Texas police is questioned about delays in responding to school shooting. NRA holds convention in Houston days after elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
ANDREW EXUM, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: If they want to join the military, they can do that as well. I did that when I was -- when I was a young man, but I don`t want them to be captive to with what I see as this really toxic, ugly culture.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Yeah. Well, that was a great discussion in an awful week. So, I really appreciate both of you, Michelle Goldberg and Andrew Exum. Thank you both. I really appreciate.
That is "ALL IN" on this Friday night.
MSNBC PRIME starts now with Ayman Mohyeldin.
Good evening, Ayman.
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST: Hey, good evening, Chris.
And thank you at home as well for joining us this hour.
It has been three days since an 18 year old man in Uvalde, Texas, attacked an elementary school and killed 21 people, 19 of them are children. And while it is common for new details to emerge after the so-called fog of war lifts, the basic facts of the police response to this particular shooting have changed. And then, they changed again.
And today, officials try yet again, to lay out a timeline of the response to this attack, to an increasingly skeptical press corps and public. And this version, the one we heard today, painted a shocking picture of what now looks to be an extraordinarily inept police response, that allowed the government to be locked in a classroom with children, who were still alive for more than an hour.
Here`s today`s version of what happened on Tuesday, May 24th. At 11:27 a.m., Central Time, a teacher at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, walks out of the building, and props the door open. And that teacher sees a truck crash behind the school. By 11:28 a.m., she is rushed back into the school to get her phone, leaving the door propped open. 11:30 am, that teacher places a call to 911, this is the first 911 call that we know of, made from the school, only three minutes now have passed since the shooter has first arrived.
Now, within a minute of that call being made, the shooter is inside, firing his weapon outside, rather, of the school. And around this time, the school resource officer arrives, and contrary to previous reports, he does not engage this shooter, but actually drives past him. At 11:33 a.m., the shooter now enters the school, and fires more than 100 rounds in class from 111 or class from 112, we do not know which.
Two minutes later, 11:35 a.m., three of all the police officers have entered the school, followed by for more for a total of seven police officers. There is now been eight minutes since the shooter arrived to the school.
At 11:37 a.m., 16 more rounds are fired, and we do not know by whom. 11:43 am, more police officers begin to arrive, and by 12:03 a.m., as many as 19 police officers have amassed in the hallway outside of the classroom where the shooter has locked himself inside with dozens of terrified 9, 10 and 11 year old children.
It is at this point, it is at this time, 12:03 p.m., that we get our second 911 call. This one, though, from a student. She is whispering. She whispers that she is in class from 112, and the police are still standing outside in the hallway. 33 minutes have passed since this shooter first arrived.
Seven minutes later, that same student called 911 again, and she`s doing whatever he child in America has sadly been taught to do in an emergency. She tells the operator that multiple people are dead. She then places a third call to 911, three minutes after that, three minutes later. And another one, three minutes after that one, only this time, she`s not counting the number of people who are dead. Instead, she is focused on how many students are still alive in that room.
Around this time, a tactical unit from the border patrol has arrived on the scene. And two senior law enforcement officials tell NBC news that tactical unit was instructed to wait outside by local law enforcement fourth least 30 minutes.
At this point, the police are still gathered in the hallway outside of the classroom. And let me just tell you, it has been now 49 minutes that have passed since this shooter first arrived, 49 minutes.
At 12:19 p.m., another student called 911. This is now the fifth call to 911 that we know of. And this student says, she is in room 111. A 12:21 pm, the suspect fires again. These shots can be heard on the 911 call.
Law enforcement moves down the hallway. Another student tells the girl on the phone with 911 to hand up, and she does. And at 12:36 pm, police receive a 911 call from a student. This is the sixth 911 call they have received in regards to this incident. This call lasted only 21 seconds. She calls back, and she`s told to stay on the line, and to be quite.
Seven minutes later, the child makes a plea to the 911 operator, quote, please send the police now! Another four minutes past, and the child asked one more time, quote, please send the police now! And three more minutes past, and law enforcement finally breaches the room, not with force, but with a key that they had asked the janitor to retrieve.
At around 12:15 pm, the shooter is killed by law enforcement, 83 minutes have passed since the shooter first arrived on the scene. That is the timeline of events that we got today from Texas officials. The first 911 call came three minutes after he crashed his car near the school. It would be another hour and 20 minutes before the shooter was killed by police. Enough time to murder 19 children into teachers.
