Nineteen students and two teachers are killed in Uvalde, Texas elementary school shooting. The Robb Elementary massacre is the worst school shooting in Texas history. President Joe Biden and the first lady plan to visit to Texas to meet with victims` families.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is ALL IN for this evening.
I want to turn things over now to my colleague Ali Velshi who is hosting "MSNBC PRIME" tonight from Uvalde, Texas.
Good evening, Ali.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you and have a good rest of your night.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
I`m coming to you live from outside Robb Elementary School, here in Uvalde, Texas. This is the latest American town whose name you may not have known, and yet will be shattered from a mass shooting.
I`ll be honest with you, the thing that strikes me when you walk around this town, main street is just up, there is how normal everything feels. The final days of school were canceled here yesterday, but it`s graduation season here. There are big photos of local graduates, on local science outside of city hall, outside of businesses.
Driving down main street in Uvalde today, you wouldn`t know something so terrible has happened just blocks away. Two blocks away, life looks as it normally does.
But something terrible did happen here. This community, this small community lost 21 of its people right here at this school, everything has changed forever. This will never be a normal spot again. This school, this town, becomes yet another name on a list that no one wants to be on.
Tonight, a vigil here in Uvalde, Texas is underway. It`s paying tribute to yesterday`s victims. We will have much more throughout the show tonight, about the victims, the people who lost their lives. Nineteen children, and two teachers at Robb Elementary.
We`re still learning the identity of some of the children who were killed. They were eight, nine, ten years old. All of them in the same fourth grade classroom, murdered with their teachers.
Let me bring up to speed with what we know at this point about how this massacre unfolded, as well as some of the things that we don`t yet now. This is the series of events laid out for us by Texas law enforcement officials, and the Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who briefed reporters today. The shooter was an 18 year old high school drop out from Uvalde, at 11:00 a.m.
He apparently wrote in a Facebook private message that he was going to shoot his grandmother. He then did shoot his 66-year-old grandmother in the face at her home. Unbelievably, she was able to get to a neighbor`s house and the police were called.
Today, CNBC`s Perry Russom spoke with that neighbor. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard two bangs, two shots. And I looked around, I couldn`t see anything. All of a sudden, the door opens, and he comes out. He had a duffel bag in a backpack, puts it in the truck, gets in the truck.
And he didn`t drive, so he was trying to get it out of gear, out of park, and he couldn`t do it. Some way, I guess he stepped on the break and it came up, and took off. There is rocks flying all over.
Then she came out, and I saw she was all bloody.
PERRY RUSSOM, CNBC REPORTER: You`re talking about his grandmother.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His grandmother. She came out, and I met her, she told me, she called me Beto. Beto, look at what my grandson did. I said let`s get out of the street, come over here, we got her out, and my white called the EMS and the police.
And between me and my wife, we got back there and put her in there. We heard shots, and we were afraid that he would come back.
RUSSOM: You heard the shots from the school?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we heard shots back, here we didn`t know if it was in the school or not.
Between me and my wife we said, we decided we`d bring her in. And then the police came in real fast, and they took her out with the EMS out there and they took her away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Miraculously, the shooter`s grandmother is still alive, but she remains hospitalized. The gunman and then crashed his gut grandmother`s pick up truck outside of the school, outside of Robb Elementary School. An armed school resource officer confronted the man outside of the school, it`s still not clear whether gunfire was exchanged at that point.
What we do know, is that the shooter made it inside the school through a back door and the school resource officer as well as two Uvalde police officers followed him inside. Those two officers were wounded in an exchange of gunfire. The gunman locked himself inside a fourth grade classroom, and he began shooting the children and the teachers.
Eventually, a specialized tactical team from the U.S. Border Patrol that happened to be nearby, we`re not terribly far from the border with Mexico, that team arrived. They got into the classroom, they killed a gunman, the shooter may have been inside the school for more than an hour before he was killed.
There have also been conflicting reports on whether he was wearing body armor. He carried out the attack with one of two AR style assault rifles that he bought in the days immediately after his 18th birthday, on May 16th.
Late into last night, parents were still learning whether their children were among the victims. The carnage inside the classroom was apparently so bad, the parents were being swabbed for DNA, so that their children could be identified.
