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26 Dead, 29 Wounded In Texas Church Shooting; Gunman Investigated In Texas Church Massacre; Trump In South Korea On Second Leg Of Asia Tour; Gun Control Debate In The U.S.; Trump: Texas Shooting Was A Mental Health Problem. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired November 7, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause, live in Los Angeles where we are following breaking news from Texas and the investigation into the mass shooting at a church over the weekend.
ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Anna Coren live in Seoul. President Trump will be here soon to meet with the South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Blue House behind us. The big topic: what to do about the nuclear threat from North Korea? The two leaders will address the media later and we'll bring that to you live. We'll have much more from South Korea, coming up.
VAUSE: OK. Anna, thank you for that. We have more now on the mass shooting in Texas, the deadliest ever in that state. The man who killed 26 worshippers at a church service on Sunday had a history of domestic violence, an apparent fascination with mass shootings and a grudge. And yet, he was able to get guns he should not have had.
Devon Kelley was convicted of assaulting his wife and stepson about five years ago -- that should've been enough to stop him from legally buying any firearms. But the U.S. Air Force failed to enter Kelley's conviction into a national criminal database.
Among the dead, the Holcombe family, eight members across three generations are killed, including a pregnant woman and three other children. The pastor, who was filling in on that Sunday, also among the dead. And the youngest victim, a little girl just a year and a half old.
Well, joining me now for more on this, CNN Law Enforcement Contributor and Former FBI Special Agent, Steve Moore; and Psychologist, Dr. Bethany Marshall. OK. Bethany, let's start with what we've heard from President Trump, saying that this is an issue that has to do with mental health, it's got nothing to do with guns. It's not a gun issue. Which -- that's a standard, you know, Republican response has been for many years.
He saw that on reporting, "Yet various (INAUDIBLE) studies over the past two decades show that the vast majority of people with severe mental illnesses such schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or severe depression, are no more likely to be violent than anyone else." So, the big picture here, that doesn't seem to support what the president said.
DR. BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOLOGIST: Right. I mean, fewer than one in five mass shooters has some sort of formal mental illness. In fact, you think about it, if you're schizophrenic or you're bipolar, it takes a great deal of organization and being methodical to carry out a crime like this. So, that would be unlikely. You know, these mass shooters are a heterogeneous group, meaning that no two are alike. But what we generally see is that they have an ax to grind against society, they have a history of violence, they feel diminished and minimized at some very pathological primitive level.
I tend to think of the psychology is similar to murder-suicide, where a personality disordered person wants to take out a non-personality disordered person. So, these shooters know that they are not going to get out alive. And the most fascinating aspect of this, to me, is that they all love the fish in the barrel effect. Meaning, if you think about Columbine, maybe they're standing at the top of the staircase, or like Stephen Paddock, at the 32nd floor of a hotel building, or they walk into a classroom where people are bottlenecked and can't get out. But the idea of the power differential is so important to them.
And one quick fact, this guy, apparently, was stalking somebody. He had dated for four months, ten years earlier. So, he also had the psychology of a stalker which is a person who feels that they're in a special and unique relationship with somebody, with whom there's no relationship and they go after the victim for perceived rejection. So, I think all of this is in the mix of this man's pathology.
VAUSE: And that was all that, Steve, we're learning now, but there were facts which were known long before the shooting happened, including the domestic violence, the assault on his son, which one official said was so severe it cracked the boy's skull. But what we've known now, what was known before the shooting, he shouldn't have had a gun. How did the background checks fail?
STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTRIBUTOR AND FORMER SPECIAL AGENT FOR THE FBI: Well, that's what we're going to have to go through. When you go to a scene like this, you usually know right away or within a few minutes whether there's likely to be follow-ons, whether there are accomplices, whether this is one of a series. And so, you can put part of your investigation towards that. But the majority of your investigation is kind of like an NTSB investigation of a crash.
How did this happen? How can we prevent it in the future? And you made a good point, not many of these people are clinically diagnosed as mentally ill. But that doesn't mean that we can't see the threat predictors and act on those, and it's like cancer right now. We can't cure cancers the way we need to, but we're going to have to learn because tens of thousands of people die every year.
[01:05:30] VAUSE: And these mass shootings, it seems that they're accelerating, the number and the --
MOORE: Because it's copycat.
VAUSE: And they learn from each one?
MOORE: The FBI is.
