Nineteen children, two teachers killed in Robb Elementary School shooting by an 18-year-old who was chased by police after shooting his grandmother. The community of Uvalde, Texas, devastated by the event, calling for action. Mary Ann Jacob and Howard Dean join Ari Melber to talk about the gun epidemic in the U.S. that`s happening right now after the 2nd worst school shooting ever. Michael Hirschorn joins Ari Melber to talk about the re-examining grim ritual of mass shootings in America.
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: Thank you so much for letting us into your homes on days like this. We are grateful. THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you very much. And welcome to THE BEAT.
Our coverage continues as America faces another moment like this. The body count is higher than what we knew last night. 19 kids and two teachers murdered at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
Today all victims have been identified and removed from the crime scene, according to authorities. The gunman we are learning had at least seven 30- round magazines purchased legally -- legally -- with an AR-15 style rifle. All done one day after he turned 18. He shot his grandmother, as we reported last night. Crashed his truck near the school, as you see there.
Governor Abbott in Texas says a school official did try to confront the shooter but he did not engage and the shooter was able to enter the school you see here. He also barricaded himself in the classroom. He distributed part of his plan to kill in what we are told was a private Facebook message about 15 minutes before this shooting. He also reportedly sent text messages to a 15-year-old located in Germany.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: The gunman was 18 years old and reportedly a high school dropout. Reportedly there has been no criminal history identified yet. He may have had a juvenile record but that is yet to be determined. There was no known mental health history of the gunman. He used one weapon which was an AR-15, using two 23-rounds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s additional information that we`re learning there, courtesy of the governor of the state, Greg Abbott. He is the chief executive of Texas, he overseas law enforcement, he is a source of information in this matter as we have quoted him last night. Indeed some of the very first information about both the shooting and the body count came from the governor. But that`s not his only role.
If you follow the news or anything in Texas or politics, you are probably familiar that for all the talk about who`s politicizing what, Greg Abbott, as a public leader, as a politician, has been politicizing and pushing gun sales, gun purchases, gun rights as he views it, gun usage. That`s a big part of his entire agenda, his political agenda. It is obviously overlapping with his responsibilities with this horrific mass murder of children.
And so another Texas politician who is no longer in office, Beto O`Rourke, interrupted the press conference you see there that we are using to get information to confront the governor in a deliberately public and heated exchange.
(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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. He needs to get his ass out of here. This ain`t the place to talk to, so --
O`ROURKE: You`re all bringing up nothing. You said this was unpredictable. This is totally predictable when you choose not to do anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, you`re out of line. Sir, you`re out of line. Sir, you`re out of line. Please leave this auditorium.
O`ROURKE: I`m standing up for the kids of this state to stop this from happening again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of here, sir. Get out of here. Please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t believe you`re a sick son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) who would come to a deal like this to make a political issue.
O`ROURKE: This is on you until you choose to something about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That was some of the exchange. You can hear the back and forth. Beto O`Rourke is also a politician currently out of office. You can hear the yelling of others who view him, the person challenging this, as somehow politicizing it. But Beto O`Rourke`s view and the view of many activists in this space, and we`re covering all of it, is the politicizing of gun sales in Texas came from Governor Abbott.
As we showed last night during the shooting, he was saying they want to be first, not second. He wants more guns in his state. He added the NRA, which is a very political right-wing entity, in pushing that.
Politics run both ways here. And many people are asking, if politics are going to shape policy, if we are going to live through this and do this over and over and over with parents burying their children in small coffins, in schools across America over and over, can`t something be done?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Please, please, please, damn it. Put yourself in the shoes of these parents for once.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST, "MORNING JOE": It`s always (EXPLETIVE DELETED). They always play the game so they never have to talk about the children who are murdered.
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): What are we doing?
WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": I swear to God, if I see another Republican senator talk about their heart being broken, I`m going to go punch somebody.
JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": And thoughts and prayers.
GOLDBERG: I can`t take it. And their thoughts and prayers.
FRED GUTTENBERG, DAUGHTER JAIME MURDERED IN STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTING: I`m done. They (EXPLETIVE DELETED) our kids again. OK. I`m done. I`ve had it. You know, how many more times?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined now by attorney Maya Wiley who leads the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
Maya, can something be done?
