This week began with deadly mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas and ended with the same state showcasing the heart of the problem, a massive NRA event. We dive into gun culture, child psychology and history to find out what`s happening, why and what`s next.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: -- morning at 10 a.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC, a special hour on America`s epidemic of gun violence. Enough is enough with Stephanie Ruhle starts right now.
STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, once again, I`m Stephanie Ruhle. This has been a hugely challenging week, one that started with a mass shooting in Texas that broke our nation`s heart and is ending with that very same state showcasing the heart of the problem, a massive NRA event.
We have been covering all of the breaking news around the clock, every detail, every development, every tear.
So tonight, we`re going to pull back the lens and do something a little different. For the next hour, I`ll be joined by two people I know and respect very much. Matthew Dowd, Texas transplant and founder of Country Over Party who left his role as a political strategist to try to find solutions that will bring our country together. And Nicole Hockley, founder and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise, whose life`s work as a gun safety advocate was born out of losing her son Dylan, in the mass shooting that took place at his school 10 years ago.
Throughout the next hour, we will be joined by experts in gun culture, safety, child psychology, American culture and history. Together, we will break down what is happening, why, and most importantly, what`s next.
The message across the country is loud and clear. Enough is enough. So the question is, where do we go from here? We`re going to begin this evening`s broadcast with Ryan Busse, a former firearms executive who helped build one of the world`s most iconic gun companies. He`s also the author of "Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry that Radicalized America."
Ryan, thank you for joining us, Matthew, Nicole, welcome. You and you Ryan, and Matthew, you`re both gun owners. What did it mean to call yourself a gun owner 20 years ago? And what does it mean today? Help us understand what defines gun culture?
RYAN BUSSE, FMR. FIREARMS EXECUTIVE: Well, my personal definition hasn`t changed a bit. But the gun culture in and around people like me has changed an awful lot. And there`s a healthy part of gun culture, a safe, responsible, decent part of gun culture that I grew up with and so many Americans did.
But when you have that sort of deep visceral connection to something, a nefarious force, like the NRA can figure out how to tap into that. Insert fear and conspiracy, and then make people do irrational things about it. And so I don`t think, you know, my culture hunting and shooting with my boys insisting on safety and responsibility, not defining ourselves by guns, being really not OK with these armed radicals and what we call couch commandos, and this irresponsible proliferation of assault weapons everywhere. We`re really not OK with that.
That`s not changed for me. But it`s definitely changed in our country. And it`s a frightening devolution, very frightening.
RUHLE: It sure has in the last week and a half two mass shootings 31 people killed. I saw a piece that you wrote entitled the gun industry knew we would end up here. You were a gun industry executive for years how did they know we would end up here explain this to us?
BUSSE: Well, 15 years ago, things like tactical gear vest, assault rifles, these sorts of things could not be displayed in the industry`s own trade show. And that was not a law, that was a self-imposed norm. And when people ask why that was, so the sort of stuff that the Buffalo shooter wore tactical gear that the Uvale should have wore.
This stuff, assault weapons, they could not be displayed in the industry`s own trade shows. And when asked, we were told things like, well, because people know that it`s dangerous to proliferate these things into society. These aren`t the things we want to sell. They`re not defensible to the public life.
In other words, there was a known form of decency in the DNA of they`re sort of air quotes here, industry wise men. And that has changed so much when the NRA decided to go all in in this on this hatred and fear and division, and it won them elections and agenda people just to the mere boiling point.
Well, the industry figured out that those are exactly the same things that sell guns. And you need to understand that if you think back to the most tumultuous time in your life, say January 1, 2022, about January 7, 2021, all the things that went on in that incredible 12 or 13 months, that it, I mean, you had hate. You had counter attacks. You had racial strife. We had George Floyd`s murder. We had black lives matter. We had COVID.
Like, in other words, the most hateful divisive, you know, I mean, unbelievable time in America. Well, that corresponds to the highest gun sales rates in the United States ever. And the NRA figured out how to get us to that boiling point, and drive gun sales and drive people to do irrational things. And it`s just, we cannot hope to survive as a democracy if we keep doing this to ourselves. We`ve got to ratchet it back.