Today in Uvalde, the Texas Governor Greg Abbott was joined by state, officials and the states senators at a press conference about the massacres. They were pressed by reporters on how they could prevent something like this in the future. Remarkably, they mostly said, that they had already done all that they could.
We they talked a great deal about the bills that they passed three years ago, not gun control bills, mind you, but bills to, quote, hard in schools, including things like funding armed security officers in schools, requiring districts to provide bleeding control stations, essentially battlefield tourniquets in accessible locations on school campuses.
Of course, there was an armed officer at Robb Elementary School, that did not stop the shooter from killing 21 people.
President Biden addressed the shooting today saying, quote, the Second Amendment is not absolute. The idea that an 18 year old could walk into a store and buy weapons of war designed and marketed to kill is, I think, just wrong. He said that he and the first lady will travel to Texas in the coming days to meet with the families of the victims.
Again, tonight, Uvalde, gathered in a vigil for the victims and their families as this community seems to come to terms with its loss, and wonders what comes next.
Joining me now here in Uvalde, Texas, is Tony Plohetski. He`s an investigative reporter with "The Austin American-Statesman".
Tony, you and I have unfortunately a sad history. You and I met in Texas in Sutherland Springs, at the scene of another mass killing, it was at a church.
It happens, and we have thoughts and prayers, and we have calls to do something. More often than not, we will talk about examples where change does come, but more often than not it doesn`t come. What is happening in the state right now? What`s the discussion that`s happening about these killings?
TONY PLOHETSKI, AUSTIN AMERICAN STATESMAN REPORTER: I think we just saw how high the temperature is, with Beto O`Rourke, a gubernatorial candidate walking up to the stage during the governor`s news conference today, and saying that essentially he has blood on his hands. It was an extraordinary moment between the sitting governor of the state of Texas, and a gubernatorial candidate.
VELSHI: And, eventually, Beto O`Rourke got escorted out?
PLOHETSKI: Exactly, after some tense words were engaged by officials who are on the stage, and Beto O`Rourke on the floor. But I think across the state of Texas, people are having the same conversation that, frankly, they have done in 2019 after the shooting at the Walmart in El Paso. In 2017, after the shooting in Sutherland Springs.
And that is, what`s truly can be done? How can the state and lawmakers here in Texas strike a balance between observing Second Amendment gun rights, and keeping the people, and particularly the children of our state safe?
VELSHI: Tony, let`s talk about what we don`t know yet. We have a lot of information about what happened yesterday. We`re not so sure on the front and about what happened, where the shooter was, how it got there, what`s happened when he first got in. Obviously, we learn more as we saw at the Border Patrol, the tactical unit came in and that`s how it ended.
There is still a lot more investigating to do about this.
PLOHETSKIK: There certainly is, and oftentimes after something like this happens, there is a deep desire for motive. People truly want to understand exactly why a person would have done what they did. I have learned one fact from law enforcement officials, and that is that the gunman`s grandmother apparently worked at this elementary school, but that her of employment stopped in May 2020.
So, officials are trying to determine whether or not there is some connection there, or what exactly that connection is. But you certainly know, and I know from covering mass shootings, and other major crimes like this, that sometimes the real meaning dies with the person. So, that very well maybe what happened here.
VELSHI: Tony, thank you. I hope one day we will not meeting circumstances like this. It`s kind of the story of America these days, where we`re running into each other like this. Thanks for your continued reporting.
Tony Plohetski is an investigative reporter with the "Austin American- Statesman".
We are slowly learning the names of the victims of this mass shooting, as their neighbors and their friends and their family gather together to grieve the incalculable loss of their loved ones. As I mentioned earlier, throughout the show, we`re going to be saying their names, and sharing just a little bit about each person, each life lost.
Ten year old Alithia Ramirez loved to draw. Her father said she wanted to be an artist.
Rojelio Torres` aunt says he was hardworking. He was helpful. He was ten years old.
Eliahna Garcia`s family says she loved to dance and play sports. She was 10 years old.
Tess Mata was a fan of Arianna Grande, and the Houston Astros. The family says the 10-year-old was saving up for a trip to Disney.