Now, after presenting that timeline to reporters at a press conference in Uvalde, reporters pressed Texas public safety director, Steven McCraw, for answers about why after all those police have gathered at the scene, after all those 911 calls, from children fearing for their lives, were made, why did it take so long for the police to act?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Sir, you have people who are alive, children who are calling 911 saying, please, send the police! They are alive in that classroom. There are lives that are at risk.
STEVE MCCRAW, DIRECTOR OF TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: We are well aware of that.
REPORTER: Right. But why this was this decision made not to go in and rescue these children?
MCCRAW: Again, once the on-scene commander considered a barricaded subject, and there was time, and more children at risk. Obviously, you know, based upon the information we had, they were told in that classroom that they were at risk. Having been at hindsight we`re in sitting now, of course, it`s not the right decision. It`s a wrong decision, period. There is no excuse for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: It was the wrong decision, period. There is no excuse for that. So what happens now? How does this community, ripped apart by such tragedy, respond to this horrifying version of events that we learned about today?
Joining us now is NBC news correspondent Morgan Chesky. He`s been recording reporting from Uvalde, Texas all week. And earlier today, we actually heard him question the Texas Department of Public Safety director, about the time it took police to respond to the shooting in Robb Elementary School.
Morgan, thank you so much for making time for us tonight. I know it has been another long and difficult day for everyone there.
You know, today`s press conference, Morgan, it confirmed some of the worst fears that parents have about the way police responded to this school shooting.
What is their sense, based on your reporting, in terms of how the families are reacting to today`s news? How is the community at large reacting to this version of events described?
MORGAN CHESKY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Ayman, just when you think that you can`t get another heartbreaking update here, we do today in this press conference, and you see the 21 process behind me, the coming days will include 21 funerals. And to now know that there was a nearly 15-minute window of time, where there were nearly 20 officers inside this school behind me, just feet away from these students in the classroom of the gunman, and they waited before reaching that door and engaging him.
I think that`s going to be on the minds of everyone here, and indefinitely. Because what it does, then Ayman, is it gives everyone the thought of how many lives could potentially been saved, had there been faster action towards that door, and engaging the gunman soon as possible, which, I should add, and as I know you know, that is typical protocol for active shooter situations these days, and move towards the threat if you are law enforcement to engage and take out.
What we heard today during this press conference, that strikes me, Ayman, we heard the DPS director say that the commander on scene who was a Uvalde police commander, at some point made that decision to transition from an active shooter situation, to what they call a barricaded shooter situation.
In which according to authorities, they said once they switched that mode, it was because they didn`t believe there was any more of a threat against those people that could have been perpetually around him.
And you hear him say that, and many of us, we`re in somewhat of this belief, because we knew that there is also children inside that class. There`s still so many more unanswered questions that have come out, just by having this timeout laid out for us today, as far as the community goes, I`m standing here just across the street from this memorial. We`ve been seeing people come from every corner of the community here to lay flowers down, to pay tribute to those 19 students and two teachers.
And you can only begin to comprehend the level of grief and healing that they now face, coupled with the fact that this investigation will no doubt, potentially, only provide more heartbreak, as it did today -- Ayman.
MOHYELDIN: So let me ask about that. You bring up two points that are important. One is about the decision to describe this, or consider this a barricaded situation. And police have still not explained why they made that determination, or why the incident commander made that determination, and certainly, that may emerge in the next couple of days.
But we learned today something important, that 78 minutes, Morgan, passed between the time this shooting began, and the time police approached the gunman. You confronted the director of Texas Public Department of Safety, or the Department of Public Safety, rather, about this today. Was his answer enough to explain that gap? Because, I also know that the Border Patrol agents were on-site between, by 12:00 p.m. and 12:10 p.m., much, much earlier than previously known. Why weren`t they allowed to go in as well?
CHESKY: Well, according to what we heard from DPS today, Ayman, the initial responding agency was Uvalde Police Department. So they became the point agency, so that when border patrol did arrive, they at least, initially, delivered to them. And that is why we heard whatever those tactical border patrol agents were here, they were told to, according to senior law enforcement officials, to stand down for the time being, and to not engage that shooter about 30 minutes transpired, upon which we learned that those federal agents went against that guidance.