RUHLE: They don`t just drive gun sales, they drive policy. You understand the NRA`s playbook better than anyone. They held their convention in Texas today. At best, it`s tone deaf. At worst, it`s the most craven. How has the NRA that really only represents a portion of gun owners, not even a portion of Republicans take us through how they were able to block gun reform at every possible turn. When did it start? How has it worked?
BUSEE: Well, it started, I think it started back in `77. There was a particular NRA convention then. But really Columbine, NRA leaders set down in a closed door room after Columbine and decided, are we going to be a part of the solution? Are we going to do this kind of middle finger? Hell no. Let`s see where it can go. Let`s see how far it can drive us.
And there were political decisions made in that room that said, I think we can benefit by saying hell no. We can benefit by sending Charlton Heston out there and saying from my cold, dead hands.
And so when your brand is not only no but hell no, no matter how bad it gets, it doesn`t matter if kids are murdered in Sandy Hook, it doesn`t matter. I mean, I grew up in an incredibly small town, it doesn`t matter if as many people as the small town that I live in, were shot or killed in a shooting in Las Vegas, or Parkland or Sutherland springs or the Pulse nightclub or Virginia Tech.
I mean, this answer is hell no every time. And so when something happens in Uvalde, and the brand of your organization is hell no, well, when somebody says, Are you going to cancel your convention? It`s hell no.
And this is what our politics is, right? I mean, our local school boards now have this infested. Everything that you care about, every single thing, women`s reproductive rights, climate policy, it`s all infested by this all or nothing politics that the NRA figured out 15 or 18 years ago, and loan to the political right. And here we are, and kids are dying because of it. It`s just so incredibly sad.
RUHLE: Matthew Dowd, you`ve written about gun culture myths, myths in America, help us understand that.
MATTHEW DOWD, FMR. CHIEF STRATEGSIT TO BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN: Sure, the first thing I want to say is I just want to agree with Ryan, the problem that we have is, is that this debate goes into one of two directions, and the vast majority of the country is left out of it. So either goes in a direction of people that say, there nobody should have a gun, nobody gun guns are bad. There`s anybody that carries a gun. It`s crazy, whatever. And unlike my experience and Ryan`s experience, which is as you bring your kids up, you show them how to use a gun, you use it for hunting or target practice. That`s what you do. You teach them safety, you do all that.
And then there`s the other group 10 percent of the country that says guns for everybody, anytime, any kind of gun. And the great chunk of the country is in the middle of this, which is I think people should be able to carry a gun responsibly and bring their children up or do whatever they have responsibly, but I`m for gun reform, just like people that don`t own guns.
And part of -- some of the myths that exists that had been promulgated very effectively by the NRA but now it`s something rooted in, I actually think the NRA doesn`t matter anymore because they put a virus in America and part of America.
And if the NRA disappeared, this virus is still sitting in America, just like Donald Trump, if Donald Trump went away, the virus that he put in America is still sits here. So you have to extract that virus that has been put there by these people in there that is now sitting it -- sitting solidly inside.
But some of the myths are one that somehow more guns create more safety. And every single data point says that`s absolutely wrong, not only state by state, or if you have gun restrictions, people are safer, and there`s less gun violence. But look at country after country after country. We are America has the second most level of gun violence in the world after Brazil. We have the most guns per 100 people of anywhere, twice as many as the second country, which is Yemen, that anywhere in the world. That`s one myth that`s been promulgated. That`s complete lie.
The other one is this idea that guns keep our freedom. It`s because we have guns and because we have these gun culture, that`s why we`re free. Well, the fascinating thing is the folk -- the countries that are ranked highest on freedom, highest on freedom in the world, were number 17 on freedom in the world, but the country`s highest on freedom in the world don`t have gotten cultures.
So this idea is our freedoms preserved by the ability for somebody to own 162 guns, or whatever an assault rifle is a myth has been promulgated again and again and again by the NRA.
And I think it`s absolutely accurate that what the NRA does, I think the NRA started off as like a gun safety. I remember when I bought my first gun, you go in you sign up for the NRA, because part of that signing up for the NRA is you got to learn gun safety courses. That changed. That changed I think over time, part of it was because they began to be funded wholly by the gun manufacturers in this.