VAUSE: Each shooter, though, seems to be living from the --
MOORE: Oh, absolutely, because they study it. These people are isolated, they have nothing in their lives. So, what are they going to do? They are going to spend time obsessing on what the last shooter did, and they're going to figure out their mistakes. These guys are way out there.
VAUSE: Bethany, is it possible that a domestic dispute is the main motivation here? What happens to elevate it from a family fight, which -- face it we all have them.
VAUSE: To this situation where you go out and murder a bunch of people on a Sunday morning at church.
MARSHALL: Well, I would say that somebody like this, I would call him a pseudo-commando kind of killer, where he has an ax to grind against one person or a group people. And what he decides to do is when he takes out that one person, he takes out everyone in their path -- he mows everybody down. And in terms of predictors, Steve, I would have to add that as you said these guys are very methodical, they plot and plan for years. There's a very ritualized quality to their planning. It's like it's very satisfying for them to think about the execution of the plan, and most of them --
MARSHALL: It's ceremonial, it's ritualistic, and most of them confess to somebody. They either write about it online, they write a poem, they --
VAUSE: Before or the end?
VAUSE: Because this guy called his father when he's being -- in the car after.
MOORE: And I've had people call their ex-wives.
VAUSE: OK. You know, we talked about the rituals here. I just want to move ahead to something else we want to talk about here, about what he was wearing and how he came so prepared for this? Not just the body armor, but the other clothing as well. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FREEMAN MARTIN, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: He was wearing a black mask that had a white face, skull face to it. Then, he drove across the church, that's when he exited the vehicle and started the shooting. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was he wearing body armor?
MARTIN: He was wearing a ballistic vest, with the plate on the front; there's no plate on the back. But he was wearing a ballistic vest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Steve, first to you, about the body armor. I didn't think that was a constitutional right. He wasn't projected to have a body armor, where did he get it? And then, Bethany, follow up, what do you make of this mask, this black mask with the skull on it.
MOORE: Body armor is for sale. You can get that just about anywhere. Police supplies are sold. We can worry about that as we go forth on the gun issues. But as far as what he was wearing, I could dress up as an Olympic athlete and it won't make me one. He was dressed up in a way to terrify these people. But the witnesses say, he actually went outside and fired his weapons through the walls of the place at first. I don't know how accurate that is, but if it is completely accurate, he knew nothing what about he was doing because the rounds he was firing weren't really going to do damage until he went in the building.
VAUSE: And Bethany, about the mask, what do you make of that?
MARSHALL: Well, the more shallow an individual's emotional life is, the more dramatic their external gestures. And we know about sociopaths that they have very limited, narrow range of emotions. They have a lot of inner deadness, which they tend to try to stimulate themselves through acts of violence so that they feel alive. So, I think that this mask wasn't just to scare people. I think he was like, what we would call in the vernacular, a drama queen. He really wanted to show off.
VAUSE: We seem to be having these conversations more and more often, that's because we are. But thank you for coming in, Steve and Bethany, most appreciated.
MARSHALL: Thank you.
VAUSE: In the hours immediately after the Texas shooting, State Attorney General Ken Paxton had a grim warning, this would not be the last shooting at a church and he suggested parishioner should arm themselves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN PAXTON, TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: We've had shooting, the churches for, you know, for forever, but it's going to happen again. And so, you know, we need people, and, you know, either, you know, professional security or at least arming some of the parishioners or the congregation, so that they can respond to something like this -- when something like happens again.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Attorney General Paxton is with us now from Houston, Texas.
Mr. Paxton, thank you for being with us. I know this is a really difficult time for everybody there, for so many in Texas, especially. And we generally hope that you know, you guys are doing OK and coping with what has been a tragedy.
[01:10:07] I also just want to say, the question I'm going to ask you, I do so respectfully mindful that this is a difficult moment. So, I want to go first about the interview you did with Fox News on Sunday. Firstly, do you stand by what you said? Because there has been criticism, in particular, that it was defeated, essentially a variation of the NRA's argument that, you know, only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun.
PAXTON: Well, first of all, thank you for being concerned about our state. Obviously, this is a community that is devastated because so many people knew -- people in the church either who were injured or who were killed. And so, there are probably very few people in that town that haven't been impacted. As far as predicting that this likely happens again, I just think that it's inevitable.
We have a large country, we have a lot of people like this, that we never know how they're going to respond. And no matter how many first responders we have, they can't all be in the right place at the right time. And so, I think it's critical that churches and congregations prepare for the future and prepare themselves for this potentially happening again and be ready.
