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Rubio Faces Critics And Shifts On Guns At CNN Town Hall; Shooting Survivors Challenge NRA At CNN Town Hall; U.N. Says "Monstrous Campaign Of Annihilation" Unfolding In Syria; Mom Of Slain Teacher Confronts NRA At CNN Town Hall. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired February 22, 2018 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] REP. TED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA: -- are more than a little skeptical given that Sen. Rubio had told us the reason that he had decided to get back into the Senate race was what happened in Pulse and yet, nothing since then.

So, of course, I want to be a partner. I welcome that. But there is so much that needs to get done. So much of it has overwhelming support. We should do it right away.

I don't need -- we don't need task forces to look at this.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think the time of thinking is over.

The president just tweeted. You and I will read this for the first time as everybody else hears it for the first time.

"I never said give teachers guns, like was stated on fake news CNN and NBC. What I said was to look at the possibility of giving concealed guns to gun-adept teachers with military or special training experience -- only the best. Twenty percent of teachers -- a lot -- would now be able to."

I think that's fair. Yes, I don't think that he said give every single teacher a gun.

What do you think about giving the most adroit with a gun, a gun?

DEUTCH: I think if we need more security in the schools, then we should have more security in the schools.

CAMEROTA: But what does that look like?

DEUTCH: Well, I don't -- I think that school districts are going to have to make that determination from the --

CAMEROTA: Right, but the president thinks that security means teachers --


CAMEROTA: -- who are trained being armed. DEUTCH: Right, except as we heard last night -- as Sen. Rubio acknowledged last night, it doesn't -- it doesn't help when someone -- he didn't put it this way but I think -- I think he would acknowledge that when someone marches down a hallway with an AR-15 having a couple of other teachers there with guns isn't the answer.

And when first responders show up, as one of the teachers pointed out last night, they -- teachers don't want to be in the position of having to defend the fact that they're not the shooter.

CAMEROTA: Right, and for first responders to try to figure out who's who.

DEUTCH: Who's who, exactly right.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Ted Deutch, thank you very much for being a part of this conversation. We're so sorry for your district.

DEUTCH: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: But obviously, we're all inspired by these kids --

DEUTCH: We are.

CAMEROTA: -- and the strength that they're showing.

DEUTCH: Thanks for --

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much for being here.

DEUTCH: Thanks for being down here.

CAMEROTA: Chris --

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Alisyn, thank you very much.

Many in the audience at the CNN town hall supported a ban on semiautomatic weapons. And even though there were thousands there that -- last night, is that really reflective of widespread opinion?

This conversation will only lead to action if people who are staunch gun advocates want change as well. Let's bring in that side of the conversation, next.


[07:36:18] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DIANE WOLK-ROGERS, TEACHER, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL, PARKLAND, FLORIDA: How now, is an 18-year-old with a military assault rifle well-regulated? You supporting --

DANA LOESCH, SPOKESPERSON, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: Right. He's not -- well, he's not. He shouldn't have been able to get a firearm.

He should have been barred from getting a firearm -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Legally.


LOESCH: -- and --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He bought it legal.

LOESCH: -- he should not have been able to.


CUOMO: All right. That's NRA spokesman Dana Loesch. She was pressed by survivors of the high school massacre at CNN's town hall. She said this guy shouldn't have been able to buy a gun.

But yes, it's interesting. Would staunch gun rights advocates accept rule changes that would keep someone his age or with his health status from getting a gun.

Joining us now is Charles C.W. Cooke, editor for the "National Review Online."

Now, Charles just so people understand, you have spoken extensively about your feelings about the defense of the Second Amendment -- its application to this.

You and I got sideways online yesterday and it made me realize man, this fighting's got to stop. We have to have the conversation where everybody is involved, all the ideas are out there. Otherwise, nothing's going to change.

So, thank you for taking the invitation.

Let's start with that question, Charles. Dana said he shouldn't have been able to buy a gun. Well, that means that, what, by age you would change eligibility for him to get a weapon or because of his treatment and track record, even though he wasn't adjudicated mentally ill or had a criminal record, he would have been somehow disqualified?

How do you explain what she said?

CHARLES C.W. COOKE, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: Well, I don't know exactly what Dana meant. I haven't spoken to her about this.

I certainly think given what was known about this man and, indeed, what students who were victims said afterwards, namely that they saw this coming, that it was predictable, that they knew immediately that it was him -- that it would be a good thing to introduce some sort of system where people who are on the radar of their peers and of the authorities -- and this guy seems to have been contacted maybe 37 times --

CUOMO: Right.

