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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 10/01/15

Guests: Eugene Robinson, Charlie Pierce, Frank Smyth, E.J. Dionne, KristenBrady, Richard Martinez, Andy Parker, John Hanlin, Rita Cavin, DwesDweshutson

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: It has been another tragic news day here in the United States while Russian bombs continue to fall in Syria today, we will have more on that later. We are awaiting at this hour a news briefing from Oregon on that mass murder at that community college there today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There`s been another mass shooting in America. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exchanging shots with him, he`s in the classroom -- OBAMA: Somehow, this has become routine, we`ve become numb to this. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gunman killed in an exchange of gunfire with police. OBAMA: It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the largest massacre in Oregon state history and it`s just awful. OBAMA: This is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We are just a few minutes away from a briefing -- a press briefing in Oregon, which we believe will include the governor and police officials on that shooting there today. Police have identified the shooter in America`s latest mass murder. This time, the shooter -- well, the murder was in Oregon, the shooter was a 26- year-old man who police say was not a student at the school. At 10:38 a.m. Pacific Time, police dispatchers received the first 911 calls from Umpqua Community College. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The UCC -- this is going to be the Snyder Hall. The -- somebody is outside one of the doors shooting through the door. There is a female in the computer lab, we do have one female that has been shot at this time. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They exchanged shots with him. He`s in a classroom on the -- it`s going to be the southeast side of Snyder Hall. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Copy Roser 17 exchanging gunshots right now with a male. He`s in a classroom on the southeast side of Snyder Hall. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Code 4 -- the suspect is down. (END AUDIO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Police exchanged gunfire with the 26-year-old shooter, killing him at the scene. According to the Roseburg sheriff, the shooter killed ten people and injured another seven. Multiple law enforcement sources tell "Nbc News" that four weapons were recovered from the scene, three handguns and one assault-style rifle. Joining us now, Kristen Brady, a student at Umpqua Community College, she was on campus today when that shooting started. Kristen, can you tell us where you were and what you heard, how it began for you? KRISTEN BRADY, STUDENT, UMPQUA COMMUNITY COLLEGE: I was actually outside by my car with a friend. I was putting away my anatomy and physiology book and as I was putting it away, my friend and I heard these popping sounds. And at first, we thought it was an engine firing back until a teacher or administrator told us that it was a live shooting and told us to get into our cars. O`DONNELL: And you then got into your car? BRADY: I got into my car and then I rather panicked and tried to lay down as much as I could in the car. My friend was able to drive away and on her way out of the school, she was able to pick up a couple of people on her way that were trying to get away from the shooting. O`DONNELL: And at some point, did you get out of your car? What happened next? BRADY: What happened was, I started worrying about the other students in the science building and my teachers. And as I was worrying about that, I saw a student coming out of the science building with earbuds in her ears and looking down at her phone. And I chose to get out of my car. I ran to her and shouted -- there`s a shooter, there`s a shooter get in the building, and she looked at me and we both ran for the science building. And on our way, I saw Dr. Richards, our Science Department, head of science teacher and then Dr. Champion, my anatomy and physiology teacher opened the door for us and we all went to the center of the science building. Which I found out later is actually probably a very safe place to be. O`DONNELL: And so this sound that you were hearing, if you had just had earbuds in, you`re saying this other student had earbuds in listening to something on her phone and she didn`t hear it. BRADY: The shots were actually very muffled. I doubt anyone would actually associate these pops with a gun. They could have been mistaken for anything, firecrackers, BB gun -- like I said, an engine firing back. It didn`t sound anything like a gun. O`DONNELL: And Kristen, how long did you stay in the science center? And what happened in there? BRADY: Well, it felt like it was about an hour. We probably had stayed there for about 30, maybe 45 minutes. And while we were there, we all contacted our loved ones. We went ahead and let them know what was going on. We started sharing phones with each other for those that didn`t have their phone. And later on, those that couldn`t contact their siblings, most were able to contact their siblings and loved ones. O`DONNELL: What was the sequence of the gunshots that you heard? I assume you heard an initial burst of gunfire, but then at some point, the police entered the scene after some period of time. And then do you hear gunshots again that would include the police gun fire? BRADY: Well, actually, the first round