Ten-year-old Alexandria Aniyah Rubio was a bright student who made the all- A honor roll, and received a good citizen award, just hours before the shooting.
Well, today, the city of Buffalo laid to rest the retired Police Officer Aaron Salter. Salter was working as a security guard at the Tops Supermarket on May 14, when a gunman came in and killed ten members of the community, including Salter himself. Aaron Salter fired at the gunman multiple times, but he was wearing -- the gunman was wearing a tactical helmet and a bulletproof vest.
The deputy police commissioner of Buffalo remembered Aaron Salter as, quote, just a good person. A good person with a gun, who lost his life trying to stop a mass murder.
Seventeen hundred miles away from that funeral in Buffalo, here in Uvalde, Texas, officials have confirmed that an armed school resource officer was present when another alleged shooter arrived at a local elementary school. The picture still emerging for what happened next, but we know that the alleged gunman was able to enter the school, and was not subdued until sometime later, after the carnage that killed at least 19 children and two adults, had already ensued.
America has experienced two horrific mass shootings in ten days. In each case, armed men were present who tried valiantly to stop the alleged shooters. Officer Aaron Salter lost his life in the process, but the massacre still happened. And that reality should be enough to finally dispense with the ridiculous anti-guns safety bromine, that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
And yet, Texas Republicans respond to the massacre is familiar. One that more -- one that says, more people with guns always, more people with guns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): There`s no doubt we need to do more to keep children in school safe. We know from past experience that the most effective tool for keeping kids safe is armed law enforcement on the campus.
KEN PAXTON, TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: We can potentially arm and prepare and train teachers and other administrators.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Texas Republicans have repeatedly and consistently pushed policies to increase the number of guns in their state. Just a year, ago the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, signed seven bills into law, all designed to make it easier to purchase and carry a gun in Texas.
On Friday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Greg Abbott are scheduled to speak at the National Rifle Association`s annual convention in Texas. Texas`s other senator, John Cornyn was also scheduled to speak at that event, but he pulled out at the last minute claiming he`s got a scheduling conflict.
Will the voters of Texas continue to support those Republican leaders if their response to those tragedies is to push for more guns, and more hands, in more places?
Joining us now is Rochelle Garza. She`s a Democratic candidate for Texas attorney general, who is challenging the Republican incumbent Ken Paxton, whom we just heard suggesting that Texas should be arming teachers.
Ms. Garza, thank you for being with us.
ROCHELLE GARZA (D-TX), CANDIDATE FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you for having me here.
VELSHI: What do you think about Attorney General Paxton`s solution? It`s not far off from most state level Republicans in the state that the answer to problems like this is more people with guns, more security, hardening these places, blood banks, things like that, as opposed to dealing with the fundamental underlying problem?
GARZA: I think that`s absolutely the wrong solution. Ken Paxton has not given us any sort of help for these communities.
Look, I`m a fifth generation Texan. I love Texas. I grew up hunting, and I knew know how to use guns safely. We need to do better. We need to have better policies that are here to protect communities because we can`t go on like this.
You know, I`m a new mom. I just had a two month old little girl, and I`m fearful for the day that I have to send her to school, and that --
VELSHI: It`s weird, right. That`s the safe space in somebody`s life, that`s the place where your kids are supposed to go, and come out unharmed.
GARZA: That`s right. And, you know, I come from a family of public school teachers. I know that the solution is not to arm them. We need to make school safer.
And Ken Paxton is too busy worrying about his indictment, his FBI investigation, to actually come up with solutions that are going to help people. That is why I`m running for this office, to unseat this person who does not care about our families. He does not provide any solutions to what we are seeing here in Uvalde.
VELSHI: The overwhelming majority of Americans believe in some types of common sense gun reforms like background checks, red flag laws, things like that. What do you do to convince people? You are in a state where, more than other states, people take their Second Amendment rights very, very seriously. It is in the Constitution and it is their right.
VELSHI: The narrative has become, Democrats will take your guns. People who want gun reforms are going to take your guns.
How do you have that conversation? You must have people in your family and your constituents who worry that this stuff leads to gun conversation confiscations or gun control.
