Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Weighs in on Guns, NRA; Pressure Builds for Lawmakers Act on Guns; Trump Meets with Law Enforcement Officials on Guns; Shooting Survivor's Please to Trump; Trump: Video Games Adding to Violence. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired February 22, 2018 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:32:47] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: President Trump just moments ago suggesting the United States needs to harden schools and that certain gun-adept teachers could help prevent mass shootings. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to harden the schools, not soften them up. A gun-free zone to a killer or someone that wants to be a killer, that's like going in for the ice cream. That's like, here I am, take me. We have to get smart on gun-free zones. When they see it says this is a gun-free zone, that means nobody has a gun except them. Nobody will be shooting bullets in the other direction. They see that as such a beautiful target. They live for gun-free zones. Frankly, you have teachers who are Marines for 20 years, they retire and become a teacher. And they're Army, they're Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard.
They're people who have one shooting contest or whatever. This is what they do. They know guns, they understand guns. I frankly have been reading a lot about it, and I think when you allow a person who has been in the Marines for 20 years, who has done nothing but handle guns and handle them safely and well, because you can't just give a teacher a gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The president also weighed in on the National Rifle Association and the conversation he had with them after the shooting in Parkland, Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm the biggest believer of the Second Amendment there is, OK? I am the biggest. But I'll tell you what, I spoke with the NRA, the top people, and I spoke, and they gave me tremendous support and -- tremendous. I think I had their earliest -- I was probably the earliest one, Kellyanne, from what I hear ever. They endorsed me at the absolute earliest point that you could. I'm a believer. But I spoke to them, and they're ready to do things. They want to do things. You know, they're good people. They're patriots. They love this country. But the NRA is ready to do things. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: It's been 14 years since the federal assault weapons ban expired here in the United States, and now after another school massacre, pressure is clearly mounting on the Republican-led Congress to do something specific on guns.
Let's go to our congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly.
Phil, there are really four areas that could be immediate focal points for possible change. Take us through those four.
[13:35:16] PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, look, a wide-ranging debate, a very complex debate on the policy. First of all, bump stocks. This became a massive discussion after the shooting in Las Vegas. This is a mechanism, an attachment to a gun used by a shooter. It allows the individual to increase the weight at which their gun is fired. The president is saying it needs to be done through executive action, instructing his Justice Department and the ATF to try to change the rules to ban those. There is an open question as to whether or not they have the authority to actually do that. Some Democrats on Capitol Hill still having for a legislative fix. At this point the president staying with executive action.
Now age limits. This is something the president brought up in the last few days and it brakes sharply from where the NRA is on this. The shooter having access to an A.R-15 style rifle. Those rifles you can purchase once you reach the age of 18. For handguns, it's only the age of 21. The NRA is opposed to that. A lot of Republicans I talk to are opposed to that as well.
Then, you move to background checks. This is where the details actually matter, the nuance actually matters. There is a bipartisan background check bill. It does not expand background checks, it asks for better compliance on the state and national level. I don't know if the president is talking about a more expansive version than, say, what was voted on and failed in the Senate in 2013.
After that, you have large-capacity magazines. This came up last night during the CNN town hall. Marco Rubio, who in the past was opposed to limiting magazines, said he has reconsidered his position on that issue after talking to people and doing more research. This will go headlong in the Republican-led Congress, but if the president gets behind it, if Marco Rubio becomes a leading indicator as opposed to just an outlier, there's a real possibility that, perhaps, this gets into the debate, if it gets across the finish line. That, Wolf, along with all of these issues, still very much an open question on Capitol Hill.
BLITZER: It certainly is. Excellent explanation.
Thank you very much, Phil Mattingly, for that.
Coming up, a survivor of the Parkland shooting is standing by to join me live with the emotional plea he made directly to the president of the United States. And where the fight on guns goes next. We'll be right back.
[13:42:04] BLITZER: President Trump only moments ago holding another meeting with law enforcement officials to discuss school safety here in the United States. Listen to what the president just said about so-called gun-free zones. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If you're going to continue with this nonsense about a gun- free zone -- gun-free -- it sounds so good. It sounds so great. It is such a target for the killer. They look for gun-free zones because, believe it or not, they don't want to get killed.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)
TRUMP: Look at the guy in Florida. He tried to escape, right? He had a great policeman who caught him in a different community. But he actually escaped. He didn't want to get shot. If he would have known that he was going to be shot -- because he's a coward -- but he tried to escape. He did actually escape. They had a great policeman in a different community found him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Joining us now, Samuel Zeif. He and his younger brother survived the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. But Sam's best friend, 17-year-old, Joaquin Oliver, unfortunately, tragically, was killed.
Sam, thanks so much for joining us.
You had a chance to address the president of the United States yesterday. How did you come away from that extraordinary meeting at the White House?
SAMUEL ZEIF, SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Thank you for having me, Wolf.
I was still on White House property when I got notified of the NRA's decision that day --
BLITZER: The NRA decision to oppose lowering -- raising the age limit to 21 to buy rifles?
ZEIF: Yes. And I just feel like, you know, everyone saw on his notecard it said, I hear you. And I think he did hear us. But he wasn't listening to us, mainly because he only listens to people putting money in his pocket. In this case, blood money. My friends' blood. A lot of my classmates' blood. I don't think we're going to get far with him right now. I think what we did, we were lucky enough to start at the top with the legislators, but we need to work from the bottom, the judiciary, and work our way back up to the top.