So I think the NRA, and its whether it happened around Columbine or not or before are not fundamentally changed in this. But that`s I think right now, to me today, what the NRA day is doing in Houston is awful. But even if the NRA disbanded completely, the virus exists in America.
BUSSE: I agree with that.
RUHLE: Nicole, what do you think?
NICOLE HOCKLEY: I`m fascinated by this idea of the virus and the data in the myths because I mean, there`s so much data to everything you`ve said, and it`s so true about how this isn`t. None of this is true, because the data points to all the evidence in the opposite direction.
However, and I`m really fascinated to hear from the two of you as gun owners. How do we break through that fear that the NRA has propagated across everyone in terms of you need to have more guns, you need to be able to protect yourself from home invasions and all these other things? What`s the way to reach that middle part of America that isn`t speaking up on this? How do we give them cover and reach them? Because I don`t think the data arguments are working. How do we combat fear with a different set of emotions and give them different actions to take?
BUSSE: I think people like Matthew and I have to we have to stand up and be examples. And the fact of the matter is this works. It`s much more fragile. I agree with everything that Matthew said. There`s a virus here much like Trumpism. I tell people it`s like a prairie fire. If the source goes away, the wind still blowing, it`s still rushing across the country.
People like us reasonable gun owners, responsible gun owners, people who believe in decency and gun reform, we have to stand up and be examples. And the truth is the NRA has been exceptionally adept at keeping responsible people quiet.
They`re loud. They`re bullies. They take the mic. They scream. They troll. They castigate people. They trolled my family. They`ve done incredibly dangerous incendiary things to me and to people that I know just to keep reasonable people quiet.
We just have to have enough courage to stand up and say, no, there are a lot of us that don`t believe this. There`s a different path. And I think they`re more fragile than you think the response to my book tells me.
You know, we were worried for our safety when my book came out, as you might guess, but the opposite has happened. I get hundreds, thousands of messages from these gun owners who say thank you. I`m not like that. I can`t take it anymore. This has gone off the rails. We have to get those people lifted up.
RUHLE: OK, but you don`t even have to be as outspoken and do the work that you all are doing. Matthew, there are plenty of Republicans that think it is absolutely insane that anyone should be able to buy an AR 15. But do they not care enough to stop it? They care about other voting issues more so they just let it slide?
DOWD: Well, I mean, I think part of it is a little bit complicated because I think part of it is culture. A big part of it is cultural. And what happens is Republicans and the NRA have been very adept at appealing to the cultural sort of inclination to own a gun, right.
And so when it becomes sort of a coastal argument, like against guns, and not a middle America sort of the vast swath of America about common sense gun reforms, if we lose that voice, then it becomes this cultural argument that gets lost in the middle of this and any rationality gets lost in the middle of this.
I think that the polling data is clear, 80 percent of gun owners want gun reform. Two-thirds of NRA members want gun reform, and two-thirds of Republicans want gun reform. But what we have and this is why my fear is, is our democracy is so fragile, and I think, unhealthy today, that we have all of these issues in guns as the most pointed one. Most pointed. But you can name a lot, but guns, it`s the most pointed, where a vast majority of the country wants something done, and it`s not getting done. And that goes to a fragile nature of our democracy. And something that`s wrong in our democracy, when 80 percent of the country wants something, and it`s not happening. And that has to do with polarization and all those other things.
But I agree with what Ryan said, I think a huge part of this is we have to give the space to people that responsibly own guns, to be a voice in this debate, to be a voice in this debate to be able to confront people. I do it all the time. I have tons of friends that own guns, and they`re like, yes, of course, we ought to have universal background checks. Of course, we ought to have red flag laws. Of course, nobody needs to own an assault rifle, of course, and all that. And then they go back to their life and do their thing.
Because what they feel like when they`re in a debate is the only people screaming at them every day are two sides. It`s either the NRA side screaming at them telling them they`re socialists or communists, or it`s this sort of elite side that says, Why do you want a gun at all? And that`s part of the problem.