VAUSE: That NRA argument about a good guy with a gun has been challenged on a number of occasions, most recently got a researcher at Stanford who did a study. And part of it, I want to read to you, "In 21 of 160 active shooter situations reviewed in a recent FBI report, unarmed citizens successfully stopped the bad guy, typically when he was trying to reload. This underscores once again the value of limiting the size of the high capacity magazine (as the former federal assault weapon ban had done). So, would it be worth looking at that study and the others which have similar findings?
PAXTON: Sure. I'm always open to looking at studies. But if you look at just what happened in this case, I mean, this guy apparently went into this church with the intention of killing everybody in the church. He was successful at doing that with 26. No one tried to stop him until he had these guys from the outside come in and he got, apparently, shot by one of them.
And likely, these two -- what I would call heroes -- mitigated the possibility of more people dying. And so, I think this is a good example of what I'm talking about. We want people who are -- who have the ability to fight back immediately and not wait for first responders who might be 20, 30 minutes away in a rural area.
VAUSE: I guess this is sort of an anecdotal evidence as opposed to empirical evidence of what is the bigger picture, because, again, you know, the suggestion from the NRA and others who often oppose gun reform is that more guns mean actually less crime. And again, that study from Stanford, it actually found violent crime in right to carry states was estimated to be 13 to 15 percent higher over a period of ten years than it would've been had the state not adopted the law. And again, not pertaining to this particular circumstance, but if there is an opportunity here to look at gun laws, you know, other countries who imposed tougher gun laws after a mass shooting, they haven't seen any more mass shootings. So, why would the U.S. be being any different?
PAXTON: So, look, first of all, I've seen studies that show different, different things than what you're saying. Certainly, you know places like Chicago have strict gun laws and have, you know, one of the higher incidences of murder. So, I don't know. You can throw one study at neither and many others show something different. But I do think, if you look at this particular case, if we say had a more strict gun law, in this case, I don't think a guy like this who potentially -- I mean, obviously is ignoring laws about murder is going to be restricted by some new gun law. I don't think it would've changed anything. What would have changed something is if somebody had been in that building who could have shot back immediately. I mean, that just seems like common sense to me.
VAUSE: Well, there does seem to be a problem with the background checks. This is what the FBI said a little earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER COMBS, SPECIAL AGENT, FBI CHICAGO: For the four purchases that he made, the next system did their required checks, and there was no prohibitive information in the systems that we checked that said that he could not have purchased that firearm. There are three checks that are conducted: one is of NCIC, one is a criminal history check, and the other is indices on the NICS System itself. So, in all three of those databases, there was no information that we would've said it was prohibitive for that man to get the firearm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: There are many who are in favor of gun rights and opposed gun reform. You know, their argument is: enforce the laws which are already on the books. Would this be a chance to make sure that one of those laws is actually working properly? I mean, a tougher background check is supported about by 90 percent of the, you know, U.S. population.
PAXTON: Well, yes, and I think the failure came the Air Force didn't report the right -- didn't report the information to the right place. And so, that information wasn't in the database, but it does go back to my point, which is even with this provision in place, I don't think it would have affected whether this guy from coming in, he could have gotten his weapons in other places. There's always the black market. I just don't think somebody like this who is willing to violate a law that relates to the killing of innocent life is going to follow some gun law that we pass.
[01:15:31] VAUSE: I just want to wrap up here because I guess the argument is, you never know who is actually a law-abiding gun owner one moment, and then who is going to snap the next and have access to these high capacity weapons.
PAXTON: Exactly. And I don't disagree with that. But that's why you want -- you want people that are armed. Most people are law-abiding. We can't know who's going to snap. But when they do, we can at least have other people there ready to respond. If somebody snaps, you know, they're not going to care about the law. They're going to get a gun anyway. And so, why not have people there that haven't snapped, who, like in this congregation here, and as you know we had two people who were actually mitigated by shooting the shooter and potentially saving 20 to 25 lives.
VAUSE: OK. Mr. Paxton, as always, thank you so much. Really good to speak with you, and, you know, our thoughts are with you right now.
PAXTON: We really appreciate that, thank you.
VAUSE: So, how soon is too soon to talk gun violence, especially when there's a mass shooting on average almost every day in the U.S. We'll have more on the politics of tragedy in a moment. But first, we will head to Seoul, South Korea. There, we have live pictures, the president is arriving, rolling out the red carpet. Mr. Trump will hold talks with his South Korean counterpart. They have a shared problem, but do they have a shared plan on how to deal with North Korea?
