Return to Transcripts main page


Massive Crowds Rally Nationwide To Demand Gun Control; Slain Teacher's Parents Describe Emotional Impact Of March. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 24, 2018 - 17:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN's special live coverage, march across America. Thank you for joining us this weekend. I'm Ana Cabrera in Washington. And today, we're witnessing a new movement erupting. These are live images right now from San Francisco.

People calling on the nation to change its ways regarding gun violence. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have marched on the streets of Washington, as well, today, demanding tougher gun laws.

The movement led by Florida teenagers who survived the unthinkable, a gunman opening fire in their school on Valentine's Day. Seventeen people gunned down on that bloody day. These teenagers saying enough is enough. Florida shooting survivor, Emma Gonzalez, closed out this rally. Take a look.


EMMA GONZALEZ, SURVIVOR OF PARKLAND, FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTING: Since the time that I came out here, it has been 6 minutes and 20 seconds. The shooter has ceased shooting and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape and walk free for an hour before arrest. Fight for your lives before it's someone else's job.


CABRERA: Clearly, Emma and her peers are not alone. From coast to coast, and around the world, people are helping them fight for their cause. Believing that after Columbine and Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook and Stoneman Douglas and so many other shootings, it is time to finally say never again. Young people are making their voices heard today.

And I want to head out west. Our Miguel Marquez is joining us from Los Angeles. Miguel, what are you hearing from folks there?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Emma Gonzalez's words are being reflected here and resonating here. The signs of we call b.s., and enough is enough, are everywhere here in Los Angeles. It's starting to wind down here. I want to show you just a few of the people here with the signs that are out. Calling for gun control. There was a lot of frustration.

There was a lot of sadness, but more than anything, there is anger. There is anger at the National Rifle Association, at the Republican Party, and the Democratic Party as well. People very upset about money in politics and needing and wanting to do something.

I want to bring in a 17-year-old who is in high school here in the Los Angeles area. You are at North Ridge Academy High School. You can't vote, but you marched today. What are you feeling right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am feeling proud for my country, and all the people who are out here because they're standing against gun violence.

MARQUEZ: What do you have there? Show us your sign here. What does it say?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can shoot me down with your words. You may cut me with your eyes, but still, I rise.

MARQUEZ: So, that's a lot of the message today. That you're not going away. You're 17. You can't vote. There's been a lot of exaltations to vote. What will you do after today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm working at an organization at my school to go against events that have happened to make this happen.

MARQUEZ: Have you guys had any sort of lockdowns or concerns at your high school?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, recently, there was a lockdown at my school because there was a gun threat at a building next to my academy. That was just absurd because a couple days ago, there was a shooting at another school. So, the fact that there was a gun actually on my campus near my campus, just was --

MARQUEZ: All right. Ms. Cellar turns 17 in January. She's a little frustrated she won't make the next election, but she intends to vote from here on out, yes? And so many of the people here are echoing that same thing. They want to turn this into political action -- Ana.

CABRERA: Miguel Marquez in Los Angeles. We hear that loud speaker behind you, stand up. That's exactly what these young people are doing. CNN's senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, is now outside the White House.

And Joe, we know some people have moved over there. What stood out to you today during that massive demonstration on the streets of the nation's capital?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I have to tell you, the energy was really impressive, Ana, and some of it actually continued. These, as you can see, are some of the stragglers, and quite a few people who decided to stick around.

They have come over in front of the White House, and standing around, but the most interesting thing, I think, is what they are doing with their signs. They are laying them down in the street, right in front of the White House. As you can see, this one caught my eye. Thank you, Parkland students. Some of these signs you didn't get to see very well during the march. Actually, guns do kill people. See you in November, is probably the most interesting one.

[17:05:02] Given the fact this was a call for legislators and the president to do something, and wasn't just in Washington, D.C. It was all over.


JOHNS (voice-over): From sea to shining sea, activists pouring into the streets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is enough.

JOHNS: From Parkland, Florida --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This stops now!

