Return to Transcripts main page


Donald Sterling Fights NBA; Stopping the Rampages; Why Couldn't Anyone Stop Elliot Rodger?; What Does Second Amendment Really Mean?

Aired May 27, 2014 - 22:00   ET



ELLIOT RODGER, ALLEGED MURDERER: Tomorrow is the day of retribution, the day in which I will have my revenge against humanity.

RICHARD MARTINEZ, FATHER OF VICTIM: My kid died because nobody responded to what occurred at Sandy Hook.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: The anguish of parents. Good evening, everyone. This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

As the U.C. Santa Barbara community mourns, six young men and women slaughtered on Friday, America asks, what can we do to stop another dangerous loner from going on a rampage? Some blame mental illness, hatred of women, guns. Well, tonight, we want to know what you think. Make sure you tweet us using #AskDon.

But I want to begin with some breaking news tonight. Donald Sterling is apparently not going to go quietly. "USA Today" is reporting that the Clippers owner sent a 32-page response that I hold here in my hand that promises to fight for the Clippers and says efforts to terminate his ownership violate his rights.

I'm joined now by CNN's league -- our senior legal analyst, and that's Mr. Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeffrey, I want to look at some of the responses from Donald Sterling before you and I talk.

First, this is from page two of what -- his response. It says: "Because a conversation that V. Stiviano invades Mr. Sterling's rights under the California constitution and cannot be used for any purposes, these proceedings must be terminated."

Also, if you go to page five, similarly, he says: "Mr. Sterling was illegally recorded during an inflamed lover's quarrel in which he was clearly distraught. He did not take or support a position of action."

Is this a winning argument of strategy, Jeff?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think it's a winning argument, but it is a very impressive document. It's 32 pages of tightly argued legal prose, which basically says two things. One, this was an illegal act, as you just quoted, that cannot be used against Don Sterling, and even if you consider these statements that V. Stiviano recorded, they are not a violation of the NBA constitution, so he cannot be stripped of his ownership.

I think there are a lot of problems with this argument. I think he treats the NBA as if it's the government, not a private association, which gets to choose which members are in and which members are out. But it is a legal argument that is certainly a serious one, though I don't think it's a winning one.

LEMON: Let's talk about the one that you and I had been discussing, and that is the morals clause, because also he says article two of the NBA constitution, one of the morals clauses cited by the league against him, is not meant to oversee morals and ethics in the home. It is meant to governor morals and ethics in conducting the sport of professional basketball. Does he have a point?

TOOBIN: Well, one of the themes of his argument is that the only reason -- the only way you can take away a franchise is if there is some financial misconduct, if you don't pay the bills, if you don't pay the players.

And so these morals clauses, the statements to his girlfriend, whatever she was, certainly are not financial impropriety. Again, I don't think it's a winning argument because the NBA can decide what's financially damaging to the league. And they apparently have filed extensive affidavits with the owners, saying, look. Look at all of the sponsors who have left. Look at the players who won't play. That is a financial implication of Sterling's comments.

LEMON: All right.

Let's go to page eight now of the document, Jeffrey, where he references Anderson Cooper's interview, CNN here. He says: "The television interview with Anderson Cooper does not violate the NBA's constitution." He also talks about V. Stiviano's interview with Dr. Phil, quoting her saying she was enjoying the limelight.

This is pretty savvy, isn't it?

TOOBIN: Well, my reaction to that was, so what? So what V. Stiviano is enjoying the limelight? She's obviously an eccentric character. But that doesn't excuse Donald Sterling's behavior.

LEMON: Eccentric.

TOOBIN: I think that struck me as sort of a straw man argument.


Page nine, he says -- he claims to have been prevented from conducting his own investigation. "Because Mr. Sterling is locked out at his office at Staples Center, he cannot do his own investigation or research as a materiality of the impact of the illegally recorded leaked tape." He also maintains that he's really been pro-diversity. On page 11, Jeffrey, he says: "Mr. Sterling was instrumental in fostering the diverse body of players, coaches, general managers, employees, and fans on which the NBA prides itself."

What do you make of that?

TOOBIN: Well, he says, we had an African-American general manager for 20 years. He doesn't mention that that general manager, Elgin Baylor, wound up suing him for race discrimination, though that was a case that Don Sterling won.

