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Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 5/26/22

Guests: Michael Steele, Jaclyn Corin

Summary

New scrutiny on Texas officers` response to school shooter as new video showed the shooter was in school for an hour before police killed him, while another video showed parents pleaded with police to let them try to save their kids. As U.S. debated response to shooting, GOP ignoring studies showing death rate higher at school with armed guards and continuing to resist proposals related to background checks and gun restrictions. Michael Steele joins THE BEAT to talk about the gun violence that is now the top cause of death for American kids. Jaclyn Corin the founder of Never Again MSD and a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida joins Ari Melber to talk about America grappling with the response to the repeated mass shooting.

Transcript

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: A special thanks from me for letting us into your homes during these truly extraordinary last few days. I`m really grateful. THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER starts right now.

Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicolle. Thank you very much. And welcome to THE BEAT.

Tonight this story continues to take some turns that are significant even as the nation continues to reel and grieve. There is scrutiny on the police response itself to this shooter who murdered 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. The gunman was inside the school, we`re learning, for nearly an hour before being fully confronted and killed. Law enforcement has reversed what was the initial statement about this.

Now we`ve covered these issues -- these types of incidents before. There is room, of course, for Monday morning quarterbacking and room to update information as it comes in. If you watched the news, you`re familiar with that process. But there are some aspects of this painful story that are getting extra scrutiny today. A statement update says that now no school official confronted the shooter outside the school. That`s a change, that the shooter was able to walk in through an unlocked door.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICTOR ESCALON, DPS REGIONAL DIRECTOR, SOUTH TEXAS REGION: 11:40, he walks into the west side of Robb Elementary. Multiple rounds. Numerous rounds were discharged in the school. Four minutes later, local police departments, Uvalde Police Department, the Independent School District Police Department are inside, making entry.

TOM LLAMAS, NBC NEWS NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Was there a school officer on campus and was that school officer armed? Because that`s what we`ve been told.

ESCALON: So at this time no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Also newly revealed video from that terrible day, what you see here is the shooter running into the school with, as you can see, what appears to be a visible long gun, as it zooms in there, in the hands and then we know from that position, holding a long gun entering the school, would be in there for up to an hour.

So why did it take so long to respond to what we know from the sad and recurring drills in America are an active situation, an active shooter situation, where traditionally with kids inside, the police tend to mass up and go right in?

Well, this is a big question, it`s one that the law enforcement briefing that we showed you had reporters pressing on today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: What did these officers do between 11:44 to 12:44? Because we`ve been given a lot of bad information. So why don`t you clear all of this up and explain to us how it is that your officers were in there for an hour, yes, rescuing people, but yet no one was able to get inside that room?

ESCALON: Shimon, we will circle back with you. We want to answer all your questions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And went on like that. We`re not showing much more of it because, as you can hear, there wasn`t informative or detailed response to that big question. The AP has contributed reporting that there were people massing on the site, which means the information has gone out, parents were arriving, yelling at police to go in there. This was after news of the attack had even spread than agents had to have a staff member open a classroom with a key in order to get in.

And so there`s a lot of pressure here on this. New video taken outside of the school is distressing, showing panicked, horrified parents, sometimes having to be physically restrained as they continue to agitate for some faster real response while again word had spread that the shooter was inside with their children.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s OK. Calm down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miss. Miss.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The heart-wrenching and disturbing videos were not widely available on the day of the incident, although they were taken that day. There were parents of victims as well as some survivors who continue to speak out. Now in our coverage, of course, we`ve been tracking many aspects of this, we showed you, for example, on the day of the shooting what Governor Abbott and others were saying.

[18:05:06]

This is more information that`s come out over time as people are processing what they view some parents and other experts, what they view as an insufficient police response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody was scared. We were all panicking because we didn`t know what was really happening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to protect my little girl, and I can`t. The last time when I saw her, I just dropped her off at school and I didn`t know it was going to be the last time I would see her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were stuck in a room with some kids. And the kids, they kept talking and talking. So we were afraid that we were going to get caught.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the longest day ever. It was the longest day ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: We begin our coverage tonight with NBC`s Kerry Sanders who`s been reporting in Uvalde, Texas. He was at that press conference that we showed.

Kerry, you covered many such difficult and grim stories. Just walk us through more of what the authorities were saying and what you view as the credibly unanswered questions at this point?

KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of the things that was raised at the news conference in the initial statement was that the officers who were outside the classroom were attempting to negotiate. I think the term they said they were negotiating. So I followed up with a question. And it only took a few questions about, was this a negotiation? Was there a response? Or was this just officers yelling into the room?

And there was no response. So with a lack of negotiation, it then leads to the next important question, which is, why did the officer spend up to an hour outside and not attempt to breach in? Now, the authorities say with their analysis of all of this, there appears to have been most of the gunfire very early on into the time that the gunman was in that classroom. They did not detail how often the gun was fired afterwards. So how many children may still have been alive that were then killed in that hour, let`s say, 50-minute period.

And that is what we asked out here. That is what family members and residents in this community are all asking. Why did the officers remain outside for an hour? Now, to breach in the door, the door was locked. We know that they had to get the key, where they eventually got in. But that`s with the Border Patrol coming in with their specially trained folks. Why something wasn`t done earlier is unclear. Why the officers, at least one of them, did not retreat to an area where there was video that they could monitor, at least something or back the videotape up with the security tape to determine a few things that might have assisted on them?

And I guess ultimately here the question the parents are asking is, were children that could still be alive, were they killed because the officers didn`t go in? Now the police department is 1.2 miles from here. It`s very close. Lights and siren, they would have been here lickety-split. But when they didn`t have necessarily the equipment to breach in, what they did not do is, for instance, call the fire department.

The fire department has breaching equipment because people get stuck in cars and car accidents. They have the type of equipment that can open just about anything. That was not requested or apparently not requested. It was this long arduous wait for the arrival of the Border Patrol team that came in and so now folks are saying, I don`t get it. But what really made all of this so complicated is that the spokesman gave us a little bit of a timeline, started answering questions, and then was hammered repeatedly by multiple reporters here, saying, wait a second, you have to explain what happened in that hour.

He said, like, I`m going to not answer any more questions. We`ll give you more details. And that has only made things more confusing for those who want -- they want some answers. They want to blame some people. And what the Texas DPS did today was they raised confusion. They raised a lot of questions and from the people I`ve spoken here, especially those who had children inside that school, it`s really cost them some credibility. Ari?

MELBER: Yes. That makes sense, Kerry. And you know, people are not, most people at least are not trying to just throw out blame randomly. But there are certainly are some holes here, which you walked us through. So thank you, as always, sir, for your reporting.

Kerry Sanders, appreciate it.

We`re going to turn now on our coverage to some of the rest of this debate because that discussion there is very important.

[18:10:00]

Our top story here is the new information at the police response that turns on sort of the local policing and security situation. Then there is what continues to happen here in America as people take in what is now this deadliest shooting of the year, supplanting the Buffalo shooting that was just under two weeks ago.

And then you have this debate process that we all know about and there`s this narrative that, well, maybe with calls to do more background checks, more gun safety, more potential gun control to limit the flow of guns, while one counterpunch argument coming out of Washington and the right-wing and elsewhere is to just add more people with guns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS COMMENTATOR: Why isn`t there a requirement that there`d be a school safety officer, that there`d be somebody, a good guy with a gun?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should have a law enforcement officer at every school to be a shield.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): The most effective tool for keeping kids safe is armed law enforcement on the campus.

JESSE WATTERS, FOX HOST: To make sure that we have armed security agents there. At least one for every elementary school in the entire country.

KEN PAXTON (R), TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: We can potentially arm and prepare and train teachers and other administrators.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX HOST: Retired military, retired law enforcement outside the perimeter of every school in the country. I don`t know any other way to keep kids safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: He doesn`t know any other way to keep kids safe. Most of the voices you just heard and much of this refrain is coming from people who are not starting from scratch and questioning how to keep kids safe, but rather are starting from a pre-ordained ideological and partisan NRA-backed view that doesn`t allow for any gun safety rules whatsoever, which is different, by the way, than even what many gunowner groups said even just, say, 30 years ago.

And so if you take all those solutions off the table but parents and community members and plenty of people who are interested in politics or partisanship in any particular way but are looking at this crisis they were living through, plenty of people are asking what can be done, this is the kind of offbeat, ahistorical, non-factual alternative policy that gets offered. But it doesn`t have to be this way.