JOHNS: To our nation's capital. Students standing up to make their voices heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Edna Elizabeth Chavez.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Zion Kelly. Just like all of you, I have had enough.

JOHNS: Powerful voices of those who have lost, gripping a world in awe of the power of our youth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People have said that I'm a tool of some nameless adult. It's not true.

JOHNS: As student-led demonstrations demand changes to the nation's gun laws.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I too am a victim, a survivor, and a victor of gun violence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're done hiding. We're done being afraid. We're done being full of fear.

JOHNS: Each one drawing thousands, including celebrities.

PAUL MCCARTNEY, LEGENDARY MUSICIAN: One of my best friends was killed in gun violence right around here. So, it's important to me.

JOHNS: The D.C. event brought famous performers like Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande and Common. One person not in attendance, President Trump, who instead opted to leave town one day ahead of the march. The White House issuing a statement applauding the demonstrators.

Highlighting a new department of justice proposal banning bump stocks as part of the president's commitment to keeping children safe. For many, that proposal is not enough, not even close.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When they give us that inch at bump stock ban, we will take a mile. We are not here for bread crumbs. We are here for real change.

JOHNS: But other lawmakers did show up, each with a similar refrain, that the best way forward is to keep pushing forward.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They will make their voices heard and they will make them heard every single day and they will make them heard in every single election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to stay with it. One day is not enough because the politicians are watching the NRA, which is going to be there tomorrow and the day after and the day after.

JOHNS: With student after student offering a different message to their elected officials.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot and will not be influenced by money and demand the same from our elected officials.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you listen real close, you can hear the people in power shaking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) or beware the voters are coming.

JOHNS: Young men and women demanding change.



JOHNS: Organizers of this march on their visit to Washington were encouraged in private meetings with thought leaders like former Vice President Joe Biden, who encouraged them to both vote and run for office when the time comes if they want to see the change they were calling for today. Ana, back to you.

CABRERA: Incredible to think teenagers organized what we witnessed today. Joe Johns in Washington for us, thank you.

I want to talk more about the impact of today's march with the parents who lost a beloved son in the Parkland shooting. Geography teacher, Scott Beigel, was gunned down 38 days ago while saving students that were in his classroom.

His parents, Michael Schulman and Linda Beigel Schulman are with us now. Thank you both for coming in. My heart is heavy sitting next to you. I'm so, so sorry for your loss, and thank you for being here and lifting your voices up to this discussion. We really appreciate it.

Scott sounds like an incredible individual. We hear from the students that he touched, and they describe his spirit, the way he had such a great sense of humor. You must be proud parents, first of all. How are you doing? LINDA BEIGEL SHULMAN, MOTHER OF SLAIN FLORIDA TEACHER SCOTT BEIGEL: Scott is amazing. How are we doing? Our stock answer is, we're doing OK. We are doing OK. We walked -- I will speak for myself, we walked into the march today, and the first thing I saw was a huge poster with Scott on it.

It was a blue poster. His picture on the poster and I have to say, I lost it. I guess it was the moment that my denial, because denial is a wonderful thing, so my denial turned into reality. And I actually lived through reality today through the whole march. And it was a fabulous -- it was a fabulous experience. And this march, the people, the students, the parents behind the students, the relatives, and everybody, OK, is going to be a force to be reckoned with.

[17:10:12] CABRERA: What did today's march mean to you, Michael?

MICHAEL SHULMAN, FATHER OF SLAIN FLORIDA TEACHER SCOTT BEIGEL: It just was a showing of what young people can do. People stand up and they voice themselves. I will say that the people of Parkland, the students of Parkland have shown me, OK, that you can make a change. And you can do things differently and I can't believe that these people are 16 and 17 and 18 years old. They're so articulate and so knowledgeable, and don't take any b.s. from anybody.

CABRERA: No doubt about it. Last hour, we spoke to one of these young people, someone I know you have gotten to know. Shooting survivor, Kelsey Friend, and she says your son saved her life, helped her get into a classroom to get out of the way of the bullets. Let's listen to what she said about how she's now so grateful for the relationship she has with you.