I think there are individual arguments that make a certain amount of sense, that he couldn't get to his office to assemble a defense. He had to respond to apparently 1,000 pages of documents that the NBA filed in five days. Those are arguments that are somewhat sympathetic if you view this as a sort of governmental procedure.

But if, as the NBA says, this is simply a private association with its own rules, I don't think any judge is ever going to get involved with this.

LEMON: OK. We have all said it's been maintained that he's not going to go down without a fight, without possibly taking other people down with him, players or owners, because he mentions a profanity and a gay slur uttered by Kobe Bryant towards a referee, and he notes that he was only fined he says $100,000 and alludes to presumably the owner of the Orlando Magic and comments he has made against gay marriage. Has Sterling been singled out in ways that others haven't, Jeffrey?

TOOBIN: No, I think those are phony arguments.

An outburst on the court is very different from the owner of the team expressing a racist sentiment. And opposing same-sex marriage, the president of the United States used to oppose same-sex marriage about two years ago. Millions of people in this country oppose same-sex marriage. That clearly is not grounds for any sort of misconduct.

Certainly, there is nothing comparable to the kind of racist statement that Donald Sterling made. The argument that everybody does is just not -- it doesn't fly here.

LEMON: Let's talk about this, about -- you know, what, did he pay $11 million or $12 million for the team back in the day. I want to know if this all about money, because he claims the forced sale will make him take an egregious axe hit.

You, meanwhile, his wife Shelly's attorney confirms that she's authorized to the sell the team, reports of course he is fielding hefty offers. You and I have spoken about this. So what do you think will ultimately happen here?

TOOBIN: I think what is happening is a two-track strategy.

The franchise is up for sale and they -- they are very likely going to go ahead and sell the franchise for a great deal of money, but they want to protect their legal options so they filed this document. But ultimately I think they recognize that the writing is on the wall here. They are going to be out. They are going to just -- they are going to just sell the team, so you have the two tracks.

And I have to say the argument that he may pay a lot of taxes, I mean, talk about a heartbreaking argument. Here's a guy who bought this franchise for $12 million. He's going to sell it for over a billion, and the poor guy is going to have to pay taxes on all those...


LEMON: Oh, my gosh.

TOOBIN: Doesn't that make you want to cry?


LEMON: Woe is me. I feel terrible for him, but we should -- you should read this document, at least 26 pages here, the response Donald Sterling to the NBA.

Jeffrey Toobin, thank you very much. We appreciate it.


LEMON: Now I want to turn to the events that led up to the explosion of deadly violence in California in a college town there and the warning signs that something terrible was going to happen.

CNN's Stephanie Elam has the latest for us.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Friday night in Isla Vista, California, college students out enjoying the start of a long holiday weekend, but one disturbed young man is seeking revenge.

RODGER: If I can't have you girls, I will destroy you.


ELAM: Rodger's parents know of their son's mental health issues. He's been in and out of therapy since age 8. Nearly a month before the shooting, his mother finds videos on his YouTube channel, her 22- year-old son, Elliot, complaining about women.

RODGER: I should be the one with the girls. I mean, look at me. I'm gorgeous. But you girls don't see it.

ELAM: His mother contacts his therapist, who then calls a Santa Barbara mental health hot line. On April 30, deputies check on Rodger at his apartment.

BILL BROWN, SHERIFF OF SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: They determined that he did not meet the criteria for an involuntary mental health hold. He was, as I said, courteous and polite. He appeared timid and shy.

ELAM: A determination that turns out to have grave consequences. On Friday, just before the shooting, Rodger e-mails a 137-page diatribe to a couple dozen people, including his parents and at least one therapist.

In it, he says he thought his plan was busted when the police showed up, writing -- quote -- "If that were the case, the police would have searched my room, found all of my guns and weapons along with my writings about what I plan to do with them. I would have been thrown in jail, denied of the chance to exact revenge on my enemies. I can't imagine a hell darker than that."

In addition to the e-mailed manifesto, Rodger's also posts a nearly seven-minute video to YouTube. At 9:17 p.m., Rodger's mother finds the alarming new video.

RODGER: I am going to enter the hottest sorority house of UCSB, and I will slaughter ever single spoiled, stuck-up, blonde (EXPLETIVE DELETED) I see inside there.