GARZA: Look, I am a civil rights lawyer and I do believe in a responsible gun ownership. As I mentioned, you know, I did grow up hunting. I am a Texan, I love Texas and this is part of our culture.
I also grew up with a father who is a judge. And I had to learn how to use guns for protection. So, I understand these things. But what we saw here -- this is not Texas.
And this is not -- I mean, we need to do better. We need to do better by protecting our children. This community is very much like a community that I come from.
And it is deeply heartbreaking for me. My heart breaks for these families and my heart breaks for the children that I saw watching all of this news because what is the future that they are going to go into? This is why we have to hold politicians accountable.
VELSHI: What is doing better look like to you? Are there tangible examples? Because, if you win, this falls into your purview.
What does it look like? How do you stop things like this from happening, because we don`t fully know yet why things like this happen. Everyone has a different answer. It is a mental health issue or it is someone playing too many video games, whatever the case may be.
But what do you do about it? Because people get their hands on guns and then they do bad things. Lots of people have their hands on guns and do not do bad things. How does reconciling this feel like to you?
GARZA: We need to have a conversation and bring everyone to the table. Texas has the most permissive gun laws in the country. We just passed permit-less carry. We have constitutional carry.
These, obviously, are not the policies that will make us safer. So, we really need to look at licensing. We need to look at responsible gun ownership, learning how to properly use a firearm, making sure that people do not use these weapons to harm people. There are policies that we can put in place, but we don`t have that conversation --
VELSHI: Do you believe that that is true, though? Do you believe that you can do something that does not infringe on constitutionally protected Second Amendment rights that can slow down and lessen these types of incidents? Because there are so many of them.
GARZA: Yeah, I know. I mean, I know that everyone in this country and everyone in this state is just absolutely exhausted of waking up in the morning and hearing about this horrific loss of life.
As I mentioned, I worry about my daughter. I worry about the future she is going into. That`s why I got into this race is I want to make sure I am protecting her and the next generation. And we can come up with policies that are going to protect people. There are solutions. We just have not had a conversation.
VELSHI: Thank you for being with us tonight. I`m sorry for the loss that you have suffered.
GARZA: Thank you.
VELSHI: Rochelle Garza, he`s a Democratic candidate for Texas attorney general.
Look, I guess the question I was just asking is that it is hard not to feel defeated by this idea of their not being a solution. If you feel defeated by the idea that nothing can be done about gun killings, even after a mass shooting that killed little children, then I think it is incumbent upon us to think again.
When we come back, we`re going to talk with somebody who has achieved a pretty big victory over a gun manufacturer. That is just ahead.
But first, I want to talk more about the victims. The victims of this shooting. Ten-year-old Jose Flores Jr. loved baseball. He got an award for making the honorable just hours before he died.
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez was a quiet child. She`s an honorable student who is close friends with her cousin and classmate, Jacklyn Cazares, who had her first communion two weeks ago. Both girls were ten years old. And both were killed.
We`ll be right back.
VELSHI: I am here in Uvalde, Texas. Joining me now is Ronald Garza. He`s a county commissioner here in Uvalde and a lifelong member of the community.
Commissioner, I -- you are not just a lifelong member. Like many people here, you are multigenerational from here.
RONALD GARZA (D), UVALDE, TX COUNTY COMMISSIONER: Yes.
VELSHI: Your grandfather -- your father?
GARZA: My father.
VELSHI: Your father was a teacher at Robb Elementary and you were describing it to me sort of like a desert. The trees that were looking at there were not there. They are pecan trees.
GARZA: They`re pecan trees.
VELSHI: And your father planted them?
GARZA: Yes, when he arrived here on campus in 1965, there wasn`t a single tree out there. And my dad went and bought small three-foot high pecan trees on his own and planted and water them every day after school.
VELSHI: So, you are really deeply connected here.
GARZA: Yes, I went to school here myself.
VELSHI: Tell me -- tell me how the community is dealing with this. I drove in today and it is small. It is a small place. It is busy and it is a small place today, 21 people died, and everyone must know them.
GARZA: You know, the small tight-knit community, it comes up a lot these last few days. And we are grieving. We are mourning.
