Texas shooting renews debate over gun reform legislation. Sen. Chris Murphy begs colleagues to pass gun laws. Senate Democrats search for path forward on gun reform. Dems push GOP over resistance to pass gun legislation. Uvalde, Texas mourn victims of school shooting. Texas elementary school shooting echoes Sandy Hook. Beto O`Rourke confronts Gov. Greg Abbott at press briefing. Biden calls on Congress to pass gun laws.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: That is tonight`s "LAST WORD," THE 11TH HOUR with Stephanie Ruhle starts now.
STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, once again, I`m Stephanie Ruhle. To notice guys, you know exactly what we`re here to talk about tonight. And it has been nearly 31 hours since this moment on the Senate floor that caught all of our attention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY, (D) CONNECTICUT: 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. By doing something, we at least stop sending this quiet message of endorsement to these killers, whose brains are breaking, who see the highest levels of government doing nothing. Shooting after shooting. What are we doing? Why are we here? What are we doing? I yield the floor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: With us tonight, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy.
Senator, I turn that question to you? It has been 24 hours what are we doing?
MURPHY: I was sitting presiding over the Senate last night or yesterday afternoon when I looked down at my phone and saw that another Sandy Hook had happened, 19 kids in Texas. And I went straight to my desk. And that was the question that I kept on asking myself and it was the question that I just spontaneously asked my colleagues, what are we doing? Why are we here? Why do you -- why do you care so much about being a United States senator if in the face of this evil, in the face of this carnage with all these parents who are just so frightened for their kids and all these kids are so frightened for themselves. What are we doing? Nothing can`t be the answer.
And Stephanie, I spent all day today from the minute I woke up until I literally sat down on this chair, talking to everybody I could in the Senate, Republicans and Democrats, asking them the question, what are you going to do? Are you prepared to sit down and try to find a bipartisan path forward?
I don`t know whether we`re going to be able to get there. But I found enough Republicans today that we`re willing to talk that over the next seven to 10 days where we`re going to have a discussion privately, confidentially behind closed doors as to whether there are 60 votes in the Senate to pass something that makes sure that less people have access to dangerous weapons or less dangerous people have access to weapons. And we will see, but I`m a little exhausted at the end of the day. And I`m also really hopeful that we`ll be able to try to convene a conversation in the Senate over the course of the next week about bipartisan support for anti- gun violence legislation.
RUHLE: But were those Republicans willing to talk to you today? Because 19 precious babies were massacred yesterday, a week from now, two weeks from now, do you really think they`re going to sit down and do more than have a conversation? You`ve been at this for a decade?
MURPHY: Yeah, I`ve been at this for a decade. But I also understand that great social change movements in this country often take more than a decade to effectuate change. Remember, it was more than a decade from the shooting of James Brady in 1981, to the passage of the Brady Handgun Bill, the background check system, it was more than a decade from the open casket of Emmett Till until the passage of the Voting Rights Act. So I understand that sometimes these important movements take a long time.
I think the question that Republicans will ask themselves over the course of the next few days is, will I pay a price this November? If I sit on my hands again?
Now, in 2018, Republicans did pay a price for doing nothing. And I think it needs to be voters and citizens and activists over the next few days that, you know, pepper these members offices with calls and emails to tell them that if they don`t sit down and work with people like me, who are willing to compromise that they are ultimately not going to get reelected, and that`s the question that my Republican colleagues will be asking themselves over the course of the next week.
RUHLE: Let`s say they don`t budge. What are three things Democrats could do tomorrow? The filibuster is not getting blown up.
MURPHY: Yes, so we need to ultimately have a debate and a vote, right? So what Senator Schumer has said and I agree with him, is that let`s give some space for these bipartisan talks but let`s put a time limit on that.
I think by, you know, this time next week, we`ll have a sense as to whether there`s any hope. And if we can achieve a bipartisan compromise, then let`s have a vote in the Senate, let`s have a vote on the background checks bill from the House, let`s have a vote on red flag laws. So Democrats can put up votes in the Senate, force Republicans to vote up or down, that`s one thing we can do.