ELAM: She calls 911 and Rodger's father. They rush from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, but they are too late.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have three down on the corner of Segovia and (INAUDIBLE) I need three ambulances here."

ELAM: The shooting began around 9:30. Police say Rodger had already killed his roommates, stabbing to death 19-year-old George Chen and 20-year-old Cheng Yuan Hong and Weihan Wang. Then driving his black BMW sedan and armed with three legally purchased gun, Rodger heads to the Alpha Phi sorority house.

He beats on the door, but when no one answers, police say Rodger shoots three women standing outside, seriously injuring one and killing 22-year-old Katherine Cooper and 19-year-old Veronika Weiss.

Kyle Sullivan tells CNN Sara Sidner what happened.

KYLE SULLIVAN, WITNESS: There was a young girl laying right here and she was -- I could just tell immediately that she was gone.


ELAM: A couple of minutes later, Rodger drives to a nearby deli and kills 20-year-old Christopher Martinez.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White male, 20 years old.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Victim has been shot.

ELAM: Surveillance cameras capture the attack.

MARTINEZ: He was the most warm, loving, kind-hearted kid you could ask for. I mean, it's just -- if you talk to people that knew him, they would tell you just a great kid. ELAM: Before his spree is over, Rodger speeds off in his car firing at bystanders, driving down the wrong side of the road to get closer to his targets, hitting a bicyclist with his car. One woman records part of the rampage on her cell phone. He fires his gun at various pedestrians before shooting at four sheriff's deputies responding on foot.

BROWN: Three of the four sheriff's deputies were able to return fire at the suspect, striking the suspect's vehicle and we believe shooting the suspect in his left hip area.

ELAM: In one last wild turn, Rodger hits another bicyclist with his car, the force knocking in his windshield. His BMW then careens into several parked cars before police pull him out dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

It's the end of the shooting spree that lasts less than 10 minutes, but leaves all of the parents, his and those of the victims, with a lifetime of agony.

MARTINEZ: My kid died because nobody responded to what occurred at Sandy Hook. Those parents lost little kids. It's bad enough that I lost my 20-year-old, but I had 20 years with my son.

That's all I will ever have, but those people lost their children at 6 and 7 years old. How do you think they feel? And who's talking to them now? Who's doing anything for them now?

ELAM: Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.


LEMON: When we come right back, we have asked Dr. Xavier Amador if she would have a look at Elliot Rodger's manifesto. We're going to bring you that right after the break.

Also, police went to Rodger's house less than a month before the shooting spree and left without discovering his stash of weapons. What more could they have done to stop his murderous rampage?

And the killer's hatred of women, one man's madness, but it's prompted more than a million women to go public with their stories of harassment, discrimination, and worse.


LEMON: Back now with more on the deadly university shooting in California.

I want to bring in a man who knew Elliot Rodger and says he had his own concerns about him. His name is Lenny Shaw. He's a former substitute teacher who knew Rodger through two of his school friends and he joins me now.

Thank you so much for joining us this evening here on CNN. How did you get to know Elliot Rodger? LENNY SHAW, KNEW ELLIOT RODGER: Thank you for having me, Don.

Well, as I said, I met Elliot Rodger through a group of my former students once they became adults. I stayed in contact with them. And he was -- he was not one of my students himself, though.

LEMON: What was your first impression of him, Mr. Shaw?

SHAW: My first impression of him is that he was very shy and awkward, also intelligent, though. He was standoffish. He would not really talk to you unless you talked to him.

LEMON: Did you think he could be dangerous at any point when you met him?

SHAW: Not when I first met him.

But -- and no one can conceive of anything like this happening. But about three years ago, I did mention to some of these mutual friends, I said, if I ever had met someone that fit the bill of potential mass murderer, it was Elliot Rodger.

So it was surreal when I got the news early Saturday morning that it was confirmed that it was Elliot.

LEMON: Don't want to put you on the spot here, but why didn't you do anything about it?

SHAW: I really wasn't in a position to.

I didn't know his family at all. I was -- you know, I knew him, but I only saw him about seven or eight, maybe 10 times at the most. And, you know, I didn't really feel like it was my place to. I wasn't close enough to the situation. There were a lot of adults in his life, older adults that were in a much closer position.

So I didn't feel it would be appropriate for me to step in.