MAYA WILEY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS: Something has to be done. The problem is political will from elected officials, not from regular folks. And I think this is the problem we have to remember. You know, we have to start with (INAUDIBLE), as we`re hearing from so many people. People are sick of thoughts and prayers because thoughts and prayers aren`t keeping our kids alive.
You know, there have been 78 incidents of gunfire at school ground just this year alone, you know, resulting in death. And I think particularly, and I`ve been hearing it from folks also who are in the Latino community, is this something that`s going to be paid attention to or not? Is it going to be something that falls out of the headlines?
As a Latino, I have to raise that point because that is a discussion that is happening right now in communities. But I think this is the point. It`s not that there aren`t solutions and it`s not that there isn`t a majority of Americans including those who believe that there is a place for lawful gun ownership. Reasonable reforms that research and the majority of Americans support. The problem is we no longer have a political system that is listening to the people, and that is our biggest problem.
But that`s why we have to make sure folks show up and are vocal about the fact that protecting the right to own a gun is not the same thing as protecting the right to kill people, and that there`s a balance between those two things we can strike and we must.
MELBER: I hear you. We`ve been gathering here and folks who`ve been watching the coverage know, we`ve got reporters on the ground and we`ve got people interviewing folks, and we last night and tonight have people directly impacted by this in our coverage. I want to play a little bit of that, including a parent who was scared and whose individual child was alive, was a survivor at the school, as well as some of what we`re hearing in the community.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUADALUPE LEIJA, PARENT OF 8-YEAR-OLD AT ROBB ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: It`s just heartbreaking. The community right now is heartbroken. You know, I didn`t get any sleep last night. You know, I had a phone call with a friend that they couldn`t sleep. So everybody is shocked.
JO ANNA SANTOS, UVALDE, TEXAS RESIDENT: And this is where we, as a community, need to come together. We need to have a voice. We need to speak. There is something that has to be done. This cannot happen again. Like I said, this is not how I want my community to be remembered. We are Uvalde, Tree City, you know, honey capital of the world. Not another Columbine or Sandy Hook.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Some of those voices we just heard from were interviewed by our colleague who is in Uvalde, Texas, today for NBC, Jose Diaz-Balart who joins us our discussion with Maya.
Jose, tell us what you`re hearing in your reporting.
JOSE DIAZ-BALART, MSNBC HOST, "JOSE DIAZ-BALART REPORT": All right, good afternoon. You know, we`re in Uvalde, and many people here refer to it as Uvalde, Texas. It`s a small community, 17,000 people, very close-knit. People don`t lock their doors at night. People know their neighbors, live with and share their lives with their neighbors. And so it`s been such a, just a deep scar, Ari.
I`m thinking, you know, 17,000 people, 80 percent Latino, the school, Robb Elementary School, 90 percent Latino. Both student body and those that work there. And I`m in front of the Sacred Heart Church here where they`re asking people to come and pray the rosary for those who lost their lives and for those who have to continue on with their lives having lost a child. I mean, 19 little boys and girls.
Two days away, Ari, from finishing their year. Summer was going to kick in tomorrow. And then just these 19 families that yesterday dropped their children off at school and will never have the opportunity to pick them up again, pick them up at school, pick them up in their arms. Two teachers that died alongside their students.
I keep thinking, Ari, about, you know, little Xavier, fourth grade, who yesterday his mom came because he was given a recognition, and that was the last time, little did that mother know that that was the last time she was going to be by her son as he beamed with pride and happiness at being recognized in his fourth grade. Or the little girl who had a little recognition and picture that her mom took, was that picture of that little girl beaming with a small piece of paper that recognized her. She said she actually called 911 when the shooting started and died.
It`s so difficult, Ari, to, you know, just express how united this community is but how pained it is. I just don`t know how they overcome this, you know. You think -- real quick, you know, I`m thinking it`s 70 miles from Mexico, it`s about 60 miles from San Antonio. But people who live in this community have roots in this community, have lived here, many for generations. And this is where they`ve planted their roots and yet this is also a place where they have dreams and aspirations and just this unimaginable terror, horror that struck here.
I just spoke to a young man, 18 years old, who lost a sister in that fourth grade classroom, and he just told me, I can`t process it yet. I can`t think that my sister who was going to be a baseball player, I`m going to be a basketball player, is not home. And I kind of thought last night, she`s just coming later. They refused to process it, but each one is going through some incredible pain that they are seeing how they can progress through this.