Indeed, if we`re going to look at public safety, we`re going to look at what works and doesn`t. There are many examples around the world. There are many countries that do this differently. There are many ways to deal with the threat of gun violence, which is distinct from mental health and generalized desire to do violence, which is to say the availability of guns increases gun violence, and the people who are experts at the school safety and schooling situation aren`t a part of the chorus you just heard. Indeed, here`s what the president of the Texas Teachers Association is saying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OVIDIA MOLINA, PRESIDENT, TEXAS STATE TEACHERS ASSOCIATION: We as educators do not want more weapons in our schools. We don`t want more bullets flying in the middle of chaos. We are not trained killers. We are not trained to shoot, while we are trying to protect our students. We are asking for better laws to be enforced, to keep us safe. Not throwing more things for us to have to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, when you look at this debate in America, there is much discussion about self-defense. The Supreme Court has held there is a right to some weapons, and there are indeed some weapons which can be credibly used for self-defense.

Weapons of war, the AR-15 assault weapons are not in that category. Indeed, semiautomatic rounds are used in a way that don`t allow you to defend yourself. You just end up shooting a lot. If there are people around, you`re going to shoot a lot of people. And I can tell you legally that ends up making you a murderer, not a person acting in legal or justified self- defense.

As for recent history and data, we also know a lot about what happens when there are too many assault weapons and war-style weapons available. Even the people who do have other weapons aren`t in a good position to do what people claim to be the goal here, which would be again, quote, "self- defense." There was a brave armed guard in Buffalo, where 10 people were killed. There were two armed officers I should say at that Santa Fe High School shooting in Texas. Ten also killed there.

We all remember Parkland, Florida, on this terrible list. There was an armed guard there. 17 people killed. More broadly, when you look at studies, the conclusion is clear, armed guards at schools do not prevent school shootings or gun-related incidents according to a review of studies by "The Washington Post." Researchers stated the rate of death was actually over double and nearly triple in schools with an armed guard present.

The point here is not to be ideological and throw out any options out of hand but rather to look at what works, what fails, and then decide what policies might prevent more murder of children. I`m joined by former assistant FBI director Frank Figliuzzi and former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance.

[18:15:03]

Welcome to both of you. Our viewers know you as some of our legal experts. You are also both on the more hawk than dove side of these battles over the years. You`re prosecutors. You`re law enforcement. You`re not public defenders to state the obvious. And yet I`m curious what you think, starting with Frank, about just the sheer safety part.

Let`s put all that partisanship and ideological talk aside, what do you think of this data we just walked through and what people need to know about how to keep people and children safe?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: Ari, there you go again trying to insert facts into our perfectly good delusions so as you said, the data over and over again simply does not support the notion that the solution to more gun violence is more guns. And in fact, just to point out one study, last year, the Journal of the American Medical Association studied every single shooting incident from 1980 to 2019. Something like 133 incidents, about 25 percent of those had armed officers on scene or school resource officers.

Guess what? As you referred to, they found that there was a higher death rate when a school, armed school guard or officer was present. They have a theory on this, well-vetted academic study. The theory is that suicidal students will self-select the school with the armed officer because they know there`s a higher chance that they could be killed. So you could literally be injecting the prospect of more violence into your school by placing armed people in the school.

So there is a study. Look, if you want safer schools right now, how about locking the doors? How about buzzing in every guest and visitor? If we had an open door, we don`t know the facts as you pointed out earlier. But if the door was literally opened or unlocked, that allowed the shooter in, that`s a problem. How about making sure that we have tighter security? How about making sure that we come to some agreement on 18-year-olds having an assault weapon that they purchase?

Whether it`s Buffalo or Texas, we`re dealing with an 18-year-old shooter. How about making a distinction between a long gun that you hunt with with your father and an assault weapon that`s designed to kill human beings? That`s a reasonable situation. Move it to 21.

MELBER: Yes.

FIGLIUZZI: You can`t get a commercial driver`s license at age 18 to drive a semi-tractor trailer across state lines because it`s too dangerous. You could kill someone if you`re 18. Let`s treat guns that way.

MELBER: Yes. Well, that premise, that policy premise you mentioned is something that our own Garrett Haake brought up with one of the elected officials from Texas, a Republican member of Congress.

Joyce, take a look at this exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARRETT HAAKE, NBC NEWS SENIOR CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: You can`t buy a beer when you`re 18 years old. Why do you need to be able to buy an assault rifle?

REP. TONY GONZALES (R-TX): You know, I think a part of the conversation, we have to be unified. This country is the not unified.

HAAKE: I want to go back to my original question. Why does an 18-year-old in Texas need to be able to buy an assault rifle?