The second thing we can do is to continue to build this movement to work with groups like Brady and Moms Demand Action and Giffords every town. Students Demand Action and March for Our Lives, we can work with them to grow their numbers, so they are more active and more powerful in the upcoming elections. And then we can finally, yes, for three things. So I`ll give you three things, we can work with the Biden administration to make sure that they are examining every single executive action possible if Congress fails to act, and there are things that the administration could do on their own to tighten up the nation`s gun laws.
RUHLE: Examining executive actions doesn`t do anything. Is there one executive action if you had the President`s here that you`d like him to take tomorrow?
MURPHY: So one of the things we`re going to talk about in these bipartisan negotiations, no doubt is the definition of what it means to be engaged in the sale of firearms, you have to do a background check if you are engaged in the business of selling firearms. The problem is, there are a ton of these online sellers and folks who go to a lot of gun shows, who claim that they`re not engaged in the business, that they`ve got another business. And this is just their side hustle. Well, many of them are selling, you know, dozens of firearms every year, they`re making lots of money, they should be licensed firearm dealers, and they should be conducting background checks.
I`m hopeful that we`ll get legislation that clarifies that, that`s one of the things I think we`ll be talking about. But the administration could act on that. So if we fail, I would certainly ask the administration to look at regulation or executive action that makes sure that everybody who`s legitimately doing business as a firearm dealer in this country, is licensed as a firearm dealer, and is conducting background checks.
RUHLE: I want to understand because the NRA, ironically, tragically, is having their big event in Texas in just two days. I want to understand the stronghold they have over the Republican Party, because we hear it every day, polls show most Americans want some kind of gun reform. But basically, nothing is done. So can you explain the roadblock? Is it when you combine Republicans because there`s lots of Republicans that are not hardcore NRA supporters? You represent Connecticut, there`s a whole lot of really rich Greenwich, Connecticut Republicans who have no affinity for guns, especially not assault rifles. But is it the combination of Republicans that are beholden to the NRA, and Republicans who are rich and want their taxes really low or single issue Republicans who really just care about limiting a woman`s right to choose? Is it when you combine that trifecta, the NRA gets their way? Because those other Republicans who care about taxes and abortion, they`re not paying attention?
MURPHY: Yet. Listen, I`ll be honest with you, Stephanie, I don`t know that I completely understand what the answer to that question is. But I have been engaged in the process of trying to discover that answer for 10 years. And I`ll share with you two thoughts. One, I think that the NRA has been very smart to associate the issue of guns with a broader set of values, right? So Republicans that, you know, want to talk about issues like freedom and liberty, end up using the issue of unrestricted gun ownership as the prism through which to talk about their affection for those values. It`s strange, because there are plenty of other ways to demonstrate that you care about individual liberty, other than the question of firearm ownership.
The second issue, I think, here is that, um, the Republican Party over the course of the last 10 years has kind of become a little devoid of ideas except for one, the destruction of government. The Republican Party used to have, you know, big ideas. Now, their one idea is let`s just have less government and no organization stands more solidly against the government. Then the NRA, which stands for the right of the citizenry, to arm themselves in rebellion against the government. So if you`re trying to prove how much you hate government, the NRA is endorsement has become sort of the clearest way you signal that to your constituents. And, again, we just have to find a different way for Republicans to be able to translate how much they hate government, other than the endorsement of the gun industry. We`ve got to solve for these problems but I think that that`s part of what`s happening here.
RUHLE: What I`m going to ask you about is a bit gruesome but you`re sort of taking me there. It`s not just about a right to bear arms. I want to ask you about assault weapons. You wrote yesterday in a tweet what it`s like for these parents, and I`ve been thinking about it all day, imagine dropping your third grader off to school. And in order to retrieve them to identify them, you need a DNA test. Because when someone is shot by an AR- 15 style weapon, their body is essentially destroyed, they`re massacred. You`ve seen these images, explain to us what these parents are going through, what they have to experience, because it`s so far beyond our right to bear arms. What happened yesterday.
