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Transcript: The ReidOut, 5/24/22

Guests: Nicole Hockley, Julian Castro, Shannon Watts, Ralph Godbee, Joaquin Castro

Summary

Over a dozen elementary school children and a teacher are killed in a Texas mass shooting. Congressman Joaquin Castro discusses the school shooting in his state. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro discusses the school massacre in Texas. The lack of effective gun control measures are discussed.

Transcript

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Fred, appreciate your condolences, your offer and you going through what is this -- this grim part of this process.

[19:00:04]

Fred Guttenberg, thank you. We will talk again hopefully under better circumstances.

The special coverage here on MSNBC continues now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone.

How you all doing? You tired, because I`m going to be honest. I am tired.

Tonight, we should be -- we should be talking about the many primary elections that are taking place across the country and the importance of our democracy. Like, that`s what we should be doing tonight.

But we`re not doing that, because, of course, all of that changed when the thing that seems to happen only here, only in America, happened again.

And so we begin THE REIDOUT tonight with yet another devastating tragedy that leaves us all, frankly, emotionally spent, and exhausted, and angry, and indescribably sad.

Fourteen little kids and one of their teachers are dead in Texas, and countless more are traumatized after yet another mass shooting, this one at Robb Elementary, an elementary school.

The school is in Uvalde County, Texas, which is about 85 miles west of San Antonio. Texas Governor Greg Abbott identified the shooter as an 18-year- old Uvalde resident.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): He shot and killed, horrifically, comprehensively, 14 students and killed a teacher.

In addition to that, it is being reported that the subject shot his grandmother right before he went into the school. And there is -- I have no further information about the connection between those two shootings.

And the subject is reported to be a student -- to have been a student at Uvalde High School.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: He added that the shooter abandoned his vehicle and entered Robb Elementary with a handgun and possibly a second firearm. Abbott added that the shooter was likely killed by responding officers, but that the events are still being investigated.

It is unclear what prompted this man to harm these 14 children.

President Biden has been briefed on the situation and is expected to address the country once he lands in more than an hour from a trip to South Korea. Moments ago, the White House said Biden spoke with Abbott and offered any assistance that he needs.

This devastating news comes just 10 days after another 18-year-old, a self- identified white supremacist, entered a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and methodically shot and killed 10 people while they were shopping, including three more, almost all of them black.

The funerals for those dead have not even been completed when the Uvalde killer struck. Robb Elementary parents rushed to a reunification center to await news from the school about their kids.

The scenes of those parents waiting, a parent`s literal worst nightmare, are eerily similar to that god-awful day back on December of 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, when yet another 18-year-old killer walked into an elementary school and killed 26 people, mostly kids, and some of their teachers; 21 of the victims were children between 6 and 7 years old, and six were adult staff members.

Nationally, 134 American children have been killed by gun violence just this year. And it`s only May. According to "The Texas Tribune," with Tuesday`s shooting, there have been eight shootings in Texas alone in which at least four victims were killed. In 2018, a student opened fire at Santa Fe High School near Houston, killing 10 people and wounded 13 others.

Under Governor Abbott, Texas has proudly pursued laws to get more guns into more hands. And Abbott famously tweeted that he was embarrassed that Texas was second behind California for new gun purchases. He urged Texas to pick up the pace, get more guns.

He, along with the former President Donald Trump and Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, are scheduled to speak at the National Rifle Association`s 2022 annual meeting on Friday in Houston.

Joining me now, Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro.

Congressman Castro, thank you for being here.

It is the worst kind of deja vu to have to have this conversation with you, because it feels like it`s a conversation that leads nowhere. I don`t know how many kids have to die before someone wants to do something about it. But I want you to just talk about this community, which is very near the community that you represent.

What are they dealing with, going through? What is happening? And I just want you to talk.

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): Well, Joy, just like every American, just heartbroken at this tragedy today.

And Uvalde is about 75 miles from my house. And it`s kind of the midway point when you go from San Antonio on Highway 90 towards Del Rio and the U.S.-Mexican border. And it`s a tight-knit community, just people -- it`s the kind of place where most people know each other, a small town, friendly place.

[19:05:09]

It`s overwhelmingly Mexican-American. It`s almost 80 percent Mexican- American. And I couldn`t help, when I heard the news, but think about those parents who dropped their kids off at school this morning, the way I did. I have a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old. I dropped them off at elementary school.

And the fact that -- that they won`t be picking their kids up, that they didn`t get a chance to pick their kids up. This morning was the last time they saw their kids alive.

And you wonder, what possesses somebody to go gun down 15 people, much less 14 little kids? But then, also, as a society, you wonder, what possesses us to enable through our laws somebody to do that, to have weapons of war that allow somebody to kill people, a bunch of people, in a matter of seconds before people can even turn around, before you even have a chance to respond?

Texas...

(CROSSTALK)

REID: I apologize for having to interrupt you, Congressman, but you will understand this, because the vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris, is speaking now.

JOAQUIN CASTRO: Of course.

REID: And she`s going to address this shooting.

So let`s listen to Vice President Harris.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Thank you.

What an incredible room.

And, Judy Chu, thank you for that introduction and for your leadership on so many levels.

Tonight is a rough night. We planned for a great celebration, but I`m sure most of you have heard the tragic news about what has happened in Texas.

So I had prepared comments about tonight, which I will speak, but I just first want to begin by saying a few words about the tragedy that occurred today in Uvalde, Texas.

As many of you know, the reports are that there was a mass shooting at an elementary school. And the preliminary reports are that 14 children have been killed. And the details are still coming in. And, of course, the President and I are monitoring the situation closely.

So, while we don`t know all the details yet, we do know that there are parents who have lost children, families that have lost children, and their loves ones, of course, and many others who may have been injured.

So, I would normally say in a moment like this, we would all say naturally that our hearts break, but our hearts keep getting broken.