[01:20:33] COREN: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM, you are joining us live from Seoul, where U.S. President Donald Trump had lunch with U.S. and South Korean troops ahead of a meeting with his South Korean counterpart. We're looking at live pictures. Now, the pomp and ceremony taking place outside the Blue House where President Trump's motorcade is slowly making its way to the Blue House situated behind us. That is where, of course, President Trump will be meeting with President Moon Jae-in, where North Korea is definitely at the top of the agenda.
President Moon, since he's been in office for the past six months has wanted dialogue with North Korea, something that has frustrated Donald Trump. So, it will be interesting to see how they can mend a strained relationship. Moon and Trump, perhaps don't see eye-to-eye, but certainly, this alliance is some 67 years old. And as we have heard earlier, the alliance is bigger than any individual.
Now, where we are located here on the streets of Seoul, you can see thousands of police, and they have been here manning what have been peaceful protests. We know the demonstrators, certainly, were protesting outside Camp Humphreys where President Trump met with U.S. troops, that, of course, is the largest U.S. base here in South Korea. Now, his harsh rhetoric on the North has raised anxiety on the Korean Peninsula.
Now, to discuss this let's join our Paula Hancocks, who's also here in Seoul. Paula, you have covered this country extensively and I know that you have spoken to President Moon, and I want to get to that shortly. We're also joined by Philip Yun in San Francisco, and he's the Executive Director and COO of the Ploughshares Fund which aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. Great to have you both with us.
Paula, if I can get back to you. We know that President Moon has a very different outlook on North Korea from President Trump. How do these men, these two men in this bilateral that are about to take place, how do they find a middle ground?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anna, it's interesting, we've seen the policy of President Moon Jae-in shift slightly over recent months. Probably, no small measure because of the intense nuclear and missile testing from Pyongyang. But also, presumably, because he would like to be on the same page as the United States. The alliance, as you say, is very strong. It's bigger than any one or two presidents. So certainly, he wants to be allied with the United States. So, we know that we've seen more of a push towards sanctions and pressure.
But what President Moon Jae-in has been saying and he said to me when I spoke to him a couple months ago was the reason for this -- the end goal was to talk to North Korea. He wanted to have these sanctions and this pressure in order to pressure Pyongyang to sit down at the negotiating table. That is his ultimate goal. He wants more engagement, he wants more dialogue, he wants the inter-Korean relationship to improve -- and he's been very clear about that. He campaigned on that ticket and that's the part of what brought him into power here in South Korea.
Now, it's not always been welcomed by the U.S. President. A recent tweet from Donald Trump said that he was effectively appeasing North Korea -- not a word you generally hear between allies. And I asked President Moon when I spoke to him about these tweets, about these kinds of comments from the U.S. President, is he concerned about them, and he effectively said: you shouldn't read these tweets too narrowly, and then went on to say that the alliance and the friendship were very strong.
Interesting what we're seeing here, though, there was a very traditional welcoming ceremony there. A lot of pomp and ceremony, which we have seen in the past, and something, potentially, the U.S. President Donald Trump enjoys. We've seen it in Saudi Arabia, and certainly, we're seeing it here in South Korea as well. The two presidents there meeting. We know that President Moon also broke with tradition and went and welcomed him down at the U.S. military camp, Camp Humphreys, just south of Seoul.
That's the first time that a South Korean president has met a U.S. president anywhere other than the Blue House. So, you can see that the South Korean president here in reaching out; he's making efforts to welcome the U.S. president and to try and make a more of a personal relationship with the U.S. President. The same way as we've seen Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan do. Anna.
[01:25:16] COREN: Paula, as you've been talking, obviously, we've seen President Trump exit his vehicle, along with his wife, Melania, where they're being welcomed by President Moon Jae-in and his wife. As you say, all that pomp and ceremony taking place as we speak. Phillip, if I can now bring you into the conversation. We're getting mixed messages from Donald Trump. On the weekend, he said that he's willing to sit down with Kim Jong-un; yesterday out of Japan, he said the era of the strategic patience is over. And then, today, he said that this whole issue will sort itself out. What are we expected to read from all of this?