GONZALES: The reality is this isn`t a new topic. There has been a lot of legislation that`s been out there.

HAAKE: But you haven`t answered my question, though. Why does an 18-year- old need an AR-15 in the state of Texas?

GONZALES: So this is how the legislative process works, is Congress determines the laws. Right now we have a Congress that won`t talk to one another. There is so much rhetoric and hate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Joyce, while I appreciate the congressman deflecting by telling us this is how Congress works, I`ll tell you that`s how a decent interview works, when somebody runs from a question three times even in a right-wing district it`s a reminder that apparently he doesn`t want to admit right now that he supports wanton checklist, license-less access to the very type of military grade weapon that was used in the shooting.

Your thoughts, Joyce.

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: The reality is, and we all know this to be true, there is entirely too much NRA money in our politics. There is no reason that we need to have military grade weapons publicly available and, in fact, like Frank, I am a huge fan of using data when we make laws, particularly in the area of criminal justice. And in 1994, President Clinton signed legislation that cleared both Houses of Congress with wide margins that restricted the manufacture and sale of these military weapons, assault rifles, assault pistols.

Those are weapons of war. They`re designed to shoot multiple rounds very quickly. Their purpose is to kill people. That legislation also banned high-capacity magazines. You know, now you can freely buy these high- capacity magazines, beta mags that will let you load 150 or 100 rounds at a time.

[18:20:02]

There is no reason that we need those as private citizens. And what does the data tell us? The best study done by the National Institute of Justice said that during the 10 years that that ban was in effect, the use of semiautomatic, of assault-style weapons in crimes decreased by about 17 percent in the cities that they studied. Unfortunately, that ban was permitted to expire. It had a sunset provision so it expired when Congress didn`t re-up it 10 years later.

But these are the kinds of laws that we need. Bans on these kinds of weapons, restrictions of gun purchases if you`re under 21. We could even have under existing Supreme Court law which, as we all know in Heller, Justice Scalia wrote an opinion in what seems to be sheer contradiction of the plain language of the Second Amendment found a personal right to have firearms in our own home. But even that opinion says that you can restrict guns of some categories when they`re not the sort of guns that people typically use for personal protection.

And we could also do things like have universal background checks. And we would need to put the resources that law enforcement needs to have personnel and resources to conduct those sorts of checks. There are a lot of steps that we can take that Congress simply has refused to put into place.

MELBER: All fair points from people who have done this type of public safety work. I want to thank Joyce Vance and Frank Figliuzzi for starting us off tonight after Kerry Sanders` report from the ground. Appreciate both of you.

Coming up, why is Ted Cruz under fire? We have Michael Steele to get into the confrontation and why some see a turning point.

Also, we have an activist who succeeded in changing gun laws at the state level. Yes, it`s a national problem. But there are places that have done more. We can learn from them. Also, we will continue our coverage live from the ground as we did when we began the show with the voices from Uvalde as the nation joins them in grief.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re such a small community that it really is like everybody knows everybody here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:26:32]

MELBER: Is anyone trying to do anything about this gun crisis in America? Well, just today, there is a new rally for gun safety rules and gun control at the Capitol. And we have seen this before and I`ve talked to you very directly about what seems to be the cycle with this type of epidemic massacre like Uvalde happens. There is a push. But there is also a lot of talk about why nothing will change.

Senator Chris Murphy says maybe this time could be different, that he is having meetings with Republicans about certain limited gun measures that it could be different.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): We are not going to allow this to become the new normal. We are not prepared to allow our schools to continue as killing fields. We are not prepared to allow the gun lobby and the gun industry to continue to run this town and this place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: He is leading. He is pushing. He has credibility on this, not all Democrats do. And certainly most Republicans don`t when you look at the major bills. One thing that can be done in the Senate is try to create a compromise where somehow Republicans agree not to filibuster this stuff, so it gets an up or down vote. In other words, if Republicans don`t filibuster it, they could still vote against certain measures, but the Democratic majority could go forward.

Everyone is saying that`s unlikely. Another option is that Senate Democrats can just pass the two background check bills that had already passed the House that are pending by just carving out a public safety exception to the filibuster. That would take the cooperation of two of those holdouts on that issue, Senators Manchin and Sinema.