RUHLE: Well, we got to find a solution. Ryan Busse, thank you for joining us tonight, Matt and Nicole, you are staying with us all hour.
Coming up, the impact gun violence has on children in the United States. We`ll speak with a leading child psychiatrist, about how we treat kids today, the threats they`re facing, and what it means for their mental health. And later, guns are just one of the many issues deeply dividing our country, Matthew just laid it out. We`ve got to figure out with the growing divisions, what we can do to bridge the gap.
Our 11th Hour special Enough is Enough, just getting underway on a very important Friday night.
RUHLE: We have new chilling photos of children fleeing the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Texas on Tuesday. Back in 2020, firearms overtook car accidents as the leading cause of death for children and teenagers in America. The breakdown of those numbers reveals a mental health crisis in this country.
According to an analysis of Axios of CDC data, 30 percent of the children up to the age of 19 killed by guns in 2020 they died by suicide. So let`s discuss.
Joining us tonight is one of the nation`s leading child psychiatrist, Dr. Harold Koplewicz. He`s the president of the Child Mind Institute, which is dedicated to transforming mental health care for children around the world.
Doctor, talk to us about the impact gun violence is having on young Americans?
DR. HAROLD KOPLEWICZ, CHILD MIND INSTITUTE PRESIDENT: It`s really important for us to look at the whole picture. So gun violence is not only about the tragic deaths, but it`s also about the trauma that occurs afterwards. We know that kids witness these kinds of events have a traumatic response. They have more stress. They have more difficulty with sleep, it happens acutely.
And sometimes a month later, it can turn into post-traumatic stress disorder, which really can be turned into a very significant psychiatric disorder, which is going to affect academic functioning, and social life, and the ability to sleep, eat and participate in the world.
But we also have some real facts. We know that if you are about five blocks away from where a gun violence episode has occurred, it`s going to have an effect on you. We also know that gun violence affects kids of color and kids of poverty significantly more than the rest of the population.
These are basic facts that we have to start to think about. And part of that is that people who can`t safely own guns shouldn`t be sold guns. And that really is the bottom line because as long as we`re giving guns to inappropriate individuals, you will have lots more gun violence.
In fact, we know that states that have more safety gun rules have less deaths. This is really so black and white, that it`s disturbing that we are not taking action.
RUHLE: We`re not seeing our government do anything. And while the government`s doing nothing, the internet is hard at work, in many cases, making our kids more isolated and in some cases radicalized.
I want to share a bit from my colleague Jake Ward, who`s an NBC technology correspondent, speaking specifically on the impact the internet is having on our kids. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE WARD, NBC NEWS TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: The research has shown that for a child isolated from their family or their community in this nation, and at this time, social media and the internet is a way for them to in some cases find commune already find resources but in the darkest possible circumstances it`s a place for them to find conspiracy theories ideology communities of like-minded people, who might inspire them, in some cases to take, what are some very dark thoughts and carry them into some course of action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: Harold, how do we deal with this?
KOPLEWICZ: So Stephanie, we knew that before COVID, the rate of suicide attempts and suicide completion among kids between the ages of 10 and 24, jumped by almost 50 percent in the 10 years before COVID hit.
Now, we can`t know for sure that the internet or social media was the cause. But there is definitely a correlation. We also know that problematic internet usage, but we have kids who use social media, eight to 10 hours a day, if they have an underlying disorder, like ADHD or depression, that usage is toxic.
It`s almost like marijuana to kids who have anxiety disorders that could produce panic attacks. So, if you`re a parent of a child that has ADHD, or depression, or you have a child who seems more isolated, more socially uncomfortable than the social media, and the Internet can be a dangerous place.
RUHLE: Nicole, Sandy Hook Promise teaches the recognition and intervention techniques for kids and teens who might be socially isolated or at risk, help us understand what that looks like. Because after a shooting like this, you always hear what were the signs, you know, could we have seen this coming?
HOCKLEY: Yes, unfortunately, there`s so much evidence to point out that most shootings and most suicides, there are signs given off beforehand, it`s just sometimes we don`t always know what it is we`re seeing and how to identify and what action to take. So that`s what we teach kids and the adults around them around the country, how to recognize the signs, everything from bullying, and isolation up through to cutting, dating violence, substance abuse through to suicide and homicide, and then how to talk to a trusted adult.
