks? I don't want to sell any prescription because I don't know the right prescription. But if you had background checks, would that even screen out someone like that? Obviously, they went into a gun shop, they would look normal. They won't be sweating and look hyperactive. They would obviously be smart enough to come in in a calm manner. How would they give off these signs and signals we are talking about?

Henry: There are multiple ways to obtain weapons. There are legal ways and there are illegal ways. I think we heard senator Nelson talk about recently legislation that did not get passed that suggested that you wouldn't be able to buy a firearm if you were on the terrorist watch list.

So really, the vetting process, it depends on what the criteria are. What are you putting in to insure that those that are authorized to legally carry weapons have access to them and those that pose a risk to the broader society are weeded out. And that's a long question. It's going to be society, the community being involved, healthcare officials, law enforcement agencies, academia. I think there's a lot that needs to go in to make those determination and to actually enforce them, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Jim, if you look at the variety of people in their lives in this country, some people do not have happy lives.

It's all kinds of reasons. They don't get along with their parents. Their parents are not good parents. All kinds of bad things can happen, Jim. And you grow up in a society, you don't really fit in with other people. That's always going to happen.

There's always going to be a certain percentage of kids who are not on in the crowd. They feel isolated. They feel like they go to the party and everybody else is friends and they're not. I know the feeling. I know how people feel about these.

So, you can't weed them out. And if you have guns available, there's going to be, fairly predictably, incidents like Columbine, Sandy Hook and the rest and now Parkland. What makes anybody think this isn't going to stop?

JAMES CAVANAUGH, FORMER ATF SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Right.

Well, it's not going to stop unless we, as the voters, want to change it for many reasons, not only gun safety laws, but many other reasons, mental health restraining orders, maybe mass violence prevention restraining orders, as I suggest.

But, Chris, I call it the tragedy triangle. This is my own view of it, after just dealing with it all my life. And there's some kind of a mental episode that concerns someone. Then there's firearms. And then there's some kind of a threat or interaction with the police.

I call it the tragedy triangle. We see that. This guy's walking around. It's like he's got a suction cup with a revolving warning light on his head. He's telling students he might shoot up the school.

And we just -- a witness -- on Brian's hour just before, a witness said the bodies were all over the third floor. And this guy penetrated up to the third floor. The sheriff said had he countless and multiple magazines. So we got a guy with countless, multiple magazines, he's penetrated up to the third floor. He's killing at will.

And he was known to be a person to pay attention to. This is our own societal failure that we're not doing something, electing the people who will do something. And, you know, the argument that gun safety laws don't work has -- it's jumped shark week. It's gone.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

CAVANAUGH: Look at these mass killings. That argument is gone. We need to have reasonable laws, not take away anybody's rights. Everybody has got to work together, or we are making the Second Amendment a suicide pact for all of us, our children, the mall, the school, the college.

This is crazy. And we can do better. And, you know, we're going to see. And you're a political expert. We're going to see. I guarantee we're going to see nothing. So, you're not going to see anything.

MATTHEWS: Well, that's what I think.

And the reason is -- and I want to get back to you. You seem like you have thought about this a lot as an expert. And I ask you. This is the problem that I think we face. We love the American character, the cowboy in us. All of us love the cowboy, even if you live in a city.

We love to drive our cars out on the open road. We love being able to live in our own house, if we're lucky enough to have our own house. We love that independence, that sense of the cowboy spirit. And the one downside of that is guns, and not rifles or pistols, semiautomatic weapons, capable of killing people by the dozens.

That's what's new and unique to us today in the 21st century.

I will go back to Shawn.

It's the motive of somebody who is obviously a bit deranged in most cases. We don't know particularly in this case, who obviously has a point of view and an angry desire for revenge against society, and this ability to shoot people by the dozens. That's the new fact.

And can we keep those kinds of weapons capable of automatic or semiautomatic, bang, bang, bang, bang kind of shooting out of the hands of people like this? And I'm wondering if we can ever solve this. Jim thinks we can. Can we?

Or, no, I don't think he did say we can. I think he said we can't.

What do you think?

HENRY: No, I think that it's going to take a lot of will by a lot of people.

When you go back -- and Tom Costello did this earlier -- and recounted going back to Columbine, over 20 years, all of the mass shootings that we have seen, think about that. We are 20 years past Columbine, and we're still -- I heard elected officials say today, we need to do something about this.