You know, I think so many -- there`s so many elected leaders in this room. You know what I`m talking about. Every time a tragedy like this happens, our hearts break, and our broken hearts are nothing compared to the broken hearts of those families. And yet it keeps happening.

So, I think we all know and have said many times with each other, enough is enough. Enough is enough.

As a nation, we have to have the courage to take action and understand the nexus between what makes for reasonable and sensible public policy to ensure something like this never happens again.

So, the president will speak more about this later. But, for now, I will just say, to the people of Uvalde, please know that this is a room full of leaders who grieve with you. And we are praying for you, and we stand with you.

And it is difficult at a time like this to think about much else, but I do look around this room, and I know who is here, and I know this is a room full of American leaders who know and have the courage to take a stand.

And so let us, tonight, as we do every time we all get together, recommit ourselves to having the courage to take action.

And so that does bring me to the leaders who are in this room and the leaders of APAICS.

And, again, I want to thank...

REID: Vice President Kamala Harris.

And I want to note for everyone -- and you can see the signs behind her -- she`s shooting at -- she`s speaking -- excuse me -- at the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies

That`s the organization that she`s speaking in front of. That`s in D.C. It`s their awards gala. So, of course, she went there to speak about Asian American and Pacific Islander community leadership. And you can see that that was the speech she had prepared to give.

[19:10:07]

But, like all of us, plans change, when little kids get mowed down at an elementary school, in this case, in the state of Texas.

I want to bring back in Representative Joaquin Castro.

I interrupted you. And so I want to let you finish.

But I also would love for you to expound upon -- I mean, you serve in the House of Representatives, where commonsense gun reform has been passed year after year after year after year, only to die in the United States Senate. And two of the senators who have killed it are the two senators from Texas, Senator Cornyn and Senator Ted Cruz, who offered the usual thoughts and prayers today, used paper statements.

Ted Cruz made some comments about protecting the rights of gun owners. They have refused to do anything to stop the next elementary school from getting shot up. And they are more passionate about protecting the rights of gun owners than they are about protecting -- at least, that is the appearance, because they really -- that`s where their passion seems to be.

How -- so I would love for you to talk about that, of being a legislator who`s trying to actually legislate this issue. And it gets stopped in the other body by the other party.

JOAQUIN CASTRO: Look, you`re right, Joy.

I mean, we have tried on background -- universal background checks, we have tried to make it harder for people who are mentally unfit to get weapons. Republicans have made it easier. We have tried to take weapons of war off the street. And each of those initiatives, each of those pieces of legislation has been stopped cold by the Republican majority in -- they have tried in the House, but they have done it in the Senate.

And when -- these things happen over and over and over again. And we just went through Buffalo. Texas had the El Paso massacre a few years ago. We have had shootings in Florida and Texas and just -- in Connecticut. It`s hard not to reach the conclusion at some point that there are policymakers who are OK with this happening, because they`re not doing anything about it.

They`re not trying to do anything about it. And yet, again, here, just like Sandy Hook, where you had many kids killed, you have 14 kids killed. So what is the Congress going to do about it? And what is the Texas governor and the legislature, what are they going to do about it?

And Greg Abbott made the state more dangerous over the last few years by allowing for permitless carry, basically no-questions-asked carrying a gun. And it`s made the state more dangerous.

And so, yes, I mean, people are frustrated with Congress, and they think Congress is worthless, because Congress hasn`t done anything. But there are many of us who have tried to do something. But, as you know, this is a representative democracy. It`s not a monarchy. We can`t force Republicans to vote a certain way.

And they stalled reform every time.

REID: I want to -- I just -- my wonderful assistant just sent me some numbers.

Everytown research does these numbers about the shootings that take place around the world, and it -- by their count -- and we will go and look and verify this -- the United States is by far the place where it`s the most dangerous to send your child to school; 288, in 2022, school shootings.

As you mentioned, this community, Uvalde, is very close to the Mexican border. You know how many school students were in Mexico this year so far? Eight. Eight.

So, just across the border, it`s 288 to eight by this count from Everytown. I mean, in every other country, you can go all the way down through Turkey and even Russia, and it`s single digits. It`s only the United States that are in the triple digits. And that`s -- and the year is not even over. We`re not even into June.

So I`m going to give you the last word on this. What would you say to Ted Cruz, in response to his thoughts and prayers, and to -- let`s not John Cornyn off the hook.

JOAQUIN CASTRO: I would ask our senators and the United States Senate to listen to the American people. The American people have actually made up their minds on this issue.

Ninety percent of the American people -- that means Republicans and Democrats alike -- overwhelmingly support things like universal background checks. It`s the politicians, like John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, who are not listening to the American people.

They should listen to their constituents.

REID: Including the vast majority of gun owners. The vast majority of gun owners support background checks, because they understand that a firearm is not a toy.

It`s something that`s -- it`s an awesome responsibility to have. And when you get a background check, you get licensed, you get trained, you learn how to use it, how to store it, how to not shoot yourself accidentally with it. You learn the gravity of it.

[19:15:07]

And the fact that Texas is saying, nah, go ahead and just have one, I don`t even know what to say.

Congressman Joaquin Castro, thank you. Thank you, sir. Really appreciate you.

JOAQUIN CASTRO: Thank you.

REID: I`m joined now -- thank you -- by Ralph Godbee, former chief of Detroit police, as well as Detroit Public Schools, and Frank Figliuzzi, former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI.

I am going to start with you, Frank, just for a moment to talk about the way -- the ways in which you would back into investigating an incident like this in which the shooter is dead. How do you even begin to figure out how and why someone would kill their own grandmother, and then go and mow down more than a dozen little kids?

I don`t even know how you get into the mind-set of somebody who would do that. But how do you actually investigate this crime?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, sadly, we have all too many examples of practice through the years, of course, Sandy Hook and Parkland and others.

It involves reconstructing the shooter`s life, including family history, mental health and physical health history, interactions with classmates, teachers, counselors, extensive amounts of interviews, extensive forensic examination of his devices, his search history, his writings, his speaking to others.