PHILIP YUN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND COO, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: Well, I think that's part of the issue. We're not really sure. I mean, it's very interesting. We have Koreans coming here, Korean officials asking us what the U.S. policy towards North Korea is. And the funny thing is, we're not really sure. It's from one end, where you have Tillerson who wants to have a conversation, wants to engage, and then, you have Donald Trump undercutting him on the other side.
So, this is an opportunity for the United States and Japan, at the highest levels to try and get on the same page. They want to project optically a notion that they're allies, that they're working together. But I do think there are some very clear gaps here that they're going to have to remedy. And I think President Moon, what he's going to do is, I still think he will say to Donald Trump, what you're doing in terms of deterrence, making sure that the posture and the deterrence of U.S. forces and Korean forces together will overcome anything that the North Koreans have to throw at them.
But at this end, to put more pressure, but I think as was said earlier, the whole piece that is missing here is dialogue. And that's ultimately what the purpose of all this pressure and defense posturing is all about. So, this is what President Moon is going to have to do and it's something that the South Korean people as a whole want, too.
COREN: And if I can ask you, Paula, finally, there's obviously a lot of speculation as to what North Korea will do while Donald Trump is here in the region. Some analysts predict that they could, perhaps, launch another missile test. What are you hearing?
HANCOCKS: It's certainly possible, Anna. I mean, North Korea could launch a missile at any moment, really. We heard from the South Korean intelligence agency a number of days ago that they saw an increased activity of vehicles around one of the missile research facilities in Pyongyang. So certainly, everybody knows they are able to carry out a missile launch at any time. If they do, of course, the question is what kind of range is that missile, what trajectory, which direction is it facing and launching in? Because all that tells you just how much of a message Pyongyang wants to send.
We've heard as well, a commentary in Rodong Sinmun, the North Korean state-run newspaper just today, saying that if the U.S. continues this hostile policy against North Korea and its followers continue this hostile policy, then they will continue with their nuclear development and with their program. So, a very clear message from North Korea what we've been hearing all along, blaming the United States for what they see as a hostile policy, saying that all they are doing is simply trying to defend themselves. Anna.
COREN: Yes. I want to touch on that article that came out of the state media. Philip, if I may, North Korea, as Paula just mentioned, pledged to bolster its nuclear power. It didn't make any reference to Donald Trump's visit to Seoul, but it did, however, mention the three nuclear-powered aircraft carriers situating the waters off the Korean Peninsula. What did you make of that statement?
YUN: Well, I think what they're doing is that they're putting out a warning that says that they will -- if the United States continues to act in and continues its policies, particularly these war exercises, well, not only do you have the aircraft carriers, you have a dozen F- 35 aircraft that are there, as well as some submarines in the area, that they will respond.
Now, the question here is, I think, it's just a matter of time that North Korea will probably do another test, probably another kind of less provocative, you know, ICBM test of some kind. I think that's going to happen at some point. The question whether it's going to be as provocative or as what they say was an open-air test, which, I think, would go beyond what I think would be considered -- you know, just way beyond the pale of reckless.
[01:29:57] So, I think that is something that we have to be aware of that we have the ability, I think, by our conducting our actions in a certain way to prevent that from actually happening. But in terms of whether North Korea does a test or not, I think that inevitably it is a matter of time that they will do one or both.
COREN: Well, Philip Yun and Paula Hancocks, great to get your insight and perspective. Many thanks too for joining us. And as we wrap up that conversation, we see Donald Trump and Moon Jae-in shaking hands with dignitaries (INAUDIBLE) the first wives. And they'll be shortly heading into the Blue House where they will be holding that very important bilateral meeting.
Obviously, North Korea at the top of the agenda, but so too, the free trade agreement between South Korea and the United States. We'll get back to the Texas church massacre after a very short break. We're going to look at how the shooting is likely to impact gun control in the United States and what President Trump is saying about the tragedy.
[01:35:01] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. Live pictures from Seoul, South Korea. Time, 3:34 in the afternoon. We can see the U.S. President Donald Trump who has now moved to the Blue House, the presidential residence there in Seoul, South Korea.
This afternoon President Moon Jae-in and Donald Trump are set to talk about a very interesting issue, what to do with North Korea. This is the second stop on a 12-day tour of Asia for Donald Trump.
Mr. Trump has already been warmly welcomed with a red carpet welcome reception there in Seoul, but now comes the serious work. They will sit down and discuss exactly what they can do about the going nuclear threat from North Korea. Also the going missile threat as well. There is the first lady Melania as well, she sits there signing some kind of guestbook making their comments as they arrive at the Blue House for what the South Korean president has described as a historic visit by Mr. Trump, the U.S. president. And we will continue to follow Donald Trump's visit there to Seoul and what they come up with when it comes to North Korea.