MURPHY: So the bullets coming out of an AR-15 style weapon, are traveling so fast, that when they enter the flesh, they destroy everything in its path. Somebody once said to me, it`s like sort of taking your hand in a sink full of water, and going very, very slowly through it. That`s what a bullet from sort of an old school revolver may do to your flesh. But then take that same figure and rip it through that sink full of water. And you watch what happens to the surface of that water, it just spills over the side of the bowl, it takes 13 minutes before it resettles. That`s what happens when the bullet from an AR-15 moves through the body of a child. And so it is true. Some of these kids are unrecognizable. After they`ve had 14 bullets go through their head, their neck, their torso, it is true that sometimes only DNA can identify who these kids are.
And I just want people to understand that -- I want people to understand why there are no open caskets after Sandy Hook. And think about whether you want another set of families to go through that. I was there that evening, in Sandy Hook Connecticut, I was standing outside that room when Governor Malloy told 20 sets of parents that their kids were lying dead on those floor. I don`t know why anybody would want another community or another family to go through that. And there is something particularly vicious about what an AR-15 does to children`s bodies. There`s a reason why not a single kid who was shot Sandy Hook survived. Because those are weapons designed to kill human beings. And as many human beings as quickly as possible, I just don`t know why they deserve a place in civilized society.
RUHLE: So what is this community in Texas, about to go through? The law enforcement, the families, the whole community, you`ve experienced it in Connecticut, what`s about to happen in Texas? Tell us.
MURPHY: It`s a community that will never ever be the same. I don`t think you can really understand how deep this trauma is going to be because you connected to every single kid who lost their life or 20 people who care about them who are going to go through some diagnoseable trauma. But every single kid in that school is going through trauma right now. Because they came so close to losing their lives. Every single first responder who walked into that school is going to go through something horrific that no one should ever have to experience and in a small community that touches nearly everyone, that community never, ever recovers from this.
And Sandy Hook is a wonderful place. And there are plenty of families that are finding ways to heal there. But Sandy Hook will never, never be the same. And I know there are going to be resources there for the families at Uvalde but they won`t be enough. And I just want people to understand that because your community could be next. Your community could be next if we do nothing, again. And that`s why I need people to rise up right now and get up tomorrow morning and make a call to your senator, make a call your member of Congress, tell them that you don`t want your school and your community be next and you want Congress to do something about it.
RUHLE: Senator Murphy has agreed to stay with us. Please do, because on the other side of the break, I want to talk more about your journey 10 years after Sandy Hook when you were elected to office. I don`t think you are going to choose gun reform as your top issue and it`s become your life`s work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MURPHY: Have we ever wondered what kind of community Newtown was, if we ever doubted the deepness of our love for one another. Those questions have been answered. All those wonderful little faces that you see on TV and in the newspaper, like Noah Pozner, who was laid to rest this morning. They`re a reminder that despite the terrible awful things that happen, that inside the hearts of all of us is this unbelievable goodness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: Back then he was Congressman Chris Murphy of Connecticut. He was leading the House in a moment of silence after a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary killed 20 children and six adults. A full decade later, the Senator is still pleading with his colleagues after another massacre at an elementary school. Remember when we said never again, will again happened again and again.
Back with us, Senator Chris Murphy. Senator, you are elected to the Senate one month before the Sandy Hook shooting. You mentioned in our earlier segment what it was like for you yesterday when you saw the news on your phone but take us back to December 14, 2012, 26 people murdered, most of them children. What was that day like for you?
MURPHY: Yeah, it`s a day where, you know, I heard things and saw things that often I wish I hadn`t seen and heard. You know, I was on a train platform in Bridgeport, Connecticut, with my two little kids getting ready to go down to see the Christmas splendor of New York City, I was going to take the afternoon off, and I got a phone call that something had happened in my congressional district. And at first, I thought maybe it was a workplace shooting. But then I quickly heard the kids were involved, and I changed my plans. And I made my way up to Sandy Hook to find out what happened there. And my life -- my life changed that day.