Were the warning signs and indicators there? They almost are always present. But we fail to see them. And I always use these tragic moments to remind viewers that we have got to take responsibility for what we can do, which is to understand the warning signs and indicators that someone`s on the path to violence, because, increasingly, Joy, Americans are killing each other at record-setting rates.

The FBI just yesterday came out with its annual report on active shooter incidents, and the numbers are staggering. There`s an over 50 percent increase in active shooters over the last year, an over 96 percent increase over the last five years.

And the death count for each of those is going up, which means likely the access to assault rifles and extended magazines. So we will figure this out in terms of the history, the psych history, what set him off, what the warning signs and indicators are.

But, Joy, it`s going to keep happening until we do something about it.

REID: And that`s the thing, Chief Godbee.

I mean, I spoke with my youngest child today, who called and said -- and noted for me -- and he`s right -- so many of these murderers, mass murderers, these are teen -- they`re 18 -- 18, 19 years old.

There are troubled 18- and 19-year-olds all over the world. The lockdowns and COVID restrictions took place, not just in the United States, but all over the world. People play video games all over the world. People have mental health issues all over the world.

Nothing else is different about the United States, right, which is the most violent non-war-torn country on Earth. The only thing that distinguishes us from all of these other countries, where they have the same kind of teenagers and the same kind of young adults, they have the same kind of everything, is the access to assault weapons.

That`s the only difference. There are more guns here than people. And it`s easier to get them here than anywhere else in the world. There isn`t -- there just isn`t anything else that distinguishes the United States.

So I wonder, for you, as a former police chief, noting that, just literally today, Celestine Chaney, who was one of the Buffalo supermarket victims, she was buried today. Not even all 10 of them have been buried, all the people who were killed in Buffalo were buried. There -- and there`s yet another one.

I wonder, at some point, does law enforcement demand gun reform? Because law enforcement also has to be out there in these streets dealing with a population, so many of which are armed to the teeth. That can`t be good for law enforcement either.

RALPH GODBEE, FORMER DETROIT, MICHIGAN, POLICE CHIEF: No, absolutely not.

And, Joy, you make so many astute points and, as always, asking the right questions, and not only, to boot, over 400 million weapons that are traceable, but you have ghost weapons. But let`s be conservative and say, if we have six shots per weapon, you`re talking about billions of opportunities to end a life.

So, law enforcement, we really do have to be much more vocal and vocalized about the proliferation of guns. If -- even if you can`t be altruistic and look at the benefits for the community, officers have to face this every day.

So -- but what juxtaposes that position, number one, is, we hold the Second Amendment sacrosanct, as if -- we hold that in higher regard than the Torah, the holy Koran or the Bible. And the Constitution is amendable.

[19:20:11]

And until reasonable people -- and, unfortunately I don`t know if it`s going to happen in my lifetime -- take a look at our proliferation of guns and I love of guns -- and the lowest common denominator for everything that you mentioned, Joy, is the proliferation of weapons.

Again, like you said, you have mental health issues all across the world. You have anger and fights all across the world. The lowest common denominator in the United States of America is the proliferation of guns.

I mean, and if we didn`t make a change after Newtown, Connecticut, we didn`t make a change after Columbine, we didn`t make any changes after Buffalo, New York, even though it`s fresh in our minds, what gives us any hope that a feckless Congress is going to do anything that`s bought and paid for by the National Rifle Association?

REID: Absolutely.

And, Frank, I have been to Mexico. I have been to South Africa. I have been to Europe. There is no country on Earth where I ever worry I could get shot here.

But here, in the United States, you can get shot in the Walmart. You can get shot in the Tops supermarket. You can get shot sending -- your kids can get shot at school, not just high school, but elementary school. There`s nowhere you can be safe in this country, where -- it`s not clear, right, whether you`re in a red state, blue state, because even in the blue states, they are bringing in ghost guns and everything from the easy-to-purchase gun states.

They`re trekking them in from the states where it`s easy to get. They`re -- it`s everywhere. There is no place that you can actually feel safe in this country that you might not end up in the middle of a mass shooting, even if you are a child, Frank?

I just want to go through here with you a couple of the things that went into effect. This is just in Texas. And I want to let both of you comment on this. I will start with you, Frank.

In September of last year, just in Texas, Texas put in a law that would let most Texans, as we heard the congressman say, carry handguns in public without going through any training or ever having to get a gun permit. A law dubbed the Second Amendment Sanctuary State Act that permits state agencies and local governments from enforcing -- stops them from enforcing new federal gun rules

A law exempting firearm suppressors that are made and remain in Texas -- that are -- remain in Texas and federal laws and regulations, allowing hotel guests to carry and store their firearms ammunition in their hotel room. A law that removes the requirement that handguns must be carried in a shoulder or belt holster, expanding what kinds of holsters are legal.

I could keep going on. They have allowed Texans to carry guns in church, in the synagogue, in places of worship. They have allowed Texas to -- Texans to carry guns during a state of disaster, so when you`re highly agitated. There`s a prohibit -- law prohibiting school districts and banning -- from banning licensed gun owners from storing their guns and ammunition in their car in the parking lot of the school.

And one more for you, Frank. In 2016, they passed a law allowing people to openly carry weapons into a mental health hospital, because that`s where you really want to have lots and lots of guns which you could drop, leave, or forget to bring with you or forget to unload.

Your thoughts?

FIGLIUZZI: Joy, let`s make no mistake about this. More guns equals more shootings, period. The data is there.

If you look at the background check numbers over the last two years, the mandatory federal background checks -- Texas doesn`t want to do a background check on you. But the federal background checks have gone up in the last two years by millions. That`s millions more weapons being purchased. And those are just the background checks that we know about, because why?

Because many guns are purchased without ever requiring a background check, because we know Congress has yet to close the gun show loophole. Now, you mentioned a -- you asked a question just a minute ago about, hey, isn`t it time for law enforcement to step up and say something about what they have to encounter on the streets every day?