KELSEY FRIEND, SURVIVED FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTING: I call her Mrs. Beigel, she's family now. I love her like she's my own mom.

CABRERA: I know you have a special bond with her and just Scott's parents in general. Tell me about that relationship. You talk frequently, right?

FRIEND: Yes. I try to call her every day and if I don't get the chance I'll call her every other day. If not, I'll call her when I have time. Recently, I haven't been in the mood to talk to no one, so I called her yesterday. And I told her I was going to be in D.C., and then I met her earlier today and got a huge hug, which made me feel a lot better.


CABRERA: What is her relationship with you like? How would you describe it?

LINDA BEIGEL SHULMAN: I think Scott was quite a mentor for her. I think she felt really comfortable with Scott, and she exchanged, you know -- she just told Scott how she felt all the time. And I think Scott being Scott just helped her. And so, Scott not being there for her seems like it really took quite a toll.

CABRERA: There's a void.

LINDA BEIGEL SHULMAN: I'll never stand in place of Scott ever. But I miss his phone calls every day, really miss his phone calls. So, when Kelsey said can I call you every day? And she calls, the first thing I do is look and it's like, I know it's not Scott, and it's Kelsey, and it's just, I know it's going to be a wonderful phone call.

She's having a really hard time. But if I can help her just a little, the way Scott helped her a little, then that's really what I want to do. It's very heart warming, and it's like a little connection to Scott through her.

CABRERA: Michael, what do you think is next?

MICHAEL SHULMAN: What I'm hoping is next is that these young people can help feed the intensity to get things done because we've been through this before. We've lived through Sandy Hook. We lived through a lot of different ones. And we have talked to a lot of the students, and this cross-country team, and we kind of screwed up this in terms of gun control. Maybe these kids can fix what we didn't -- weren't able to do.

CABRERA: Are you satisfied with what we're seeing on Capitol Hill right now in terms of the legislation?

MICHAEL SHULMAN: I'm sorry, the legislation that I missed?

CABRERA: So, the fix nics isn't getting it done for you?

MICHAEL SHULMAN: It's not anything that is more than window dressing. You don't -- they say the kids speak so articulately, an AR-15 is a weapon of war. OK. Fix nics isn't going to fix it. If it's still on the street, there will be people who still will be able to get it. So, to have that as a capability for anyone is not a fix. OK.

CABRERA: Are you optimistic, Linda? I know Marco Rubio reached out to you.

LINDA BEIGEL SHULMAN: You know, I have a guarded optimism. I know that I know we're going to get something done. I'm positive these students are definitely going to get something done. And Senator Rubio did reach out to me. And I have to tell you, and I said it this morning as well.

It was quite an eye-opening conversation where I got on the phone, first thinking, oh, here's somebody who's just not going to listen. He has been listening. I know that the students talked about taking money from the NRA, so on and so forth, but he has been listening.

And I really do believe that he has moved from as right as he was much more towards the middle, and that's what we need. We need to get our elected officials to the middle. You know, we're at the point, I'm going to steal a line from my daughter. It's like the train is there. Either get on or you're just going to miss it. [17:15:12] You're absolutely going to miss it. And the government officials need to get on because the students aren't going to stop. This isn't going away, and we are -- we're not going to allow it to go away. We're there. We're going to be there.

I'm not just talking about Michael and I. I'm talking about the adults of the world who like mike said, didn't get it right. We have a second chance, and we're going to make sure it works this time.

CABRERA: Linda and Michael Shulman, thank you both. Nice to see you.

MICHAEL SHULMAN: Thank you for having us.

CABRERA: We'll be in touch. Thank you.

You're watching CNN's special live coverage. Before we go to break, I want to show you some of the star power at the D.C. rally earlier today. Singer Miley Cyrus singing while holding a sign that reads "never again."



CABRERA: March across America is continuing across the country right now. In fact, these are live pictures out of Denver, Colorado. A rally and march continuing there.