I met some of the parents that are now very close friends of mine. That day, I met and talked to many of them later. But all of a sudden, you know, I had found my emotional center as a member of the United States Congress, I knew that now I needed to devote my life to honoring those kids lives with action, and it`s kind of unbelievable to me to 10 years later, I have not succeeded, but I don`t know that I`m going to give up until I have.
RUHLE: Since that day, you have made your way onto the Senate floor, pleading with your colleagues, again, after Sandy Hook after the pulse night shooting, nightclub shooting again, and again, and again. We`re looking at the videos right now. Walk us through what this journey has been like, the journey that took you to your knees yesterday? You couldn`t have been -- you haven`t been devastated. But sadly, you couldn`t have been surprised by the news?
MURPHY: Yeah, I`m not surprised by it. I mean, listen, I have to go back to the beginning. I mean, I`ll be honest with you, I`m kind of embarrassed that I didn`t work on this issue prior to Sandy Hook. I mean, I was a member of Congress for six years, there were slaughter happening, you know, every weekend in cities in Connecticut. And I didn`t work on this issue in the way that I should. Because, you know, this country pays attention to gun violence when it happens in these mass episodes. But it happens every single night in Baltimore, and Hartford and New Orleans. And I definitely look back with regret on the fact that it took Sandy Hook to wake me up to this epidemic. And I think I am trying to make up for last time.
I go down to the Senate floor to talk about this, in the wake of the shootings, because I just really worry that there is something rotting in the American core that is making us numb to this slaughter. I think we are on the verge of just thinking that this is normal and losing our sense of outrage. And I want to make sure that people see my outrage with somebody who works on this every single day. I don`t lose my outrage. And I want to communicate that to people so that they don`t lose theirs.
How is this to work on as an issue? It`s exhausting. I mean, I haven`t lost any kids. So I have no right to, you know, to complain. But, man, I mean, it`s difficult to work in an issue where there`s such trauma and such grief. But I just feel like having lived through Sandy Hook, feeling an obligation, those parents, I have no choice.
RUHLE: But that rot that you`re concerned about in America`s core. You know, when Sandy Hook happened, America stopped for a week, for more than a week it stopped. And as horrible as yesterday was, what was most disturbing for me, America didn`t stop. There`s a lot of people who didn`t hear about it. And that`s just a week after the shooting in Buffalo where not everybody is even buried yet. How concerned are you? That we`re becoming numb? We`re accepting. We`re just broken. It is what it is.
MURPHY: Yeah, I mean, I`m very concerned about it. And you`re right. I mean, this was -- this was the this the second worst school shooting in the history of the country. And yet it seems like it was a bit business as usual yesterday, I mean, your network stopped and other networks covered this extensively. But, you know, as I looked at my social media feeds, you know, plenty of other things were still occupying a lot of people`s attention. And I can only control so much here. And so I tried to display my sense of outrage and hope that it channels something in other people.
And I continue to spend a lot of time with the anti-gun violence movement, because I do think that the stronger, they get, the more likely we are to have legislation passed, but we are. We`re on the verge of just accepting this as the new normal in this country. And I don`t know how the nation survives, if we become this anesthetized to mass -- to mass violence.
RUHLE: Is one of your challenges that not enough voters make gun safety, their top issue, they care about it, they want something to change. But sadly, after a shooting happens if it`s not in one`s community, people feel sympathetic, but then they go about their daily life, and they`re thinking about gas prices in school?
MURPHY: I think, there are twin obligations here. One obligation is on leaders to do the right thing. But the other obligation is on voters to, you know, kick out of office, folks who over and over again, vote against what 80%, 90% of Americans want. I mean, it is pretty remarkable that, you know, people continue to get sent back to Congress and back to the United States Senate who don`t support things like universal background checks. So, yes, I do think we need more voters to decide that this is going to be a litmus test issue. For them.