The Senate GOP this morning was again using filibuster obstruction to block a related domestic terror bill which came out of the Buffalo shootings. The "New York Times" today reports the politics on this are extremely divided because Republicans, even in this gun epidemic time, are actually continuing to invoke guns as something that they are proud of and they think helps them win in midterm ads.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. MEHMET OZ (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE PRIMARY CANDIDATE: Some people say I won`t support guns. They`re dead wrong.

GOV. KAY IVEY (R), ALABAMA: Lipstick, an iPhone, or maybe a little Smith and Wesson .38.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did we mention he owns a gun range?

DAVID MCCORMICK (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE PRIMARY CANDIDATE: UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a teenager, I hunted with a 30.06.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tim and I taught our daughters to shoot when they were little. I`ll make sure we always have the right to protect ourselves and our families.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe in Jesus, guns and babies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pro-God, pro-gun, pro-Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m willing to do whatever it takes to return this country back to its former glory.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: If I told you that we interspersed satire, comedic ads, parodies, "SNL" ads within that montage, you might believe it because some of them look ridiculous. But those are all real ads. And as that count shows, we didn`t have the time tonight to show you even a third or half of them because they`re over 100 different midterm campaigns.

That`s the kind of stuff that is constantly being pedaled to conservative voters. It`s almost a kind of an arms race, pun intended, where guns are a fetishized part of right-wing cultural discourse that signals some more hardcore conservatism. And that`s why these mass shooting weeks become even more divided than they used to be.

As for Texas, Senator Ted Cruz, well, when you put aside the ads and the props, let`s not remember -- let`s not forget, I should say how many of the guns you saw in those ads were props because this is entertainment to so many. When it comes to the facts. Well, he`s dodging some basic questions about his proclaimed loved guns.

[18:30:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to understand why you do not think that guns are the problem.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is it just an American problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is just an American problem, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Cruz, why is America the only country that faces this kind of mass shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can`t answer that. You can`t answer that. Can you say. You can`t answer that. Why is this --

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Why is it that people come from all over the world to America because it`s the freest, most prosperous, safest country on Earth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe the freest. Maybe the most --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are kids dying --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: There`s that deflection there. It`s very similar to what we showed you earlier in the broadcast from another Texas Republican. And the point here is if you have a great answer, and you`re a politician, you just give the great answer. But even in Republican primaries in Texas, this is a tough week to tell those parents, nothing can be done.

No safety measures can be used. No questions should be asked. No license should be required when people want military-style guns. That doesn`t work right now even in Texas. Republican Senator Ron Johnson also unable -- it would appear to deal with the facts on background checks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the wake of the shooting, why not expand background checks including on firearms and gun shelves? Why don`t expand background checks?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Again, we have reporters that`s -- reporters from a different network. We also showed Sky News Internationally. Their reporters are on this network and others that ask these questions. And I just want to remind everyone, if you ask a straightforward question with a clear, available political answer, the politicians will usually say the answer. But they`re politicians. They know politics. They know it`s a bad week for this. And that`s why they just want to obstruct, run, duck, hide, and hope. You, the public, you the voters will move on and forget this.

There may be something changing. My job here is not to predict. I`m not going to try to do that with you. But I can show you that as compared to say a few years back, we are seeing more and more outrage far outside the field of professional policy law, and politics. We`re seeing more and more nonpartisan outrage from people who are mostly devoted to other things and other walks of life, but are looking up, and saying how can we live like this?

The Miami Heat basketball team, which of course has fans of all ideological stripes. Well, they have their announcer using his platform to urge sports fans to call lawmakers and demand change rather than just observing another moment of grief and silence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Heat urges you to contact your state senators by calling 202-224-3121 to leave a message demanding their support for common- sense gun laws. You can also make change at the ballot box. Visit Heat.com/Vote to register and let your voice be heard this fall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And is that a political risk on a night when people might just want to kick back after all these hard times and watch basketball? Well, politically, it`s not because we already know vast majorities of people support some of the so-called common sense or basic safety measures. There are parts of the gun debate that are divisive. I`ve covered that.

There are other parts, like subjecting guns to the kind of safety measures we use for cars and alcohol that so many people support, but a few Republicans use tricks to block floor votes in the Senate. It is an issue that is that simple. I`m going to bring in our friend Michael Steele, who`s thought a lot about these issues when we`re back in one minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:35:29]

MELBER: We`re back with former RNC chair and former lieutenant governor, Michael Steele. Welcome, sir. I`ll remind everyone with the stats on the screen here that there is widespread support, including Trump voters and many self-identified Republicans on the basics about background checks, data -- database, and even actual gun control like an assault weapons ban, depending on how you answer the -- ask and answer the question. Your thoughts on what we just walked through?