Meantime, hundreds of thousands of students, teenagers, kids who should be planning their proms, are planning a lot of these marches. They're fighting to insure shootings like what happened just this past month in Parkland, Florida, don't happen again.

Places like Sandy Hook, like the Las Vegas massacre, never again, they say, and one of those students is Tanzil Philip, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. And he's here with us in Washington, D.C.

I know you're wearing your coat because you were so cold outside coming from Florida. Thanks for making your way in. What's going through your mind right now?

TANZIL PHILIP, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: I feel like the march was a success. We had half a million people there. That's a lot of people. And we have all of them supporting us, and it's good to know we have all that support from fellow teenagers, fellow students, parents, and teachers and just people.

CABRERA: So, what's next? Now, when everybody goes home, next week, next month, you know, two months down the road, how do you continue this momentum forward?

PHILIP: I think we're blessed in an age of social media and having phones. We just keep at it. We keep tweeting, writing letters, making calls. We keep doing what we're doing. CABRERA: You're just 16 years old. This is the very beginning of your spring break. This isn't what most teenagers do on their spring break. I bet you can never have imagined your high school experience being this.

PHILIP: It's absolutely crazy, but we have no choice. We have to do this. I'm doing this for the 17 people that are gone. I'm doing this for my younger sibling that's not born yet. I don't want them to have to go through this.

CABRERA: When you sat down, you looked over at my papers and saw the tweets from President Trump. Do you feel like he hears you?

PHILIP: I don't feel like he hears us. He's not here today. He's not at the march. He wasn't here. Our congressmen, our senators, they're not listening to us. And that's the first step in getting this problem resolved, is for them to listen to us.

CABRERA: You talked about how you're not going to let down, and it does seem like this is different. This shooting was maybe a pivotal moment in time, in history. What is it about the students, your peers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, that makes this a movement that will create change?

PHILIP: I don't know if you have been to Parkland, but Parkland is a very wealthy neighborhood. So, there's that aspect of it. There's a lot of resources there. The majority of our school is white. And that's something that I have been dealing with.

It's very hard for me to get my voice and some of my fellow classmates that are black or Hispanic or Indian, it's difficult, but I feel like that's why our movement is progressed as far as it has. Unfortunately, that's unfair and it's not how it's supposed to be, but at least something good is coming from that.

CABRERA: What do you say to people who would say, you're just 16. You can't vote. You're not even close to voting yet. You shouldn't be politically involved?

PHILIP: I think that people are listening to us. I know my parents are listening to me. That's two votes in my corner. I have my entire family supporting me. So, two years is not that long of a time. I'll be able to vote in the next main election for president, and I know I will not be casting a vote for Donald Trump.

CABRERA: Well, thank you so much for coming in and sharing your voice and being courageous with you and your peers. It's really inspiring to see what you're doing out there.

PHILIP: Thank you for having me.

CABRERA: And you're watching CNN's special live coverage. We want to take a break right now, and I want you to listen to Delaney Tarr, another student who said she will never stop fighting for her classmates that she lost. DELANEY TARR, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Today, and every day, we will continue to fight for those things that are right. We will continue to fight for common sense. We will continue to fight for our lives. We will continue to fight for our dead friends.




CABRERA: I was a TV journalist in Denver, Colorado, when the Aurora movie theater shooting rattled the nation back in 2012. While covering the Aurora massacre and the gunman's trial, I got to know the parents of Jessica (inaudible), an energetic 24-year-old woman who had moved from her native Texas to Colorado to chase her dream of being a sports reporter.

In June 2012, Jessica narrowly escaped a mass shooting at a Toronto mall. She left the food court about 3 minutes before a gunman opened fire there. A little more than a month later, Jessica was dead. Gunned down during a midnight showing of a Batman movie.

Joining me now, Jessica's parents, Sandy and Lonnie Philips in San Antonio.

[17:30:00] Sandy, Lonnie, you guys have truly touched my heart the way you have dealt with Jessica's death with such courage and grace and strength.

It's nice to see you both again.

SANDY PHILLIPS, MOTHER OF JESSICA GHAWI: It's nice to be on your show, Ana. Thank you.