LEMON: OK. So you said he fit the bill you said of what, a mass -- -- did say mass murderer? I don't want to put words in your mouth. What did you say?

SHAW: Yes. Yes.

He fit the bill of the type of person that would lose it.


LEMON: OK. So what were those occasions? How did he fit the bill?

SHAW: Well, as I said, when I first met him, I thought of him as shy and awkward and standoffish. I'm not an expert in this particular field, but I thought he might be on the autism spectrum.

But I had one conversation with him, just a casual conversation at a public street event, you know, nearby Venice, where he was going on about some of the same things that we have heard, and some of the same things that were in his manifesto, and his feeling that women were inferior.

And at that point, I knew that he may not have been violent, but that this wasn't just the wild musings of someone in late adolescence who just wants to impress people. His methodical way -- he was very articulate and very intelligent and spoke very clearly, did not stumble over words. And his certitude is what, frankly, what creeped me out.

LEMON: And I think to make it clear here. Not everyone on the autism spectrum is violent, right?


SHAW: Oh, no, no, no, no. In fact, the grand majority are not.

LEMON: I want to ask you about this, because up until a few months ago, you were his Facebook friend and then you blocked him. What made you do that?

SHAW: Sort of the proverbial straw.

It wasn't any one thing. There was a thread that I posted. And in it, he made the statement that teenagers who had sex, premarital sex, fornication, whatever, should be given the death penalty. And I knew that this is -- I knew at that point, I mean, and for some time, you know, a Facebook -- having a Facebook friend is rather casual, but -- extent of a relationship, but at that point I de-friended and, of course, blocked him, because I, frankly, didn't want other people, other ones of my Facebook friends who I knew better saying, who is this? Who is this creature?

I didn't want to be a circus.

LEMON: All right, Lenny Shaw, I appreciate you. Thank very much for joining us here.

SHAW: Thank you.

LEMON: And I want to know what my next guest thinks of all of this.

Xavier Amador is a clinical psychologist and founder of the LEAP Institute, which teaches how to help people with mental illness.

I appreciate you joining us here on CNN as well.

But, Dr. Amador, we asked you to take a look at Rodger's so-called manifesto. Give us your expert take of his writings and his state of mind.

DR. XAVIER AMADOR, PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, first of all, I don't think it's a manifesto. I think it's a delusional screed.

What I see in the 130-plus pages that I read are delusions. There's persecutory delusions, clear-cut persecutory delusions, grandiose delusions. He believes he's divine, he's a god, not godlike, but actually God.

He also expresses suicidal ideas, a suicidal plan. We know that people with delusions and other psychotic symptoms, like the ones I have just described, tend to be more violent in the general population when not in treatment. Let me emphasize, as you did about autism, people with autism spectrum disorder are no more violent than the general population. People with schizophrenia and related disorders are no more violent, except -- and this is the difficult caveat for someone like myself, who cares for patients for schizophrenia -- except for when they are not in treatment, which seems to be the case here.


Let's talk about some of those things. You says it's not a manifesto. You call it delusions. He writes this, Dr. Amador. He says: "All of those beautiful girls I have desired so much in my life, but can never have because they despise and loathe me, I will destroy. All of those popular people who live hedonistic lives of pleasure, I will destroy, because they never accepted me as one of them. I will kill them. I will kill them all and make them suffer just as they have made me suffer. It is only fair," he says.

So, Dr. Amador, in your opinion, what is really behind what happened here? This seems pretty violent, a violent take here.

AMADOR: Well, it seems violent, and it also seems like he's picking on particular people that have insulted him, that have hurt him, that have rejected him.

So -- and I don't mean any disrespect to you or your producers, but when we cherry-pick statements like this, it sounds a little bit more cogent and rational, like it makes sense, than it does.

When I look at the bigger picture, what he actually says, actually, he writes: "Why do things have to be this way? People are going to ask why I did this." And he says, "Humanity struck humanity," not an individual, not a sorority sister, humanity. "The entirety of humanity struck at me first by condemning me to experience so much suffering. I didn't ask for this. I didn't want this. I didn't start this war. I wasn't the one who struck first, but I will finish it."

That is just a quick cherry-picking on my part of a lot of the writings that indicate very deep, deep, longstanding paranoid persecutory delusions that really reflect a broken brain. And I mean that quite literally, a brain that is not functioning properly neurochemically and structurally as well.