And, you know, a lot of the people are doing it through prayers. But what a horrendous thing. Just what an incredibly painful, horrific thing that 19 families of the children, the families of the two teachers, are confronting today.
MELBER: Yes. And that`s what we`re doing here. We`re giving voice to that reporting you`re doing, and as mentioned, we have people coming up and it`s a grim process. But we played just some of your interviews, and I know you`re going to continue to be down there doing the work. So we thank you for that, Jose Diaz-Balart.
On the legal analysis and what can be done, Maya Wiley, thanks to both of you.
We turn now as promised to someone in the middle of all this, Pastor Marcela Cabralez met with students in Uvalde who survived this shooting.
Thank you for being here. Thank you for being willing to take time to tell everyone else about what you`ve bearing witness to. What did the students tell you? Who did you meet with?
MARCELA CABRALEZ, PASTOR, JESUS CHRIST REVEALED MINISTRIES: It was a lot of children that I came in contact with that day. And they were obviously crying and just very distraught over the situation.
MELBER: About how many students was it?
CABRALEZ: I didn`t take count. I don`t know. It could have been 30, 40 students.
MELBER: And what did they tell you about what they went through?
CABRALEZ: They were scared. They were talking about what they heard, the bullets. Some heard pounding on the door. And others just talking about whether their friends were shot, you know. Just not knowing what was happening at the moment.
MELBER: What did they say about their understanding of what happened? I mean, what do they think happened?
CABRALEZ: They knew there was a shooter shooting. That`s all they knew. That`s all that they knew. And so at that point our only job and focus was to keep those children safe and assured that they were OK, they were going to be OK.
MELBER: Which is important.
I mean, that`s such a big part of this even as we as a society discuss what happened or try to make whatever sense of what happened, and there`s all these real people and you`re doing some of that work. How did they seem to you? Just how upset, scared, or functional did they seem to you, and what did you tell them?
CABRALEZ: You know, it`s hard to put into words what you`re experiencing at the moment, you know. The very obvious is they were all pretty much crying. And you know, some of you all may say it sounds cliche or you`re all tired of hearing people talk about thoughts and prayers, but prayer is the only thing that gets us through this, and that was my focus with those children, was to pray with them and let them know that God was with them at that moment, and he would help them through this situation.
And they themselves are children that go to church or their parents have taught them some faith and they joined with me in prayer, as did some of the teachers. And just trying to help each other out, hug each other to, you know, make it through that storm at the moment.
MELBER: What are you as a pastor telling this community, these children that you`re telling us you met with, the parents? What are you telling them? We quoted earlier and I was discussing it with a colleague, for Miss Santos, who said, quote, "We are Uvalde. We`re not another Columbine or Sandy Hook." And communities have to wrestle through these situations, these horrific mass murders as part of American life now.
Some mark those cities as trying to come together or build something out of tragedy. And people can build out of tragedy in communities, but it would seem to this individual, to Miss Santos, that she didn`t want this town or this community known only by the tragedy. What are you telling the people as a pastor?
CABRALEZ: You know, as a pastor, we`re just reminding people, you know, that there is hope, you know, and that something good -- I know you kind of wonder what good can come out of this, but, you know, something good can come out, you know, where we as a nation, as a people can unite to help individuals, you know.
You talk about the shooting but there`s other things going on in their community that no one is talking about, and it`s the immigrants. We`ve had police chase us here every single day for a year. There`s lots of thing that we need to talk about, not just gun violence. And we need to come together. We need your help as a media to help us get our voices out at what`s really happening in our communities, in these rural areas.
You know, speak the truth and let`s talk about what`s happening everywhere, everything, not just one topic or one person or one political party or one religion. Let`s come together and help so that we`re not remembered, so that there`s not more cities marked by massacres and shootings. That`s what we need to do. That`s what I hope to tell this city and this community. Let`s work together, together to help one another.
MELBER: Pastor Marcela Cabralez, it`s an unspeakably difficult time. I think everyone appreciates what you`re doing for your community and meeting with those children as part of this path and process and I thank you for joining us.
CABRALEZ: Yes, sir.
MELBER: Thank you.
We`re going to fit in our first break of the hour. The president spoke again today. We`ll tell you about his push. We`ll also be joined by a Sandy Hook survivor, and later in the program we`re going to discuss what we do as a nation with this ongoing ritual, what we owe each other.