You know, we are so tight-knit as a community that my two neighbors across the street -- one of them lost a grandchild. My other neighbor lost her daughter-in-law, who was a teacher here. That`s how close knit a community we are.
We are grieving. But we are dealing with it.
VELSHI: When I was coming down main street, I saw the graduation pictures of high school students.
VELSHI: And saw the pride that the community takes and the idea that people graduated from high school.
The photographs line the street. And there`s billboards in front of the school and in front of the city hall. I couldn`t imagine the irony of that, that you are celebrating the people who made it through high school and 19 of these people -- they died.
GARZA: You know, a lot of good students have walked the hallways at Robb Elementary School. We have educators, professors, lawyers, doctors that have come out of this school. What can we say about the teachers? They have dedicated hours and days to help students, and make that student a better person.
This one tragic incident that happened yesterday does not define our community. It is not define Robb Elementary School. Our community is a great community. We may have some differences. But when a crisis comes up like this and when there is a need, our community unites.
VELSHI: What about the differences around guns? Again, coming down main street, while I saw those pictures of high school students, I saw gunshots and there`s a pick up truck advertising that you can get your gun license from him. And you can talk to him.
And I said, what do you think about here, they are training people to use guns and a few blocks away that there was this killing? It did not strike him as unusual.
GARZA: You know, this is deer country.
GARZA: You know, a lot -- we get a lot of hunters. It`s a big industry, and it brings in money to our community.
However, I think if you do a poll here in Uvalde, the majority of people would say -- and the majority of people I have talked to -- why do we need automatic weapons, you know? Shouldn`t there be more gun laws? And more rules in place to ensure that incidents like this do not occur?
I mean, when is this going to stop? It is not going to until Congress takes action. Will it work? We`ll passing more laws and rules work? Well, it cannot hurt. Because doing nothing is not helping our country.
VELSHI: What do you say to the argument that people -- a lot of people here have guns.
GARZA: That`s correct.
VELSHI: What do you say when people say, it is not us. We are law-abiding, well-trained gun users. We don`t kill anybody. We don`t shoot anybody. Everyone who does these things, they say, is mentally ill or motivated by something else or something highly specific.
Do you have that discussion with your constituents?
VELSHI: Do you have that with your friends and family?
GARZA: Yes. There is that saying that says, guns don`t kill people, people kill people. But in the end, it is that individual that went and purchased it. Purchased that rifle and used it, that automatic rifle to commit these crimes.
Our current system and current laws are not working. And look what happened here yesterday. They are not working and Congress needs to do something.
I think that the polls show that the majority of Americans want stricter gun laws. And this is a perfect example of why we need them.
VELSHI: Commissioner, thanks for joining me. We appreciate your time tonight.
GARZA: Thank you, Ali.
VELSHI: We wish great healing for your community.
GARZA: Thank you so much. Thank you.
VELSHI: Commissioner Ronald Garza, the Uvalde County commissioner.
Coming up next, we`re going to talk to somebody who took on the gun industry and actually won. But first, I want to talk to some more about some of the victims of the tragic gun violence here in Uvalde.
Ten-year-old Eliahana Cruz Torres loved softball. She was looking forward to the last game of the season after school on Tuesday.
Amerie Jo Garza loved Play-Doh and talk to her friends at recess. She celebrated her tenth birthday two weeks ago.
Uziyah Garcia had recently visited his granddad, who was teaching him how to play football. Uziyah was eight years old.
VELSHI: This Friday, just three days after 19 students and two adults were killed at this Texas elementary school, former President Donald Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott are all scheduled to speak at the NRA`s big annual event in Houston. Now, it`s easy to lose hope when you see Republicans not changing their behavior at all after a tragedy like this, but it`s important to remember that when elected leaders won`t budge, apply pressure.
This was the former Florida governor, Rick Scott, speaking at that same big annual NRA event in 2017, that was a year after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando that killed 49 people. There he was on stage at an event held by the NRA, which consistently gave Rick Scott an A+ rating, and ran ads supporting Scott in election after election after election.
But then there was the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were killed, 14 others were injured. The political aftermath of that shooting, could have easily been just the same empty gestures that we`ve seen from above cans time and again on this issue, but it wasn`t, not totally.