That happened in 2018, that was part of the reason why Democrats won control of the House. I`m going to give my Republican colleagues a chance to do the right thing here. So I`m not ready to put this to the voters because I want to give Republicans the chance to show voters that they are willing to step up.
But the second obligation, Stephanie, is on Democrats. I mean, Democrats don`t run on this issue in the way that we should. There are way too many Democrats that are scared, think that there`s some political risk that there`s some political downside to talking about universal background checks, there isn`t. There isn`t this is a political winner, everywhere in blue states and red states and purple states. So, you know, Democrats need to campaign on this in 2022, because voters, you know, often don`t know the difference between the two candidates on guns because Democrats don`t run ads on it. Democrats don`t talk about this at the beginning of their speech. So we`ve got to lead on this if we want voters to make decisions based on positions that candidates have on this issue.
RUHLE: In order to make a difference, though, Sir, do you not just need to defeat Republicans? Do you need to defeat the NRA? I want to pull up on the screen, the top 10 senators who have taken the most money from the NRA over their careers. It`s a whole lot of money. And it is very, very powerful Republicans. As long as the NRA has the stronghold, it does. Does your battle have any real hope?
MURPHY: Listen, I think we just have to disabuse my colleagues of the notion that the NRA matters. I mean, it just doesn`t. They lose way more races than they win. You know, Joe Manchin, Pat Toomey, you know, took on the NRA, they wrote a background checks bill in 2013. They`re still both in Congress. Pat Toomey didn`t lose a primary from the right. Joe Manchin represents a very conservative district, he got reelected. So I just think we need to --
RUHLE: Senator, I have to interrupt then, if the NRA doesn`t matter, how come an 18 year old man bought two semi-automatic rifles on his 18th birthday and massacred a bunch of children yesterday?
MURPHY: No. Listen, my point is this. I agree with you that the NRA does matter, because it controls a big part of the Republican Party right now. But they have that control, because there is a fear of the gun lobbies electoral power. And what I`m saying is that we have to explain to people that that power is largely illusory, that if you stand with the 90% of your constituents that believe in things like universal background checks, the gun lobby can`t be you. In fact, you will win more supporters and more Congress. That`s how Pat Toomey is in Congress representing a state that generally votes for Democrats. They vote for Pat Toomey because he supports universal background checks. That`s what we have to convince folks of, but you are right. They hold a lot of power now, but they shouldn`t hold as much power because their political abilities are more mythology than they are reality.
RUHLE: Senator, thank you so much for giving us all this time tonight. I know how busy you are right now. I appreciate it. Senator Chris Murphy in the state of Connecticut.
MURPHY: Thanks, Stephanie.
RUHLE: When we come back, a live update from our own Ali Velshi on the ground in Texas. What we know about the investigation tonight and what led up to the massacre? When THE 11TH HOUR continues.
RUHLE: Texas Governor Greg Abbott was holding a news conference on the school shooting in Texas this afternoon when he was interrupted by his opponent Beto O`Rourke was visibly frustrated as he confronted the governor. It`s fair to say Beto was done, no surprise he was a little profanity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETO O`ROURKE, (D) TEXAS CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR: The time to stop the next shooting is right now and you are doing nothing, you`re all bringing up nothing. You said this was unpredictable, this was totally predictable when you choose not to do anything. I`m standing up for the kids of this state to stop this from happening again. This is on you until you choose to do something about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: I want to bring in my partner, my friend Ali Velshi who is live in Texas hopefully not bringing any profanities to me tonight. Ali, my heart goes out to you when there is tragedy, when there`s crisis in the world, Ali Velshi is there. And there you are tonight. What`s it like?
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST, "VELSHI": You`ve been with me when one of these. You and I have covered a mass shooting. There are too many to count. Look, this is a small, small town. I want to just show you in fact, since I was on the air at nine o`clock, this has happened. There`s a -- there`s a sort of a makeshift memorial there. But look at the crosses, they`ve just brought those crosses down. If you thought this couldn`t get sad, or there are 21 crosses now, with the names of the 19 children, and the two teachers who lost their lives yesterday.