BLITZER: He is indicating he's open to some changes. For example, he says 21, that should be the age limit. Bump stocks, he's saying you have to outlaw bump stocks that make an ordinary rifle like a machine gun. You're not receptive to those initial steps?
ZEIF: Age limits? How many times have you read about a high school party. The age limit for drinking is 21. I don't think an age limit is going to stop someone that wants to get it. I don't think anyone should have it. I don't think it should be available to the public at all. It's a weapon of destruction, a weapon of war. It's not what our founding fathers intended in the Second Amendment. They intended for defense and this is offense. This is for killing. This is not for protection.
[13:45:06] BLITZER: So you didn't leave the meeting at the White House with hope that the president would move, from your perspective, in the right direction?
ZEIF: Not at all. We had a long talk with him. And I'm sure that right after we left, when everyone was gone, he had a long talk with the NRA. Who is he going to listen to?
BLITZER: Sam, I want you to stick around. There's new information we're getting. I want to get your reaction.
The president also speaking about the impact of violent video games on young people. Potentially, that is a cause, he says, to some of this violence that's unfolding. We'll discuss that and more right after a quick break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[13:50:09] TRUMP: -- on the Internet because a lot of bad things are happening to young kids and young minds and their minds are being formed. And we have to do something about maybe what they're seeing and how they're seeing it. And also video games. I'm hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people's thoughts.
And then you go the further step and that's the movies. You see these movies, they're so violent. Yet, a kid is able to see the movie if sex isn't involved. But killing is involved. And maybe there should be a rating system for that. You get into a whole very complicated, very big deal. But the fact is that you are have in having movies come out that are so violent with the killing and everything else, that's something we need to discuss. And a lot of people are saying, you have movies today where you can go and have a child see the movie, and yet, it's so violent, it's so disgusting. So we may have to talk about that also.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President speaking moments ago over at the White House, meeting with local and state officials, saying these violent movie videos very, very potentially dangerous.
Samuel Zeif is still with us. He survivor of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. You grew up with a lot of these video games. What is your reaction when you hear the president say that?
ZEIF: My friends and I have been playing video games all my life and, of course, seeing violent movies as kids but never have we ever felt driven or provoked by those actions and those games to do something as horrible as this. I don't think anyone has. It's a video game. Something happens, you restart. We know that's not how life is. I think it's a distraction. President is trying to distract us.
BLITZER: He also clarified his position on arming school teachers. You're going to going back to school in the coming days. And he specifically said, what he was talking about last night at the CNN town hall, he said, "Look at the possibility of giving concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience, only the best 20 percent of the teachers."
What do you think about having some of your school teachers, your high school teachers be armed with concealed weapons?
ZEIF: It's right there in the question. They're teachers. They are not soldiers. They did not go to school to learn how to mold the lives of the future to have to be faced with the responsibility of knowing whether or not they get into a fight or argument with a student that day and maybe they think the student is a little more sensitive than they expected and the student reaches in his backpack for a pencil or notebook and they think they're reaching for a gun so they act first and act on them.
BLITZER: Your high school is reopening next week. You're supposed to go back to school. How do you feel about that?
ZEIF: Honestly, it's scary to go back to where 17 people I saw every day were murdered. But I'm also doing -- I'm going to go back. I'm doing it for them because they would want me to go back and be strong and they can't go back. So I need to show, as a senior, I need to show all the underclassmen that we are strong, we are a family and we're going to get through this.
BLITZER: How is your 14-year-old younger brother doing?
ZEIF: You know, I couldn't imagine going through this at 14. He is so unexposed to the world, very fragile mind. And it's -- I think he's still in shock. He can't cry. I know kids his age who haven't said a word. It's unbelievable but he is really strong and we're going to get through this.
BLITZER: He is going to go back to school next week as well.
ZEIF: That's right.
BLITZER: There will be, according to the sheriff down in Broward County, there will be armed sheriffs with rifles, protecting you. How do you feel about that?
ZEIF: It's -- it cuts down the middle. I will feel protected knowing that our sheriffs are there. But sheriffs are people, too, and they make mistakes, and they're bringing those possible mistakes into our property, onto our campus.
BLITZER: You're a senior. You're going to be going to college in the fall. This is a moment that's supposed to be so exciting, wrapping up high school, and you have to deal with this. Our hearts go out to you, your classmates.
You want to say a word about your best friend who, unfortunately, didn't make it, Joaquin?
ZEIF: Yes. I was helping Joaquin pass his math class to graduate himself. And it's just terrible. He was one of the best people I knew. So, I mean, I'm here because of him. That's the impact that he had on me. My father was out of town on business recently and I came to Washington by myself to speak out for him. I have his strength with me. That's why my hair is like this, because he dyed his hair after his favorite artist, Frank Ocean, released the album "Blond." If you go to Parkland, you can't turn your head without seeing the blond hair.
[13:55:22] BLITZER: Sammy, you're an amazing young man. You have a huge future ahead of you. It's going to be tough. I know it is. Good luck to you, and your younger brother, all your friends, everyone at that school.
ZEIF: Thank you very much, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks so much for coming in.
ZEIF: My pleasure.
BLITZER: Appreciate it.
Moments from now, the White House is set to face tough questions on the president's comments, his ideas for gun changes, the National Rifle Association's blistering questioning of the FBI. Stand by. Much more right after this.
[13:59:49] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me.
We begin with a new kind of momentum in a movement that some say was tragically stalled, especially after the mass murder of first graders more than five years. But now, one week and one day after 17 students and staff were killed at a Florida high school, a Republican president is signaling it is time to change some of the nation's gun laws.