This was Florida Governor Rick Scott in 2018, three weeks after that shooting. And what you see him doing their, he`s signing a law that raise the minimum age for all gun purchases in Florida from 18 to 21. It also added a three-day waiting period for buying a gun, and banned the bump stop attachment the retrofits a rifle so it fires almost as fast as a fully automatic weapon, where you pull the trigger once and multiple bullets come out.
That bill that Rick Scott signed, that was the first piece of successful gun control legislation in Florida, in more than 20 years. And the NRA bumped Rick Scott down from an A to a C.
Now, was that Florida legislation perfect? No, not by a long shot. But if it existed in Texas, yesterday`s shooter would not have been able to casually by the guns the way he did. So, how did that Florida legislation happen? How did the NRA`s preferred candidate, and A-plus defender of its cause end up adopting a common sense gun reform?
It was the activists. The activists that came out in support of doing something. They came out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, the kids made it happen. They kept the issue in the spotlight. They made it one that Scott could not ignore, even if he wanted to.
This is a great example of how pressure works. Politicians cannot afford to alienate some voters to keep the NRA happy, but at some point, that has to give. It is easy to feel that there is no way to make progress on this issue, particularly in the last ten days. But recent history tells us the change is in fact possible.
That`s not all, by the way, since 2018, 14 states have passed what are called red flag laws. These are the states. They allow loved ones or the police to petition the courts to confiscate firearms from people who might be at risk of harming themselves or others. That, too, came about, because of public pressure.
And earlier this year, Remington, the manufacturer of the AR-15 style rifle that the shooter at Sandy Hook elementary used to kill 20 children, sick school employees, and his mother, Remington settled a lawsuit with families of the victims of that massacre for $73 million. It`s believed to be the largest payout by a gun manufacturer in a mass shooting case, and was particularly notable because for well over a decade, federal law has essentially shielded the entire firearms industry from litigation.
Now, the family of one of the victims of the Buffalo mass shooting may use that lawsuit as a roadmap to seek justice for themselves. So, progress is possible, it takes an awful lot of effort, but it is possible.
Joining us now is Joshua Koskoff, the attorney who got that groundbreaking settlement from Remington for the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre.
Joshua, thank you for joining us tonight.
I love if you could help our viewers understand the basis of your lawsuit in Sandy Hook, how it might be a road map for holding manufacturers of weapons, particularly the ones used in the Buffalo supermarket shooting last week, responsible.
JOSHUA KOSKOFF, ATTORNEY FOR SANDY HOOK FAMILIES WHO SUED REMINGTON ARMS: Sure. I`d be happy to, Ali. When we focus on the lawsuit, something I learned in the research an investigation of that case. AR-15s were always available in America. When you and I were growing up, you can get an AR-15, but we didn`t grow up in the age of mass shootings.
And all of that changed sometime around the mid 2000s, when private equity money came in from New York, and they decided they would build and revitalize the gun industry by courting purchases of AR-15s, instead of having consumers seek out AR-15s, AR-15s were something about 100,000 units a year in 2005, by 2012, 2.1 million.
And what we found was that --
KOSKOFF: Yeah, wow is right.
The reason why we`re seeing all this mass shooting, it`s not mental illness, as the governor of Texas says, as often stated by the NRA, or the accolades. When you and I were growing, up there was also mental illness, there is also kids getting bullied, there are also all these things. These kids were not being courted to sell combat weapons by the gun industry.
Why weren`t they been courted? Not because the gun industry is a particularly ethical industry, but because they couldn`t court them. They couldn`t court them, because natural barriers were in place that prevented kids and teenagers from getting access or information on the weapons.
But we learned, is that a change in the mid 2000s, as money comes in, and they said -- we could sell more of these weapons that have been on the shelves for 40 years and create a market for them, by courting these users through the modern means of courtship for marketing, which is the internet. And so, now, it`s going around the parents, we don`t know where kids are looking at, and the kids are getting courted by these companies, and that led to this explosion in sales.
And that`s clearly led to this exponential increase in mass shooting. It was a simple cause and effect to draw, when we saw the information. But I think it`s really surprising to learn that this is an old product, this AR- 15. It hasn`t changed one bit.