CABRERA: I know you now travel the country advocating for tougher gun control laws. What's your reaction when you see the hundreds of thousands of teens, young people, marching through the nation's capital, protesting gun violence in America?

SANDY PHILLIPS: Wow. So proud of them, number one. And their courage to speak their truth. And to do it in such a powerful way. So we were down in Parkland right after the shooting, met some of the students, met some of the parents who had lost children. And we knew something was different immediately. And, boy, we were right. And we just encouraged them to keep going and to keep telling their truth.

CABRERA: Lonnie, what's your takeaway today?

LONNIE PHILLIPS: Well, we spoke at this rally in San Antonio, both of us. We told the story about Jesse, and we told what we have been doing since that time. We have been to -- counting Aurora, we have been in the aftermath of eight mass shootings in this country. Starting with Aurora and ending with Parkland. And sandwiched between those two very similar mass shootings -- I call them rampage killings -- were five others. They all used the A.R.-15 except one, that Wasilla Vista. He used a pistol and was able to kill three people and himself with the pistol. All the others used A.R.-15s. Their total of those seven mass murders was 207 killed. And 700 and something wounded because of Las Vegas had so many wounded. So when you put those numbers together, you can see the awesome killing power of the A.R.-15. That's why we must get that weapon off our streets.

CABRERA: In this mission to fight gun violence, I know you have met with powerful leaders, like then-President Obama. You testified before Congress. What political and personal advice do you have, Sandy, for the Parkland teenagers who are spearheading today's movement?

SANDY PHILLIPS: Not to listen to any organization that is telling them to tamp their message down. To continue to speak bravely. And forcefully. When we first started in this, we were told to be polite when we went to lobby. We were told to be soft spoken. And we learned very quickly that that didn't get us anywhere. So these kids coming right out from the gate and saying we demand and we want an assault weapons ban, and you're not going to appease us with crumbs. They're doing exactly what they should be doing. So trust their guts. Trust their hearts. And keep speaking their truth. That's all I can say to them. Just keep going, keep pushing. Push harder. Push harder, because we haven't pushed enough.

LONNIE PHILLIPS: And never back down. Never give up. It's going to be a tough fight. It's just started.


CABRERA: You're longtime gun owners.


CABRERA: When you talk about gun control, given that you guys are supportive of gun rights as well -- you have lived in Texas for 30 years. You support the Second Amendment. You own guns. What are you hearing from neighbors, from friends, from people there in a red state when it comes to some of these gun law reform proposals you're seeking?

SANDY PHILLIPS: You know, with this last shooting, what we're hearing and seeing is a lot of people are saying, you know, I believe in the Second Amendment. I believe in my right to own a gun. But none of them, all of them that we have been talking to are saying, but we don't believe anybody should have a weapon of war. And these weapons were designed for warfare, and people are beginning to see the toll that is taking on our citizens. And these children having seen the aftermath of 17 people killed in their hallways and their classrooms, they see it too. And for the first time, we see a lot of gun owners coming up and saying, I have had enough. And turning in their weapons. And doing buybacks and cutting their weapons up. So we know that the change has happened. You know, they say that once the dominos start falling, they fall quicker. We have been talking to a lot of leaders over the years about being on the right side of history. And I think some of them waited too long.

CABRERA: Sandy and Lonnie Philips, thank you both for being here.

SANDY PHILLIPS: Thank you, Ana.


[17:35:02] CABRERA: You are watching CNN's special live coverage.

As we go to break, a moment from the Las Vegas rally. Comedian Amy Schumer using her voice to encourage change.


AMY SCHUMER, COMEDIAN: No more thoughts and prayers. Your thoughts and prayers don't shield the bullets you're enabling the purchase of with your greed and manipulation.



[17:39:52] CABRERA: Welcome back to our special coverage. Covering the marches across America today. March for our lives, what they have been dubbed.

With us to discuss the impact of today's marches now, CNN political analyst, Ryan Lizza, CNN legal and political commentator, Ken Cuccinelli, and with ABC Radio, Ann Compton.

