On this “Face the Nation” broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Uvalde County Commissioner Ronald Garza
- Arkansa Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican
- Sen. Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut
- Rep. Val Demings, Republican of Florida
- Nicole Hockley, mom of Sandy Hook victim Dylan Hockley and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise, and Jaclyn Corin
Clickto browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m Margaret Brennan in Washington.
This week on Face the Nation: In the five days following the massacre of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, the heartbreak has intensified, as the outrage over the botched police response grows.
We’re learning more about the missed signals from the troubled 18-year-old shooter and what’s now looking like an avalanche of errors on the part of the school district’s law enforcement.
Our coverage begins at the scene of Tuesday’s shooting in Uvalde and CBS News correspondent Omar Villafranca.
OMAR VILLAFRANCA: The sorrow is overwhelming. People come to this memorial behind me to pray and cry together.
But they’re also asking for answers and accountability from law enforcement and lawmakers.
OMAR VILLAFRANCA (voice-over): While thousands stopped to pray at the memorial in Uvalde’s town square Saturday, even more are asking for answers as to what went wrong with the police response on Tuesday at Robb Elementary.
These photos taken outside the school show state and federal officers pulling students and faculty out of the building, the children running to safety, horror clearly visible on their faces.
At first, investigators said a school police officer confronted the shooter when he arrived on the scene. Troopers claimed he then ran inside, went on a shooting rampage, then was fatally shot by officers.
But in the following days, law enforcement reports changed. On Friday, investigators said a school resource officer never confronted the shooter because the officer was not on campus. Troopers now say the 18-year-old gunman entered the building through a door that had been propped open by a teacher and immediately entered the fourth grade classroom.
At one point, 19 officers, including members of a federal Border Patrol tactical unit ready to engage, were outside the classroom for more than 40 minutes, where the gunman was still firing rounds.
But, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the commanding officer, Uvalde’s Unified Schools police chief, Pete Arredondo, made the decision to hold back officers, saying the situation was now a barricaded person, not an active shooter, and required different resources, a decision that investigators now say was the wrong move.
STEVEN MCCRAW (Director, Texas Department of Public Safety): Of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision, period. There’s no excuse for that.
OMAR VILLAFRANCA: The decision is contrary to the state’s active shooter response training, which the district went through, that states: “The best hope that innocent victims have is that officers immediately move into action to isolate, distract or neutralize the threat, even if that means one officer acting alone.”
With officers outside, teachers and students made multiple 911 calls from inside the classroom, begging for police to charge in.
QUESTION: You had 911 calls at 12:10, 12:13, 12:16.
DIRECTOR STEVEN MCCRAW: Yes.
QUESTION: The shooter wasn’t killed until 12:50. Did any of those 911 callers survive?
DIRECTOR STEVEN MCCRAW: Yes.
QUESTION: Did all of them?
DIRECTOR STEVEN MCCRAW: I tell you that with certainty, but more than one survived.
OMAR VILLAFRANCA: Texas Governor Greg Abbott had to explain why he initially praised the officers’ response.
GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT (R-Texas): The information that I was given turned out, in part, to be inaccurate. And I’m absolutely livid about that.
OMAR VILLAFRANCA: Some Texas lawmakers are upset, and they want a federal investigation into what went wrong here.
President Biden is expected to visit this memorial and meet with grieving family members — Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Omar Villafranca, thank you.
We turn now to Uvalde County Commissioner Ronald Garza.
Good morning to you, sir. And I know we are all so sorry.
RONALD GARZA (Uvalde County, Texas, Commissioner): Good morning, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We are all so sorry for what your community is going through, not just with this awful massacre, but now these painful revelations about the response.
Do you know why the school district police commander was not there when the shooting began?
COMMISSIONER RONALD GARZA: I have no idea, Margaret.
I’m like a lot of people. We’re still in the dark about that. We’re still learning of new developments that are coming to light. But my heart goes out to the community. We’re emotionally shattered.
And we’re — we’re just really sad right now. It’s a time of mourning and – – in our community.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I know.