If elected officials get on national television and say, we need to do something about this, they're the ones who can start that debate. If 20 years after Columbine, we're still saying, we need to do something, then maybe Jim is right. Maybe this goes on indefinitely.

MATTHEWS: Well, there's only a few states where people seem to be gung-ho about gun control. And we will be talking with a senator from that state in a moment.

Shawn Henry, thank you, sir.

And, thank you, Jim Cavanaugh, as always. I wish it wasn't always for this.

We have just got a tweet from Broward County superintendent of schools, Robert Runcie -- quote -- "Today, we're experiencing the worst of humanity, as an unspeakable tragedy has hit our Broward Schools family at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. There has been a shooting on campus with injuries and fatalities. We are working with law enforcement as we pray for our babies and families, 17 dead."

Let's bring in Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

Senator, you're one of the people that represents a state that is serious about gun control. But we have 50 states. And as Senator Bill Nelson said -- well, he said the country has to change.

And my question is, the country's been ahead of the politicians in every poll we look at. It's about the passion of the gun people, the Second Amendment people, that scares the heck out of the politicians from many of the states to do anything.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: And the key is, Chris, to make sure the majority of the American people are reflected in what happens here in Congress.

Connecticut has among the strongest gun violence prevention laws in the country, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, strict background checks, and other steps.

But we are really at the mercy of other states with weaker gun control laws, because weapons will come across state boundaries. The state lines are porous. And there is a pattern. You're absolutely right, young, alienated, isolated males using automatic weapons to shoot in schools and churches.

But we may be the country with the highest death rate from gun violence, but we have no higher rates of mental illness. We need to address mental illness, for sure. But, still, there are laws that work, and Connecticut has shown it, because our death and casualty rate from gun violence has come down.

MATTHEWS: What happened after Sandy Hook?

Was there a determination by people who were on the border or on the fence regarding gun control? Was there a heightened concern about guns, or did it fade with the news? I'm afraid these stories fade with the news and people go, yes, I really care and then tomorrow I care about Russia influencing our elections, or I worry about the economy, whereas the gun people never change their focus ever, the Second Amendment people.

And, therefore, they really run the show.

BLUMENTHAL: The NRA and the gun lobby try to mobilize single-issue voters, with great effect. But Sandy Hook really transformed Connecticut.

And, in fact, these images particularly the aerial pictures, bring back so many gut-wrenching and heartbreaking memories of Sandy Hook, when our stomachs were in our throats with grief and shock. Images of students fleeing the scene of this violence, parents searching for children.

Indeed, Connecticut was affected by Sandy Hook. And we are approaching, I hope, the tipping point, when our nation will be affected and Congress will be mobilized by these same kinds of images, and the fact that 90 people every day perish from gun violence.

It isn't just the mass shootings. This one is the 18th school shooting just this year. But, also, the day-by-day deaths that are preventable and we have an obligation to prevent, Congress has been complicity. Congress bears responsibility.

MATTHEWS: Well, what does it happen when you speak to someone, even those on your side of the aisle, the Democratic side from rural states, and you bring this up with them?

Do they say, you know, Dick, there's nothing we can do it about it, or you ought to see the crazies in my state if I even bring up gun control?

And they will say about Matthews, why are you talking about it?

When the hell are you supposed to talk about it? The only time you can talk about gun violence is when have you it in your face. And the minute it fades two or three days, they say, why you still talking about that?

Nobody wants to talk about gun violence in America at any time, especially when it's hot.

Let me ask you, do your fellow senators really believe in free fire zones, in terms of everybody having a gun, open carry, the Wild West? Do they really believe that's the way to have a society in the 21st century? Do they say that to you in the back room?

BLUMENTHAL: Nobody is in favor of gun violence.

What's needed is the political backbone to stand up to the gun lobby. And there are some hopeful signs. I have introduced with a number of my Republican colleagues and Democrats a modest, exceedingly modest measure to improve the background check system that we have right now.

Of course, we need to extend it to all gun sales. But at least the reporting of criminal convictions and restraining orders and other incidents that should be reported to the background check can be improved.

We're going to be working to make that happen and trying to take advantage of these breaks in the wall that we see that the gun lobby has erected against gun violence, commonsense measures against gun violence that we can enact.