But, you know, we can train every single kid in the country eventually, I hope. But we still require that that behavioral change for everyone to lean in and be those upstanders because this is about kids taking control of their own safety and their own community, which I would imagine would be a positive benefit to their mental health and wellness.
RUHLE: Matt, do you believe our lawmakers are really looking for solutions? Because in the last few days, when Republicans keep talking about mental health and school security, many of these same Republicans are voting against funding schools and funding mental health education.
DOWD: Well, what I find amazing is they`re looking at everything but the problem. I mean, they`re looking at everything. They`re pointing out everything. They`re pointing out, well, it`s because of video games, or it`s because of this, it`s because of this and you`re like there`s a gun sitting in the middle of a room. And then they go, No, it`s because of this, because of this. They don`t think they need to keep stepping over the gun that`s lying in the middle of the room. That`s the huge -- that`s the biggest part of the problem in this. That`s one part of it.
And the hypocrisy when they talk about mental health problems is amazing to me, Greg Abbott said that yesterday. Greg Abbott said, we have a mental health, we got to deal with the mental health. I 100 percent agree with that. Greg Abbott cut $200 million out of the Texas budget for mental health 60 days ago.
So there was a budget related to help people and kids with mental health. He cut it by almost a quarter of a billion dollars months ago. And so I think they`re doing everything possible to distract from the fundamental problem, which is access to guns by people that shouldn`t have guns. That`s the fundamental problem. And everything else they point to is a distraction from what`s sitting in in the middle of the room.
RUHLE: Then Harold, as parents, how do we understand when it is a situation where maybe our own children our teens are suffering? I mean, coming out of COVID, everybody`s suffering?
KOPLEWICZ: Right, but I think we should step back for a second and know that every country in the world has children and has adults with mental health problems. And only the United States has these mass shootings, and this remarkable gun violence.
So, as someone who knows something about the teenage brain, there`s a reason we don`t let kids in the United States drink until they`re 21. There`s a reason why Hertz and Avis know the car rentals don`t let you rent a car until you`re 25. Because somehow they figured out that between 18 and 25, you`re going to have a lot more car accidents. You`re less likely to wear a seatbelt, that your brain isn`t fully developed.
It seems outrageous to me that we don`t let a kid drink but an 18-year-old can buy an assault rifle. That doesn`t make logical sense.
And so, when something isn`t logical, something else is taking over. Is there some other influence that is making Republicans senators, conservative senators not be sensible because I assure you there isn`t a parent out there no matter how they`re voting that does not want to put an assault weapon into an 18-year olds hand or into a criminals hand or into someone who has a history of erratic or violent behavior.
That`s the part as a parent, that really is upsetting. And as a part, as a child psychiatrist, I feel I`m scapegoated. For the last 25 years, we`ve been having the same discussion. I`m all in favor of having more mental health services for children and teenagers in the United States. We have a shortage of mental health professionals. And it`s worse now since COVID but that`s not what`s causing the school shootings and his gun violence.
RUHLE: Nicole, I know we`re out of time. But I see you nodding your head. When we have a shooting like we had this week or last week in Buffalo. Do you ever question the work you`re doing with Sandy Hook Promise? Do you ever wonder, is it making an impact? Because things don`t seem to change?
HOCKLEY: No, I never question it. Because I know for a fact we`re having an impact. I know how many lives we`ve saved. I know how many school shootings we`ve averted. And I know it`s a solution and a model that absolutely works and just needs to be scaled. But it`s about that, it`s about getting that teaching out to more people can`t prevent everything, but we can certainly decrease the number significantly.
RUHLE: Thank you so much, Nicole, Matthew, don`t go anywhere. Dr. Harold Koplewicz, thank you so much. You always make us smarter every time you`re here.