COOKE: -- there was a tip that went to the FBI. It would be good if we had some sort of system in place whereby with very robust due process protections the authorities could investigate and if they found that there was a problem, do something.

CUOMO: That's the trick though, right, Charles?

COOKE: That doesn't current exist.

CUOMO: Yes, it doesn't currently exist because you need to be adjudicated mentally ill, or you have to have an involuntary commitment, or obviously, a criminal background.

So, where would the resistance come from on that? Do you think Republicans? Do you think staunch gun rights advocates would be OK with -- whether it's a doctor, or a family member, or some kind of quick Article 78 proceeding? You know, some kind of quick judge assessment that this person has -- you know, whatever the criteria are.

Do you think that's something that gun rights advocates would accept?

COOKE: Well, I think it would depend entirely on how it was written. I mean, my colleague David French wrote, I think, a very good piece on this arguing in favor but, of course, with some caveats. The Second Amendment is not the only provision with the Bill of Rights that should be on it.

CUOMO: Right.

COOKE: And now, there is due process --

CUOMO: Right.

COOKE: -- and especially when it comes to an enumerated constitutional right.

So, if this was written by people who want genuinely to ensure that dangerous people are put onto the radar and dealt with --

CUOMO: So, you're --

COOKE: -- rather than people who want to use it as a back door to get rid of or to undermine the Second Amendment then, yes, I think there could be a great deal --

CUOMO: All right. So, you're --

COOKE: -- of support for this.

CUOMO: So, you're open to that. It's a good thing to know and it's a good thing for people to hear because, as you know, when people hear about expanding at all people who could be restricted access of weapons there's a reflexive resistance.

[07:40:00] So, on that broader issue of background checks, are you in favor of making all sales subject to background checks? And, are you in favor of seeing the rules of who has to report, and what information, and what the penalties are if you don't report it tightened up?

COOKE: I'm certainly in favor of introducing more information into the background check system, and there seems to be a bipartisan bill ready to go --

CUOMO: Right.

COOKE: -- on that. I'm not quite sure why it hasn't moved but it think it should.

There isn't a great deal of evidence that background checks intersect with mass shootings. Most -- indeed, almost all mass shooters seem to buy their guns legally.

There's also not a great deal of evidence -- recent studies out of Washington and Colorado show that background checks do a great deal when applied to private sales, in large part because you can't determine ahead of time where those sales take place because they are private. They're not commercial, whereas the government regulates --

CUOMO: Right.

COOKE: -- commercial gun sellers.

I think, in a sense, this is something of a red herring. This comes up every time. The argument in favor of extending background checks to private sales is much stronger when it comes to crime in general --

CUOMO: Right.

COOKE: -- or perhaps to suicides than it is here.

CUOMO: Right.

COOKE: And one reason I think that --

CUOMO: But those matter, too, Charles. That's why I bring it up. I know we're focused --

COOKE: Yes, they do.

CUOMO: -- on school shootings. But when you're at about one, one and a half percent of overall gun crime --

COOKE: Right.

CUOMO: -- there's a much bigger issue. I don't understand why there'd be resistance to -- you know, especially for lawful people.

Why wouldn't you have all sales applicable to a background check?

COOKE: Well, the first argument, and I think this is always a good thing to remember when the government gets involved, whether it's the war on terror or drugs, is that, as I say, there isn't a great deal of evidence that it works or that sheriffs prioritize in states that have them.

The second reason is that if as it has been suggested thus far, it would effectively create a gun registry. And gun registries are opposed, I think for good reason, by those who have an --

CUOMO: But you already have it for the majority of sales. This would just be making it in all transactions.

Why create a loophole when you don't need one? It's practical --

COOKE: Well, it --

CUOMO: -- impact is something to consider, but as a prophylactic device I just don't understand a good argument against it.

COOKE: Well, I think, as they say, a good argument against it is that recent studies conducted, it should be said, by gun control advocates and written up by gun control advocates have conceded that there doesn't seem to be much evidence that it does anything. And if we're trying to improve the situation on the ground here then that doesn't seem to me to be the way to do it.

CUOMO: Well, and the argument for it would be you might as well try whatever you can because you have so many guns getting into the wrong sets of hands. But, Charles, you know what matters?

COOKE: Well, you see, this is --

CUOMO: Yes, go ahead. Make your final point.