They took it upon themselves to align themselves, in what`s known as a stack formation. That`s where you are someone in the front, giving one of the shield, making their way inside, and engage the gunman.
And I should say, we use the word breach, when it comes to getting access to this classroom. And in this case, there was no explosive or something else used to go in. It gets down to a custodian ski. That was the only means they had to access this locked door.
Another big question that my colleague Pete Williams post earlier is, where was the key? Did that contribute to the fact that these officers were forced to wait, because we do know according to DPS today, that the gunman`s firearm was so powerful, he`s shooting through metal doors, attempting to shot through walls, and believe to have at least one officer that way during this time period as well.
So those are just two of the questions that we hope to ask in the days ahead, as for whether or not we will find out which remains to be seen -- Ayman.
MOHYELDIN: Yeah, not to mention whether or not any of those classrooms had windows that the police could`ve entered through, as well. NBC News correspondent Morgan Chesky, live from Uvalde, Texas, for us this evening. Thank you for reporting, Morgan.
I want to turn now to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who held his own press conference this afternoon, where he said that he was livid about being, quote, misled about initial reports that suggested an immediate police response to the attack. These were police accounts that he personally presented to reporters as facts, in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. He also rejected calls for increased gun control measures in the wake of that attack.
Joining us now is Texas Democratic State Senator Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde.
Senator, thank you so much for making time to be here for us tonight.
You know, despite the head of state, Governor Abbott, you know, he said today that he was misled, even though he is the chief executive officer of the state. And he is saying that he was misled about the response from, you know, the police.
What is your reaction to that? How unsettling must that be to hear that the governor of your state basically say he was misled by the police?
STATE SEN. ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D), TEXAS: You know, yesterday, I spoke to DPS, as they were formulating their timeline. They suggested to me they would have it by Saturday. I said that`s not good enough. We need to make sure that we have it earlier, and were transparent.
So we saw the entire timeline today. I think that the governors -- whether he was misled, or he asked for information that wasn`t ready yet, that`s on him. The inadequacies here that happened were failures at every level, but let`s not forget, the failures that have happened at the state legislature with Greg Abbott controls and has failed to create common sense gun laws and that is my biggest concern here.
MOHYELDIN: You actually confronted Governor Abbott at that press conference today. I do want to share that video with our audience. I want to get your reaction on why that was needed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: So, for a century and a half, 18 year olds could buy rifles, and we didn`t have school shootings. But we do now. Maybe we`re both putting our attention on the wrong thing, or focusing it on --
GUTIERREZ: I`m not doing a political speech. My colleagues are asking for a special session. You`re getting a letter tomorrow. In the bulk of the Senate Democratic caucus, we`ve asked to bring control changes. I`m asking you now to us back in three weeks. I don`t know how to express the loss to the families that I`ve talked to, and I kow yhou feel it, too, but we have to do something, man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: So, how confident are you that Governor Abbott is going to call a special session to reopen debates on proposed gun control bills?
GUTIERREZ: I`ll start with a prosperous nurse of his conference today, letting us know what resources the agencies have, this county judge been working here every day, the mayor`s been working here every day, we know the resources the state as. If he really wants to help, and needs to release $2 million to a local community, so they can bring in therapists, psychiatrists, not just won his folks leave on June 1st, before the next two years. That`s what we`re going to need in this community.
Whether we`re going to get a special session or not is up to him, the fact is we serve every other year, we don`t come back until January, we need to come back and raise the level. How is it you need to be 21 to buy a pistol, but you can buy an AK47 at 18? Even Republicans constituents have come to me and said, that makes no sense. We need red flag laws, we need waiting periods.
Greg Abbott needs to come down and get realistic with us, and make sure that we`re doing the right thing, people will elect us to fix problems, we have a problem of infinite proportions. When you see the evidence behind me, you see what`s happened here, it`s time to change our gun laws.
MOHYELDIN: Yeah, and speaking of gun laws, when you interrupted Governor Abbott, it sounded like he was telling the report of the ability of an 18 year old to buy rifles has been in place in Texas for more than 50 years, way before he signed the permanent lets carry bill last year, what is your reaction to the argument, to the position that he was making, but maybe it`s not the guns that we need to look at something else?