When we come back, guns this is the issue. They`re just the tip of the iceberg. When you dig into the deep divisions in America, abortion, the pandemic culture wars, a look at why the United States is so divided. And if we can even begin to fix the problem when our 11th Hour special Enough is Enough continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): 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 the slaughter. I think we are on the verge of just thinking that this is normal and losing our sense of outrage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RUHLE: Something rotting in the American core. A huge part of the problem comes from the polarization we see in our country today. And it`s not just gun safety. Americans are divided on abortion, education, masks, vaccines, everything associated with the pandemic. Has Time Magazine once put it, our nation is still divided along the battle lines of the Civil War. So how do we fix it?
Let`s welcome presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. He`s also a history professor at Rice University and MSNBC political analyst Brittany Packnett Cunningham. She was a member of President Obama`s 21st Century Policing Task Force.
Doug, it is tough to hear a U.S. senator talk about the rotting core in America. How sick and divided are we as a country when you look historically speaking?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: We`re extremely sick and divided. It`s not a civil war situation. We were divided in the 1960s and late 70s. So we pulled back together a little bit to the point that after Newtown massacre in December of 2012, there was some hope after Sandy Hook Elementary School that there might be some gun legislation. Some Republicans were in the mix. It almost got done but not quite.
But we as you know, it`s deeply divided. Now we can`t seem to heal. The hope of is somebody like Senator Chris Murphy, who this week has been very articulate about gun control and getting rid of assault weapons or one kind or another. He`s been staying on the case for a decade. The hope is that Newtown and Uvalde they`re like bookends, 10 years of all these mass killings in that this will be a moment we`ll do something.
But alas, as you point out Stephanie, so many other, you know, divisive trigger points, and American political and social life that one is worried that this isn`t going to be game changing enough. We`ve got to get 73 percent of the American public demanding after Uvalde that we do something with getting rid of assault weapons that carry large magazines and having better school security and putting more money into mental illness. But alas, a midterm election year like this, it doesn`t seem likely.
RUHLE: Brittany, that`s one of the questions people are asking, how do you get Americans fired up enough to care more? I was talking about this earlier this week with Jay Johnson and Eric Holder. And I was very surprised. They both said that American needs what they call an Emmett Till moment, Americans should actually see the horrific images from the shootings. What do you think of that?
BRITTANY PACKNETT CUNNINGHAM, FMR. MEMBER OF PRES. OBAMA 21ST CENTURY POLICING TASK FORCE: You know, when I was in college, I actually did my senior thesis on the historical significance and the cultural impact of Emmett Till. And most certainly, I could not anticipate how relevant that work in that study would be to the rest of my life in my work, but I named that paper so the world would see what they`ve done to my boy, which is what the indomitable made me till, of course, said about her decision to have that open casket moment to allow the world to see Emmett Till`s, bloodied, bruised, broken, maimed body, to have Gordon Parks take that photograph that went on across the entire world.
And clearly she made a decision that was deeply self-sacrificial to try and stoke the flames thankfully, of a simmering civil rights movement that would it were it not for that I certainly wouldn`t be sitting here talking to you.
But we also need to reckon with the fact that even with that picture, going a version of viral in the 1950s that I did, that the man who murdered Emmett Till was still acquitted. Carolyn Bryant, the woman who told the lie that Emmett Till whistled at her that cost Emmett his life, she has since come and said that that was a lie, and she`s been able to deal without any repercussions.
The Emmett Till Memorial is still defaced multiple times a year to this day. And it wasn`t until the year of our Lord 2022 when Congress passed, and the President signed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act into existence. And at most, that is a symbolic piece of paper.
So for all of that sacrifice, we certainly saw movement come from people who were already oppressed in this country, but we didn`t necessarily see the kind of impact on people who should have been shamed into further action.
And I think that we have to be very careful, what we are asking parents to do, who have to excavate their deepest grief, to show these pictures to the world, of course, they are open to make whatever choice that they want.
But in this moment, of horrifying grief for each of them, we should be very, very careful about what we`re asking them to do. And we shouldn`t be asking them to do more than the politicians who went on vacation this week.
RUHLE: Nicole, you know, I`ve got to ask you. I mean, people in your position who`ve lost their children, our government failed them, our country failed them, not them you. So when you hear built people talking, saying, let`s see those images, what do you think of that?