But we'll move on now. Another mass shooting in the U.S., and again, we're hearing the same arguments from those in favor and those opposed to any changes to gun laws. And when a reporter asked Texas Senator Ted Cruz if it was now time to address gun control, he fired back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: You know, it is an unfortunate thing that the immediate place the media goes after any tragedy, after any murder, is politicizing it. We don't need politics right now. You know, I would note, in New York, we saw a terror attack just this week with a truck. Evil is evil is evil, and will use the weaponry that is available --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Joining now, Democratic Strategist Matthew Littman and CNN Political Commentator and Republican Consultant John Thomas. Okay. Matt, you know, despite the, you know, the attack on the media which I thought was (INAUDIBLE) by Senator Cruz, he did seem to explain in that one sentence why America has such an epidemic of gun violence through the evil people who use the weaponry they can find.
And this country has more guns than any other country on the planet, which Ted (INAUDIBLE) same sound correlates to more people being shot dead.
MATTHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, there's no question about it. United States is in a unique situation. It's not -- a lot of the conservers were saying this is a mental health issue, the United States doesn't have an epidemic of people who's lost their minds.
They have an epidemic of people who have guns. And these mass shootings occur -- mass shooting, I think, there's four more people --
LITTMAN: We have more of those in our days in the year in the United States. And now we're having bigger and bigger mass shootings. This congress doesn't want to do anything about it. But let's also keep in mind that a few years ago, this president after the Newtown shooting where a bunch of first graders were killed, he wanted these all weapons banned.
And then he ran for president as a Republican and now he's pro-gun. He's pro-gun all the way. And I think this president is just not strong enough on gun issues to really make it dense. You need to have a Democratic legislature and a Democratic president if you really want to make a dense on the gun issue.
JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. I think that I'm proud of, actually, the President's position on this. The fact it is a mental health issue in this case and the fact is it was guns that stopped this guy.
And here's the problem with the gun control argument, is the only honest thing that the Democrat could argue for gun control is total confiscation because there's so many guns out there that try to increase laws, which by the way this guy really shouldn't have been able to buy a weapon if the Air Force had reported him to the FBI.
LITTMAN: Well, you know --
THOMAS: So it's not more gun laws that will stop this from happening. We can talk about the Vegas shooter --
THOMAS: -- that there was no -- there was -- can my propose one gun law --
LITTMAN: Yes. I'm going to -- I'm going to propose one right now. The President took away -- there was a regulation after Newtown that people who had mental health issues had to -- couldn't get guns as certainly easily as they can now. They took that away a few months ago, that was Donald Trump's idea. The Congress went for it, now --
THOMAS: This -- and that -- and that would've stops Steven (INAUDIBLE) Vegas.
LITTMAN: Well, it may have stop somebody. I mean, we have mass shootings every day.
VAUSE: This is the --
LITTMAN: Do you think that -- you see -- you said that mental health is a problem in this case. Why is Congress making it easier and this president making it easier to people with mental health issues to get guns?
THOMAS: That's not -- that's not -- that's not the case (INAUDIBLE)
VAUSE: Well, this is an Obama regulation which required the Social Security Administration to advise a national background check registry if someone who have a psychiatric issue and they had to be advised to -- advised that person to this background check. So this person went out to get a gun, they would know that he has some kind of mental health issue and therefore he would not get the gun. And you just said it's a mental health issue, so, wouldn't that had helped?
THOMAS: Well, the FBI was supposed to be notified about this what bad --
VAUSE: That was the screw up on the Air Force but these regulations were just --
THOMAS: Well, I'm just saying they would check -- they would check on place --
LITTMAN: But they took away this provision for people with mental health issues to be able to get guns. Now, why do you think that's the right thing if mental health issues are the problem, how could that be the right thing to do?
THOMAS: I don't know that that's the answer, but the reality is he would've gotten the gun one way or another.
LITTMAN: How could it not be, you know --
THOMAS: He would've gotten the gun one way or another.
LITTMAN: -- this article from John Adams, he says, "Facts are stubborn things, no matter what your wishes, your desires, or the dictates of your passions, you can't alter the state of facts and evidence."
[01:40:03] THOMAS: The -- no, no.