Ann, I saw a sign earlier that said, "This is not a moment. This is a movement."

What makes this a movement? What could make this become the next civil rights movement or the anti-Vietnam war movement?

ANN COMPTON, FORMER REPORTER & WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, ABC RADIO: What makes it so different from the others is in the old days, civil rights, when I was the same age looking at those kids out there today, when I was their age, the Civil Rights Act was signed. 100 years after the Civil War. When you look at issues, public polling on same- sex marriage or the "Me Too" movement, things now happen much, much faster. And I think what the young people today are finding is that in the digital world of communication today, their message -- they have a message. They can speak out -- and it has much quicker resonance.

CABRERA: It's impressive how articulate they are at that young age. I think, gosh, I wish I were that articulate then.

A lot of these students we have been hearing from, the signs we have been reading, can have called for taking it to the polls. Making this -- making politicians who don't listen to them pay for it. Should Republicans who are backed largely by the NRA, who are afraid to vote for gun control, be concerned? KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL & POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I

appreciate the passion here and the reasons for it, but if the goal is to find solutions, then what those who are -- have electoral fears need to do is advance solutions.

What I find happens -- I watched it happen in a town hall meeting that Governor Beavan had. They had a school shooting in Kentucky in January this year. It wasn't covered very much. Nonetheless, he had a lot of public outreach. And he made rather broad comments about some of the underlying causes of school shootings in particular, mass shootings in particular. Because all other kinds of gun violence are down over the last several decades, dramatically down. But this particular area has drawn our attention. And there are --


CABRERA: Gun violence in general being down?


Where's the data to support that? That --

CUCCINELLI: Pew says it. The FBI's data shows it. The homicides in 1993 were over 18,000. We're now down around 12,000, with millions and millions of more people in this country. That's been a steady trend for 20-plus years.

CABRERA: But clearly, the gun violence is a huge problem. I mean, when you look at America.

CUCCINELLI: It is always a problem.

CABRERA: America has 40 times the gun violence that a country like Britain has.

CUCCINELLI: No, it does not. No. You're wrong about that.

Look, one of the other things Pew found -- and look, Pew is a left- leaning research -- they're not conservative. They don't -- not from my part of the spectrum. They found when they asked that exact question, "Do you believe gun violence is up, down, or the same since 1993" -- this was in 2011 -- 56 percent of Americans responded they believe it is up and 12 percent believed it was down. Yet, Pew themselves said the rate, homicide rate was down by 50 percent with firearms. And the violent crime rate, rape, sexual assault --


CABRERA: You don't think we have a gun violence problem in America?

CUCCINELLI: -- it's down 75 percent.

Well, I'm very glad that those parts of the problem are going down. As I said earlier, I think we have a problem we have to focus on with school shootings. They're a small number of killings. They get a lot of the attention. And they're a unique problem. The reasons a school shooter comes to a school are very different from gang violence. They're very different from robbery. They're very different from domestic violence. And they require a different solution.

CABRERA: But then you look at what happened in Las Vegas, that wasn't a school shooting. That's the biggest mass shooting in history --


CABRERA: -- in our country, in modern U.S. history.

Ryan, how much do you think this anger will translate to the polls?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's a really important question.

And just one thing to follow up on your point. There has been obviously a large decline in overall crime in this country. I think that's what you're referring to.


LIZZA: Look, 30,000 people are still being killed via firearms every year. A lot of that is suicides, obviously. A big chunk is murders. If we had 30,000 people falling out of the skies due to planes being faulty, we would attack that problem as a country and figure out why our planes weren't getting people safely from one place to another. So 30,000 deaths a year is a lot, especially when it's 30,000 preventable deaths. On suicide, you take away guns and the rate of suicide drops precipitously. When someone tried to kill themselves with a gun, they usually succeed. That's just one word on the stats.