HOCKLEY: I think you know, Stephanie, I`m not personally a fan of that. I couldn`t do that. I`m not brave enough. I`m not as brave as Emmett Till`s mother was. I also have significant concerns, not only about you know, Emmett Till died in 1955. And the quality of movies and culture, people -- I don`t even think would be as shocked to see a pile of dead children.
You know, I`ve had to deal with conspiracy theorists, hoaxers for the last 10 years who`ve said show us the pictures. And even if you did, I don`t think they would still believe it. I think we`re too immune to that sort of violence, because we`re too used to it anyway.
But also, there`s just no way. I want people to remember my son for what he was when he was alive. I don`t want my surviving son, my mother, Dylan`s grandmother, only faced forever on the internet with the image of his body shot, you know, he was shot five times, four times in the tour, one in the back of the head. No one needs to see that. I don`t want to see that. And that`s not how I want my son remembered. So that`s why I work to protect his photos.
RUHLE: Well, I will say, Nicole, you are plenty brave. Matthew, do you think the country is becoming numb and callous? Or is it we`ve just given up on our lawmakers doing anything?
DOWD: Well, I would like to speak that idea of division in the country. The country, actually, the voters are not divided. The voters are not divided. What`s divided in the country is a two parties. One party who wants nothing to do with solving the problems the Republican Party, and wants nothing to do with coming to a compromise on all these fundamental issues.
If you look at all of the data, 80 percent of country wants gun reform, 70 percent of the country was fine about COVID protocols and getting vaccinated. All the -- it`s 75 percent of the country wants to keep Roe versus Wade as is.
So it`s not like the country is fundamentally divided. The country is pretty decided on these fundamental issues.
So what`s the problem? The problem is the political system as it exists today doesn`t allow right now. And this is why I`m very concerned about our democracy. The political system does not allow for majority rule.
So what we have today is a tyranny of the minority. And that`s a fundamental break, a fundamental break in our system, where we have the vast public who`s pretty united on this and obvious you have 25 or 30 percent of the people that are often some crazy island, but you have the vast majority of the country aligned on this.
And so the problem isn`t division within the country. The problem is is what`s happening at a leadership level where a Republican Party refuses, refuses to come to the table and do what the majority wants.
RUHLE: We got to continue this conversation. Everyone has agreed to stay with us. There`s a lot more for us to cover. Enough is Enough is not over. Don`t go anywhere.
RUHLE: I want to get right back into our conversation focused on solutions. Brittany, we`ve got to find places to compromise the greatest opportunity for social and economic mobility is through education. But look at it right now battles learning loss from COVID, schools closed, what you can say in school what can be taught in school and now we`re talking about arming our teachers and hardening our schools. A good safe education is everything. Is there a way we can find a path here?
CUNNINGHAM: I used to be a third grade teacher, as I think you know, and I cannot think of anything that would be more costly. That would be more incorrect in this moment than to arm teachers.
Look, we already have a system of inequitable and equitable education, putting arms in the teach in the hands of teachers who are already dealing with so much in this situation, who are already underpaid, and overworked, who already have dealt with COVID is certainly not the path we need to be going down.
You heard it said before on the program, more guns very simply does not eat equal, more safety. At the end of the day, though, I think that the opportunity we really have in the classroom, and through the lens of education is actually to uproot the culture of violence.
I agree with the speaker that spoke earlier, this question of division and polarization is actually the wrong one to be asking. I often think polarization is really a misnomer, for the threat that power and privilege perceives when marginalized people finally have their turn and their say, the fact of the matter is, this is not just two ends of the spectrum and two equal but opposite ends. We`re talking about folks who are dealing and trafficking in the politics of supremacy and exclusion, or folks like us who are trying to ensure that equity is actually the name of the game.
So we`re really not talking about polarization at the core. We`re talking about an American culture of violence. We cannot deal with the fact that a culture of violence that is deeply American pervades absolutely everything. Without dealing with the fact that America is a colonial project, you can`t honestly talk about America being a colonial project if you do not deal with the genocide of indigenous people in the enslavement of African people.