LITTMAN: I don't think he said (INAUDIBLE) but he said --
THOMAS: Here -- here's the --
LITTMAN: Ronald Reagan once said, "Facts are stupid things." He meant to quote them.
VAUSE: Right. And that's when --
LITTMAN: And then he went on and corrected himself. But I really think that since -- in the last 30 years, the Republican Party just believes that facts are stupid.
THOMAS: Well, no. The challenge is --
LITTMAN: And in this case, mental health.
THOMAS: No, the challenge is these are criminals, they will not abide by laws and perhaps you can stop them from doing the Big 5 or Bass Pro to buy their weapons, but they're going to get the weapons. The only people that would maybe hurt by more and more gun laws because that's slippery slope of question, keep going more and more, is that you won't get those NRA trained guys like the plumber outside the church to actually stop this. LITTMAN: John, the guy killed 25 people, he had a gun.
THOMAS: And he would've potentially could've killed more.
LITTMAN: He took a rifle and killed all of them.
THOMAS: He could've killed more.
LITTMAN: We let these people have guns, not everybody needs a (INAUDIBLE)
VAUSE: There's some evidence that this shooting was going onto a second shooting event with when he was stopped by the very heroic actions --
VAUSE: -- of those two men who, you know (INAUDIBLE) but there's no evidence that they prevented another tragedy. He was on his way out, he was leaving. And, you know, the good guy with the gun argument study after study after study by the FBI and -- who brought up the mass shooting incidents have found it really happens almost every incident, it -- the shooter's stopped by unarmed civilians who stopped the shooter while they're trying to reload which is the argument against high volume magazine clips and, you know, that's not (INAUDIBLE) that.
THOMAS: Now, he used 15 clips, right? He had time to reload them and --
LITTMAN: What is the difference in United States and every other country in the world? In United States, you're right, every -- almost everybody has a gun. We have as many guns in the United States as there are people.
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) Chelsea Handler, the comedienne, she's facing this backlash with the tweet hours after the shooting. This is what she put out, "Innocent people go to church on Sunday to honor their God, and while doing so, get shot and killed. What country? America.
Why? Republicans." White House say Kellyanne Conway was especially outraged and said this on FOX News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, U.S. PRESIDENT TRUMP COUNSELOR: I won't even dignify it, I'm sorry that we even have to show her Twitter comments because it's so beyond any type of reasonable response that anyone should have. Why people see politics immediately? It's just like I said in Las Vegas over a month ago, you had families literally still looking for their loved ones through the rubble in remains in Las Vegas, running from hospital to hospital. There were people who were injured who then went on to pass away. And yet people are taking to Twitter in the comfort of their very luxurious lives pointing fingers. (END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Okay. John, so mass shooting by white guy, you seemed to talk about gun reform, terrorist (INAUDIBLE) carried by Uzbeki immigrant (INAUDIBLE) policy changes affecting Democrats and propose new rules for immigration, right?
THOMAS: I think Chelsea -- look, the issue I have with Chelsea Handler is that she was jumping to conclusions and we didn't have any facts.
VAUSE: She does that.
THOMAS: But no -- but we didn't have -- there were -- there were no Republicans. We didn't know anything about this guy.
VAUSE: So one of the White House --
THOMAS: And then you see -- you see a lot of liberals are saying, "Well, the NRA needs to be stopped right after that shooting." It was an NRA member who saved the day as much as the day could be saved.
LITTMAN: But then 25 people were already killed in this case. The guy's (INAUDIBLE) but that's not even the point. I mean, if you go back, Chelsea Handler, I'm not going to -- you can't just say, you know, all Republicans are evil, I mean, that's a wrong thing to say in this case.
But we have a gun problem in this country that is unique to the United States of America, why is that? We're not doing anything to solve it. There's nothing coming out of the Congress and the President said that we can't do anything about it. So this keeps happening.
VAUSE: Yes. I don't need the questions over my (INAUDIBLE) didn't get so much. Okay.
LITTMAN: All right, John.
VAUSE: Matt and John, good to see you. Thank you.
LITTMAN: All right. Thanks.
VAUSE: Okay. Next here on NEWSROOM L.A., just (INAUDIBLE) about the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history and the worst mass shooting at a church in U.S. history. How (INAUDIBLE) laws work, and where they fail, and why nothing ever seems to change?
[01:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody (INAUDIBLE) we're learning more about the man who killed at least 26 people at a Texas church. Devin Kelley has a history of violence.