VELSHI: It hasn`t changed, the audiences changed. And one of the things you learned in this case, and addition to getting cash, part of the settlement that you achieved was Remington agreeing to release thousands of pages of internal company documents, including plans, for as you just described, how they marketed the weapon in particular that was used in Sandy Hook.
What do you do with those documents? What did you learn from them, would you do with them?
KOSKOFF: Well, what I learned, essentially explain this to your listeners, which is that the incidents of mass shootings that we`re seeing today, is not a coincidence, it`s not because all of a sudden the company became full of mentally ill people. It`s because of this concerted effort by the gun industry, to sell as many AR-15s as they could to an expanded market, notably to hook kids and teenagers growing up.
We think about the 18-year-old who shot -- who perpetrated this terrible shooting yesterday, the day he turned 18 he knew the weapon he was getting. Why? Because the company has been quoting him for years, through the internet, through first person shooter games, I think the public will see exactly what was going on, and will answer a lot of these questions of people are asking today.
VELSHI: Joshua, thank you for joining us tonight.
Joshua Koskoff is the attorney who got that groundbreaking settlement for the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre. We appreciate your time.
One way to change things as for politicians to run on the issue of gun reform and to win.
Coming up next, we`re going to talk to a congresswoman who did exactly that.
But first, I want to tell you a little bit more about the lives that were lost here in Uvalde, Texas.
Eleven-year-old Jailah Silguero`s relatives say she loved to dance. Her smile would bring energy into the room. She and her cousin Jayce Luevanos were babies. They were the babies of the family. Jayce like to make his parents a pot of coffee every morning, he was ten years old.
Xavier Lopez was a bubbly kid who like to dance with his brothers and his mom. She saw her ten year old for the last time period the schools awards ceremony on Tuesday.
VELSHI: We`ve seen about a decades worth of gun control measures failed and stalled in Congress across multiple administrations. But we do know that the vast majority of Americans support things like universal background checks. We`ve seen candidates run on platforms that are dedicated to gun reform, and they`ve won. Candidates like Lucy McBath, Democratic congresswoman from Georgia, who got into politics after her son Jordan was shot and killed by a white man who is angry about the music he was playing back in 2012.
McBath became a gun control activist after her son`s murder in 2018, after the Parkland shootings in Florida, she ran for Congress and she won, flipping a seat that was historically held by Republicans. Last night, she won her primary for reelection. She sponsored two bills that passed the House, that would have expanded background checks, and close some loopholes.
When we have a Senate that hasn`t even taken up those bills, what can Congress do? How do we make that sort of change happened.
Lucy McBath joins me now -- thank you for joining us. We appreciate having you here, Congresswoman.
Yesterday, when you address your supporters after winning your primary, you spoke about the shooting right here, at the school I`m in, Robb Elementary, and you said, I`m going to quote you, you said, we cannot be the only nation where one party sits on its hands, as children are forced to cover their faces in fear.
How do you convince Republicans -- I`m not going to say how do you convince people of that because you don`t actually have to convince people of that. The American people are on the side of tighter gun legislation, but how do you convince Republicans, particularly in the Senate to understand that and act on it?
REP. LUCY MCBATH (D-GA): We`ll just last week we were having these very same discussions about the lives that were lost in Buffalo, New York. I actually have family that live in that community. We just cannot afford these shootings to circulate in and out of our national dialogue, only to be forgotten before the next tragedy.
These horrific acts of violence, you know, they are just going to continue to persist, was despicable frequency if we do not have the courage to stand up for our communities. We just got to continue to take immediate action. My colleagues in Washington, yes, we have to continue to make sure that we do and everything that we can to take, you know, immediate action, and just vote on measures to protect our communities and children, like the red flag bill that I have introduced in Congress, and many other pieces of legislation that we are going to have to introduce.
But in particular the red flag bill that I have sponsored, it`s already been passed out of the judiciary committee. Leader Hoyer has already said that we are going to be taking this legislation on the floor in the coming week, when we get back to Washington. We`ve got to pass this legislation and many more pieces of legislation, because people`s lives are literally depending on these policies.