So, listen to this. The September 1 law that you just cited in Texas where no license, no permit, no training required, the largest law enforcement organization in the state of Texas came out publicly and said to the governor: We oppose this move. It`s going to make life more dangerous for cops and for citizens.

So that`s the largest law enforcement association in the state of Texas. So, the cops get it. They have to deal with it every time they pull over a car, every time they respond to a call for service. They understand it. They are coming out probably against it. And our lawmakers are ignoring their own police officers.

REID: They`re ignoring their own police officers. And they`re ignoring 70 percent of people who own firearms in this country, who are saying, yes, have people have to have a license know what they`re doing with this firearm.

[19:25:03]

Ralph Godbee, Frank Figliuzzi, thank you both very much.

Let`s bring in MSNBC`s Morgan Chesky. He joins us now from Uvalde.

I`m just going to let you tell us what you`re seeing, what you`re hearing, what`s happening there -- Morgan.

MORGAN CHESKY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Joy, good evening.

I`m sorry. It`s not a good evening.

We`re here in Uvalde. We arrived several hours ago. And in every direction you look, there is pain in this town. We`re just across the street from Robb Elementary School. There is a massive law enforcement perimeter that has gone up around it. Hundreds of officers have descended on this small community of about 15,000 people that is now the scene of a massive investigation following an unspeakable tragedy.

Inside this school behind me, this elementary school, Joy, police say this 18-year-old gunman, who lived in this community, walked in around 11:30 this morning with a handgun and potentially a rifle. That`s where he opened fire.

And, according to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, that`s where he killed 14 elementary school students and a teacher. And in case you`re wondering how tight-knit this town is, whenever I parked on this block, I asked the gentleman sitting in front of his home if it was OK to do so. And he asked me why I was here -- or he knew.

And then he added: "The teacher that was killed in the school was my niece."

This is a town where everybody knows everybody, and everyone felt safe until today. And, right now, we don`t know the motive of this gunman. We are hoping to find out more in an update from officials here within the next few hours.

But, as investigators pore over this scene here inside and outside this elementary school, there is a civic center about a quarter mile from where I`m standing where they made it a reunification side. So all of the students who for hours today huddled with teachers quietly inside their school, as they had potentially trained for in the past, they were taken to this civic center, where frantic parents rushed up to make sure that their child was still alive, that they were OK today.

We spoke to one gentleman there, Joy, who arrived at the elementary school earlier today because he wanted to give his wife flowers, because it wasn`t just her last week of school this week. It was her last week of school ever. She was retiring just two days from now. And he says he had just walked out of the school when he heard pop-pop.

And he knew something had gone horrifically wrong. And, from there, we have just heard update after update that only makes this tragedy more heartbreaking. And, right now, there are so many questions out there. But the one thing we know is that what took place this morning here in Uvalde, Texas, has created a -- just a gutting feeling in this town.

Authorities do believe that this gunman acted alone. And they do say he is deceased. And right now, Joy, I think a lot of people are just trying to wrap their head around what exactly took place.

When you see this happen in other communities across the country, unfortunately, it`s one thing. And then the people that we`re speaking to here are finding out it`s entirely different when it happens in your own backyard -- Joy.

REID: Yes, indeed.

MSNBC`s Morgan Chesky, thank you. A harrowing report. And you`re right. It is not a good -- it`s not a good evening.

Thank you very much. Really appreciate you.

I`m going to bring in Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action.

And, Shannon, you have what should be the most unnecessary job in the world. I mean, you have to constantly try to convince normal human beings that we shouldn`t let our kids get slaughtered in school. And yet, as somebody -- Jemele Hill noted, it was like the most prescient tweet ever in the history of Twitter.

Somebody had tweeted that, if Sandy Hook didn`t do it, nothing was ever going to do it. Those 6-year-olds and their teachers -- 6-year-olds got mowed down in Sandy Hook, and America shrugged it off and moved on, and now more little kids.

I can`t imagine what you`re thinking this evening, but please try to tell us, if you can.

SHANNON WATTS, FOUNDER, MOMS DEMAND ACTION FOR GUN SENSE IN AMERICA: Well, first of all, just utter devastation for this community in Texas.

As you said, we`re just watching people be buried who were shot and killed by a white supremacist in a mass shooting in Buffalo less than 10 days ago. This is outrageous.

But what makes it even more outrageous is that we know how to stop it. We know how to keep black people from being killed while they grocery-shop. We know how to keep second graders from being slaughtered in an elementary school in America.

The data shows us how to stop it. These aren`t acts of nature. These are manmade acts of inaction, of cowardice, of corruption by lawmakers who refuse to act.

And I thought it was prescient that Amanda Gorman said today, you know, it takes a monster to kill children, but to watch monsters kill children again and again and do nothing isn`t just insanity; it`s inhumanity.

[19:30:11]

What does it mean if you were a lawmaker that has the power to stop this, and you do nothing? What does that say about you?

REID: Let me go through some of the top recipients of NRA`s money.

And the NRA, let`s just be clear, they`re not about gun safety anymore, like what they started with. They`re not about gun reform, which they were very much in favor of when they wanted to disarm the Black Panthers in California.

They`re in favor of marketing and selling lots and lots and lots of guns when they`re not in deep financial trouble. Mitt Romney -- just to make you all clear that, it`s not just the wild MAGA faction that`s taking this blood money. It`s also Mitt Romney, number one, $13 million.

Richard Burr, North Carolina, number two, Roy Blunt, Thom Tillis. Cory Gardner, remember him, when -- he`s gone. He got booted out in California, but he got $4 million. Marco Rubio right there at number four. And you can keep going down. Ted Cruz isn`t even in the top 10. He`s like way down.

They`re all fighting to get some of these coins. That`s what they care about, right? Ron Johnson is up there, Marsha Blackburn, Josh Hawley, Pat Toomey. I could read them all off, many of them are up for reelection in this cycle and some in the next.