On where this is going, I think the question is, is this movement like something like, if you think of all the really hot-button culture-war movements of the last several decades, is this more like abortion, where we have just had a long war where both sides are dug in and neither side really gains much ground in the polls over decades, or is this more like something like gay marriage where, in a very short period of time, this country went from gay marriage, that's, you know, this frightening idea, to immediate acceptance by 70 percent of the country in a really short period of time? Is gun control -- which one of those? Are we dug in, and are going to be at 50/50 in this country on gun control?

[17:45:35] CABRERA: Which one is it?

LIZZA: I don't know.


But I have never seen a movement like this. Can any of us think of the last social movement where elementary school kids and middle school kids have gained consciousness on this issue and actually are telling their parents, bring me to this rally, I want to be a part of this.

CABRERA: And seeing them do it in the nation's capital. They're speaking directly to these elected officials. We know the president's not here to witness this first hand today. Maybe he's watching on TV.

I want to read a statement that the White House put out. This was from the deputy press secretary: "We applaud the many courageous young Americans exercising their First Amendment rights today. Keeping our children safe is a top priority of the president's, which is why he urged Congress to pass the Fix NICS and Stop School Violence Act into fundamental law. Additionally, on Friday, the Department of Justice issued the rule to ban bump stocks, following through on the president's commitment to ban devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns."

Ann, what do you make of the way the president has responded or not to these calls?

COMPTON: The key is what Ken just mentioned. Where are the solutions? This is not as simple as "Do you support same-sex marriage," or "Do you support the "Me Too" movement. This has a very complex set of legal challenges and habitual challenges, cultural challenges. How do you find a real compromise that will bridge those who are so diametrically opposed to each other? These young people will find, after the passion of today, that getting the real solutions out there and getting a legislative consensus is a really, really hard road.

CABRERA: I still don't understand why there isn't a legislative consensus on an issue like universal background checks. When you look at the polling, 96 percent of Americans want that. The majority of Republicans agree with that.

CUCCINELLI: Ana, let's look at it. The Texas church shooting was a guy who should have been in the NICS system and wasn't. The Obama administration didn't get him after his conviction in the Air Force for domestic violence into the NICS system. In the Virginia Tech incident, in Virginia, our mental health system didn't identify that person as someone who should have been blocked from the purchase of guns. We fixed it, but that was really an issue of making the system already in place work.

And let's remember one thing. You mentioned Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C., is one of the most anti-gun jurisdictions in the country, and it has one of the worst murder rates with firearms in the country.

So Ann's right about how complicated this is. But there are pieces that we can attack together. But if people are single-mindedly focused on gun control at a time when gun violence has been going down for decades, you know, if what you want is success, that isn't --


CABRERA: I just don't understand what the argument is against universal background checks. Even 75 percent of Trump supporters -- you mentioned the Pew Research Center. That's according to their data -- 75 percent of Trump supporters want to see these universal background checks. It seemed like it would be a good starting place.

Guys, I'm getting the hard wrap in my ear.

Ryan Lizza, Ken Cuccinelli, Ann Compton, thank you all.

All right, a quick programming note. Tune in at 7:00 p.m. tonight for a special edition of the "Van Jones Show." He'll be joined by Parkland students who spoke in Washington today. As well as superstar, Jennifer Hudson, who performed at today's rally and has a very personal experience with gun violence.

[17:49:08] Stand by. We'll be right back.



CABRERA: This week's "CNN Hero" helps those facing a devastating diagnosis create last memories. Meet John Albert.


JOHN ALBERT, CNN HERO: The cruelest part of late-stage cancer is the emotion. Guilt that you're leaving behind your children and dread that you're going to miss their milestones.

[17:55:07] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to Florida.

ALBERT: We give these families a chance to have fun, have positive memories.



ALBERT: We are trying to give each family their own unique treasured time together.


CABRERA: To learn more about this story or to nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero," just log on to CNN

And coming up, CNN's special live coverage, March Across America, continues. Stay right there.


[18:00:01] CABRERA: You're watching CNN's special live coverage, March Across America. I'm Ana Cabrera, in Washington.

And all day here in D.C. and in cities across the U.S., massive crowds have been marching through the streets demanding Congress take action --