We`ll be right back.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When in God`s name will we do what needs to be done to if not completely stop fundamentally change the amount of the carnage that goes on in this country?
Second Amendment is not absolute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The president speaking again today as he did last night about doing something to increase public safety, which is the government`s first obligation. Now in our coverage last night, we began with the facts in the unfolding massacre, and then we turned to the facts around policy. So, again, we do tonight. We began with people on the ground, we began with the latest facts and the updates.
Now we turn to the policy because if this were domestic attacks from foreign invaders or foreign terrorism, you can bet on day one, two and three people would be saying, how do you stop the next one? Do you let these people into the country? How do they get the weapons? Somebody flies a plane into a building and kills Americans, do you want to say, should it be easy or hard to hijack a plane?
This is standard stuff. So don`t let anyone trick you or fool you about the idea that if you want to engage as a citizen and as a voter on how to keep each other safe or keep children safe that that`s somehow the wrong response. Enough of that.
So let`s get into the facts as there are new calls for action right now. Remember, under Democratic leadership in the most recent election, this current House has already passed two gun safety bills. We reported on them, and to refresh your memory, they passed last year. They would do something that has broad public support, which is deal first with who gets guns, expanding and strengthening background checks.
They do not in any way restrict your right to own a gun. They don`t make it very hard to get one, but they would try to strengthen the background checks. And what`s interesting about this is the House, which passed this, has the mandate of the majority of the public. The House is the part of the Congress that has majority support because each district represents roughly the same number of people.
Then they sent it over to the Senate. Now that`s a part of Congress where it`s not majority rule. Not in the rules, and not, remember, in how senators are picked because it`s not according to the number of people, it`s according to states. And that`s where these new bills backed by the public from the most recent election were stopped, blocked by a minority of Republican senators under Minority Leader McConnell. And they represent a minority of Americans.
The bills, well, they haven`t gotten an up or down vote. And again to be crystal clear, I`m not talking about whether everyone in the Senate supports them or not. I`m just talking about whether it reaches the floor. That minority group of Republicans in the Senate are using tactics and obstruction filibuster so there can`t be a floor vote. The person in charge of the Senate, Chuck Schumer, today saying this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHUMER: There are some who want this body to quickly vote on sensible gun safety legislation. I`m sympathetic to that. And I believe that accountability votes are important. But, sadly, this isn`t the case of the American people not knowing where their senators stand. They know. They know because my Republican colleagues are perfectly clear on this issue, crystal clear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That, by the way, is Chuck Schumer`s version of being outraged? This is the second deadliest school shooting in American history now this week. The most deadly was Sandy Hook in 2013 where Republicans also did the same thing. Something passed the House so it had the public`s majority support. There was a president in the White House, again, reflecting a majority vote by the public, and the minority stopped this.
Now Ron Brownstein is a nonpartisan political analyst noted that basically the senators voting for the background check bill represented 194 million people. Those opponents using this obstruction tool that I`m telling you about, a mere 118 million. Most people already supported the expanded background checks, and now as this explodes across our life and culture, even more people are concerned about acting.
The Senate is being held hostage by minority rule. And remember, the result is kids in more danger and we live in a society where kids don`t get to vote. Those kids in Texas don`t have a vote on this, on what we, the adults and parents of society, do. They don`t get to elect their members of Congress. The first graders at Sandy Hook didn`t either. These are school children we`re talking about. If we as a society, if our lawmakers can`t protect them, if we can`t make it so that the majority rules on matters of public safety involving children, who will?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE KERR, HEAD COACH, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: When are we going to do something? I`m tired, I`m so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there. I`m so tired of the excuse -- I`m sorry, I`m tired of the moments of silence. Enough. There`s 50 senators right now who refuse to vote on HR-8 which is a background check rule that the House passed a couple of years ago. It`s been sitting there for two years. And there`s a reason they won`t vote on it, to hold onto power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We mentioned Sandy Hook and now we turn to Mary Ann Jacob, a library clerk at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut who survived the 2012 shooting there. She barricaded herself and a class of 18 students and barricaded a door.
I`m sorry you have to do this but we are trying to talk to people who`ve been through some of this. So I appreciate you joining me tonight.
MARY ANN JACOB, VOLUNTEER, MOMS DEMAND ACTION: Thank you for having me.