Is there a reason these politicians don`t seem to pay much of a price for accepting the money of the NRA? They`re going to -- a bunch of them are speaking at their little conference. It`s right there in Houston on Friday.

WATTS: Yes, it is just shocking that they continue to have the stranglehold from the gun lobby.

And, as you said, some of them are going to be speaking at the NRA annual meeting this weekend. And I guarantee you, those leaders who are speaking, they will not -- guns will not be allowed inside the venues where they are.

REID: Of course not.

WATTS: And that`s because they`re scared they might be shot.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: Yes.

WATTS: And yet they do nothing when children are shot inside their schools, or when black people are shot inside a grocery store, or the everyday gun violence, right?

Like, mass shootings are about 1 percent of the gun violence in this country. It`s the everyday shootings that killed 110 people and wound hundreds more that is tearing the fabric of our communities.

Look, I don`t know that I predicted 10 years ago, when I started Moms Demand Action as a full-time volunteer, that what would happen was that the NRA would lose power, but that its right-wing agenda would be co-opted by extremists and white supremacists and misogynists and bigots, who would make it an organizing principle around their work.

And any lawmaker who stands with the gun lobby needs to realize they`re standing with that specific right-wing extremist agenda.

REID: Indeed. Amen.

Shannon Watts, thank you for all that you do. Thank you for being here this evening.

Joining us now, Julian Castro, former secretary of housing and urban development.

We had your brother on earlier. Thank you for being here, Secretary Castro.

And I asked him about being a legislator, and how frustrating it must be to actually pass gun reform over and over and over again and vote for it and do what`s right for your community and care so much about your community, in this case, one that`s 70 -- what did he say, half-an-hour from where these people died, and have it go nowhere.

I want to play for you a couple of other politicians on the Senate side, which is where these bills go to die. Let`s start with Ted Cruz. This is Ted Cruz talking today about this shooting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): We know from past experience that the most effective tool for keeping kids safe is armed law enforcement on the campus.

Inevitably, when there`s a murder of this kind, you see politicians trying to try to politicize it. You see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. That doesn`t work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Yes, let`s think about the real victims here, the people who want to have guns.

Now here is a senator from another state, Chris Murphy, whose state of Connecticut was home to the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012. Look at the difference in passion between Ted Cruz and Chris Murphy. Here`s Chris Murphy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Sandy Hook will never, ever be the same. This community in Texas will never, ever be the same. Why? Why are we here, if not to try to make sure that fewer schools and fewer communities go through what Sandy Hook has gone through, what Uvalde is going through?

Our heart is breaking for these families. Every ounce of love and thoughts and prayers we can send, we are sending.

But I`m here on this floor to beg, to literally get down on my hands and knees and beg my colleagues, find a path forward here. Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[19:35:00]

REID: Secretary Castro, both of these men are human beings. They both have -- they`re both fathers. They both have families. They both have little kids in their lives.

I cannot stand to see a little child cry. People love children. They`re both, presumably -- why is it that these Texas senators lacks -- doesn`t have the passion that this man Chris Murphy has, this senator has? Do you understand it? I can`t understand it.

JULIAN CASTRO, FORMER U.S. HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY: Well, I don`t, except to say that the contrast couldn`t be clearer.

What you have in Senator Murphy is someone who has a heart and also has the mind to try and fix this problem, and hasn`t forgotten why he`s there, to try and keep the people of his state and of the country safe and do what it takes to protect our children.

And, on the other hand -- and you hear it in his clinical voice, his distance, his distant tone -- what you have in Ted Cruz is someone who`s not the least bit interested today in trying to make this situation better, but is just parroting the NRA talking points. He`s bought and paid for by the National Rifle Association.

And so he`s just hoping that the emotion of all of this blows over and then that we just go back to the status quo. And what we need are more legislators, especially on the Republican side, who are there to do the right thing and are able to find the moral courage to buck the NRA, to buck those political contributors, and finally take some commonsense gun reform measures, even if we just start with universal background checks that 90 percent of Americans say we need.

They need to get started.

REID: It would be -- it -- that seems so logical.

And I don`t understand why the death, the mass death of children does not move people to action. But, then again, I don`t understand why a million people dying of COVID didn`t move people either.

Let me keep you here. Please don`t go anywhere, Julian Castro, but I want to bring in Matthew Dowd, the founder of Country Over Party.

Thank you for being here. And, of course, you are -- you live in the great state of Texas. You are a Texan.

Do you understand it? Because I see Chris Murphy`s passion, and that`s how I feel. And I feel like that`s how like 90 percent of people feel when a bunch of little children get shot down in school. And then Ted Cruz comes on. He tweets out a thoughts and prayers tweet, maybe a staffer. Maybe he wrote it. I don`t know.

And then he says, whenever these things that happen, everybody wants to come with the guns, but, yes, we`re not going to do that.

I don`t get it. Do you?

MATTHEW DOWD, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you only get it if people like Ted Cruz are completely unprincipled, so, -- who I know. And he`s completely unprincipled at this point in time, and doesn`t really have a great deal of empathy in any part of his -- in any part of his body.

I mean, what we have arrived at -- this is unbelievably tragic, Joy. And I`m glad Julian is on, who`s not many miles -- who`s grown up and not -- lived not many miles from this great community of Uvalde, which I have been to a number of times -- it`s a beautiful place, wonderful people, 80 percent, 70 percent Hispanic -- is that, until we hold them accountable, people like Ted Cruz will keep doing it.

I mean, I can give you a perfect -- I`m a gun owner. As I have told you before on this, I`m a gun owner. I have two rifles and three shotguns. And like most gun owners in Texas, we`re for simple gun reform. We`re all for it. The majority of Texans are for it.