VELSHI: So let me ask you about that, because these red flag laws is -- these laws are in states at least, they do get some bipartisan support because they are no-brainers, right? If somebody is a threat and has done things that would demonstrate that they might be a threat, it is overwhelmingly by the way toward women, by their spouses, their husbands their partners.
But it`s easy for people to identify that, it`s not without due process. There are -- court has to, or a judge has to hear it. It makes sense.
MCBATH: Absolutely. We know that the states that have actually passed this legislation, such as Florida, after the Parkland tragedy, you know, we recognize, statistically, that those homicide rates, they go down drastically. We know that in the states that have red flag laws, you know, there are disk decreased numbers of homicides and murders, we know that these laws work, and that`s the reason why it`s so important that we take for this policy, that we make sure that we`re doing everything that we can to make sure that our community, our families, and our children are safe.
VELSHI: Congresswoman, I`m just showing our viewers right now, there`s just a stream of people who keep coming in to the school, laying wreaths on the ground, they`re balloons or things like that.
I talked about one of the young girls who died, and how she likes playing with Play-Doh. These are children. You have a unique voice in this. You, like the Parkland students, went and took your grief and the tragedy and did something with it.
What do you say to the parents of these children, who have been killed here? What a devastating to thing to lose 8, 9, 10-year-old children.
MCBATH: Well, you know, Ali, these are very, very kind of difficult moments that are so devastating for the families. So devastating for those that are left behind to pick up the pieces. And what I want to say is that, you know, I know that prayers -- thoughts and prayers are not enough, I know that they are not enough, and I know that, you know, our families continue to hear this over and over again.
But I want to assure them that there are just an army of volunteers and grassroots movements, organizers, Moms Demand Actions for Gun Sense in America, all of the gun safety groups, my colleagues and I on the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in Washington. We are moving, we are acting, because I understand what it`s like to lose a child, I understand what it feels like those moments after, the horrific moments when you recognize that your child is gone.
And just for some of the most unnecessary reasons, and that I want them to understand that we will not rest, I will not rest, I will do everything in my power as many of my colleagues to make sure that no one suffers unnecessarily, because this is just horrific, it is a public health crisis, and it must be dealt with.
VELSHI: Congresswoman McBath, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks for what you`re doing in this battle. I`m going to leave my viewers with a shot of somebody who has just laid another wreath at that memorial.
I`ll be right back with another interesting conversation.
VELSHI: I want to tell you the names of three more victims.
Ten-year-old Makenna Lee Elrod`s family says she was a member of 4H, loved animals. She was a natural leader and she loved school.
Irma Garcia taught at Robb Elementary School for 23 years. She especially loved children how to read. She was married with four children.
Eva Mireles was an educator for 17 years, who was beloved for her dedication to her students. She was married with one daughter.
Joining us now is Marisela Villalobos, a former employee of Robb Elementary School Here in Uvalde.
Marcella, we saw you. The reason you`re here, this wasn`t planned, but you are like those people who are over there, you went in remembrance. Who did you know here?
MARISELA VILLALOBOS, FORMER ROBB ELEMENTARY EMPLOYEE: Well, I worked with Ms. Garcia. But, prior to her working here in Uvalde, she worked 20 miles from here. She was my son`s teacher. And my son had a hard time going to school, so she would buy him happy meals, and take him happy meals, and he would have lunch with her at school. She didn`t do this for all the kids. She did it for my son. She would take him donuts and snacks, because he was just having a hard time, and she was just amazing with him.
He just loved her so much, and she loved him so much. I don`t doubt one bit that she stood right there in front of the gunman and said, you know, you are not taking my kids, you`re not going to hurt my kids, because that`s the type of person that she was. She was just amazing, and I just can`t believe this.
VELSHI: I`m sorry for your loss. Thank you for telling us a little bit about her, it does help us to hear the story of the people who lost their lives here yesterday. Thank you and I`m sorry.
VILLALOBOS: Thank you.
VELSHI: Marisela Villalobos.
There are so many people here like you her, who are leaving things, who are coming, and they`re crying, and they`re grieving. It won`t be enough, but that`s what`s happening tonight in Uvalde.
That does it for us. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
It`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Lawrence, good evening to you.