MATTHEWS: What do you think of your colleagues and others in the media, for example, who, when they hear about these situations, they watch what we're watching right now, 17 killed by basically an amateur with a semiautomatic weapon with multiple magazines, ammunition magazines, doing it because he's upset or whatever, emotionally disturbed probably, and then they say, our prayers and thoughts are with the families, having done nothing?

What do you think of that kind of person?

BLUMENTHAL: Prayers and thoughts are appropriate. Ours go out to the community in Florida, Parkland, that has suffered this incredibly tragic horror, but prayers and thoughts are not enough. We need action.

And my colleagues who will blame it all on the mental illness involved, I think, are shirking that responsibility. And the Second Amendment, I'm a law enforcer. I believe in the Constitution. But no right is absolute.

And commonsense measures, consistent with the Second Amendment, are absolutely acceptable under our laws. And I think these excuses for failing to move forward are really reprehensible. It makes Congress complicit in these deaths.

MATTHEWS: You're going back to the floor tomorrow. You're a United States senator, and a great one. I want to ask you this. Do you expect any action on gun control?

BLUMENTHAL: Not tomorrow, because we're going to be dealing with the need to protect the dreamers against mass draconian deportation.

But I am going to be pushing this issue. I already have spoken on the floor, in fact, just a couple of hours ago, about this tragedy. And my hope is that we can break through this complicity and the kind of unconscionable inaction that we have seen from Congress, because we need people of moral strength who will stand up to the gun lobby and say, enough is enough.

MATTHEWS: Thank you so much, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

We now continue to monitor the situation down in Parkland, Florida, 17 people confirmed dead. There may be more by tonight. And, as we mentioned earlier, the suspect remains in custody.

We're joined right now by Brandon Odoi, who is an NBC producer, for the latest on the ground down there.

Brandon, tell us what we know, what you know that we don't know yet.

BRANDON ODOI, NBC NEWS PRODUCER: Well, the harrowing stories of those who survived this, Chris, are just continuing to pour out.

A young man that I know personally I spoke to his father this evening. And he's at home really just recuperating. But he's dealing with the shock of having pulled his teacher, his instructor, back into the classroom, then holding the door closed, and another young man was trying to get in, he was beating down the door, but, unfortunately, he couldn't open the door for the safety of those inside.

And that young man, unfortunately, was shot at. There's no confirmed on his status. But it's one of those situations where he's just traumatized right now. And these are the sorts of stories that are coming out here, as families are reuniting with their children, and everybody's just trying to wrap their minds around what happened in this affluent neighborhood in South Florida.

MATTHEWS: And, Brandon, what we have been able to piece together so far, that the shooter got up to the third floor and was just mowing down people who had come out to respond to the fire alarm.

ODOI: Yes, it was near that end of the time.

And you have the freshman building. And the young man whose father I spoke to, the thing that was so touching about what he was telling me in his account is how many bodies that his son had to go over on the way out of the building.

So, this was one of the largest high schools in this area. And it's one of those situations where it's just truly unfortunate and tragic. And just what struck me, as the parents were picking up their children earlier today as they were being released finally from lockdown even at the middle school next door was kids coming out with flowers and roses.

And you kind of almost forget that this was Valentine's Day.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

ODOI: This was a day of love and celebration. For this horrific event to happen is just not what everybody was expecting.

MATTHEWS: Brandon, thank you so much.

Let's go to Tammy Leitner, who is talking to students who were at the school.

Tammy, tell us -- well, introduce us to those students.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It should be self-explanatory.

TAMMY LEITNER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: And do you know, were any of your fellow students shot?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We really can't confirm if they were. But we have one friend that we haven't heard from. And we are praying. We are definitely praying for the best and hoping for the best at this point. Just he's with us in our prayers all the time.

LEITNER: I'm so sorry, guys.

I don't think we have any other questions at this point. I'm asking my producers to see if they have anything.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you, Tammy Leitner, anyway, NBC's Tammy Leitner with the students there.

Let's bring in Frank Figliuzzi, who is former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI. He's also an MSNBC national security analyst.

Thank you, Frank, so much for coming in.

I don't know what to say, except that this is happening again and again, uniquely in this country. The pattern is a motive, someone who is very much alienated, obviously angry at society. But we have all felt that.