People sometimes look at Texas and say, what`s wrong with you? Well, there`s nothing wrong with the people of Texas. The people of Texas want universal background checks, with no loopholes. They want to get rid of this crazy permitless carry deal, where you don`t even have to have training, you can openly carry a handgun, which was -- just happened in the aftermath of the Walmart shooting in El Paso, and want red flag laws, so that if somebody is known to be violent, that a judge can remove a weapon from their home.

A judge can take -- all of us here, a majority of us here want it. But the problem is, the leadership we currently have in the state does not reflect the desires and dreams of the majority of Texans. And that`s on us. That`s on us to sort of do something about it.

Now, Texans are going to have a very clear choice -- and you can just take this one issue particularly -- one issue in particular -- are going to have a very clear choice in November between what Greg Abbott does, which is ease access, allow anyone any time to carry a gun, and Beto O`Rourke, who wants to do something, at least the basic things, about gun reform and to try to keep this from happening

But we are at a time -- I mean, this is so heart-wrenching. We are at a time when we have a political party and leaders in Texas who value guns more than life. And that`s the most simple way to say it. They do not value life in the same value that they value access to guns.

And I guarantee you something, Joy. And Julian probably knows this as well. I guarantee you, what`s going to come out of their mouth soon is, they`re going to, one, try to blame it on the border. Two, they`re going to say, let`s arm teachers.

[19:40:04]

And I think already the attorney general, who`s on the ballot today, is saying this. Arm teachers. Or, three, create fortresses at our schools.

They`re not going to ever talk about what the problem is, which is access to guns, which is access to guns without checks and without mental health confirmation. And that`s what you`re about to hear from the Republicans. They`re going to divert it, so they don`t have to talk about the real problem, which is access to guns.

REID: Secretary Julian Castro, I`m sorry, but they`re going to try that without any data, because I just read this stat.

I`m going to say it again. School shootings, by country -- you want to make it sound like the problem is the border, so the problem is coming over the border from Mexico. Good luck with that -- 288 school shootings in the United States thus far in this year, eight in Mexico, eight.

We are scores of magnitude more dangerous on this side of the border than that one. Maybe Mexico should build a wall to keep the American mass shooters out, because that would actually be more logical.

(CROSSTALK)

DOWD: You would add -- Joy, one thing. Add Canada should build a wall, because you know how many gun -- victims of gun violence in Canada last year?

Nine hundred people were killed by gun violence last year, 30,000 in America.

REID: Yes. Yes.

You know how many were killed in Canada in schools? Two. So it`s 288 to two. Yes, they should build a wall. They`d be safer. They -- we`re the ones who should be on the other side of the wall.

I`m going to let you have the last word on this, Julian Castro.

JULIAN CASTRO: Yes, I mean, they`re going to do everything that they can to deflect, to distract, to turn people`s attention away from the real problem, which is easy access to guns.

They have been telling this big lie, big myth about guns, that the more guns that we have available, the safer that we`re going to be, that you just need good guys with guns against bad guys with the guns, that -- or, as Ted Cruz said today in his sound bite, if you have somebody who`s an armed guard there.

In all of these situations, where you had more guns, whether it was El Paso or just last week in Buffalo, where you had an armed security guard who did shoot back at the shooter, that did not deter these folks from taking those guns and shooting up and killing so many people, including today 14 children and one adult. More guns is not the answer.

We need to enact common sense gun safety. And until they`re ready to grapple with that, I think that they should be booted out of office. And Texans have a very clear choice in November between a governor who`s made the situation worse and has helped enable the kind of thing that happened today and a candidate in Beto O`Rourke who actually wants to take some of these commonsense gun reform measures, and still recognize the Second Amendment and what the Supreme Court has said on it.

REID: Thank you both.

Julian Castro.

Oh, I think you guys are going to say with us, actually. I`m not letting you both go. This -- you guys are going to stay with me. So, gentlemen, please just stay with me for a moment.

I just want to do a little quick news update. A spokesman for Texas state Senator Roland Gutierrez tells NBC News that the senator said that he spoke with a Texas Ranger. And the news is not good. They have now said that 18 children and three adults have been killed. It is unclear whether or not the shooter is included in that list of deceased adults.

I want to also let that we are waiting on a press conference that could take place any moment, which is going to give us even further updates. Maybe that update that I just gave you will be included. Now, you can see that there. So we`re waiting for somebody to walk up to that microphone.

And, when that happens, I will rudely interrupt my friends Matthew Dowd and Julian Castro.

But I want to let you all continue your thought.

And I think I stopped you, Julian Castro, so I`m going to let you go first.

I mean, look, when I was living in Florida with my kids, raising our kids there, we didn`t purchase guns at that time because we were afraid our kids would find them and accidentally hurt each other and then have to live with that for the rest of their lives. And I couldn`t have lived with myself. That`s why we didn`t have guns.

I`m not anti-gun. I don`t oppose people having guns. I have been through the training, the licensing, all of that stuff. It is so key, because it teaches you to respect firearms. They are an awesome responsibility. They are not a toy that you can leave around your home.

They had a security guard at our kids` school. She was a wonderful police officer, armed police officer, who used to teach soccer. They had her do double duty. But we always knew that, if we got that text or call, we were going to have to go to a nearby park and stand in that park and wait for our name to be called to know whether or not our children were alive or dead if there was a school shooting.

That was a part of my third graders, fourth graders, fifth graders` growing-up lives. There`s no country on Earth that`s not at war -- I mean, I think about, Ukraine, kids are going through that kind of trauma.

But a country not at war, Julian Castro, can you think of any other place where people -- where children, part of their life is to think about going to a park in a big group, so that their mom and dad will know they are not dead in a school shooting?

[19:45:14]

JULIAN CASTRO: That is uniquely American, Joy, unfortunately.

And I`m a parent of a seventh grader and a first grader. My son is 6 years old. And to think about this generation of children growing up every day, going through these drills from time to time, looking over their shoulder, wondering whether somebody`s going to come into their classroom and harm them, and the trauma that they face day after day thinking about that, especially after something like this.