of shots was just a sequence of pop-pop-pop and then silence. And that was when everyone started panicking -- or I started panicking, even. And then once we were inside the building itself, we couldn`t hear anything. I almost wonder if that area of that building was just too far in for us to be able to hear anything at all. We didn`t know what was going on until the police came to the science building and told us that they had the all-clear and then they were checking everyone at the school to make sure there weren`t any other individuals apart of this gunman -- O`DONNELL: And -- BRADY: Or with the gunman -- O`DONNELL: And Kristen, do you know of any of the victims or any of the victims of this shooting friends of yours? BRADY: No, none of the victims already -- one that I know closely or I have -- I don`t know if any of them are classmates of mine. There are classmates of mine that I haven`t been able to get in contact with because I don`t know their phone number or I don`t have them on my Facebook. And I am hoping that they`re doing fine and they made it out OK. O`DONNELL: Kristen Brady, I`m very sorry for what you and your school endured today, and thank you very much for joining us tonight and helping explain this to people who are just hearing about it now. Thank you very much, Kristen. BRADY: Thank you for having me. O`DONNELL: Here`s what President Obama had to say tonight, some of what he had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: In the coming days we`ll learn about the victims; young men and women who were studying and learning and working hard. Their eyes set on the future, their dreams on what they could make of their lives. And America will wrap everyone who`s grieving with our prayers and our love. But as I said, just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It`s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America next week or a couple of months from now. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now, two fathers who have suffered this kind of violence; Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher and five others were murdered at the University of California, Santa Barbara last year. And Andy Parker, whose daughter Allison; a local television reporter was killed on live TV while reporting a story this Summer. Richard Martinez, give us a feeling for what it`s like. You went through this shooting at the school where your son goes to school, there are parents of every student there waiting for the phone call, just waiting for that phone call. They`re hoping to hear from their son, their daughter as soon as possible that they`re OK. What is -- what is that day like for the people who don`t get the call from their son or daughter? RICHARD MARTINEZ, FATHER TO A VICTIM OF MASS SHOOTING: Well, Lucy McBeth(ph) who lost her son Jordan in Florida once said, it`s as if every fear that you ever had for your child comes crashing down on you in one moment. And I`ve said that when I got that call, it took -- it took us down to a place we`d never been before. You know it`s bad to lose a child, but I`m telling you, when you get that call, it`s -- it takes you down to a place you`ve never been before. And we`ve got to do so much better in this country. And I know what those people are going through. And you know, you send your kid off to school in the morning and they`re living their lives and everything is fine, and the next moment, everything`s changed. O`DONNELL: Richard, do you have any advice from your perspective on this now to the families that we know, at least ten families who are going to be going through your experience? MARTINEZ: Well, I think it`s helpful to talk to other people that have been through the same experience. One of the most useful things for me has been talking to people that have lived through this same thing. Because we have a lot in common and it`s just -- it is so sudden and so violent and so -- you know, for most of us, it`s unexpected. I mean, 88 Americans are shot and killed in this country every single day and hundreds are wounded. And we`ve become -- we`ve come to accept that situation as normal. There have been more American civilians killed in this country since 1968 and in all the wars that we`ve ever fought. And begin with the revolutionary war, all the way through to Afghanistan. More American civilians have been killed in this country by gun violence than American soldiers. O`DONNELL: Andy Parker, we just heard from Kristen Brady, that she doesn`t know if some classmates of hers may have been lost. This is news that will be -- will probably take 24 hours or so to get through to the entire community there about exactly who`s been lost. When it happened to you and it`s so fresh in all of our minds because it`s just months ago that it happened to you with your daughter, you became a gun safety activist fairly instantaneously. What was your reaction to what we heard the President say tonight about this? ANDY PARKER, FATHER OF ALISON PARKER: Well, he was absolutely correct in that. You know, your heart goes out to the families and my heart breaks for them. But there has to be an outrage. And my second emotion was, I`m outraged that this has happened again. You know, it`s -- we`re at war. This is -- this is like domestic terrorism and politicians do have to be held accountable for it. Virginia is very unique and that we have off-year elections and I`ve joined every town for gun safety and I`m going to be working with Governor McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring to kick the politicians out. That told the lie and they`ve had blood on their hands because they are in the pockets of the gun lobby -- they won`t do sensible -- they won`t enact sensible gun legislation. So, that`s -- I think, the nation has to be looking at Virginia and we have to hold these people, these politicians accountable for their non-action and Barbara and I are going to do just that. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to another thing the President said tonight. He said that this is -- this kind of violence is a political choice. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Andy parker, that sounds like what you`ve been saying. PARKER: That`s exactly right. I`m glad the President said that because that`s -- in Virginia and across the country, you know, it shouldn`t be a Democrat or a Republican issue, but I`m afraid that there`s one party that is completely silent on this issue, won`t say a thing. So, it`s time for these people to be held accountable and to stand up and say, you know, OK, well, I`m all right with what`s going on. You know, let`s arm every citizen and let`s have a shootout or let`s have sensible -- you know, universal background checks, sensible gun legislation. I can say until I`m blue in the face -- we`re not coming to take away your guns, people that think that we`re going to assault the second amendment. We`re not doing that. We just want to keep guns out of the hands of people that shouldn`t have them. And unfortunately, most Republicans, every -- in the presidential -- the Republican presidential race right now, you hear nothing from these people, nothing. You know, on the -- on the flip side of it, you`re not hearing a lot from Hillary Clinton either and Bernie Sanders has a horrible record on gun legislation. So, you know, it`s -- it kind of cuts both ways, but right now in Virginia, the Republicans are silent on this issue, the Democrats led by Governor McAuliffe has stood up and said we are not going to take this anymore. And if -- and folks, if you -- if you agree with this and you want to join us in this fight, text now to 877-877. Join Rich and I in this fight. Now 877-877, because, you know, we have to -- we have got to do something, we`re going to mobilize and we are. O`DONNELL: We did get a statement from Hillary Clinton tonight, a support of a new gun control legislation, new gun safety legislation. Bernie Sanders appeared on this network with Chris Hayes, saying essentially the same thing as Hillary Clinton. Chris Hayes did discuss with him his voting -- Bernie Sanders voting record where he`s been for some gun safety bills and against others. PARKER: Yes -- O`DONNELL: But Richard Martinez, the President said tonight that he, of course, was going to be accused of politicizing the issue and he then took that straight on and said this is an issue that needs to be politicized. MARTINEZ: Well, first of all, I want to say that I agree with everything that Andy just said. And I can tell you, I have a sense of urgency. The longer it takes us to make common sense changes to our gun laws, the more people are going to die for reasons that are completely preventable. And, you know, 26 and 7-year-olds were shot and killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School, six adults. And we as a nation did nothing. That`s disgraceful. You know, we`ve got to do better than this. I mean, if we had taken the steps that we needed to take after that shooting, there would be a lot more people that wouldn`t be dead today. You know, there`s not one single solution that`s going to solve all of these problems. But universal background checks on all gun sales is a good place to start. O`DONNELL: Richard Martinez, the President talked tonight about how this has become routine, how our news coverage of it has become routine. He feared that his own statements about it had become routine, although tonight`s statement that he made, there was nothing routine about it, it was very emotional. For you, there is a tragic routine in the campus shooting, the college campus shooting. And here we are again at a college campus shooting. And I think as you and I and Andy sit here tonight, we know this is not the last time we will be discussing a mass murder on an American college campus. MARTINEZ: Well, it`s -- it`s not just the college campus situations and it`s not just the mass shootings and it`s not just the mental health issue. I mean, there are more women and children killed in domestic violence situations in this country every single day. The mass shootings in this country, according to the last FBI report in 2013 shows these active shooter incidents on the increase. And we`ve seen it over the past Summer. But it`s not just those cases and it`s not just an issue of mental health. There`re situations where it`s anger management, alcohol and drugs combined in domestic violence situations, too. So, we need to look at all aspects of the gun violence problem. We need to have sensible solutions. This is the 21st century in the United States of America. We`re most technologically advanced country in the world and we can do better than this. O`DONNELL: Andy Parker, your daughter can claim to have been a unique victim, the first one to have been killed on live television. And it makes her in many ways uniquely memorable. It`s one of the easiest cases for anyone to bring back in their minds. What happens to you as a parent, what happens to you as an emotional person on nights like this when America revisits this kind of violence that your family went through? PARKER: Well, Lawrence, it just -- it just rips your soul and your heart out again. And as I said, it`s -- there`s -- it`s outrage, it just makes your soul