I have read that it’s also a time of anger, and that the chief of police for the school district is now under police protection himself. Is that — is that right? Is that reflective of the feeling in the community right now?
COMMISSIONER RONALD GARZA: Well, rightly so.
You know, people are asking questions. Parents lost children. They’re devastated. And it’s — it’s just a sad situation. And I think the community deserves answers.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I just want to clarify. I said the police commander.
The police officer assigned to the school from the Independent School District was not on site during the shooting. Do you know why?
COMMISSIONER RONALD GARZA: I do know that we have multiple campuses here, Margaret. It’s — perhaps he was at another campus when the shooting started.
But no, I, — he could have been at another campus.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I ask you that because what’s happened in your community has led to conversations in communities around the country about whether there needs to be more security at schools.
Some lawmakers here in Washington are calling for more resources to do that. But, in your district, you have an entire police unit that’s dedicated to the school district. What was the problem a lack of security?
COMMISSIONER RONALD GARZA: You know, perhaps.
Perhaps it was a lack of security, training. I think there’s multiple factors that might be involved here. But, right now, it’s easy — it’s easy to point fingers right now. It’s easy to play the blame game.
But our community, I think, needs to focus on the — on healing right now. And, yes, we do welcome the investigation. I understand Congressman Joaquin Castro is asking the FBI to intervene. And we — I welcome that, that investigation. I think we need to learn more.
As tragic as this may seem, we need to learn from this. And parents deserve answers.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you have any indication as to the motive of the shooter? I know you know this community. And I have read you knew his family.
COMMISSIONER RONALD GARZA: Yes, I have no indication as to why or what the motive was.
The family of the shooter is a good family. You know, I have said this before on other networks. They are a family of faith. They value church. They value hard work. I have known them for many years, great-grandparents, grandparents, uncles, aunts.
And this should not be a reflection on them. You know, we raise our children, and we try to raise them in the right way, but, sometimes, our children have different thoughts, have different attitudes, personalities. But we do the best we can.
MARGARET BRENNAN: In Sandy Hook, the shooter’s home and the school itself were destroyed. Is that what’s going to happen in Uvalde?
COMMISSIONER RONALD GARZA: I’m not sure.
I have mixed emotions about destroying the school. Many people, students that I know of — I went through that school. And my teacher taught my — I’m sorry — my dad taught there.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
COMMISSIONER RONALD GARZA: That was his second teaching assignment. My grandkids went through there. And my kids went through there.
Those pecan trees that are out there at Robb School, my dad planted them in 1965. Every day after school, he and a few students would water those pecan trees. So, we have very strong ties to the school.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
COMMISSIONER RONALD GARZA: And my opinion is, I hope it’s not — the school is not razed.
Yes, do we need a memorial out there? Maybe do we need to section off the area where the shooting took place?
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
COMMISSIONER RONALD GARZA: Perhaps. But that — and, again, that’s just my opinion.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Commissioner, thank you for your time this morning.
And our condolences.
The National Rifle Association gathered this weekend in Houston just 300 miles away from Uvalde. Tensions between protesters and NRA members flared as part of the intensifying national debate over guns, schools and culture.
Our Robert Costa reports.
PROTESTER #1: It could be your kids today!
ROBERT COSTA (voice-over): High emotions just outside the convention and heated exchanges dotted the weekend in Houston…
PROTESTER #2: Nineteen kids are dead!
ROBERT COSTA: … from Senator Ted Cruz being confronted in a sushi restaurant…
MAN #1: What about background checks?
ROBERT COSTA: … to members of the Proud Boys, a far right group linked to last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, confronting protesters on Saturday.
MAN #2: They won’t let me come over there! (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
ROBERT COSTA: Some of those protesters included children making their own pleas for reform.
STUDENT: I really shouldn’t be having to be scared to go to school. And my mom shouldn’t really be having — shouldn’t be scared to send me to school every day.
GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM (R-South Dakota): They use the tragic situation to push their agenda. And it is all about control. And it is garbage. Now is not the time to cave to the woke culture.
ROBERT COSTA: With gun talks in a divided Washington far from certain to gain traction, it was school security that was a flash point.
SENATOR TED CRUZ (R-Texas): Fire exits should only open out at that single point of entry. We should have multiple armed police officers, ultimately. As we all know, what stops armed bad guys is armed good guys.
WAYNE LAPIERRE (Executive Vice President, National Rifle Association): Our children deserve at least and, in fact, more protection than our banks, stadiums and government buildings.
ROBERT COSTA: Many NRA members, including some teachers, called for more instructors to be armed.
More guns in schools?
WOMAN: I think it wouldn’t hurt, if the teachers train and they feel comfortable.
ROBERT COSTA: But some parents and teachers union leaders disagreed.
BECKY PRINGLE (President, National Education Association): NRA members haven’t spent a day in our classrooms. Who are we going to listen to, our teachers, who have trained and worked with our kids for years, and our parents and our communities, or the NRA, who is trying to make money?
ROBERT COSTA: Advocates for more gun laws have also expressed hope that bipartisan discussions in Congress on red flag laws and expanded background checks will begin to win support.
But they know that many Republican lawmakers are wary of breaking with the NRA so close to the midterm elections — Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s Robert Costa in Houston.
We turn now to Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who joins us from Little Rock.
Good morning to you, Governor.
GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON (R-Arkansas): Good morning, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ve spoken before about this because after Sandy Hook and the massacre in Connecticut, you ran the NRA’s task force on how to stop school shootings. So you’ve thought a lot about this.
There was an armed officer assigned to the elementary school in Uvalde. And then you had a police force response, where they did not confront the shooter, who was carrying an AR-15.
In Buffalo, the armed guard who was at that grocery store confronted the shooter, but was killed. In Parkland, Florida, there was an armed officer on site who did not intervene.
Doesn’t this show that this is an insufficient solution to the problem?
GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON: Well, it certainly shows that you have to have multiple layers of security to protect the children.
And there’s also the factor of human error. And that’s the reason that you’ve got to have different layers. You can’t rely upon just one technique. School Safety is something that we all have to focus on coming out of the incredible tragedy that we see in Uvalde. We have to look at how we can better secure our schools.
And it is about the single point of entry, that, by blocking it open, allowed the gunman to come in. It is about the mental health issues, where we’ve got to do better to identify those that are potentially a mass killer. You’ve got to have our private sector Internet providers to do better in using technology to identify these kinds of dangerous violent communications much quicker.
And then, of course, we have to be able to train our officers properly.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON: I — we’re going to have to learn a lot more facts as to some of the things that happened in Uvalde.
Let’s be patient. Let’s learn from them. But we can’t give up on our most precious resource in protecting our children.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I think a lot of people would agree with many of the things you just said, but then they would ask, why can’t we talk about the weapon?
I understand a lot of people may want a long gun to go hunting. But then there’s this AR-15-style weapon, semiautomatic, not that good for hunting. The bullets travel three times the speed of sound. They literally blow bodies apart.
That’s what was used in Buffalo. It was used in Sandy Hook. It was used in Uvalde. Why not raise the minimum age of purchase to 21 from 18?
GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON: Well, you’ve seen some states actually do that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON: And you’ve seen it in Florida. You’ve seen it in California.
In California, the restriction was held as unconstitutional. So there are some constitutional challenges to that. Ultimately, I think the Supreme Court is going to give us guidance on it. But you look at AR-15…
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you would endorse that?
GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON: … and, first of all, each one has to have — no, I want to give a little bit more history.
AR-15s were around for 40 years before they were ever used in any type of mass killing or attack. And so it is about the human heart. It is about identifying the culprits and going after them.
And I think it is a discussion you can have. I come down on the point that that’s not going to be the solution. And it’s going to cause more harm than good.