GUTIERREZ: Preposterous. It`s preposterous. Back when you go out to buy a 22 rifle to kill your squirrels in your backyard, technologies changed, the firepower has changed. It`s incredible that we`re allowing 18 year olds to have militarized happens, weapons we see in Afghanistan.
Again, I`ve got Republican constituents that say 21 makes sense, it makes zero sense that you have to be 21 to buy a handgun but you can be 18 and by an AK. I`ve said that over and over again. This simply just doesn`t make sense.
How is a young man can go into a store and its man of 48 hours and by thousands of rounds of ammunition, to assault rifles, and that isn`t a red flag. Because we don`t have a law where that clerk would`ve said, hold on we`re going to call the authorities, and let them know what`s going on here.
There`s some real problems that we need to change in Texas. I`m not here to take anybody`s guns away. I just want some common sense gun solutions.
MOHYELDIN: I think it`s something a lot of Americans would like to see happen after another mass shooting.
Texas Democratic State Senator Roland Gutierrez live for us in Uvalde, Texas -- sir, thank you for being with us this evening, I appreciate your time.
We still don`t know exactly what the authorities did at the school, but it certainly appears like they may have been able to save some lives, if they had acted differently.
We`re going to have more on that straight ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCRAW: For the benefit of hindsight, from where I`m sitting now, of course it`s not the right decision. It`s a wrong decision, period. There`s no excuse for that. But again, I wasn`t there but I`m just telling you from what we know, we believe there should`ve been an entry as soon as you can.
Hey, when there`s an active shooter, the rules change. You don`t worry about outer perimeters. And, by the way, Texas embraces active shooter training, active shooter certification.
And that doctrine requires officers, we don`t care what agency you`re from, you don`t have to have a leader on the scene, every officer lines up, stacks up, goes and finds where those rounds are being fired at and keep shooting until the subject is dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: So, earlier today, Steven McCraw, the head of the Texas department of public safety held a tense press conference providing more information but the fatal shooting at Robb Elementary in one Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday.
Those details in the constantly evolving explanations of the police response on Tuesday, may reporters and all of us have more questions than answers. Why did the school district police chief decided there was no longer an active shooter situation? Why was the school district police chief in charge of all of these officers from all of these different agencies, why did they continue to wait even after a special tactical border patrol team arrived? Whose lives could`ve been saved in the time they spent waiting?
If active shooter training means every single officer lines up, goes in, and shoots until the subject is dead, why did they do the exact opposite?
Joining us now is Cedric Alexander, MSNBC law enforcement analyst. He`s also former member of President Obama`s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Mr. Alexander, thank you so much for being here tonight.
A lot of tough questions, a lot of unanswered questions. Does it make sense to you, that the officers waited to approach the shooter? I mean, from your training, from what you know about the subject matter, what is the protocol in a situation like this?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMNT ANALYST: Well, the protocol exactly when you just pointed out. It`s been that way post Columbine, anytime that you have an active shooter inside a building, once officers begin to arrive, you go towards those gunshots, what you`re creating is an opportunity for people who are not able to protect themselves, it`s for the bad guy to focus now on. You have a chance to fight and to win that fight. That`s your job, that`s what we`re sworn to do.
In this case, it just appears after each press conference, there is more and more questions. And I tell you, I`ve never seen anything like this. I`ve been in and out of policing over 40 years in my life, I`ve never seen anything like this before.
And it`s a tragedy and it`s painful for that family to have confidence, tonight quite frankly in their public safety, because outside, you had people who are parents, who themselves were fighting, going around in the back of the school, going in and getting their children. They took it upon themselves to do so, they felt like the authorities were not doing what they`re supposed to be doing.
I`m not saying what they did was right, but they did what any parent would`ve done under the circumstances quite frankly.
But I think this is a real tragedy, there needs to be a great deal questions answered, there needs to be a full open investigation that requires any and everybody was on the scene to give statements, to pull as much footage as you can from all angles, all directions, radio transmissions, 911 calls, you put it together, and it has to be put together by an outside agency, not DPS, it has to come from outside.
MOHYELDIN: I wanted to ask you, precisely that question, given everything we`ve learned right now from how this is transpired since Tuesday, the changing accounts, the expanding accounts by the police. Are you surprised that federal law enforcement agency hasn`t stepped into say given all the questions, given the shifting timelines, given these explanations, that the public, the victims and their families, the media are losing confidence in the credibility integrity of the information that`s being provided, and therefore these questions, this investigation now has to be conducted by an outside party?