We`ve been speaking to a lot of people in this town. It`s graduation season here. So when you go up and down the main street, there are large posters, graduation pictures of the high school grads, that this town is so proud of them. They`re in front of the high school, they`re in front of the city council -- the city hall and all that kind of stuff. And then all of a sudden two blocks away. These kids have had their lives snuffed out.
Now, this is interesting, because Texas is a place where people take their gun laws very, very seriously. I have not met anybody here who wants people`s guns taken away or doesn`t believe in the Second Amendment. They all think this is too much. This has gone too far. Can`t we do something and of course, that tracks with national polling, that you were just talking to the Senator about that. Most people think something like background checks or red flag laws should come into place. But that`s not where the governor of Texas is going. It`s not where the Attorney General is going. They`re talking about hardening the schools, more security ways of keeping weaponry out of it.
So it`s a small, small town, they`re trying not to be politicized about this. A lot of people in places like this have guns. When you drive up and down Main Street, you see these gun shops quite frequently. But there is a level of frustration with the idea that why does this continue to happen? You can`t even finish mourning one mass shooting in this country without going on to cover the next one. So it`s a very, very, very sad night, here in Texas.
But I have to say, Stephanie, as you know, this is a sad night for everyone. Reading the names of these children, their eight, nine and 10 year old children, Stephanie, they`re little kids, they were gathered in a classroom, this was their safe place. This is where parent parents think you go so that your kids are safe. Like it`s the one place in life, you can do that. So school shootings since Sandy Hook, since Parkland, they`ve always troubled us even more. And the idea that this has happened again, does beg the question, it`s not that we can`t do anything about it. It`s just that we won`t do anything about it.
RUHLE: Please tell me that all of the parents at this point their children have been identified. It was just a few hours ago that there were still some questions. I mean, that is just mind boggling.
VELSHI: Yeah. And I think that may be why there are now 21 crosses there because there were questions about full identity. And look, some of the difficulty there was that they had to take DNA swabs from the parents to match them up to their children. And you understand the implication of that, that`s how bad this was.
You know, when you walk around here, it`s a small community, you just see people weeping. There are people with photographs, and they`re just weeping, that they haven`t even fully comprehended this. The grieving hasn`t begun, the healing hasn`t begun. We`re not even there, Stephanie. We`re still in a state of shock and confusion here. And unfortunately, it doesn`t matter how many of these we cover. That`s how it goes. It`ll be some time before we start getting somewhere. And a lot of politicians, Stephanie, hope that we`ll just get to that point. It`ll be thoughts and prayers, and we will move on. I do -- I do think that each time this happens, maybe the needle moves just a little bit and I`m hoping that it will.
RUHLE: We will certainly express thoughts and prayers. And at the same time, we`re going to demand action. Ali Velshi, be safe. Thank you for being there. I miss you and adore you.
When we come back, another big interview, Eric Holder is here to talk about if America has been moving backwards on gun safety since one of the worst days he experienced serving as Attorney General., when THE 11TH HOUR continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: The idea that an 18-year-old could walk into a store and buy weapons of war designed and marketed to kill is I think just wrong. It just violence common sense. Where`s the backbone? Where`s the courage to stand up to a very powerful lobby?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: Where`s the courage? Joining us tonight to discuss, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. He is the author of the newly released and very timely book, Our Unfinished March: The Violent Past and Imperiled Future of The Vote, a History, a Crisis, a Plan.
I really appreciate you joining us tonight. Certainly, it wasn`t our plan to talk about another school shooting. But 10 years ago, you called the Sandy Hook massacre, the worst day you had as Attorney General. What does that say about the state of America here we are a decade later and we let it happen again?
ERIC HOLDER, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, we`ve made little or no progress. You know, people often ask me, what was the best day you had as A.G. and I`m hard pressed to figure out what that was.