angry and it just makes you want to do more to help -- yes, get this thing solved and find a solution. O`DONNELL: And Andy, you immediately became activated on the gun safety issue legislatively after -- sorry, Andy and Richard, we have to go to this live briefing from Oregon right now. JOHN HALIN, SHERIFF, DOUGLAS COUNTY, OREGON: Is on the families and of the victims of today`s horrific incident. We have paired up deputies and detectives with the family members of the deceased to help work through the process of grieving and answering questions to the families of these victims. Also in an attempt to help identify the victims that we have mentioned earlier. As we talked previously, this is considered a mass casualty. And with a mass casualty comes protocols, protocols that will likely result in us not being able to release the names of the victims until at least tomorrow. Obviously, notifications of the families is our priority. And we would ask that the media respect that. Respect the victims and respect the families as they manage these most difficult times. We have information that leads us to believe that we know who the shooter is. The official ID will come from the medical examiner`s office. Let me be very clear, I will not name the shooter. I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act. Media will get the name confirmed in time. But you will never hear me mention his name. We would encourage media and the community to avoid using it. We encourage you to not repeat it. We encourage you not to glorify and create sensationalism for him. He in no way deserves this. Focus your attention on the victims and the families and helping them get through this difficult time. We do know that we have at least two heroic officers who responded, entered the building within minutes and exchanged gunfire with the suspect. The Oregon State Police is handling the aspect of the officer-involved shooting and will release any information surrounding that portion of the investigation at some point in the future. Tactical teams and bomb squads have cleared all the buildings on the campus, they are currently going through the hundreds of vehicles that are parked in the parking lots to clear those as well. Evidence teams from the FBI and from the Oregon State Police are working to process the crime scene. Again, I want to thank the hundreds of law enforcement officers, mental health counselors, victim specialists and others from all over this state that have responded here today to help my agency and to help this community. With that, I would like to introduce the president of the Umpqua Community College, Rita Cavin. RITA CAVIN, PRESIDENT, UMPQUA COMMUNITY COLLEGE: Thank you very much. I`d like to begin by offering my heartfelt condolences and the condolences of everyone connected with UCC. To the families of anybody who was hurt today in any way, emotionally or physically. This has been a long, sad, tragic day at UCC, and the thing that we should take away from it, is the power that love can bring to this community. We saw people rush to our help, rush to assist us, rush to comfort us, people all over the community came in. I think that`s one of the blessings of a small town is that we`re so interconnected. Even though I have only been here a short period of time, the friends that I knew we had all came and did everything they possibly could. They`re still here helping us and they will continue to help us as we go back to normalcy. This is going to take us some time and we need the patience of the community. But we plan to have the college functioning safe and comforting as soon as possible for our students to return. This is a crisis and we are asking for help and receiving help. It`s important, I think, we can focus on what would cause somebody to do this horrendous act. And I absolutely agree with the previous statement that the focus should be on how many people open their hearts to help us today. Thank you. HANLIN: I will be headed over to the candle light vigil now. And with that, I will ask my public information officer, corporal Dwes Dweshutson to come up and answer any questions and discuss any other administrative issues. DWES DWESHUTSON, POLICE OFFICER: So just a couple of items here. We will be continuing to post information to our Twitter account and we`re using the hashtag UCC shooting and that`s it, Douglas C-o-s-o. Further updates will be posted to that Twitter account as well as flashalerteugene.net. It`s not determined when the next briefing will be, but when that`s decided, we will post that information -- flashalert.net and our social media accounts. And that`s all I have. I just have a couple of logistics items, if you could just bear with me for a few minutes here. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you suspect that we`re going to have a briefing tonight or is that still not clear? DWESHUTSON: It`s not determined. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These two officers that he mentioned, what agency do they work -- DWESHUTSON: We`re not taking any questions tonight -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK -- DWESHUTSON: Thank you. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When do you expect to get your update, can you just spell your name for us? DWESHUTSON: D-w-e-s-h-u-t-s-o-n. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: D-w-e-s-h-o-t -- DWESHUTSON: H-u-t-s-o-n. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First name, sir? DWESHUTSON: Dwes, D-w-e-s -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) -- O`DONNELL: We`re joined now by Pete Williams, "Nbc News" Justice correspondent, Pete, we just heard from the sheriff that they do have the identity of the shooter as we have known for a while now. He has said, "you will never hear me mention his name." That`s actually a policy I`ve been employing for a couple of years now in these matters. The name is I think useful to get out there in the event that some people might be able to add information that the police might want to know about this person. Certainly, it`s worth getting out there in the early stages of these investigations. But there`s a point to just how repetitive we should be with that and how much -- as the sheriff was concerned, how much glory or crazed glory in the minds of these kinds of shooters -- shouldn`t we give them after the fact. PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: Sure and I totally sympathize with what the sheriff is saying. But you`re right, at the same time, the FBI is offering a tip line and asking for information. So, you can`t ask for information about the gunman if you don`t identify who the gunman is. Nonetheless, law enforcement officials have told us that he is a 26-year-old man who had a home in the area -- Chris Harper Mercer, but they are puzzled about why he chose this particular target. They say he wasn`t a student. They don`t know that he was working there, perhaps he was doing some part-time work, but they don`t -- they`re not aware if he was an employee. They`re trying to figure out what his connection was to the college and why he chose it as a target. They say -- we`re told that they have found some documents, some things he wrote and which he expressed what one official called a philosophy of hate. We don`t know whether these were notes that he left behind at the shooting scene or things that they have found subsequent to the shooting, searching his house. The other thing we`re told is, what fire power he had with him. They say when he entered the school, he had four weapons, three handguns and an AR- 15 style assault weapon. So they`re looking through his background now, they`re trying to figure out what he was doing in the days and hours leading up to this. Whether anyone else was involved, no indication anyone was involved. There`s been quite a lot of talk about a possible social media tip-off that something was going to happen. A couple of law enforcement officials tell us they`re well aware of these. They`re on a sort of chat room site called Fourchan(ph) and they don`t -- haven`t reached a conclusion about it. But their initial assessment is that these are postings unrelated to the shooting, not from the gunman himself. But, they are still looking into his background. O`DONNELL: Pete, on the issue of the location, in a community like this, this a small town community, if a mass shooter is looking for population density, the choices are movie theaters or community college campuses like this. WILLIAMS: Well, yes. I mean sure, but I supposed that we can sit here and think of lots of other place where people congregate. And, in fact, where mass shootings have been carried out in the past. Fast food restaurants, churches, even people on the street. So, why he chose this school, I do not know. I mean your supposition that he was just looking to kill the largest number of people, that could be. Perhaps, that what they will conclude. O`DONNELL: And, Pete, in your experience in these investigations, especially with the smaller town -- or smaller county investigative force, how heavy is the federal involvement at this stage of the investigation? WILLIAMS: So, at this point, and it is always different when the suspect is dead, because that sort of changes the equity about trying to build the case and whether it is going to be the locals or federal agencies who will prosecute. There is not going to be a prosecution here unless other people are found to be involved, which we do not think is the case. It is a murder case, so the local authorities have the lead. The federal authorities will offer their assistance. Now, you just heard the sheriff say the FBI will help to process the crime scene. The FBI has very experienced evidence technicians, lots of technology and experience that they can bring to bear on trying to reconstruct how the shootings happened, the ballistics involved. The ATF can help trace the weapon -- weapons, I guess I should say, figure out where they came from, whether they were purchased. But in a situation like this, the federal agencies are there to help. They are assisting the locals, who are in charged in the investigation, and it will probably remain that way. O`DONNELL: Pete Williams, thank you very much for your reporting on this tonight. WILLIAMS: You bet. O`DONNELL: Thank you, Pete. Coming up, more on what President Obama had to say about our latest mass murder. You are looking at live pictures of that candle light vigil that the sheriff said he was going to right now. That is tonight in Roseburg, Oregon. (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Tonight, at the White House, President Obama said that he will surely be accused of politicizing the mass shooting in Oregan today. But, he said, "This is something we should politicize." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRES. BARACK OBAMA, CURRENT U.S. PRESIDENT: There is a gun for roughly every man, woman and child in America. So, how can you with a straight face make the argument that more guns will make us safer. We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So, the notion that gun laws do not work or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns, it is not born-out by the evidence. We know that other countries in response to one mass shooting have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allies of ours. Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So, we know there are ways to prevent it. And, of course, what is also routine is that somebody, somewhere will comment and say Obama politicize this issue. Well, this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Frank Smyth, who has done in-depth reporting on the NRA and Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize Winning opinion writing for "The Washington Post," and MSNBC political analyst. Also, with us Charlie Pierce, Writer-at-Large for Esquire. Charlie is also the league political blogger for Esquire.com. Eugene, the president feared routine in this. He fears exactly what I fear when one of these things happen. How do we come on and treat this as something that is not routine even though it has tragically become routine. And, the president`s comments were far from routine. EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And, I think he is absolutely right. It was a very powerful speech by the president. A lot of it seemed to be extemporaneous, certainly from the heart. And, the way he worked through this issue and the way he sort of appealed in a very raw way, I think, for people just to listen and pay attention and not let it be routine, I thought was extremely effective. I mean, you know, the one step he did not take was to lay out specifics about what we should do. He said we should not take these things lying down, we should not just assume that we can do nothing. And, I think that was perhaps the most important thing. But, then -- OK, once we established that, then one does have to lay out what are we going to do? What will we go for? Is it backgrounds check? Is it assault weapons ban. Look, we are going to get to specifics too, I think O`DONNELL: The president talked about our reactions to these events compared to our reaction to other tragedies like mine disasters. Let us listen to the way he framed that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRES. OBAMA: When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them, to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives. So, the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon. When there are law-abiding gun owners all across the owner, who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations. It does not make sense. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Charlie Pierce, your reactions to the events today and the president`s speech tonight? CHARLIE PIERCE, WHITER AT LARGE FOR ESQUIRE: Well, I have been doing the politics blog only since the fall of 2011, and this is, I think, the fourth one of these I have to write about. You know, I was struck by the last bit from the president, where he talked about other things we react to. The fact is we only allow ourselves two political parties in this country and one of our political parties is completely insane. And, it is the party when we have mine disasters blocks mine regulations. It is the party that says when we want to fix our roads, you cannot have an infrastructure bill. You cannot raise the gas tax. It is the party that when some people have floods like New Jersey marks Chris Christie lousy because he accepted health from the federal government. And, we have the same party, which now has somewhere between 3 and 600 people running for president. None of whom will do anything about the problem of mass shootings in America. So, I am politicizing the hell out of this and I do not care. O`DONNELL: Frank Smyth, we did get -- there was a response from Jeb Bush tonight, much shorter than President Obama`s. It was just a tweet. He said -- Jeb bush said, "Praying for the Umpqua Community College, the victims and families impacted by this senseless tragedy." And, Frank Smyth, it seems in your work on the National Rifle Association, that the candidates supported by the National Rifle Association are apparently allowed to do nothing but pray. FRANK SMYTH, JOURNALIST: Every candidate in the Republican Party running for president accepts the premise put forward by the gun lobby that these national tragedies, as well as the steady drum beat of daily gun violence is the price, the necessary price of freedom, or the gun lobby`s interpretation of the second amendment. They do not want to say that out loud. They certainly do not want to get into a debate about that neither do the politicians in the Republican Party running for president, nor the gun lobby. But this is the view that the gun lobby puts forth and it is what impedes effective gun reform in the United States. And, I think if we are going to move forward, politicians that are seeking gun reform and the gun reform movement needs to challenge this premise head on. O`DONNELL: Frank Smyth, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it. SMYTH: Thank you, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Coming up, more with our panel. (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, CURRENT U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: There is few things worse than getting a phone call saying your child is gone. Your child is gone or your brother, your sister, your husband, your wife. We are basically the only civilized country in the world, where we have these massive murders in our country. And, 87 percent of the American people agreed with the proposal I put together for the president on background checks and gun safety. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Coming up, President Obama gets tonight`s "Last Word." (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I know there is a way to have sensible gun control measures that help prevent violence, prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands and save lives, and I am committed to doing everything I can to achieve that. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We are back with Eugene Robinson and E.J. Dionne and Charlie Pierce. Eugene, I am hoping that the questioners at the first democratic presidential debate are going to be start working on specific questions about gun control, gun safety legislation. ROBINSON: Yes. I mean this is -- you know, this is not all that difficult. There are measures that we know that have been proposed that we know could be taken and that would reduce gun violences. Not just mass shootings. There are -- what? 30,000 gun deaths a year in the United States. About 20,000 of them are suicides. Many of which I think would be prevented if a gun had not been right there. And, 10,000 or 11,000 are homicide by guns. That -- I mean that is just astounding when you think 30,000 lives a year and many of them could be saved if we could get a handle on the gun problem. The gun scourge that we have in this country? O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, Bernie Sanders said tonight, we need sensible gun control legislation, which should be used by people, who should not have them. Is that going to be good enough in the democratic campaign? E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: I do not think so. I mean, you know, if there is any issue on which Bernie Sanders is vulnerable and in the Democratic primaries, it is the gun issue, where he has kind of voted opinion in his states and he has been critical of gun control. I mean I think there should be -- it should be easy enough to get a consensus, but there will not be politically, around the idea that there ought to be as hard to get a license. Yes, we should have licenses. A license to use a gun as it is to get a license to use a car. If you look at states that have passed tough gun laws, they have fewer gun deaths. In every town, the gun control group has put out a chart and it is just very clear there are things we can do. Background checks can help. Smaller magazines can help. Restoring the assault weapon ban could help. I mean we are not lacking for proposals that work. My Twitter feed is full of people saying, "We will propose one thing that would really reduce this violence." There is a lot of things we could do, but one party does not want to bring it up to a vote in the senate. And, unfortunately, there are a lot of democrats who are afraid of the issue, particularly in rural states. O`DONNELL: And, Charlie Pierce, when you try to reduce it to the one thing, then you are setting it up as an impossible exercise at this point. PIERCE: Right. I mean maybe this is a door, maybe this is an opening for Martin O`Malley, who knows? But, I mean I look at this and I look at the gun as merely as the technological manifestation of a real wildness in our politics and our culture. I mean we just found out a little while ago that Sheriff Hanlin, who has been all over T.V. today after Sandy Hook, he wrote a letter to Vice President Biden saying that he and his deputies would not enforce any federal regulations that might have been forthcoming because of their oath -- to what they perceived to be their constitutional duty to their constituents. That puts him in with Richard Mack and it puts him in with the oath keepers. And, so this kind of -- this kind of, you know, fetishization of the gun. It does not just extend down into the population. It extends down into law enforcement, too. O`DONNELL: Eugene, it is going to be interesting to watch Sheriff Hanlin over the next couple of days in this. ROBINSON: Yes. O`DONNELL: Because in the past, before this kind of violence came to his community, as Charlie says, he was way out there on the National Rifle Association extreme edge of this issue. ROBINSON: Right. It will be interesting to see how he reacts now that it has happened to his community. And, what he thinks might have prevented it or made it any better. You know, the interesting notion about the sort of wildness that is maybe inherited in the American character or whatever, but in fact -- Look at Australia, which is a pretty wild place, a frontier society. A lot of, you know, there is mental illness there, just like there is mental illness here. Yet, after a gun massacre, they managed to get control of the problem. The managed to get control of guns, and we can do this if we want to. The problem is we do not want to. O`DONNELL: And, that was one of the examples the president used tonight without mentioning Australia specifically by name. Eugene Robinson, E.J. Dionne, and Charlie Pierce, thank you all for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it. Coming up. President obama Will get tonight`s "Last Word." (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: On this tragic night in America, President Obama gets "The Last Word." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRES. OBAMA: I hope and pray that I do not have to come out again during my tenure as president to offer my condolences to families in these circumstances. But, based on my experience as president, I cannot guarantee that. And, that is terrible to say. And, it could change. May God Bless the memories of those who were killed today. May he bring comfort to their families and courage to the injured as they fight their way back. And, may he give us the strength to come together and find the courage to change. Thank you. (END VIDEO CLIP) END