ALEXANDER: It has to be conducted by an outside party. I don`t know who may happen to do it. But it certainly cannot be into those agencies that we`ve seen. The FBI, if they choose to take it that got a lot of confidence that they`ll go into a fair and open imbalance investigation for all that`s involved. But right now, the confidence, I can only imagine and those confidence of that people across this country, and I`ve talked to a number of chiefs across the country today, and we are just really shaking our heads in terms of the last two days of press conferences that we`ve seen that have been highly questionable.
And in addition to that, there is information that was revealed today, where you had 19 officers under the direction of some incident commander, who decided not to go into this room.
Let me tell you something. When you have such fire, and you know people on the other side of that room, potentially hurt or injured, you go through that wall, if you have to. You blow that door, you do whatever you`ve got to do to direct that bad guy towards you, and take it away from those who are innocent and unable to protect themselves.
And it is understandable why people are angry tonight at that community and across this country, because what we saw was just absolutely horrific. And this is not good. This is not good at all. I`m not going to try to make it good. This is bad.
MOHYELDIN: Yeah, as I was saying earlier, still a lot of questions as to why they consider this a barricaded suspect, as opposed to an active situation, or an active shooter. There`s still a lot of unanswered questions this evening.
Cedric Alexander, former DeKalb County, Georgia police chief, former member of president Obama`s Task Force on 21st Century Policing -- sir, thank you so much for your time and insights tonight. Greatly appreciated.
ALEXANDER: Thank you.
MOHYELDIN: As Uvalde residents mourn their dead today, and the rage against the police grew, on the other side of Texas, in the very same state, the NRA started its annual meeting, as if nothing tragic had happened this week. But outside, it was clear that things were indeed different.
Still ahead, why the NRA may not be as an infallible as it once was. Stay with us.
MOHYELDIN: This was the scene outside the convention center in Houston, Texas today. Thousands of people showing up to protest the National Rifle Association`s annual meeting, just three days after 19 children, two teachers, were gunned down in the classrooms about five hours away. It is a powerful thing to see so many people stand up like this, in the face of one of the most powerful, special interest groups in this country.
But it becomes even more remarkable, when you zoom in. These little boys and girls stood in a straight line, in complete silence today, outside that and are a meeting. They there were photos other victims of Tuesday`s school shooting around the next. They held signs that said, am I next? And don`t shoot, hoping to guilt and shame the NRA members and Republican lawmakers, scheduled to attend this very conference.
Except, they did not get FaceTime with as many of those lawmakers as they had hoped. Texas Senator John Cornyn, Congressman Dan Crenshaw, both announced they would be bailing from their plan at the NRA conference, and it`s not because, you, know they decided to take some kind of principle, moral stance against the gun lobby finally.
Now, they both, suddenly, had scheduling conflicts, and said they were no longer available to attend. Also no shows today, Republican speaker of the house in Texas, as well as the Texas lieutenant governor, and the governor himself, Texas Governor Greg Abbott. He canceled his scheduled appearance at the NRA. Instead, he actually went back to you all day for the second time this week. And it is almost like he decided to prioritize his grieving constituents, whose children were just murdered over the celebration of guns and the NRA. Almost.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, unfortunately, our next speaker is unable to be with us in person today. So please, direct your attention to the screens for a message, from Texas Governor, Greg Abbott.
ABBOTT: Remember this: There are thousands of laws on the books across the country that limit the owning or using of firearms. Laws that have not stopped mad men from carrying out evil acts an innocent people, and peaceful communities. Just as laws didn`t stop the killer, we will not let his evil acts stop us from uniting the community that he tried to destroy. I mean, I am in this Uvalde afternoon, working to heal the broken hearted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: So, at the exact same time, the governor of it was healing the broken hearted, he was pledging his support to the NRA via jumble Trump, arguing against any kind of gun control legislation in his state. And according to him, it doesn`t work. So, what`s the point?
The mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, called out this exact kind of hypocrisy and remarks to the Houston city council this week. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D), HOUSTON: Why are elected officials coming to the NRA to speak? What message does that send? And I do not think that the governor, or U.S. Senator Ted Cruz or any other congressperson`s going and speaking sends the right message. You can`t pray and send condolences on one day, and be going and championing guns on the next. That`s wrong.