COOKE: Well, I think that, you see -- I think that's where we have to be careful here because there is this argument in the aftermath of mass shootings and we saw a lot of it last night in what I thought was an unhelpful town hall held at the wrong time.

We see a lot of this argument you have to do something. But, of course, we don't all agree we need to anything.

Marco Rubio came out last night against the idea of, say, arming teachers. Now, it wouldn't be a particularly convincing response to say well, why doesn't he just want to do something. He doesn't think that's a good idea.

CUOMO: But he did say he would do certain things. You know, he did say --

COOKE: No, I agree. But just saying well, why don't we just do something, why don't we try that, there's nothing to lose is not a standard reply across the board.

CUOMO: No, no, that's understood.

COOKE: They might disagree here.

CUOMO: Not arbitrary things. Absolutely, it has to be a reasonable -- COOKE: Why do you say arbitrary?

CUOMO: No, but look, Charles, what I'm saying -- we agree. You should do things that are calculated to make a real difference and you should base it on debate, and data, and research in the area. There's no question about that. There's no reason just to throw out any kind of solution that won't work.

But look, at the end of the day, it's a debate worth having. We need all sides and I appreciate you being here.

Take it easy on me on Twitter. I'll see you there after we do this segment.

COOKE: (Silent).

CUOMO: I'll take silence as acceptance. Thanks for Charles Cooke being with us.

Look, you have to have everybody involved in the conversation. You'll like some ideas, you won't like others. If it's not a conversation that includes anybody, we will get nowhere. The past is prologue.

All right, another story we have to tell you about. Horror unfolding in Syria. The shocking scene that is grabbing the world's attention. The latest in a live report, next.


[07:48:02] CUOMO: Syria's rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region is being called hell on earth. A fierce bombing campaign by Syrian government forces has killed hundreds of people, including at least 70 children. The airstrikes are so relentless people are being forced underground.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is live in Beirut with the latest. Ben, what do we know?


What we know so far is that at least 13 people have been killed so far today and we've just gotten a report that another five killed in these -- this bombardment. Four of those five, apparently women.

Now, we must warn viewers, however, that as we talk about this situation the images are very disturbing and we do know that there are moves afoot by the United Nations to bring into effect some sort of 30-day humanitarian ceasefire to allow in desperately needed relief supplies and to evacuate people who need urgent medical care.

Now, yesterday, the American ambassador to the United Nations said this. "It's time to take immediate action in the hope of saving the lives of the women, men, and children who are under attack by the barbaric Assad regime." That's Nikki Haley.

Now, we are seeing a report from the "Associated Press" that the Russians are also expressing their favor for some sort of humanitarian ceasefire. However, with the condition that it does not include ISIS or Al-Qaeda-linked groups -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Ben. Thank you very much for keeping us to speed on the horror that's happening there.

So, back here in Parkland, of course, you've probably heard by now of this geography teacher, Scott Beigel. He died while saving his students during this massacre.

Well, his mom was at the town hall last night and she put the NRA spokesperson in the hot seat and that mom is here next.


[07:53:10] CAMEROTA: One of the heroes who gave his life to save students during the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, behind me, was the geography teacher Scott Beigel.

Last night, his mother attended the CNN town hall and she asked a tough question of NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch -- listen.


LINDA BEIGEL SCHULMAN, MOTHER OF SLAIN FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER SCOTT BEIGEL: Why are my son's unalienable rights not protected as fiercely as the right to bear arms?


LOESCH: I think that all life should be protected -- all life should be protected. That's why next week there's going to be good guys with guns that are going to be in school protecting lives, just as there's armed security here. We are in the presence of firearms protecting lives.

This isn't a you -- if you believe in your right to self-defense you hate kids, or if you believe in your right to self-defense you don't believe that people have the right to live. That's not what this issue is.

This issue is about making sure that we're protecting innocent lives. No innocent lives should be lost. None of them should.


CAMEROTA: Joining us now is Scott Beigel's mother, Linda Beigel Schulman. Linda, thank you so much for being there last night and for being there with us today.

SCHULMAN: Thank you for having me.

CAMEROTA: So, was that a satisfying answer to you? What were your impressions after you asked the NRA that question?

SCHULMAN: I just think that she skirted the issue. I think if she does her research she'll find out that the weapons that they had back then probably took 30 minutes to load -- could not get through the door they were so big and cumbersome. If you look them up online I think one -- I'm not positive -- I think one is called a Belton. And then, there's another one -- I'm not sure. It starts with a "p".