High school is tough. People go through this in many different ways, you know? And with the availability of semiautomatic weapons and multiple ammunition, multiple-ammunition magazines, it's fairly easy to put it together. And one person did today.

Frank?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Chris, I want to talk to everybody out there who is wondering what they can do.

We have certainly got into the gun control issue. And people need to work that out. That rests largely with Congress.

But I want to talk to folks who say, I want something to do now. And that is, it's time to start equipping our teenagers, our loved ones with the skill sets to recognize the warning signs and indicators.

So, if you have got a teenager at home who is exhibiting the following behaviors, the corporations teach these behaviors to their employees to prevent workplace violence. But it's time for parents and schools to do it.

So, look, if you have got a teenager who is brooding and obsessing incessantly about a single issue, and can't move off of it, and then you combine that with odd, obsessive or even scary drawings and writings and Internet search histories about violence, talking about hurting himself or others, using the language of despondency, helplessness, I can't take it anymore, there's no way out for me, you have got to step up.

Teach your kids to watch those signs in their friends and in their loved ones, then step up and do something about it, because there's a myth out there that people just snap. But history and research of all these citizens show us that's not true.

There are warning signs and indicators. We need, unfortunately, to start equipping our kids with that and teaching those warning signs and indicators in our schools.

MATTHEWS: Well, the situation here, he is stockpiling ammunition. He's got a semiautomatic rifle. Those are pretty stark warning signs. I don't think it takes advice to parents to know that's a problem, is it? Shouldn't they already know that?

FIGLIUZZI: So, well, here -- well, so, there will be an investigation as to how he accessed this weapon, how he was allowed to get all those magazines and the ammunition, and obviously someone is going to be held accountable for that.

But we're hearing, Chris, that this school expelled this student, former student, for disciplinary reasons. So, do schools wash their hands at that point? Do they alert other nearby schools? Because we heard the sheriff say it's possible, not confirmed yet, that the student had moved on to yet another school.

Do they share information, as they would on teachers who abuse kids? We need to look at that system of washing your hands of a student and letting them go as well.

MATTHEWS: What are the civil liberties restrictions on that? I think what you say makes perfect sense. But at some point, can you -- are you allowed to surveil people like that who are troubled? There's a lot of troubled kids out there.

A lot of kids don't fit in. And they reach the point of getting guns. I think that is the point, the breaking point. But you say you can look for signs prior to that.

FIGLIUZZI: Yes, there's no question it's proven that people aren't just snapping.

If you study -- and, believe me, the Secret Service and the FBI have studied every one of these mass shooting incidents, and there are always similar warning signs and indicators, right down to the sites they search on the Internet and the music that's listened to. And we need to teach that to our educators, our counselors and step up on that.

With regard to warning other schools in the area, look, they do it for pedophile teachers. They do it. There's now a system in place for pedophile priests. We need to understand, when someone has mental health issues and poses a danger to others, there needs to be a database, at least in that school district, that cautions the surrounding schools.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I think you're going to start something with that. It's very smart.

Thank you, Frank Figliuzzi. And stay with us tonight.

Let's bring in U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who represents a neighboring congressional district.

Congresswoman, thank you. I'm a big fan of yours. I'm glad you're on tonight, but not for this reason, obviously.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Right. Me either, Chris. Thank you.

MATTHEWS: What's your reaction?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, Chris, you have met my youngest daughter. She's a ninth-grader at a Broward County high school.

We live just to the south of Parkland. And Stoneman Douglas is a high school where -- it's a rival of our high school. I have been there so many times. I have friends whose children go to school there. And this is just -- I mean, I'm actually nauseous even talking about this.

It's hard for us in Broward County to wrap our minds around the fact that this happened in our community. There's countless communities it happens in. And so, tonight, I'm really just -- I'm a mom tonight.

I'm, you know, someone who lives and works and spends time with the people who have lived through this. And it's just absolutely heartbreaking. I have spoken to our superintendent, to our sheriff. My best friend is a countywide school board member and is my youngest daughter's godmother.

I mean, this is -- this really -- this hits home hard. It really does.

MATTHEWS: Well, what is your feeling as a political figure? A leader in fact about gun control on this point? Because if we were having a situation today where a kid, an 18 or 19-year-old in this case, Nikolas Cruz, the alleged assailant here, had thrown dynamite sticks into the windows of a school would say keep dynamite sticks away from kids against people that shouldn't have them. But when it comes to guns, it's their sacred right to have a gun stopping us from doing anything about this.