In Arkansas, for example, as you pointed out, the long rifles, we distinguish those, and those you can acquire at 18, because we hunt with those. We — it’s a culture that we start when we’re 14 or 15 here in Arkansas.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON: And so that’s important part of it, and it’s a step to go to the AR-15s and how you draft laws that would distinguish those. That’ll be a part of the discussion.
I come down I don’t think that’s a solution. And we shouldn’t focus on that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But the gunman in Texas and in New York legally purchased those AR-15s. They didn’t set off any kind of concern, because they didn’t have mental health issues that were on record. They didn’t have criminal background checks.
Are you saying that it was their legal right and should remain the legal right of anyone like them to go in and buy an AR-15?
GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON: Well, an AR-15 is a semiautomatic weapon, just like you have a semiautomatic pistol. It takes a pull of the trigger on each one of those. We ought to outlaw the bump stocks and ways that you can convert that from a semiautomatic to an automatic weapon.
That is important to distinguish those two. It is an AR-15-style weapon that has been used lately, but, again, for 40 years, it wasn’t. And so why is this happening? I think it’s copycats. But are we really going after the heart of the problem, or are we going after what we see is the latest trend?
MARGARET BRENNAN: But…
GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON: And I think it’s more important to protect the schools, invest in that. Let’s do things.._
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, but why does it have to be either/or?
GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON: … that we can agree upon now. And I think that…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why does it have to be either or?
GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON: It doesn’t have to be either/or.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Because I think people do want to look at all those other things you rattled off, like mental health, like school security.
Let me ask you about something specific, then. The shooter went into that room, that elementary school in Uvalde with 660 rounds of ammunition, and that AR-15 style weapon. That’s more than three times what a U.S. soldier carries into combat.
Should a purchase of ammunition of that size set off an alarm bell somewhere? Should there be some kind of screening or limit on high-capacity magazines? Like, what legal justification should there be for an 18-year- old to go in and buy that kind of ammunition?
GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON: It sets off all kinds of alarm bells.
Let me emphasize the point you can do either/or. You can have the conversation about both. I think the senators that are coming together in a bipartisan way to talk about what we can agree upon is important. I have communicated with a number of governors.
I would like to see a similar bipartisan working group of governors, Democrats and Republicans, seeing, what is it we can agree upon that we can address this and learn from this? So, yes.
And whenever you’re looking at the alarm bells, whenever you’re looking at these very odd purchases, somebody just turned 18, something has to trigger an alarm bell, somebody says let’s alert law enforcement to this. This is a concern.
I do think we need to look at those type of triggers that can alert law enforcement.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we will look at limits on high-capacity magazines and the potential for what you just laid out.
Governor, thank you for your time this morning.
Face the Nation will be back in a minute, so stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The White House did decline our invitation for a member of the administration to come on the show today, saying they were leaving it up to Congress to act.
We’re joined now by Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat leading bipartisan negotiations over gun reforms in Congress. And he joins us from Hartford, Connecticut.
Senator, welcome to the program.
You’ve said in some powerful remarks this week that what you are looking to do is, to use your word, incremental change when it comes to gun safety. You are talking to Republicans about red flag laws, expanding background checks.
Can you get ten Republicans to vote with you on either of those two measures?
SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY (D-Connecticut): I think we can.
I think there is something dying inside the soul of this country when we refuse to act at a national level shooting after shooting. And I do think there’s an opportunity right now to be able to pass something significant.
I have seen more Republican interest in coming to the table and talking this time than at any other moment since Sandy Hook. It is true Republicans are not willing to support everything that I support, like banning assault weapons.
But I really think that we could pass something that saves lives and breaks this logjam that we’ve had for 30 years, proving to Republicans that, if you vote to tighten the nation’s gun laws, the sky doesn’t fall for you politically. In fact, you probably will get a lot of new additional supporters.
So red flag laws are on the table, background checks expansion, and — on the table, as well as things like safe storage of guns. I think we can get something done. But we don’t have a lot of time.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You don’t.
In those starting points in your talks with Republicans, are you also discussing some of what Governor Hutchinson just laid out as Republican priorities?
SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: Listen, we’re looking for an old-school compromise in which we both tighten the nation’s gun laws to make sure that only law- abiding citizens get their hands on these very powerful weapons, but also invest in school security and mental health.
I mean, it is true that we should have an all-of-the-above strategy. And that’s ultimately the path to 60 votes. So, I’m willing to vote for some things that harden our schools that make me a little uncomfortable, frankly, if Republicans are willing to vote to tighten up the nation’s firearms laws in a way that they have been unwilling to do previously.
That’s the nature of a compromise. And I think, right now, parents in this country and kids are desperate for us to do something. They are frightened.They’re anxious. And we will just add to their anxiety if nothing happens again.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What about limits on high-capacity magazines?
SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: I think it’s unlikely that we’re going to be able to get 60 votes for that right now.
That’s a question that’ll probably have to be left up to the voters. It’s not out of the realm of possibility we might take a vote on that in the Senate, but I don’t see that having 60 votes. It’s in the category of things I think would save lives. I have always said that I’m not sure that that shooter would have even walked into the school in Sandy Hook if he didn’t have an assault rifle and those high-capacity magazines.
But I’m not sure that we have the votes right now for that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Murphy, stay with us, please.
We’re going to continue our conversation in a moment. We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: If you can’t watch the full Face the Nation, you can set your DVR, or we’re available on demand.
Plus, you can watch us through our CBS or Paramount+ app. And we’re replayed on our CBS News Streaming Network at noon Eastern.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation, including more with Senator Chris Murphy and former Orlando Police Chief and now Congresswoman Val Demings.
So, stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.
We want to continue our conversation now with Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut.
Senator, I want to get into the specifics of some of what you are talking to your fellow senators about. But I want to start with something else.
I grew up in a town next to Sandy Hook. I know you represented that district when you were a congressman at the time of the shooting. You spoke on the Senate floor quite passionately this week about not just the victims but the survivors, and the PTSD that these little children have just walking back into a classroom and remembering having to walk over bodies.
Can you talk a little bit about what this does to a community, to the first responders, and to the survivors?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Especially in these smaller towns. I just think it’s important to understand how communities can’t come back from this because data says everybody that’s killed has 20 people that experienced diagnosable trauma because of that murder. But in these schools, every single kid in Sandy Hook and Uvalde heard those gunshots. They all know the kids that died. Many of them did in Sandy Hook have to walk over and around dead bodies. These are horrific, grizzly stories.
And, of course, the same thing can be said of neighborhoods like the one that I live in, in the south end of Hartford. These are neighborhoods where kids fear for their life every single day when they walk to and from school, frankly, for many of these kids. In urban neighborhoods, school is the safe place. Every single day is a trauma because they fear for their lives.
So, we need to understand, we are putting on top of kids today, who already are living in an era of social media and pandemics, a level of trauma and fear that makes it very difficult for them to learn when they are in school. I’ve got two school-aged kids. You’ve got young kids. And the idea that they have to worry about where they’re going to run in their school if a shooter walks in instead of worrying about how they’re going to do on a test that day, it only happens in America. And when a shooting like this happens, in a neighborhood or in a school, those communities never, ever recover. That’s just the reality.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you for that.
On the specifics, how would your federal background check have stopped either of these two shooters, in Buffalo and in Texas. Neither of them had criminal records. Neither of them had known mental health issues. New York already had a red flag law. That didn’t stop the shooter there in Buffalo.
How would these proposals have stopped these cases?
CHRIS MURPHY: So, listen, I just don’t get into the trap of having to write a law for the last mass shooting that captured the nation’s attention. What I know is that on the same day of the shooting in Uvalde, there were 100 plus other people in this country who died, and their mothers and fathers are grieving just as hard as the parents in Uvalde. So, by tightening up the nation’s background checks, data system — data shows us that we will save thousands of lives.
And, yes, a federal red flag law, like the one we’re talking about in these negotiations, certainly could have helped in Texas.