MELBER: Your reaction to what we just walked through?
JACOB: You know, it`s no surprise. We`ve been watching it for the last 10 years unfold the same way over and over again, so, you know, my reaction is sort of the continued disgust of someone who doesn`t think our elected leaders are acting on the behalf of the people they represent.
But you know, in addition to that, I think all of us are just as accountable because we`re not holding them accountable. Every single person today in our country is outraged by what happened. But 99 percent of them are just, you know, what I would call slacktivists sitting back and, you know, just being outraged. And if we all don`t stand up and do something, we`re not going to change what`s happening.
MELBER: Yes, that makes sense. And we want to kind of bridge this. So, stay with me, I want to bring in someone who served as a governor and ran the Democratic Party, Howard Dean was some understanding of the limits of this. Governor, your response?
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER GOVERNOR, VERMONT: I think that`s absolutely right. I think we -- the Democrats, particularly have got to stop the handwringing and demand accountability from the voters. Politicians have not done their jobs and other Republicans` extremist wing, which controls the Republican Party is very much into this and involved. But the truth is, the Democrats haven`t done their job either because they`re afraid. You know, I was endorsed, I think with every race I ran in the national. when I was governor by the NRA, the NRA is now bankrupt.
They are some of them are going to go to jail. It`s a crooked organization. The Supreme Court is now in the throw -- in the thrall, five out of the nine members are in the thrall of the right-wing of the extremist wing of the Republican Party, which is in the ascendancy. The only people that can stop this are voters. So, I`ve had enough of your -- by thoughts, and prayers are with you. If you want to do something about this, do something about this, but stop complaining and expecting the politicians to do anything until you make them. That`s not going to happen.
MELBER: Yes, and you mentioned that I want to put up Ruben Gallego, I showed Chuck Schumer there and the sort of plaintiff approach he took. Ruben Gallego`s tweet is -- just to be clear, F. you -- refer to Senator Ted Cruz in Texas, you and people can read what he said there. And F. your prayers, they haven`t worked for the past 20 mass shootings, about passing laws that would stop these killings. Governor?
DEAN: Now what we need is a bill on the floor of the House, which is controlled by Democrats, which will limit or eliminate ownership of assault weapons by ordinary people that are not involved in law enforcement or the army and make all kinds of other regulations. So, that -- look, I`m -- I come from a pro-hunting state, and I`m pro-hunting, I think it`s a good way to control wildlife population and so forth. But this is not hunting. This is hunting human beings.
And these weapons are completely unnecessary. And in fact, under Bill Clinton, we did have an assault weapons ban, which then was allowed to lapse and it`s never been heard from since. The NRA is an impotent organization. These people are in the thrall of these right-wingers like Cruz and are in the thrall of people who loud people with dangerous guns that they are catering to. And the rest of the politicians need to stand up and they don`t really need to replace them. And I don`t care what party they`re in.
MELBER: And Mary Ann, we look at the certain body count high points. I mean, it`s such a grim math that the country does. But Sandy Hook was one of them. But it also can obscure how much gun violence is a part of this generation that`s growing up in ways that people may not realize. So just for facts, I want to show when you look at U.S. school shootings since Columbine, over 300,000 students have experienced some kind of gun violence at school.
And lest anyone do incorrect profiling, Mary Ann, these are all kinds of schools in all kinds of places. This is not of any particular state or any particular neighborhood or any particular demographic profile. Indeed, this is one of the worst tragic things that actually does, in a strange way unite this generation, in the worst way around so many places. How does that figure into what you want to see happen?
JACOB: Well, you know, I think, well, the figures that you`re putting up there are very compelling. And it`s these tragic school shootings that kill babies essentially, that grasped the public`s attention. You know, the gun violence in our country is an everyday epidemic. And it happens in our cities and our towns and, you know, we have children committing suicide and partners killing partners and, you know, the epidemic of gun violence has takes many forms.
And you know, we believe that you know, at Moms Demand Action in every town for gun safety that the background check is one of the most comprehensive ways than the National Background Check to try to curb some of that gun violence.
Now you know make no mistake there`s no you know magic cure for what`s going on and I think what we need is more of the several hundred bills that the House has already passed that are waiting for a vote in the Senate that include things like safe storage, and extreme risk protection orders and other things like that. But starting with a background check, so that, (INAUDIBLE) you know, states like Connecticut that have a state background check, you know, we`re not that safe, if everybody around us doesn`t have background checks as well.