And you know we're going to go through this again in a couple months. There will be some other school will act shocked, which we will. We'll talk about prayer which we should. But in the end, we'll know why it happened. It's possible in there country, in fact, plausible it will happen fairly regularly.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, you're damn right, Chris. And it's absolutely not too soon to yet again say that something has to be done about access to guns in this country. But just as important, something has to be done about making sure that people who have mental health challenges get the help that they need.

I mean, this was a young man from the conversations I've had with folks at home today who you know, there are always those kids at schools who other kids say, you know, if someone's going to come and shoot up the school, had has the kid that would do it. That's what people said about this young man and -- I mean, there are lots of PSAs out there now that say if you see something, say something. You should reach out if you have a concern about someone, we need to make sure we can get resources to young people and then make sure that they can get the help they need.

But we have to address the inability for us to once and for all get guns and keep them from the hands of people who shouldn't have them.

MATTHEWS: Well, hang on there, Congresswoman, because we got Frank Figliuzzi here who knows, who has just brought up that very issue. Let's have colloquy between the two of you.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: OK.

MATTHEWS: Frank, talk to the congresswoman about what you think should be done in terms of national policy to alert people, to people with real emotional problems that look to be dangerous, potentially murderous and what we can do about spotting them and helping them before they hurt people? Frank?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: I think there's two -- yes, Chris, I think there's two actions here. One is the sad state we find ourselves in where we have to begin as part of a curriculum in school teaching teachers, counselors and students to recognize the warning signs and indicators of potential violence amongst their peers, amongst their classmates.

The second thing we need to do is ensure that schools don't expel a student for serious violent tendencies and then just wash their hands of it. So, rather a database within a school district be created so there is a caution, a flag that allows the student not to be passed on to yet another school.

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, your reaction to that as public policy?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Sure, on the first point, I could not agree with you more. We do need to make sure that just like our school district in Broward County has active shooter training and make sure that kids and teachers know what to do in the event of an active shooter, we need to make sure that teachers and kids in school know the warning signs, know what to look for and see something, say something program so that we can get kids help and keep people from being in harm's way.

But let me just make sure on second point that I caution here that, you know, we don't know what the reason was that this young man was expelled and we also don't know, there are alternative schools that we have in Broward County for troubled youth and we're not 100 percent sure what school this young man was attending. But, you know, so before we prejudge what happened in this case, we shouldn't jump to conclusion but we definitely, you're right, need to make sure that we have -- we don't want to just throw kids like this in the trash and say and wipe our hands of them.

We need to get them into programs that can get them the help they need and get them back on track. We are so woefully inadequate in this country and have pitiful funding that unfortunately keeps getting cut after cut after cut. It's unacceptable.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of nearby congressional district, and Frank Figliuzzi for that wonderful thinking. I hope we keep this conversation going.

We're joined right now by Ashley Cech, whose mother Yvonne survived the mass shooting at Sandy Hook in 2012. Ashley is with a group called Everytown for Gun Safety.

Ashley, thank you for joining us.

Arthur Schlesinger, the great historian, once said that politics is essentially a learning profession. Are we learning? Are we getting any better at this or are we constantly shocked by these mass shootings?

I can remember going back to the University of Texas shooting from the Texas Tower when I first heard of a school shooter. Your thoughts?

ASHLEY CECH, EVERY TOWN FOR GUN SAFETY: Yes, what I can say is the American people are fed up. And whether or not the elected officials are representing those feelings of the American people is still to be determined. We have some incredible gun sense champions. You had Senator Blumenthal on earlier who has been a champion for gun sense measures for quite some time.

What I can say is, you know, people ask me all the time, why was nothing -- why was Sandy Hook not the tipping point? Why was nothing done. I would say that there have been so many things done. You just have to be looking in the right places.

And we've seen the founding of incredible organizations like the one I'm working with Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. These are organizations that have volunteers all over the country who are storming their state houses and taking their voices to make sure that elected officials are hearing them. And so I would say that American people are absolutely fed up and we're starting now to hold our elected officials accountable for that.