As a parent -- as a parent, this is your worst nightmare to get that call and to have to wait and to wonder whether your child was injured or, even worse, killed. And this is who we are now. We thought that this would be over after Newtown and what happened at Sandy Hook and that, finally, Republicans in Washington, D.C., would take the steps necessary to start making this less and less likely.

REID: Yes.

JULIAN CASTRO: And it didn`t happen.

And since that time, we have seen so many other incidents...

REID: Indeed.

JULIAN CASTRO: ... from Buffalo last week to today in Uvalde. Still hasn`t happened.

REID: And it still hasn`t happened.

Let`s go to this press conference and get some updates on the Uvalde shooting.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

ANNE MARIE ESPINOZA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS AND MARKETING, UVALDE, TEXAS, CONSOLIDATED INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: ... appreciate your patience and understanding.

Here to provide a short statement and not taking any questions is our you Valdez CISD chief of police, Pete Arredondo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Turn it on. Turn it on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s off. It`s off.

PETE ARREDONDO, UVALDE, TEXAS, CONSOLIDATED INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT POLICE CHIEF: I don`t see the switch.

ESPINOZA: Would you like for me to do this again?

(CROSSTALK)

ESPINOZA: Let do this again, Pete.

ARREDONDO: Sure.

ESPINOZA: I apologize. I didn`t realize we were not on, and you probably could not hear what I was saying.

I am Anne Marie Espinoza, executive director of communications and marketing for Uvalde CISD. This is a tragic time in our district. So, please know the investigation is not complete. We will only be sharing a statement with you, not providing questions.

We greatly appreciate your patience and understanding.

Here to share a statement and not take questions is our Uvalde CISD chief of police, Pete Arredondo.

ARREDONDO: Thank you. Good evening.

Again, briefly, as of now, we`re still working on this active investigation. Once we`re able to provide information to the families, we will do so. First and foremost, obviously, our priorities is to get information to our families and give them some information.

So, please bear with us in regards to that. Secondly, once we do get some information that we can release to the public, we will be doing that. So, please know, once we do get some information, we will share that with you and call another press conference.

Let me assure you, the intruder is deceased. And we are not actively looking for another individual or any other suspects in this case.

We definitely ask you all to keep the family, the families that are involved in your prayers. Thank you so much.

ESPINOZA: Here to provide a statement, and not take any questions, is our superintendent, Dr. Hal Harrell.

HAL HARRELL, SUPERINTENDENT, UVALDE, TEXAS, CONSOLIDATED INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: Good evening.

This was a tragic and senseless event today. And my heart is broke today. Our hearts and thoughts and prayers are with all our families as we go through this day and days to come.

A few announcements that we need to make is, beginning tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., we will have grief counseling and support at the Civic Center for our students, our staff, community members, anybody that needs to come at that time.

And we may be there more than one day, may be there`s several days. Our Robb staff will meet at 8:00 a.m. at the Civic Center as well. We will begin with visiting with them and seeing what those needs are.

School will be closed. The school year is done. We will have no school tomorrow or Thursday. All activities are canceled throughout the district. I know graduation is on people`s mind. We will come out with a notice on that at a later time.

All the staff members do -- they will report to their campuses, other than Robb campus, which will come to the Civic Center.

Again, my heart was broken today. We`re a small community, and we will need your prayers to get us through this. Thank you.

ESPINOZA: Again, this is a tragic event in our community. We are very sorry that we cannot provide you more information, but greatly appreciate your patience and understanding during this very difficult time.

[19:50:03]

We ask that you pray for all of the families affected. Thank you, and be safe.

REID: I wonder if that`s on camera.

(AUDIO GAP) Castro and Matthew Dowd, I want to thank both of you.

That was the superintendent of schools, Hal Harrell, who just announced that schools are going to be closed. That`s it. School is done for the rest of the school year.

Before him, you heard Uvalde Police Chief Peter Arredondo, who gave us some of the updates on the shooting. We do now know that it is 18, 18 students who were killed.

I want to thank both Matthew Dowd and Julian Castro for being here.

I want to now welcome Nicole Hockley, co-founder and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise. She lost her 6-year-old son, Dylan, in the Sandy Hook shooting.

Nicole, I can`t imagine. I can`t imagine how you`re feeling right now.

Please share with us what these parents are dealing with. What are they going through?

NICOLE HOCKLEY, CO-FOUNDER, SANDY HOOK PROMISE: I -- I can only speak from my own experience that the -- and the shock that overtook me.

I mean, I don`t think they -- these parents at the moment have any idea what`s just happened and what`s to happen in the days or weeks to come. I mean, you just -- this is not normal. This is not natural in any way, shape, or form. This is not something that you think about, even though there have been so many shootings.

No one expects to take their child to school in the morning and never see them again. No one expects their child to be killed in circumstances like this or in any other circumstance.

So, I know I shut down after the murder of Dylan, and it was several days before I could do anything. So -- and even right now, I`m -- I am feeling in shock yet again just reliving that day and thinking about what these families and that community are going through right now.

REID: I can only imagine.

It is -- our children are supposed to bury us, right? I mean, that is -- that is -- that`s the deal that it`s supposed to be. Sandy Hook was supposed to be the last time this ever happened, because people were supposed to be in such utter shock that even surely the most pro-NRA politicians would pass the laws we needed to pass.

How does it strike you, as somebody who lost a baby, a child, a 6-year-old, in Sandy Hook that, since then, nothing, nothing -- I mean, at the state level, some states, like Colorado and others, but at the national level, nothing?

HOCKLEY: You know, you said Sandy Hook should have been the last. Sandy Hook shouldn`t have even ever been the first.

REID: Indeed.

HOCKLEY: It`s just not...

REID: Indeed.

HOCKLEY: It`s just not right.

And when I think about -- so, this is when we`re going to start hearing all the same sort of messaging coming out.

REID: Yes.