So, it`s a really important thing to begin with. And we know that 90 plus percent of Americans and 80 plus percent of gun owners all over the country support it. So why don`t those people who we`ve elected vote for it and if they -- you know, and why aren`t we holding them accountable as voters who elected them?
MELBER: Yes. And that sort of, in this conversation brings us back to where we began, which is as horrific as so much of this is, there was an election 2020. And the House did pass one of the bills you mentioned, and there is a president waiting to sign it. So, people have to then locate as any -- as both of you have said, if people want to go beyond just expressing what is understandable grief, and outrage, people have to then locate that pressure point and figure that out.
And we`ll get back into that we`ve covered it before, you know, to Senator Joe Manchin, who happens to be a Democrat to Howard`s point, does he support a public safety exception to the filibuster or not. A child public safety exception. Or is the filibuster which we know how that works is that more important than children`s public safety, and there`s the rest of everybody want to get into that. And I -- as Howard said, and I think viewers, regular viewers know this, I could care less. The letter next to his name. Mary Ann Jacob and Howard Dean, thank you for starting this conversation with us.
DEAN: Thank you.
JACOB: Thank you.
MELBER: Appreciate it. We`re going to fit in a short break. When we come back, I want to talk about something that we`re living through together with you, which is this ritual, this broken, horrific ritual that we do. I`m not saying we have a better idea of how to do it, but we kind of all know that. It`s just something we keep doing every time we have a quote- unquote, big enough body count shooting, I have a special guest to talk about how we`re doing this as a society. And also, as we just discussed with those guests, whether there are things we can do so we don`t have to do this ritual.
MELBER: The mass murder of children in Texas is another horrific tragedy that is very familiar to us in America. And we have now kind of this public pattern for these atrocities, anger, grief, and calls for action by many. And we watch as our elected leaders come back up and use the same words every time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hillary and I are profoundly shocked and saddened by the tragedy today in Littleton
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In Southern California. By the news of the shootings at Virginia Tech.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Roseburg, Oregon. It`s an elementary school in New --
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Texas, Parkland, and Florida --
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Michigan --
CLINTON: The prayers of the American people are with you.
OBAMA: We are praying for them --
BUSH: Hillary and I and many across our nation --
TRUMP: Our entire nation. With one heavy heart is praying for the victims and their families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Plenty of politics in life is scripted. But when the script is this easy familiar, when it melts into a kind of Baroque set of talking points for the murder of children, that is one among many signs that we are getting something wrong. And those are just the ones that as I`ve said to you because I tried to be very straightforward are considered in the grim math, big enough body counts. If you widen out to the stuff that doesn`t make the national news.
Over the past five years, there have been over 100 school shootings with a fatality. This year, we`ve had 27 school shootings. I`ll admit to you as a newscaster, most of them don`t make the nightly news on most of the newscasts. And then when there isn`t one that is quote-unquote, big enough, we go into the cycle, a kind of a grim and gruesome ritual that we in the press do acknowledge. President Obama referred to this dynamic all the way back after a mass shooting in 2013.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: They`re not to obsess us. It ought to lead to some sort of transformation. Yet here in the United States after the round of clock coverage on cable news, after the heartbreaking interviews with families, after all the speeches and all the punditry and all the commentary, nothing happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That sound you hear is the sound of nothing happening, at least as best as we can tell, right now, a day after. So maybe it ought to obsess us a bit more. How do we -- not only in our policy, and leadership and politics, which we`ve just discussed tonight, earlier in the program. How do we, in our society and our discourse as human beings living together, which is what we are in a common society, how do we change this?
And I get it. When people say to me, I watched some of it, I read some of it, I saw the alert on my phone, and then I had to look away. I get it. But when is it negligent to allow this process to become so normalized that we check a box and then look away. And is there another way to change this ritual and discourse that kicks in after these mass murderer tragedies. We brought in someone to think about this with us. Michael Hirschorn is an Emmy Award-winning T.V. producer, a magazine writer, and also a progressive activist. Thanks for being here. Your thoughts?
MICHAEL HIRSCHORN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, ISH ENTERTAINMENT: I wonder if this is a moment for less emotion and more cynicism. I mean, I went back and I looked at how Democrats responded to this 20, 25 years ago, 30 years ago, and it was much more strategic. It was really about how do we gain power so that we can put in place the policies that we want to put in place. Right now, from the -- from, you know, you and me to the -- to Chuck Schumer, we`re responding emotionally, and not strategically.