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR: No, I thought you laid out the current state of play here very concisely, it is really about that crucible moment for the country, that they seemingly are more engaged around what occurred in Texas than perhaps they may have been at other times. Not that they were less caring and less bothered by it. But there`s something different about this. And I think one of the things that`s different and why it`s so much harder for the Ted Cruz`s of the world, to stand in front of a back of cameras and acknowledge what their position has done.

And has allowed to occur is for the first time we`re hearing stories about these babies, these children being unrecognizable to their parents. Their parents have to give DNA samples so that they can match the child with the parent. And that will top of everything else is so difficult to comprehend that the violence that occurred in that classroom was so devastating, that mom has to submit a lock a hair or a swab of her own DNA in order to match it -- match this up her with her child.

And the country is looking at that and going, holy hell no, are you kidding me? Imagine as a parent being in that position. Imagine as a relative being in that position, or a neighbor, who used to see that child running down the street, or who would come collect money for a school event. No longer there because of this. And I think this has become very personal for a lot of Americans, Ari.

And so, you`re the way, you`ve narratively set this out with the facts in the politics behind that. And the energy that`s I think thrusting the story right now is not so much that, that`s all important. But how people are leaning into this because of what they now realize, which happened in other cases. But really for the first time that we`ve seen this reported this way.

MELBER: To pick up your point on the facts and the reality of the sheer gruesome evil of that as you walk us through, but gruesome evil, committed through a certain tool. In this case, tools of war, which is why as I`ve explained to people, they`re not tools of self-defense. And that`s distinct from other places, evil violence has existed throughout the history of society.

But we`ve shown throughout the coverage this week and showed it before that the gun-related violence is much higher. So, we have the higher murder rate. We have the higher murdered children rate, we have now. The highest cause of death among children in America is guns. And yet many of those guns aren`t easy to get in other places. So, they`re not easy to use to as you said, dismember people. We can be as clear and frank about as possible. Here`s that headline I mentioned, which is the facts.

And it`s the same with grenades, Michael, I mean, if you had a grenade problem where people were walking around, lobbing grenades into classrooms, as a society, you`d have to say, how do we weigh the access to grenades and what they`re used for with the cost of the grenade mass murder. I`m not speaking loosely. The AR-15 and the grenade are both for war. And they`re not precise or exact weapons that can be lawfully easily used for self- defense.

As for the politics, I want to get you on this. We heard last night from Michael Hirschorn. I was a progressive activist with a background in reality T.V., which kind of a little bit of a combo there but he believes that the message discipline on the -- specifically the Democratic left. He says -- is hurting some of the push for gun control that some of the stuff he views it as quote-unquote too emotional. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL HIRSCHORN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, ISH ENTERTAINMENT: This is a moment for less emotion and more cynicism. How do we gain power, so that we can put in place the policies that we want to put in place? Are we responding emotionally and not strategically? They`ve lost that ability to think politically. We say things need to change. They have to change. But we know they`re not going to change. And we don`t step back and say, what do we need to do in order to force things to change?

[18:40:00]

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MELBER: And Michael, he gave the example, specifically of how Clinton sold, stopping quote, cop-killer bullets, as the way that they sold the ban on those high-capacity magazines in the `94 Bill, which is -- fact check true. Your response?

STEELE: No, I think he`s -- I think he`s right. And I think the messaging is very, very important. And I would align myself with him this way and say, you can do both. I can be emotional about the tragedy in front of me. But I also need to be strategic about how I confront it, and how I deal with it. First messaging point, this isn`t gun control, people. Were so past gun control. There are 400 million guns in this country with foreign nation of 310 -- 20 million people.

So, we`ve got more guns than people. Saying about controlling anything. It is about gun safety, gun preparedness, gun responsibility, it is about making sure that in -- the vast majority of gun owners are law-abiding, good people, good citizens, right left center of the politics is irrelevant to how they own their guns. And what should be noted is the responsibility they have. So, let`s talk about it in that context, and on one end. But now let`s move into the space where we`re looking at dead bodies of children.