LEMON: Listen, you don't have to worry about insulting us here, but that's why we have you here. You're the expert. So, go right ahead and say what you mean.

So, I want to talk to you about the parents here and really police, because police say Rodger had been planning his revenge, Doctor, for at least a year now, maybe longer. We know his parents were concerned enough to have him in treatment and to report his disturbing YouTube videos, and through a therapist to authorities. That's the parents. Then the police came out. Could the parents have done more?


They did -- they did -- look, from what I have read, what I have seen, they have done what millions of American families do. I had a brother with schizophrenia, by the way. I had to call the police on him, have him checked out, only to have him turned away because there were not enough inpatient beds.


AMADOR: Congressman Murphy's Helping Families in Mental Crisis Act, it actually addresses this issue head on in terms of teaching police officers how to do better evaluations.

Now, I'm not faulting the Santa Barbara Police Department. I don't know enough about the training they had. But if they had crisis intervention team training, CIT training -- and we have hearing that more and more over the last day -- the likelihood that they would have been able to pick up the warning signs, the red flags, not the yellow flags, the red flags, is much, much higher, because they learn about mental illness.

They learn not to only talk to the person, but also to go online, look at what this person is posting, talk to the family and detect what is being hidden.


And I'm glad you brought us there, because I want to talk after the break about what more, if anything, police could have done and why someone like Elliot Rodger is so articulate in one instant and then he does what the doctor calls delusional things in the next instance.

We will be right back.


LEMON: Elliot Rodger made no secret of his murderous rage. He repeatedly posted videos on YouTube, promising to take revenge on everyone he thought had wronged him, especially women.


RODGER: I've wanted sex. I've wanted love, affection, adoration, but you think I'm unworthy of it. That's a crime that can never be forgiven.


LEMON: So why did no one stop Elliot Rodger? Joining me now is Harlan Cohen. He's the author of "The Naked Roommate." He's an expert on the stresses of college life. Also, CNN political contributor Sally Kohn, Casey Jordan is a criminologist and behavioral analyst. And criminal psychologist Xavier Amador is back with me. I'm so glad to have such a wonderful group assembled here and passionate group, as well.

So let's pick up where we left off, Dr. Amador, if you will, because last month Elliot Rodger's mother saw his videos posted on YouTube, asked police to check on her son. They went, left without searching, taking him into custody. The sheriff now says they only found out about the videos after the murders. What should those officers have done? Did they do the right thing?

AMADOR: Well, I worked with the police department a lot. One of my first jobs was working on a crisis team. I'm not going to second guess these particular officers without knowing their training.

But, no, in terms of the standard of practice when dealing with mentally ill persons, not enough was clearly done. And I'm not just Monday morning quarterbacking here.

What you want to do is look at other sources of information. Talk to the parents. If they say he's posting, make sure you look at the postings. Someone get online before you leave the home, find out what he's posting. If the information is there, you can act.

And real quick, back to Congressman Murphy's bill, you know, one of the things he's talking about is changing the standard for involuntary transport to a hospital for evaluation and treatment from imminent danger, which is what they said -- "There's not an imminent danger. We're going to let him go" -- to need for treatment. And it sounds like they had need for treatment pretty well demonstrated.

LEMON: OK, no imminent danger but need for treatment. Dr. Jordan, I want you to get in there, because his parents knew their son was trouble. They said they knew it. He had been seeing a therapist since he was 8 years old, and according to a family friend, you know, again, they said -- the family friend was saying that he had been seeing him since he was 8 years old and the parents were very aware of it. What could the cops have done when they got to the home?

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST AND BEHAVIORAL ANALYST: Well, there seems to be a disconnect and a lot of gray area in terms of what they can do by law and what they should be able to do by commonsense.

So you've got to remember there's a lot of what we call in criminology leakage, which are these signs that somebody is extremely disturbed. We talk about it specifically with school shooters. These YouTube videos, the people that blog on the Facebook pages and things they write on death, say to their friends.

And we need to take this so-called leakage very seriously. But the problem is, there is so much of it that cops are going to suffer from battle fatigue with every parent, every teacher, every neighbor calling and saying, "This child said this. The kid said this."