In 2012 while in the Air Force, he was sentenced to 12 months in a military jail for assaulting his first wife and son. Recently, Kelley had been sending threatening messages to his mother-in-law. A source tells CNN his final text to her was sent just before the shooting on Sunday morning.
Well, joining us now Brian Claypool, criminal defense attorney. He was also a witness at last month's mass shooting in Las Vegas. And Brian, it's good to see you.
BRIAN CLAYPOOL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nice seeing you, John.
VAUSE: Okay. Could you let -- head on right now, explain how these background checks failed, how there was no way the FBI system and the background check system could have actually stopped him from buying these guns even though he wasn't meant to have them as opposed to the Vegas shooter who managed to buy 40 firearms or so, all legally over a period of years.
CLAYPOOL: Well, Devin Kelley was convicted of a crime in which he served -- he was -- he was supposed to serve 18 months. So the federal law says that if you're convicted of a domestic violence crime and you serve at least 12 months then the federal -- here the Air Force should have immediately then reported that to the federal database. And they didn't do that and that's why during the background check he didn't come up --
VAUSE: So, it was just that one thing that failed to work and the whole thing just collapsed.
CLAYPOOL: Right, but, John, come on, let's call a spade a spade. This guy -- this -- Kelley is no choir boy.
CLAYPOOL: I mean, this guy -- let -- let's talk about that for a second. He pointed a gun at his wife twice. He fractured a skull of a -- of a stepson.
VAUSE: Yes. A little boy, yes.
CLAYPOOL: Of a -- of a -- of his -- of his little boy. He almost killed him an animal. This guy had a propensity and a pattern of doing violent things that the U.S. Air Force was well aware of. So, why were the faults with the U.S. Air Force so casual and flippant about not reporting this to the civilian officials to make sure that he was caught?
VAUSE: What do you make of this, sort of, Republican argument that this guy was (INAUDIBLE) a gun even if he had failed the background check he would've -- he would've found one anyway?
CLAYPOOL: Yes. Well, that -- that's the most pathetic argument I've ever heard because I was in Las Vegas and felt bullets hitting the metal not far from my head and almost never saw my daughter again. So to hear that and to hear President Trump say, "Oh, this is not a gun issue."
[01:50:03] And all the haters out there, like, "Well, he -- Kelley could've gotten a gun anyway," that's not the point. The point is we are glorifying violence in the United States, John. It's become casual, it's become okay if it's a lone wolf.
And everybody says, well, they can get a gun anyway. That's not the point. Make it harder, make it more difficult for somebody like Paddock to get 40 guns in Vegas and Kelley who's mentally ill and a violent person to get a gun. That's the point, make it more difficult.
VAUSE: Very quickly, listen to the majority senate leader of Republican Mitch McConnell talking about this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITCH MCCONNELL, U.S. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: It's hard to envision a foolproof way to prevent individual outrages by evil people. I mean, last week in New York you had a person who figured out he could kill people by driving his automobile up on a sidewalk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Yes. We're almost out of time but that argument to me sounds like, well, people still commit murder, therefore those murder laws aren't working. Therefore we should get rid of those murder laws and that sort of thing here.
CLAYPOOL: Here's what I got to tell Mr. McConnell and President Trump, take a look at the website for the Ruger 556. Go on a website -- I went on a website before I came on the show. And you tell me, Mr. McConnell, whether that 556 rifle should ever be sold to a -- to an average citizen on the street.
It's not a sporting rifle as they described. It shoots 90 rounds -- 90 rounds a minute, okay? So the -- does the average person in the street need access to a rifle like that? That's the issue. We can do something about that.
VAUSE: Yes. All of this is something against, you know, the -- what is the established gun culture in this country. You got a gun, you go hunting. You learn how to use it properly. That's not what's happening with these shootings. But, Brian, it's good to see you.
CLAYPOOL: Yes, nice to see you, John.
VAUSE: Thank you. Appreciate you being here. Yes.
VAUSE: Okay. With that we'll take a short break and when we come back we'll head to Seoul in South Korea.
[01:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COREN: Welcome back to CNN live from Seoul. Well, U.S. President Donald Trump is here in South Korea's capital. This, of course, is his second stop on his Asia tour. He arrived a short time ago to the Blue House where he's meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in
North Korea will likely dominates their talk. We'll have much more on this Trump's visit coming up in the next few hours. From Seoul, I'm Anna Coren.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause live in Los Angeles. We will be back with more news right after this.
[02:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)