I don`t want to be nice anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: Joining us now is the mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner.
Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for making time for us this evening. First, I want to just, you know, ask you, what it felt like to be in Houston today, you know, with the NRA, essentially co-opting your city, to throw a big party for guns in the wake of this horrible mass shooting a few hours away, where the community is still reeling and grieving?
TURNER: Well, it is shameful. And I don`t think I can come up with a word to express my sentiment strongly enough. It is shameful.
The reality is that there`s 13, 19 of our children are no longer here, no longer with their families, and quite frankly, not even been buried yet. So their families are grieving, and will be grieving for the rest of their lives. And right now, they`re planning funeral arrangements. And then, three days later, you have people who are attending the NRA.
And number one, no elected officials should be attending this. And the very fact that the governor, the lieutenant governor, the speaker, and others are not attending, I think that speaks volumes. But you can`t have it both ways. You cannot personally not be there, and then, at the same time, sent a video message, expressing your support for guns, and saying guns are not the problem.
But I would tell you that there were thousands of people in Houston, that stood up in different venues across the city, saying no two guns, no two assault weapons, that we just can`t pray enough of our condolences like we`ve done repeatedly in the past, that we have to do more. I stood with leaders in the city of Houston, elected officials, and that the national president of the National Educators Association, the National President of the American Federation of Teachers, along with many others, saying no, we have to do more. And if we don`t do it now, we run the risk of losing even more kits.
MOHYELDIN: Can I -- can I ask you about your decision here for a moment. People were calling on you to try and cancel the NRA conference. You said it would have been to logistically complicated to cancel it, that the NRA could potentially sued the city, if you try to cancel their contract. Explain to us your thought process behind not trying to just trying to shut down the event. Whatever the consequences might have been?
TURNER: Let me give you an example. During the height of the pandemic, when we had an organization that was seeking to hold a convention, for example, at the George brown, I moved forward, and I canceled that convention. But I had justification for health purposes. I, our medical health examiner for the city of Houston said that that would have led to the spreading of the coronavirus.
And in this particular case, this convention, this conference, had been on the books for two years. A lot of the arrangements had already been made. The contractual arrangements had already been made. To cancel this convention, in two or three days before it was scheduled to start, just because, for example, the mayor, or members of the city council, or others, disagreed with the message, is not a legal justification for canceling it, without exposing the city to liability and damages, as a result of all the money spent.
Rather, when I said, they had the option. They could have canceled this convention themselves. They could have delayed this part of this convention. There are many things that they could have done, instead of holding this convention in the same week that 19 young persons have lost their lives.
MOHYELDIN: Yeah, it seems like a very antagonistic move, and certainly, you know, it would`ve been wishful thinking on your part, or anyone`s part, to expect the NRA to take a moral position and moved out of state for those grieving families.
Sylvester Turner, mayor of Houston, Texas -- sir, thank you very much for being here. Greatly appreciate your insights.
Should Republicans and Congress still be as scared of the NRA as they have been four years? Or could we be at a tipping point? That conversation is next.
MOHYELDIN: So, in 1999, the NRA`s big annual meeting felt 11 days after the shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, which killed 17 people. It was in Denver that year, it was less than half an hour away from the sight of that horrific school shooting.
The NRA didn`t cancel the convention, and they actually scaled it back from three days to one, they drop the gun shows, they drop the exhibits, and we know from audio lead to NPR last, year the NRA leaders at the time were actually worried about the optics of kids holding guns at a convention hall, in that state, that soon after a tragedy.
This is the NRA`s big annual meeting in Houston, Texas, earlier today as we were discussing just days after the match today in Uvalde that, left 19 children and two adults dead. The NRA did not scale back its meeting at all. They had as they put it, 14 acres of guns and gear.
They are still billing the event as of freedom filled weekend for the entire family.
So, what happened to the fear of bad optics? Why aren`t the NRA and the gun lobby hiding the stuff like they did back in 1999?
Well, it turns out sadly, that mass shootings are good for their business. Gone and ammo sales and stocks have surged after mass shootings, and unfortunately did again after Uvalde. Smith and Wesson stock rose more than 13 percent since Tuesday morning, and Ammo Inc was up 16 percent.