Right now, we don`t have the power to change things. And no amount of begging on the Senate floor, like Chris Murphy did, and I`d really moved me is going to change anything. We have to get more senators, more congressmen in power, and then we can change the laws. In order to get more senators and more congressmen in power, we have to think much more politically. And one of my problems with the Democrats, in general, is that they`ve lost that ability to think politically. And that`s --
MELBER: And just to be clear, you`re speaking as a progressive who supports gun safety measures. And your problem with the Democrats is that sometimes you think the public message to concern parents and others is what?
HIRSCHORN: Is a motive tragic. It`s we`re sort of codependent with the Republicans in the way that, you know, we say things need to change, they have to change. But we know they`re not going to change. And yet, we just keep saying they need to change and have to change. But we don`t step back and say what do we need to do in order to force things to change.
MELBER: And Michael, I wouldn`t wish being codependent with Ted Cruz on anyone.
HIRSCHORN: You got it.
MELBER: Would you? No?
HIRSCHORN: Not at all.
MELBER: So, when you and I -- when you connected with us about this today, you pointed to an example where gun safety was a political pitch, but not an emotive whale. And it`s a kind of an old-school Clinton ad, which folks can watch because Michael provided this example, that goes to banning certain built bullets -- by the way bullets are dangerous to everybody. But it was specifically put it in the context of protecting cops from those bullets. Let`s take a look.
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CLINTON: My job as president is to take care of the American people. And I have done my best to take good care of this country. We are safer, we are more secure, we are more prosperous. But in the end, what we stand for? The values we embraced and the things we fight for, will shape the future.
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HIRSCHORN: Yes, so Clinton in his reelection campaign ran on banning cop- killer bullets. He enlisted the support of police departments, police unions, in order to push for gun safety in the context of protecting law enforcement. Now, that would require a level of message control that we`re not seeing right now. Right? You could also say for January 6, that was an attack on cops. So, if we were smart politically, we would be looking for ways to create wedge issues that put Republicans on the defensive and allow us to win politically.
MELBER: That makes sense. Briefly, the Onion, which is a satirical site, has been actually running this headline after every big shooting. This is just the screengrab but what it says I want to read out loud is, quote, no way to prevent this says only nation where this regularly happens. Like conservatives are out in Hungary and other places touting a different model of government. In 20 seconds, is there also a way to tell parents to your point about clarity. We know this can work we can protect your children.
HIRSCHORN: Absolutely, and I think -- and I think the Democrats have a golden opportunity now, with abortion, and with gun safety to be the party of law and order and the party of freedom. It`s a chance to flip the script 180 degrees.
MELBER: It`s an interesting perspective, and you bring a different background, then in order to defend you. But it`s not like you`ve worked on seven failed Democratic campaigns, which is sometimes what pundits draw on. But you are a communicator, which is why we come to you sometimes and appreciate your perspective on a very grave topic. Michael Hirschorn, thank you.
HIRSCHORN: Thank you.
MELBER: We will be right back.
MELBER: Finally, and tonight`s hour we look at the information that is now coming out about the people impacted. The people whose lives were cut short. 21 people murdered in this massacre which includes 19 children and two teachers murdered after recess just days out from what would be their summer break. Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia were the teachers who taught fourth grade. The relative recounts that Mireles died protecting her students.
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AMBER YBARRA, COUSIN OF TEACHER KILLED IN TEXAS SHOOTING: She did love what she did at the school and she put her heart into everything that she did. She is a hero.
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MELBER: Xavier Lopez`s mother was with him during an award ceremony. This was just hours before the shooting. One of our guests referenced this earlier today. Many say that he was like the life of the party, he dance memorably with his family and cheered people up. Amerie Jo Garza was the one who called 911. You can see this photo. This was just taken hours before when she was celebrated for making the honor roll.
Eliahana Cruz Torres` family described her as a beautiful girl who was full of energy. Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez was given an award for music. Also, that very morning you can see how their day started. Uziyah Garcia was described by his grandfather as the sweetest little boy. It`s a community in mourning tonight. Also praying for change. We`ll be right back.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. This is Uziyah Garcia, a fourth grader at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.