You asked me, what was the worst day I had as Attorney General? It was the day that I went to Sandy Hook with my Chief of Staff, Margaret Richardson, we met with the crime scene, search officers, with the first responders to thank them for what they did. We took into the classroom. And I saw the carnage that occurred in that classroom. I saw a little tufts of carpet picked up and didn`t quite understand what I was looking at. And then they told me, that`s where the bullets had gone through.
They painted -- they painted the images for me, as Senator Murphy was saying, what these little kids look like, how they were not identifiable. And I thought to myself -- I thought to myself, if America can see what I`m seeing up here today, this nation will move. This is not the surgical kind of thing that you see, you know, antiseptic thing that you see in the movies where blood goes in, and some blood comes out of a person`s wound, people`s faces are destroyed, limbs are separated, you know, I thought about Mamie Till, and what she did with the body of her son, Emmett Till, and display that for the nation, which was one of the things that made Rosa Parks not get up from her seat, which led to the civil rights movement.
If America had been with me that day, if we could somehow convey the nature of this carnage from his AR-15s, from these weapons of war, we could move this nation. And then we also have to deal with the structural things. You know, gerrymandering is something that is a problem here where people can side with the gun lobby with the special interests against the will of their constituents and not suffer any electoral consequence, because they`re in these safe seats. So it`s a combination of, I think, lack of will, structural problems. And we have to get to a better place, you know, we have 5% of the people in this world, and 45% of all the guns that are owned by private individuals are owned by Americans.
Do we need that many guns? Do we need weapons of war? Do we have to have these outsize clips? Why do we not have background checks? There`s a whole range of things that the American people agree on. And leadership of, you know, Senator Murphy, for at least for this American citizen doesn`t go without notice. I thought a lot of what you saw from him was presidential tonight, that`s what I saw from him.
RUHLE: Can you explain to us though, technically how that works, because people are saying, walk me through this gerrymandering? Why is it that the things I believe in the things I want, when you look at the polling, that doesn`t translate in my lawmakers and the policies they pass? Explain this to us.
HOLDER: Yeah, the lines were drawn -- gerrymandered lines are drawn in such a way that it`s almost impossible for the other party to win. And therefore, if you`re in a safe Republican seat, if the only thing that you`re concerned about is a primary, as opposed to a general election, and the way you forestall a primary challenger is to go further and further to the right, take more extreme positions, so that you can`t get outflanked from your right side, if you`re in that safe Republican seat, and a Democratic challenger comes on and says, you know, I want to fight for gun safety, you`re safe. And so you can just cater to your base, cater to that extreme part of your base, and not have to deal with or do that with your constituents by significantly large numbers want to have happen. I mean, the polls are like 80%, 90% of the people in this country, say that we should have background checks before anybody has the ability to buy a weapon. You don`t see that in law.
RUHLE: But then take me to that base, because if all politics is local, look at Texas, it had eight mass shootings in the last 13 years. But during that same period of time, the Republican controlled legislature has expanded where government where guns are allowed, and who can have a firearm in schools, like how open carry has expanded. How does that happen in a state that has experienced mass shooting, voters still say, oh, I`m down with that?
HOLDER: Again, that`s among the most gerrymandered states in the country. If you look at what just happened in this last redistricting cycle, Texas got two additional congressional seats. That was largely because of an increase in the population 90% of which was Hispanic people -- of 90% of which was people of color 50% of which was Hispanic people. And yet what they did in the gerrymandered legislature there was to create one more white majority district. And so they`ve maintained their gerrymandered power and frustrated the desire of people in the state to do the kinds of things that might over time, stop these kinds of mass shootings from occurring.
RUHLE: It`s an important reminder to voters when you line up all your issues protecting voting rights needs to be paramount, everything else comes second. You gave us a lesson tonight. Please come back. We want to go to school with you any night of the week. Eric Holder, I appreciate you joining us.
HOLDER: Thank you.
RUHLE: Coming up, their names, their stories, their memories. That is what we are doing next. We are honoring tonight the children and their teachers lost in America`s latest school massacre when THE 11TH HOUR continues.