MATTHEWS: What stops the process of this horror once a person has a mental or emotional attitude or just a point of view and wants to be vengeful on his fellow students or former fellow students and wants to get a gun and has the gun, once that's happened, once somebody has stockpiled his ammo and has his semi-automatic rifle and has reasonable ability with that gun, they walk into a school and at what point can that process be stopped?

That's what I want to know? How do you stop this from happening again and again, what we're watching?

CECH: Well, what I can say is that in the case of Sandy Hook School, we know that a background check wouldn't have necessarily stopped that shooting. That doesn't mean we don't keep fighting for things like that. And what we know to be true is that when you advocate for common sense gun soft legislation that has been proven to save lives, those things work. And we know that to be true.

So, just as we -- just as having seat belts in cars doesn't prevent every single death in an automobile accident, you know, we have to continue advocating for laws that we know are proven to work. And background checks are one of those things.

And people ask me about that with Sandy Hook all the time. All I can say is that even if it hadn't made a difference at Sandy Hook, I know it will make a difference someplace else. So, we need to do everything we canning to prevent this from happening. That looks different in different places.

MATTHEWS: Back in the 1930s, the country before we had the NRA like we did today, we got rid of automatic weapons. No more Tommy guns. We saw the criminals use them in Chicago and places like that, all the bad guys, they had Tommy guns. We said outlaw them and they did. It's done. You're not supposed to have a Tommy gun now, right? An automatic weapon.

Why can't we go further to semi-automatic weapons because they can made into automatic weapons rather easily?

CECH: Well, I'll just say what I said again. We know that we work our organization Everytown for Gun Safety works on priorities that we know are proven to reduce gun violence and save lives in the most effective way possible. And what we know that is the most effective way to do that is to have background checks on every gun sale in the country which is not the law federally.

So, that is what our organization is working for is for measures that we know are going to make a difference.

MATTHEWS: Yes, people like the president say, and he has a right to say it, if you had a person in a school with a gun or a teacher with a gun, or somebody in a theater with a gun, they could stop the bad guys. But that person with the gun you have to know is of sound mind and has some ability to use that gun and they don't want to have that check. They don't want to have that person checked out.

So, there's no reasonable assumption that the other person with the gun is going to be any better than the first person with the gun.

Ashley Cech, thank you so much. Your group is called Everytown for Gun Safety.

CECH: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Earlier today, NBC's Tammy Leitner talked to students who are at school when the shots rang out. We have some of the videotape right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAMMY LEITNER, NBC REPORTER: Tell me what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know, the fire alarm was pulled. It was like suspicion because we already had a fire drill that day. We did what we usually do. We went outside, just went to the designated area.

And while we were doing that, we heard pop, pop. There's gunshots. And everybody was like no it was just firecrackers. I was like no, those are gunshots.

Immediately I changed my whole mood and started running. I met up with my friend Hector. We're like brothers, gun shots, we've got go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a sound that will replay in my head, it's the shots, that you're not supposed to normally hear and throughout a school day obviously. At that point, you knew it was a serious time. There wasn't time to joke around or play. It was time to get out of there and get your friends out, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That's NBC's Tammy Leitner. Of course, in this case with a couple of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School today during the shooting.

Tonight, I'm joined with a long list of tragic school shootings. Of course, it's added up to this, think of this -- Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, as well as a community college in Roseburg, Oregon.

For more, I'm joined by Matt Bennett, senior vice president and co-founder of Third Way. He's also the founder and director of Americans for Gun Safety. Anita Kumar, White House correspondent for "McClatchy", and Clarence Page, my columnist friend for "The Chicago Tribune".

Everyone, what do you think? I think the first question you expect any legislation to result from this?

MATT BENNETT, GUN POLICY ADVISOR, SANDY HOOK PROMISE: Probably not. I work very closely with the Sandy Hook Promise families right Sandy Hook, a month after the tragedy when they came down here. What I told them now and the case today, the likelihood is that Congress won't do anything. There's been two moments in all of history where Congress has really taken action against guns. One was 196 after the assassinations of King and Kennedy, the other in 1992. That was the Brady Act and the crime bill.

MATTHEWS: That's the only time I ever wrote a congressman, after Bobby was shot. I just was angry. Johnny Carson who was not very political went on television that night and he said, you got to write your congressman. It was so powerful because the guy who was never political. When the nonpolitical people get involved, maybe something will happen.