But when the parents, I would say that when the reporting factor is someone very close to the subject, you have Elliot Rodger's mother calling the cops and saying, "You need to see these videos. I'm very scared about my son's safety and his ability to hurt others," you need to take that very seriously."

I think what happened and what could have happened differently, the police needed to see those videos, and they needed to go with somebody, like Dr. Amador, a mental health professional who is well- trained and properly trained to make a better diagnosis than cops are trained to do. It should not be the cop's responsibility.

AMADOR: Casey, I've got to disagree real quickly.

LEMON: Go ahead.

AMADOR: Police officers are doing this every day. And I agree with what you said in spirit. But we train police officers in CIT, crisis intervention training, and the data are abundantly clear, they can do the job. But you need specialized units within police departments, sheriff's departments, even highway patrol who know about mental illness, who know how to do exactly what you just described.

LEMON: OK. I think what you guys were talking about was that the system failed. Sally, I want you to listen. This is a tweet from Dorothy that says the same thing: "The system failed him, but his parents tried to prevent this strategy." I mean, did the system fail, do you think? Was it a system failure or do you think it was a parents' failure? What went wrong, do you think, Sally?

SALLY KOHN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think any -- blaming the parents at all in this situation seems sort of adding insult to what is their misery as well as the parents of the victims.

The part that just sort of -- I don't know -- gets me the wrong way in this whole conversation we often have after these shootings is we try to sort of pick apart what happened in these individual cases as though, if we got this formula right, we could somehow prevent it, without looking at you're right to use the word "system," Don, the broader systems issues here.

There are patterns. The patterns aren't just mental health although I think adequate mental health treatment in this country is essential, and not just when people are in crisis. But it is also about guns. In this case, it's also about misogyny. We can't -- we have this idea that we can sort of individualize all these cases. We can never prevent any individual situation, but we can deal with the trends and the commonalities and try to prevent them in a much larger way.

LEMON: Harlan Cohen, my next question is to you. Elliot Rodgers -- Rodger was clearly mentally disturbed in some -- many ways, but he directed a lot of his anger to women. What role, if any, do you think misogyny played in this crime?

HARLAN COHEN, AUTHOR, "THE NAKED ROOMMATE": Well, this is a guy who was stuck in something I call rejection denial. It's this place where you hate everyone and everything who doesn't give you what you want. And of course, the doctor said his brain was broken.

But misogyny, these are people who hate women not because what women have done but they hate themselves. And it's much easier to hate everybody else than it is to actually look in the mirror and see why it is that I hate myself.

KOHN: You don't think he was a misogynist?

COHEN: Of course he's a misogynist. Yes, he's a misogynist. There's no question about it.

KOHN: Oh, good.

COHEN: His behavior and his actions and his -- his writings, yes, yes, yes, yes.

When it comes to these police and knowing who's a danger and who's not, depression, rejection, this -- this anger, college campuses are filled with students who hurt themselves and hurt other people. It's really difficult for them to know who's a bigger risk and who isn't. And this is where the parents, this is where the school, this is where the infrastructure needs to play a greater role so that we can monitor the emotional health and well-being, which is something nobody talks about.

LEMON: OK. Let's talk about the infrastructure, right? Especially college. College is such a key time for transition. And kids are on their own, and they're learning to deal with challenges. And this is a time when -- where they should be monitored even closer, Harlan. So what can we do to fix that? Is there something that we can do to help make the transition to independent?

COHEN: This needs to -- this needs to start before kids even go to college. This needs to start in high school. We work so hard on the academic side of the college experience. But you don't see students going on rampages because they're getting an "F." Rarely is that the situation. In the spree of shootings, it's been students who have shown signs.

So before we even get to college, how is your emotional well-being? Are you equipped? What is your plan, should you struggle in college? And how can a student have someone they're connected with so that, when they show the warning signs, they'll be there.


COHEN: The residents life staff. This is another place where we can help. Who's in contact with these students, the teachers in high school, in elementary schools? Let's educate students when it comes to emotional adversity and dealing with rejection and finding their places and ways.

AMADOR: But it's not just emotional adversity and rejection. It's about understanding mental illness. The age of onset for major illnesses like schizophrenia, is exactly when you attend college. That's what they need to be aware of.