RUHLE: The last thing before we go tonight, remembering the lives stolen, 21 lives were senselessly cut short yesterday, teachers and children with bright futures and families and friends who loved them dearly. Fourth grade teacher Eva Mireles and her co-teacher, Irma Garcia, they were reportedly killed while physically protecting their students from the gunman.
Garcia taught at Robb Elementary for 23 years and was a finalist for a local Excellence in Teaching prize back in 2019. She loves to barbecue with her husband and their four children.
Mireles, a teacher for 17 years loved hiking, and her family says she was the life of the party. Her cousin Amber spoke with the Today Show this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMBER YBARRA, EVA MIRELES` COUSIN: She was absolutely vivacious. She was definitely an adventurer. Her cooking was amazing. Her laughter was contagious, and she`s going to be missed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Marilla says daughter, Adalynn, posted a tribute to her mother on social media today saying this, "I want everything back. I want you to come back to me, Mom. I miss you more than words can explain. You are so known by many now, and I`m so happy that people know your name, and that beautiful face of yours. And they know what a hero looks like."
The rest of those killed were just young children, most of them only 10 years old. In the fourth grade, two days away from the last day of school and summer vacation. Xavier Lopez was at an award ceremony just a few hours earlier in the day with his mom. A cousin described him as very bubbly, and said he loved to dance with his brothers and his mother.
Uziyah Garcia, he would have turned 10 years old this summer. His grandfather says he was getting good at passing the football around, and he was the sweetest little boy that he has ever known.
Jose Flores Jr. was remembered in a Facebook post by his cousin Christopher Salazar, who wrote "I`m going to miss you baby Jose. I still can`t believe that happened. My heart is broken. Just hearing them tell us you`re gone.
Alithia Ramirez seen here in a T-shirt celebrating turning 10 years old. According to her father, she loved to draw and one day she wanted to be an artist.
Ellie Garcia`s aunt described her as happy and outgoing girl who loved to dance, play sports and just be with her family.
Tess Mata went by Tessie. She loved to TikTok dance, do other dance videos. She loved Ariana Grande, the Houston Astros and getting her hair curled.
Rojelio Torres was described by his mother as a very smart and loving child. His aunt says the family is devastated and heartbroken.
Eliahana Torres, aunt says she was a softball player excited to play in her last game of the season, yesterday, the day of the shooting.
There were two families that were hit especially hard in the community, each losing a set of cousins. The first family is the family of Jailah Nicole Silguero and Jayce Carmelo Luevanos. One cousin said they were "nothing but loving baby angels."
The other is the family of Jackie Cazares, who celebrated her First Communion just two weeks ago. Her father described her as full of life and full of love. Her cousin Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, whose sister posted this on Facebook. My little sister didn`t make it, she`s no longer with us. My poor sweet little girl. Why God, why these sweet babies that didn`t deserve this who were all happy for summer vacation."
Also gone too soon. Young Alexandria "Lexi" Aniyah Rubio.
Lastly, Amerie Jo Garza, seen here receiving an honor roll certificate yesterday morning, was reportedly killed while trying to save her classmates by calling 911. She just got a phone for her 10th birthday. Her father was understandably emotional while speaking to CNN this evening about his brave, brave daughter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGEL GARZA, FATHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM AMERIE JO GARZA: She was just trying to do the right thing. She`s just trying to call the cops. That`s what -- she was so sweet, Mr. Cooper. She was the sweetest little girl who did nothing wrong. She listened to her mom and dad. She always brushed her teeth. She was creative, she made things for us. She never got in trouble in school. I just want to know what she did to be a victim.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: Amerie did not do anything to deserve this. No child, no person, no family deserves this. We may never get a good answer or any answer for why this tragedy happened. But we hope that these families will be able to find some peace in the coming days.
And on that note, I wish you all a very good and safe night. From all of our colleagues across the networks of NBC News, thank you all for staying up late with us. I`ll see you at the end of tomorrow.