The speakers that showed up today`s NRA event doubled down on their pro gun statues and speeches. Senator Ted Cruz, President Trump, they blamed everything from doors, video games, to mental health. When it came to guns, the one thing every mass shooter has in common, the guns, the weapons both of them gave the classic refrain, that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
So, here`s the question the question is, if the NRA and the politicians whose pockets it lines, have this little shame, how is gun control actually beat them?
Joining us now is Igor Volsky, executive director of Guns Down America, and the guy who literally wrote the book on beating the NRA. It`s called "Guns Down: How to Defeat the NRA and Build a Safer Future with Fewer Guns".
Igor, thank you so much for being with us tonight. I couldn`t think about a better person to have a conversation with.
Let`s pretend here for a second, or maybe manifest, that President Biden is watching right now, watching this show, this hour, watching you, what is your pitch to him? How does he beat the NRA for once and for all?
IGOR VOLSKY, "GUNS DOWN" AUTHOR: Well, thank you for having me on and good evening.
Mr. President, you have a real opportunity to lead in this moment. To change the script of a mass shooting happens, we talk about it for 24/7, and then we simply move on. You can stand up and say that tonight, I`m opening a White House office of gun violence prevention that`s going to focus for the first time on coordinating and all around government approach to making sure we solve this crisis.
You could announce a crisscross across the country, visiting impacted communities, settling a vision of a future with fewer guns and safer communities. You can bring all of the senators back from their vacation, lock them in the White House, and begin those negotiations, figure out what`s actually possible, so we can start to save lives.
That doesn`t happen without you. Mr. President, you have 30 years of experience a bringing senators together, hard getting hard things done, please, use it on this issue.
MOHYELDIN: You know, a refrain said by both President Trump and Senator Ted Cruz was that that only thing they believe stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. I mention that not to have you debunk it, everybody with common sense know is that it`s been debunked many times over, but that the phrase is nearly a decade old right now, and it`s totally ingrained in the pro-gun culture in America. And crowds went wild when cruising Trump said it.
How do you or how do we fight that deeply held belief?
VOLSKY: You know, Ayman, this brings me back to leadership, right? We need leaders in this country from the president on down, who are not afraid to talk about the innate danger of firearms, the idea that firearms are dangerous in almost everybody`s hands. That`s what they`re designed to do, they`re designed to kill.
And part of the crisis is, we saw this during COVID, folks responded to the pandemic by running out and purchasing firearms. This happens after mass shootings. We need to educate people about the fact that listen, if you choose to bring a firearm into your house, no. That you`re bringing in something that could potentially kill you, suicide, or kill those around you, your child could find that gun.
I think it`s a matter of having an honest conversation about what guns really are. We see that that feel to the NRA and that`s why that phrase is so ubiquitous.
MOHYELDIN: Igor Volsky, executive director of Guns Down America, Igor, thank you so much for your time, I`m sure that we`re going to have this conversation again in the weeks and months ahead unfortunately I wish we didn`t, but something has to change.
Up next, why the generation that`s grown up with school shooting drills living with the knowledge that they could be killed in school, could actually be the generation to get politicians to finally do something.
MOHYELDIN: Four years ago the city of Parkland, Florida, was rocked by a mass student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It killed 17 people. In the weeks that followed, a group of students who survived that took time to grieve their classmates and teachers. But they also set a date for direct action, to demand that lawmakers do something.
Those students spread the word, and on March 24th, 2018, 800,000 demonstrators marched in D.C. along Pennsylvania avenue, held a March for Our Lives Rally at the Capitol.
Nearly 2 million people also march across the country making it one of the largest protests in American history. And their actions, marching demanding lawmakers do more, believe it or not it actually work, it moved the needle. Because in the months after the Parkland shooting, 25 states across this country, including more than a dozen that were led via Republicans, they enacted new gun control laws raging from banning bump stocks to allowing authorities to temporarily disarm potentially violent people.
That was four years ago, and yet here we are in the wake of another tragedy, that student -led organization March For Our Lives, plants take to the streets for another rally, June 11th.
Those kids already have a proven track record, and I for one would not bet against them this time either. Stay tuned for June 11th.
All right. That does it for me tonight. I`ll see you tomorrow night at 8:00 Eastern on "AYMAN". Tomorrow, I`ll talk to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse about how special interests are stopping the Senate from passing gun reform.
Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Jonathan Capehart filling in for Lawrence.
Good evening, Jonathan.