LEMON: Yes. I want to talk more about that when we talk about that age, talk about the development of the brain and all that, and again, why someone can be so articulate and then have delusional habits and thoughts like you talked about, doctor. Thank you. Great conversation. Harlan Cohen, thank you. And everyone else, I want you to stay with me. We're going to talk more about that, talk more about mental health and what about guns, as well. When we come right back, a man who says the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, may not say what you think it says.


LEMON: Video like this, of people ducking for cover during the latest deadly shooting, is becoming all too common, but questions about guns inevitably lead to arguments about the Second Amendment and what it really means.

Joining me now is an expert. His name is Michael Waldman. He is the author of "The Second Amendment: A biography." And he's a president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.

Thank you, sir. Appreciate you joining us here on this Tuesday night.

You know, after Sandy Hook and again this weekend, we heard grieving fathers say to gun supporters, "Why is your right to carry a weapon more important than my son's right to live?" How can that question be answered?

MICHAEL WALDMAN, PRESIDENT, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE, NYU SCHOOL OF LAW: Well, you know, it was really quite striking that the father was so eloquent and was able to crystallize that debate so powerfully in those first awful hours.

You know, as I watched this unfold, to me, as we look at this evil young man doing what he did, what I want to hope for is that we don't have a situation as we grapple with what to do, as we look at mental health, as we look at gun laws, with the idea that somehow the Second Amendment will prevent us from taking the steps that we need to take as a society.

This new book that I've written is a biography of the Second Amendment, and that's because the way we look at that provision of the Constitution has changed over and over again throughout the years. It's really a function of what we think at any moment about freedom and government. And so, once again, we can have that kind of conversation about the Second Amendment now to make sure we can do what we need to do as a society.

LEMON: The Second Amendment has been relied upon by pro-gun lobby and their arguments against more gun control. And in your book, you say that this interpretation, this may not be the interpretation that the framers of the Constitution intended. Explain.

WALDMAN: I think they'd be rather surprised by the use and occasional misuse that later generations have put to the Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment is one of the Bill of Rights. It was coming out of the grand debate over the Constitution when it was ratified. It was, above all else, designed to protect the 13 state militias that were the citizen soldiers. The military force of the time, were all adult men, eventually all adult white men, were in the militia for all of their life, and they were required by law to own a gun. So it wasn't an individual right but to fulfill the civic duty to participate in the militia.

Obviously, that's a very different world, a very different approach than what we have now. And over time, as the militias faded away, the meaning of the Second Amendment changed. It became more focused on individuals. And we've had guns throughout American history and we've had gun laws side by side.

It was not until recent decades when the National Rifle Association and other gun rights advocates sort of made a constitutional crusade out of it that people have thought that the Second Amendment prohibited anything but a completely unfettered, unlimited individual right.

LEMON: How have they -- how have they made a crusade out of it? How have they been involved in deciding the meaning of the Second Amendment?

WALDMAN: It's really kind of a classic constitutional law crusade. Until a few decades ago, as Chief Justice Burger, Warren Burger, the conservative chief justice appointed by Nixon, put it, the idea of an individual right was a fraud on the American public. That was the consensus view.

Well, starting in the 1970s, the NRA really refashioned itself around this idea of the Second Amendment right. They backed scholarship that some of it was good, quite good, and some of it wasn't so good, I don't think, that purported to show that this is really what the Founding Fathers had in mind. They really worked hard to shake public opinion. They fought hard to move political actors and change the position of the Justice Department. And then eventually gun rights advocates went to court.

You know, the Supreme Court of the United States did not ever rule that the Second Amendment to the Constitution recognizes an individual right to gun ownership for self-defense...


WALDMAN: ... until 2008. Really recently. And other than that, they've ruled otherwise.

LEMON: I want you to hold that thought, because I have to get to a break and we have to remember, as well, there were knives involved. He stabbed people, and he also used his car as a weapon, as well. It's not just guns.

So Michael Waldman, I want you to stay with me. When we come right back, which is a harder problem to tackle? Is it guns or is it mental health?


LEMON: U.C. Santa Barbara, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Columbine, the list grows. But we can't seem to do anything to stop the tragedy of mass shootings. So back with me now to discuss all this is Michael Waldman, Sally Kohn, Casey Jordan and Xavier Amador.