[07:55:00] My 18-year-old nephew, Kyle, was so incensed by her answer he actually texted me with the facts about the weapons that she was talking about. They don't hold a candle to the assault weapons that we have today.

CAMEROTA: So, listen, obviously, we're having a national conversation for this past week ever since the massacre right behind me. I understand that your son's classroom was right over our shoulder. He --


CAMEROTA: It was right there. We can see it from where we're standing.

And, of course, conversation is good but it's not enough. What do you want to see happen now?

SCHULMAN: Well, I think last night -- I think the senators and the congressmen -- I think it was great that they were there. You know, the phrase "put your money where your mouth is" -- it's not about money. They should put their actions where their mouth is instead of money.

I would like to -- I would really like to see them act on what they said last night.

CAMEROTA: And, your feeling is that laws need to be changed, and not just gun laws --

SCHULMAN: Other --

CAMEROTA: -- other laws.

SCHULMAN: Absolutely. Scott and I talked about this a lot, about the money aspect. It's funny you asked me that question prior. We had many conversations.

I honestly believe that, yes, things have to be done. We have to take a stand -- Parkland, the administrators, the students, the teachers.

This is my family now. Parkland is my family. We -- I will do whatever it is that they ask me to do. I would never do anything to hurt them. I am with them and we will go forward together.

But, I think that it's more than that. I think that the government -- people in the government, whether it's all the way up from the president, all the way down to anybody who's elected. I think there should be one pot of money. One amount of money.

Scott and I talked about this all the time. One pot of money. Everybody, depending upon what office they're going for, should have the same amount of money. CAMEROTA: Yes --

SCHULMAN: I'm sorry.

CAMEROTA: I mean, well, just that I -- I mean, what I think you're talking about is sort of campaign finance laws so that it takes some of the power out of the NRA's contributions.

SCHULMAN: That's just perfect. You say it better than I. I'm still grappling for words.

But that's what they should do because we would not be having this conversation. There's no -- if it were all equal nobody could see any different except for the fact weapons need to be controlled.

CAMEROTA: Speaking of your Parkland family, we have a surprise for you. We want to bring in Kelsey Friend. She is -- was one of your son's students. And I don't know if you heard her, Linda, on our air but Kelsey spoke so beautifully about what Scott, your son, meant to her.

Can you just tell his mom what your geography teacher, Mr. Beigel, meant to you?

KELSEY FRIEND, SURVIVED FLORIDA SCHOOL MASSACRE: Mr. Beigel is and forever will be my hero, like you know. But he had -- I don't have words. He's just amazing. I miss like him crazy.

Every moment that goes by either I'm thinking about his crazy and silly jokes, or the way he laughed, or his smile, or just the way he taught me.

And, as a student, I don't really say I love my teachers as much but Mr. Beigel -- I will stand here probably and say that I loved my teacher because he was one of those teachers that actually explained something to you. And that's what actually hooked me into his class is he'd sit there and explain it and we would like -- we would be like oh, that's what he means. And I'll never forget that.

He's amazing and I miss him like crazy.

CAMEROTA: Linda, what's it like for you to hear the impact that your son had on his students?

SCHULMAN: It's my son. It's amazing. It doesn't surprise me. That's the way Scott was.

He loved teaching. He loved teaching. He loved getting through.

I just hope wherever he is, and I wish I knew, but wherever he is I hope he understands that he did get through. He really got through.

And it just -- Kelsey's promise that she would call me on her way home from school every day, the way Scott used to call me and let me know what's going on.


SCHULMAN: And we're going to keep in touch forever.

CAMEROTA: That's so beautiful because, Kelsey, not only was he a wonderful teacher to you, and I think you've captured that really beautifully, you think he saved your life.

FRIEND: Yes, I 100 percent think he saved my life. If it wasn't for him I might not be here.

CAMEROTA: What did he do?

FRIEND: He tried closing the door and he didn't survive afterward, I guess.

CAMEROTA: Because he was at the door. He let all of you in --


CAMEROTA: -- and he stood at the door.

FRIEND: He stood at the door.

CAMEROTA: He made sure that you all got in and stood at the door and basically was a shield, and he didn't survive the gunman's bullet.


CAMEROTA: And what do you think of that when you hear what your son did in saving the students' lives?

SCHULMAN: I have to say again it just doesn't surprise me that Scott -- that's -- you know, life the way it's supposed to be lived by Scott. That's Scott -- Scott would do that and especially, for his students because those were his students. But, that's what Scott would want.

CAMEROTA: How did you raise him so well?