BENNETT: Exactly and the thing about both cases is '68 and '92, as you know, is the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. That's the only time we've ever had action. Right now, they control nothing. Republicans seem to be in the pocket of the NRA. So, it's not likely anything is going to come from this.

ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY: And I think Matt is being optimistic by saying probably. No way. I'm going to bring you closer to the last year. It was the shooting was in Las Vegas was in October. And everybody, Republicans, Democrats, the speaker said, we will do something about bump stocks. Remember that?

MATTHEWS: Sure.

KUMAR: It hasn't happened.

MATTHEWS: Made semi-automatics into automatics.

KUMAR: Nothing's happened. ATF was supposed to examine things and I think two months later, they said, oh, we're starting our investigation.

Let's remember last year that one of their own, a lawmaker, a member of the House was shot. I mean, members were shout.

MATTHEWS: At a baseball game, practice game.

KUMAR: Right, and nothing's happened. If it didn't happen in this last year, if it didn't happen this last year, if it didn't happen after Sandy Hook, there's just no way.

MATTHEWS: Clarence, there's sort of a conspiracy of stupidity on this. If you bring the issue up tonight as I've been doing it, and Brian eventually slightly. People say, why are they bringing it up? They're exploiting the situation. When are you supposed to bring it up? It's the craziest thing in the world. You can never ever bring it up in other words.

CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE: That's part of the ritual. After the tragedy, people say don't talk about it now.

MATTHEWS: Don't politicize.

PAGE: Don't politicize it. This is not the time, blah, blah, blah.

Let's get serious. It was demoralizing for everybody after Sandy Hook, as tragic as that was, nothing happened. That just took the air out of the movement for good sense as far as I'm concerned.

MATTHEWS: How about Reagan? Reagan being shot by a mentally deranged guy. Everybody knew his condition. He was doing it to impress a movie star. He was totally loony behavior and the conservatives who loved Reagan, a lot of people loved Reagan, did nothing.

PAGE: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Even Reagan didn't do anything.

PAGE: We can do anecdotes for days. Reagan did a lot about gun safety in California when the Black Panthers walked into the state legislature.

MATTHEWS: That was a social issue then.

PAGE: There are times when Americans do come together around common sense. The fact is, right now, most Americans say we ought you to have background checks.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

PAGE: So why don't we have any? Because we are so divided right, left, whatever. This is where.

MATTHEWS: What is the argument against background checks? The person who is a criminal. Bobby Kennedy once said you could order on death row, you could order a gun and least get to the prison. They won't let you have it.

PAGE: You could.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

BENNETT: There is absolutely no intellectual honest argument against background checks. They take less than two minutes. Most of them are 90 seconds.

MATTHEWS: Would it catch an angry kid?

BENNETT: It's not clear. We don't know anything about his background. If he had any misdemeanor, domestic violence thing, if there was any of restraining order it, it might.

MATTHEWS: They don't sound like they pick them up pretty quickly. The police can do something if you've done something wrong. We obviously respect civil liberties. If a person's angry, you don't put them in jail for being angry.

They can say everybody hates me in the lunchroom. Nobody invites me to parties. That's not a criminal situation. How do you know? I mean, Frank Figliuzzi knows this stuff. He said there's a point where you break before the final act. How do you stop the person at that the point?

PAGE: Chris, kids know. You and I both raised kids. They know what's going on. At Columbine, at Sandy Hook. Those kids knew that these boys were troubled.

MATTHEWS: But there's a lot of people like that that don't go out and shoot people.

PAGE: That's right. That's why we need a more sophisticated way of being able to intervene in the lives of these youngsters before they turn violent.

MATTHEWS: Suppose there's a kid on social media, I want to get those kids who won't let me sit at their table or whatever the hell is. You don't know what high school is. It can be rough. And so, they're angry. What are you going to do with them?

BENNETT: One really important thing. Sandy Hook Promise is the group that came out of the Sandy Hook tragedy, one of them, does incredible works in schools to do exactly what you were talking to Congresswoman Wassermann Schultz about. Teaching kids to learn the science about when their friends are going off the rails. That's the first most important thing.

The second thing is, we've got to make sure background checks are universal. It's insane they're not.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let's bring Frank in.

Frank, you're the expert. How do you know the point of danger?