HOCKLEY: We`re going to hear politicians who have voted no on simple measures, come out and offer thoughts and prayers, but no action.

We`re going to hear politicians talking about how it`s too soon and that others are politicizing. Yet, at the same time, they will be talking about we should be arming more people are having more armed security guards, which is them politicizing the situation.

We`re going to hear the same rhetoric. And, unfortunately, what -- one of the things that has changed since Sandy Hook is the divisiveness that has grown in this country so much in the last 10 years. So, while I am hopeful and always will be hopeful that there`s going to be change, I just don`t know how many people, how many children have to die before politicians stop caring as much about their political careers as they do about their constituents and the lives of the children where they live, where they grow up, because these shootings are everywhere.

REID: Yes.

HOCKLEY: And it`s just -- I don`t know how they look at themselves in the mirror most days.

There are some courageous people there. And there are a lot of people that I just wonder sometimes if they even have a soul. It`s ridiculous. And things will change. But I also think I`m not relying on Congress to make those changes for us. I`m looking for the people.

And I`m looking at -- this is a generation. You know, when I think about Sandy Hook 10 years ago, these are kids now that this is all they have known their entire life...

[19:55:02]

REID: Yes. Yes.

HOCKLEY: ... are school shootings.

And the psychological trauma of that and the impact of that, they`re the ones that are going to create the change, because our Congress isn`t going to do it for them. But these kids that, for over a decade, we have traumatized through our inaction, they`re the ones who are forever shaped by the fact that we did nothing.

REID: I mean, the Parkland kids, who I adore, who grew up 15 minutes from where I was raising my kids when I was in Florida, they were the Sandy Hook kids 10 years older.

HOCKLEY: Correct. Right.

REID: Right?

They were the Sandy Hook kids, and they -- just 10 years older. We seem to have learned nothing.

I want to read you something that Senator Chris Murphy, who is the most passionate, because I...

HOCKLEY: Yes.

REID: When we say we were giving up on Congress, let`s just be clear. Democrats in Congress have passed gun reform repeatedly. It isn`t the House of Representatives that isn`t trying to do it.

Democrats in the House keep passing these bills. It`s the Senate. And the United States is 10 Senate votes away, and I will say maybe 11, because we can`t always count on the senator from West Virginia. We`re like 11 senators away, 11 human beings and 300 -- in a country of 327 million people, we`re 11 people away from getting the gun reform that would at least -- it can`t change and can`t give any meaning.

It`s senseless, what happened to your baby. But at least it would make -- mean there`d be not another mom that has to deal with what you`re dealing with. We`re 11 people away, you all. This is not impossible. We just need to replace 11 people out of 300 -- out of 100 senators, and you could have change.

I want to read you what Senator Chris Murphy said, who is a good guy and who is trying. He said, as he`s walking off the House -- the Senate floor: "Spare me the B.S." -- he didn`t say B.S. -- "about mental illness. We don`t have any more mental illness than any other country in the world. You cannot explain this through a prism of mental illness, because we don`t. We are not an outlier for mental illness."

What do you say to the people who try to do the mental illness excuse when these massacres happen? Because it`s true. There`s mental illness all over the world. There`s video games, mental illness, isolation, incels everywhere. It`s only -- the massacres are only happening here.

HOCKLEY: I agree.

And we -- there are solutions that we can do, in terms of someone who`s troubled, because we know -- we know that there are signs that come out. We know that there`s -- there are events that escalate into these things. People don`t just snap and take their weapons and kill other people, especially going into an elementary school. That is not an everyday behavior.

However, Chris Murphy is absolutely right. And he is a champion. It`s about the access to weapons. So, the 11 people that you`re talking about, obviously, background checks is something that has been debated. And there`s not even a bill on the floor right now, as I understand it, in the Senate to even have that debate.

So that`s an action that can be taken. There`s also measures like safe storage. How are children getting hands on these weapons? It`s not about taking away the guns. It`s about being responsible with who can access them, at what point.

And I still don`t understand some of the weapons of choice of mass shooters. I don`t know which weapons this shooter used. But I`m sure we will learn more as the investigation comes out.

But there are -- there are significant actions that Congress can take that should be bipartisan, because it`s about -- it`s really about being people partisan. It`s about doing what`s needed for people to live their lives, and free and happy, and live out their lives.

But I also think that there`s so much more that can be done as well. And I`m not just relying on Congress, because I think this is a behavioral thing as well. And we can`t legislate for behavior, but we can certainly enforce behavioral change that we want to see.

REID: Indeed.

I mean, I have heard some really innovative solutions that are put out there, making gun owners who want to buy an AR-15 -- sure, buy one. But you have takeout insurance and take responsibility.

HOCKLEY: Yes.

REID: If you purchase an AR-15 for an 18-year-old, you ought to be responsible.

HOCKLEY: I agree.

REID: You can`t just go buy a little kid -- a kid a gun or a teenager a gun.

If you do that, OK, you do that, but you need to take out some liability insurance. Like, there are things you could do that are not about confiscation, because you can`t confiscate 400 million guns. That`s just not possible. And no one wants to do that.

I will give you the final word here. If you could speak to these moms, these dads that are -- that are in your position now in Uvalde, any words? What would you say to them?

HOCKLEY: Give yourself the space and patience to find a way through this.

There -- it is a very dark path that you`re entering. I can`t lie about that. But there is always a way through it to something more positive. Look to the people that you love and support you. Embrace -- take the embraces from your community and those that want to help you.

And, for myself, I am certainly there at any time to be of any private or public assistance that can be of use to share experience, be a shoulder to cry on, whatever you need.

REID: Nicole Hockley, thank you, God bless you. Thank you.

This is not easy to do. And thank you for doing it. We really, really appreciate you.

HOCKLEY: Thank you.

REID: Cheers.

Have a wonderful evening, as wonderful as can be had on a horrible night like this.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT.

Our live coverage of today`s school shooting continues next with Chris Hayes.