You cannot deal with those things if school districts and libraries are cow telling to parents who refuse to have even the 1619 project on the library shelves, let alone being taught. There is no possible way to uproot the culture of violence that is so deep within our soil.
Anything less is just breaking off the branches and allowing things that we know harmless to continue to bloom on that same tree. But we have the opportunity now to take back our schools, to take back our classrooms, to take back education in such a way that we prepare an informed citizenry, young people who are confident, young people who build community with each other, young people who operate in love, and young people who understand our history well enough never to repeat it again. And that includes perpetuating a white supremacist patriarchal culture of violence that continues to harm every single community in this country.
RUHLE: Doug, this may sound naive, but give us a history lesson. I saw Beto O`Rourke speaking today outside the NRA convention. And he was extending an olive branch. He said you`re not our enemies. We can find a way to work together. Is there some sort of olive branch that can be extended? Can love be the answer here because clearly digging into the division in it.
BRINKLEY: Love has to be the answer. You know what the National Rifle Association was created in 1871 it was supposed to train Civil War veterans on marksmanship of new weapons. How did we go from an NRA that did that to an NRA that in the time and to the point of the they were opposed to the Black Panthers arming themselves and put in the NRA went with the white power structure of California in the 1960s when Ronald Reagan was governor, you know, they -- and now the NRA is and others gun owners clubs, they`re ubiquitous, are actually fundraising tonight, off of the Uvalde.
There`s a fear that, you know, in white America, that in rural white America that different people are going to come into your community and with guns in truth. We`ve had very little terror attacks since 9/11. But each of these massacres in schools is a terror attack.
And what`s profoundly disturbing Stephanie is something like climate change. It`s hard to get our hands around, it`s global. We`ve got to work with other countries. This is in our country. America is the only industrialized nation with this insane gun policy. There`s no way in 18 -- somebody 18, 19, 20 to 21 should be walking out on their birthdays getting the semi-automatic weapons. AR, you know, if teens aren`t training marksman, it`s spraying bullets madly in every direction. You barely touch the trigger and they go out there. There are killing machines.
Yet we`ve had not just Newtown but Las Vegas or Orlando in Dayton and Charlestown. When will it end? Yet you look at the political culture right now and American this midterm election year, I don`t see any big movement to tackle this heinous problem of the gun lobby being so powerful.
RUHLE: Well, we got to start somewhere. Doug Brinkley, Brittany Packnett Cunningham, thank you both. When we come back, Matt and Nicole will give final thoughts.
RUHLE: We are back with final thoughts. Matthew and Nicole, we are ending a truly horrible, horrible week. Where do we go from here? How do we take one step forward? Matthew, Republicans are pushing wildly unpopular gun policy abortion policy, yet there`s a good chance they win the midterms. How do we get better?
DOWD: So first, I think this hour has been a great hour, which I think it`s a great advancement in the ball. And I have to say thank you, Nicole, for your heart in rising from awful tragedy to doing the positive you do and Stephanie for having this show. I think it`s an important step that we have to keep talking about.
In my view, the fundamental thing is, leaders never lead they follow and we have to lead them to the right place and the right places common decency for the common good.
We have to get rid of leaders who don`t believe in that and put people in place that believe in common decency for the common good. That`ll fix it.
HOCKLEY: Just kind of echoing what Matthew said. I think also this is an interesting moment in time. Right now there are conversations being had, you know, we talked about book ends (ph), Sandy Hook and Uvalde. I really hope this is that ending book end and there are good conversations happening right now. We just need to continue to ask our politicians in DC to lean in and have these conversations. Don`t just go to your party lines. The 2nd Amendment isn`t important, right, but it`s not a well-regulated militia was not designed to kill children. So what can we do to build common ground and pass something that works.
RUHLE: Please keep asking our politicians don`t let this week pass. Don`t forget about this tragedy. Ask the questions. Those politicians don`t want to answer. They are running the clock. Don`t let them do it. Love has to be the answer. Decency must rule. Nicole Hockley, Matthew Dowd, thank you for joining me on this important Friday night at the end of a very heavy week.
And from all of our colleagues across the network`s at NBC News, thanks for staying up late with us. I will see you at the end of Monday. Be good this weekend.