So I want to pick up where we left off, Dr. Jordan. Today you said that the question is how can we get people like this committed? This is going to be, you know, a mental health issue, obviously, but how do we do that?

JORDAN: I am a big supporter of the Murphy Bill. I think that you have to lower the threshold and empower those crisis intervention teams.

The key is that you need to intervene when a person needs mental- health treatment, not when they are an implement danger to others. How do you define that and who is going to make that determination? It's too difficult. We really need a team approach to intervening in these particular cases.

LEMON: Michael Waldman, can we talk about -- because he didn't just use a gun. On the other side of the break, I said that he stabbed people; he also ran them down with his car. If someone wants to commit a mass murder, are they going to find a way to do it no matter what?

WALDMAN: It's an interesting analogy, and it's actually quite telling.

You know, next year is likely to be the case that they will be more people in the United States who die from guns than from cars. That's the first time ever.

Now, why is that? It's partly because we've made cars safer. You know, we -- the fact is who could drive, we've lifted the drinking age to 21 for -- so people wouldn't drive recklessly. We put in air bags. We changed car design. In other words, we changed cars and made them safer.

And, you know, the question is, are there ways to do that also with guns? And, again, I think it's important to understand that, if the answer is yes, if there are technologies and all other kinds of ways where you can have both gun rights and gun laws and gun safety, the Second Amendment ought not be seen as an obstacle to that.

And I'll mention, he also did not have an assault weapon, which in some places he might have, and that would lead to even worse carnage.

KOHN: Right. I mean, Don, it's worth pointing out that the same day that the Sandy Hook massacre happened, there was a stabbing at a school in China. The difference is in China, no children died.

So we are talking about the speed and the severity with which people can commit -- commit these crimes and the easy access to guns. We can restrict access to guns. We can make sure very simply that we have background checks, that we fix loopholes, things the vast majority of gun owners support, without restricting the ability of law-abiding people to have access to guns. LEMON: OK.

KOHN: It's very simple. We've got to do something.

LEMON: All right, that's a very good point. Dr. Amador, you know, he had a history of mental illness but was still able to buy multiple guns. It was legal; he did it legally. So how can we change that, following up on what Michael said?

AMADOR: Well, you know, I think there's a lot of controversy about this in terms of background checks being more thorough, but I will say this. That my first forensic case was Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. He didn't use guns. He used bombs.

The real issue for me here is that untreated mental illness creates violence. Much more often the person commits suicide. They die. The violence is perpetrated against themselves, not other people.

One other quick comment. You know, Michael Waldman, I'd like to invite you to think about this and other people who are thinking like you are, that Elliot Rodger was evil. In the 1600s we believed that people with serious mental illness, the experts believed they were evil, possessed by demons. We know better.

KOHN: Well...

AMADOR: We need to understand mental illness. We know how to intervene. We now need the policy in place, in Washington, in our state and local governments. Let's get it done. I've been listening to this debate for 30 years. Thirty years.

JORDAN: It's entirely possible to walk and chew gum at the same time.


JORDAN: There's no reason why we can't address gun policy and mental illness.

AMADOR: Absolutely.

KOHN: And let's talk about misogyny, too.

LEMON: Last word.


KOHN: Maybe one of these days do something about that.

JORDAN: I agree.

LEMON: Last word. Thank you very much. Thank you, Michael Waldman.

Thank you, Sally Kohn, Casey Jordan and Xavier Amador. Appreciate your expertise.

And tonight, Donald Sterling is fighting for the NBA -- fighting the NBA. And when we come right back, what the league has to say about that.


LEMON: This is "CNN TONIGHT Tomorrow." Yes, that's what we're calling it, our look at the stories that you'll be talking about tomorrow. That's when the president heads to West Point for what's being billed as a major foreign policy speech. It follows his surprise visit to Afghanistan over the weekend and his remarks today on the upcoming end of combat operations there.

Tomorrow night, we're going to look at the Obama Doctrine and what it means for America and the world.

And we have an update for you on the never-ending Donald Sterling saga. The NBA says they have received the Sterlings' response, and they're going to meet next week. And if the board votes to sustain the charge, the Clippers will be sold. That's their response to Donald Sterling's lawyers tonight.

That's it for us. I'm Don Lemon. I'll be back here tomorrow night. "AC 360" starts right now.