FIGLIUZZI: From aspirational fantasy to acting out and you're getting more and more specific about your targets and how you do it, methods and means. But at this point, it's being well made. Even if your teenager is blocking you from their Twitter account, blocking you from their Facebook account, their friends are in it. They know it.

If we equip kids with the warning signs and indicators and star peer counseling groups to notify those counselors when they see it amongst their friends, it will work.

MATTHEWS: So, modern social media could help us, Frank?

FIGLIUZZI: It's the biggest warning sign and its indicator you'll have. I guarantee you when they go into this student's home and pull his computer, and do forensics, their hair is going to get curled. It's not going to be pretty and it's going to be very similar to what we've seen in past incidents.

MATTHEWS: So, clinically, the fact that a person is so angry they have to express it somehow socially. They don't keep it to themselves.

FIGLIUZZI: Yes, it's not contained particularly in a teenager. There's extra warning signs and indicators because of the emotional nature of just being a teenager. So, it's there. We need to key in on where we find it and get people equipped to locate it, identify it and stand up and say something about it.

MATTHEWS: Because of I think our shared pessimism about gun control, we'd better attack it from this end, at least the start. What do you say?

BENNETT: Yes, that's exactly what the families of Sandy Hook did. Remember after that happened, it wasn't like nothing happened. We got Senator Manchin, Democrat with an NRA rating of A plus and Senator Toomey.

MATTHEWS: From West Virginia.

BENNETT: Senator Toomey from Pennsylvania, a rock ribbed conservative Republican, also with an A-rating from the NRA, came together around universal background check bill.

MATTHEWS: Did they get it done?

BENNETT: They got it onto the floor of the Senate which everybody said was a big victory, but no, we couldn't get it done. It's ridiculous.

MATTHEWS: What stopped it, the 60 votes?

BENNETT: Yes, we lost with 54 votes. That's what happens in the Senate. You lose with 54.

KUMAR: Right, and look what's happening this year, they're dealing with another big issue, which is immigration. I just don't think they have the momentum to do something else.

MATTHEWS: Well, I'm going to get back to this, Frank.

The problem is -- Clarence, with this, my fellow political guy, I got to tell you, most progressives have a lot of things on their mind. They worry about war in the Middle East, they worry about peace in the Middle East, they worry about everything in Europe, they worry about Brexit, they worry about Russia, they worry about health care. They worry about old age.

Gun people focus on gun rights. And remember, you can't shake them from that.

PAGE: But who are the gun people, who are the anti-gun people? We're talking largely urban versus rural here.

MATTHEWS: Right, but urban people have a lot of things on their mind. Rural people have guns.

PAGE: Doesn't mean either is worse than the other. They're two different worlds. We're one country still. We've got to talk about, how do we pull people together on what they agree on like background checks? There's a lot of agreement on both sides. But --

MATTHEWS: Slippery slope. They don't -- you know they don't want background checks. Next thing they'll round up all the guns.

PAGE: We can't let that stop us. When I say us, I mean, those of us who do want background checks, because we get demoralized, and then there's no progress at all. What happens if Democrats did get the majority of Congress and the White House?

Would they be ready to push for some sensible new gun laws? Would they be ready? I don't know. They've got the ideas. We've been so busy talking about, hey, those issues haven't got a chance.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, let me ask, Frank, if somebody walked into a gun store and seemed sweaty or worried or looked a little nutty, would they be denied a gun? Is that really practical? Does it work in practice?

FIGLIUZZI: Look, most responsible seasoned gun shop owners understand some of these warning signs. Indicators we've been talking about, they've been visited by their local police, their FBI, their ATF, they have that relationship and the responsible gun owner will actually call a time-out even perhaps feign some delay with the background check, the automated check and try to get help. That's what they should do.

But, you know, we're a society baby steps, Chris. And I think what many people can agree on is enforcing the laws we have in place now. If President Trump claims to be a law and order president, let's staff up the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms with resources it needs to enforce existing laws. That would be a huge step and one that very few people could disagree with.

MATTHEWS: I want to Matt Bennett and Anita Kumar and my Clarence Page. What a group.

Again, the news tonight, here it is: 17 people are dead after a shooter at a high school in Broward County, Florida, Parkland, Florida.

Our coverage shooting of this shooting continues now with Chris Hayes -- Chris.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END