And we cannot shy away from the fact that the reason we`re doing that is because this individual decided to use a weapon of war. A weapon that quite honestly, is being used on the frontlines of Ukraine. All right. So, the reality of it is, this is not Ukraine, we`re not in a war here. We`re not in a war on our kids, in our communities. So, people go to the movies. So, let`s stop acting like we can`t address that war directly and say, this is not just about the psychological impact. This is not about the Second Amendment.

This is about what responsibility our elected leaders are going to take to do something about this. And the responsibility that`s on us to hold them accountable. When they run away from the mic, the bank of microphones that can answer a direct question. Make that little checkbox for November, people because that person needs to go. Because it`s not about taking care of the business on behalf of the dead children in that classroom. The dead teachers. Because that`s the responsibility that now falls on us.

MELBER: Yes. Yes, I think you say clearly, and it`s interesting to pick up on some of the threads of last night that you say it`s possible to do both. Michael Steele. Thank you, sir.

STEELE: Absolutely, Ari.

MELBER: Up ahead. What are we learning about what works. When we come back.

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[18:47:35]

MELBER: It is sad that across our country, schools and students are doing things like this and yet it`s something we want to make sure we mark. You`re looking at Oxford high school in Michigan. Four students were killed there just last November and they -- today are forming this large U. Students standing together, a U. for Uvalde, a U. for solidarity, for people they haven`t met.

People they`re thinking of that are sharing the horror of what they also went through and what so many people have gone through in so many schools. With that, we turned to Jaclyn Corin an activist and founder of the Never Again movement. She`s a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. Thank you for being here. How are you doing? How are you holding up?

JACLYN CORIN, FOUNDER, NEVER AGAIN MSD: Well, I mean, it goes without saying that what happened in Texas is absolutely heartbreaking. And that`s especially so because the losses of 19 children and two teachers was entirely preventable. And now we`re seeing, you know, the heart attack and subsequent death of Joe Garcia, the husband of Irma Garcia, a teacher at the school who died. And that just goes to show the both mental and physical effects of the stress and trauma that members of the Uvalde community are facing and will continue to face for a very long time after this horrific event. It`s really heartbreaking.

MELBER: Yes, and we -- excuse me, we talk about it in so many different ways, but the uniquely American problem of what children are put through in schools, and yet, as everybody knows, children are minors, as I pointed out this week, I mean, they have to live in the society we give them and the laws that we give them, but they don`t get to vote on it until they`re older.

What do you think people who watch the news our viewers here should understand about what`s happening to this younger generation? What you went through when you were younger? What were putting American kids through in school?

CORIN: Well, the reality is, is that if we allow gun violence to continue to persist, you know, if we can`t save our children America fails as an experiment. Young people in Generations Z. and Gen Alpha are terrified to go to school, to go to church, to walk the streets. This is our everyday reality that we`ve been born into, really, I mean, Columbine happened before I even was born.

[18:50:00]

And so, this is kind of inevitable in this country, and we almost expect it to happen. And so, it`s an absolute, you know, devastation that this is our reality. And that`s why adults need to step up in this country. I mean, I`m an adult now. The shooting in Parkland happened when I was 17, I am now 21 years old. So, it falls on myself and other adults in this country to stand up and do the right thing, including our elected officials who are acting very cowardly in this moment.

MELBER: I`ll give you a heads up. I got about 40 seconds here the way it works. But do you think students who are your age or younger, do you think they go to school every day of thinking about this, afraid about a shooting in their school?

CORIN: Absolutely. People go anywhere, like I said, being absolutely afraid. And that`s why students like me -- I`m in college now. We`re all standing up and saying absolutely not. We marched in 2018 at the March for Our Lives. And we saw changes happen, especially on the state level. But ultimately, we haven`t seen enough done both on the state level and the national level.

And that`s why myself and other young people, high schoolers, and college students around the country are organizing a second March for Our Lives in D.C. on June 11 and across the country. We`re having sibling marches. So, I encourage everyone watching this to text, March 295-4954. And actually, stand up and do something in your community, because we all desperately need it.

MELBER: Jaclyn Corin, I appreciate you walking us through that as we think about everyone affected including younger people. And so, people can learn about what you and the people you`re working with are doing about it. Thank you. We`ll be right back.

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[18:56:16]

MELBER: Much of Texas in the nation has adjusted all sorts of plans over the Uvalde tragedy. Here the NRA is going full steam ahead holding its planned annual convention in Texas tomorrow. There`ll be scrutiny on that we`ll be covering that and a whole lot more on THE BEAT tomorrow. Coming up now "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" is up after this break.

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