What we also know is that federal funding to help implement these laws, to make law enforcement know how to use them, can help in many states as well.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
CHRIS MURPHY: So, no one law is going to save everybody, but there’s a lot of lives to be saved by the things that are on the table in these negotiations.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Senator, thank you for your time today.
We’re going to go now to Orlando, Florida, and Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings. Before serving in Congress, she was the chief of police for Orlando.
Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us.
REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): It’s great to be with you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: As — as a former police chief, what is the single piece of legislation that you think would be most affective right now?
VAL DEMINGS: Well, Margaret, look, 27 years at the police department, served as the chief of police, our primary responsibility was the safety of the people that we served. And I believe that we have a direct obligation. I cannot, like I’m sure millions of Americans across the nation, cannot get the faces of those survives from the classroom in Uvalde. We have a direct obligation to move forward to make sure that they’re safe.
I believe right now, if the United States Senate — because the House has done their job — I believe right now if the Senate would look at passing the background check law, as well as looking at red flags. Right here in Florida, we have almost 6,000 cases where red flag laws have made a difference, at least according to law enforcement and other people involved in those cases. And we have a direct obligation to do what we can when we can. And I believe that those are two pieces of legislation that have overwhelming public support.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
VAL DEMINGS: We can get it done if the Senate has the political will to do it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think there needs to be more federal money to shore up security at schools? The White House says they’ve already helped to push about $10 billion out to state for public safety.
VAL DEMINGS: I think we also should look at school safety every day. I think there should always be an assessment as technology has changed. We need to use the best, the most state-of-the-art technology.
But, Margaret, our children are not in school 24 hours a day. So certainly, let’s make sure we make our schools secure. Let’s make sure we try to eliminate the human era factor.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
VAL DEMINGS: But what about churches? What about synagogues? What about grocery stores? What about movie theaters? We’ve got to do a job of keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people. There again, the Senate can take action on that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about this response in Texas because, apart from the shooter, now there’s this probe of what the police did with their response that day.
You know, after the massacre in Parkland, the school officer who was assigned to protect those kids was later charged with criminal negligence for his inaction. Given what we’ve learned about what happened in Texas, should we expect the same there?
VAL DEMINGS: Well, what we must demand is a thorough and complete investigation. Margaret, I served as a law enforcement officer pre- Columbine. I served as a law enforcement officer post-Columbine. Pre- Columbine, we would respond to an active shooter situation. We would secure the perimeter and then we would wait for the crisis negotiators and the SWAT team. I served as a crisis negotiator for 12 years.
We all know post-Columbine there is no time to waste. That the officers on that scene are expected to go into those active-shooter situations. We trained on it at the Orlando Police Department, and every sworn member, including the chief of police, went through the active-shooter training. So, obviously, that did not happen.
The other important thing, those early minutes after the shooting, we know that there’s a demand for more and more information. But the information that we give, especially when we say an SRO, a school resource officer went in and basically engaged the suspect and ammunition or bullets were fired, and that’s not true, the communications — we have to make sure that it is as clear and as accurate as possible.
So, there’s a lot of work to do there. We have certainly more questions than answers. And I know that we’re going to get to the bottom of it.
Look, I know from my years —
MARGARET BRENNAN: Should there be some sort of federal probe or some sort of school shooting safety board at the federal level, or is this all to Texas state police?
VAL DEMINGS: Well, what we do know is that there were multiple agencies involved. I personally think the wrong agency was in charge of that scene. But let me say this, I wasn’t there on the ground. I know that police officers have a tough job in these active shooter situations, as we’ve seen time and time again they’re usually outgunned. We know that.
But we must, Margaret, demand an investigation. And I believe that the FBI — I mean that would be my vote for a federal investigation. But I do believe, since there were so many agencies involved on the ground, it’s important that we know what role every agency played. It’s important that we know was there any discussion about going in? Those 19 officers who I’m told were in the hallway, were there any discussions between other commanders from other departments? We must know the answers to those questions. And I think a federal investigation is certainly in order.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Let me ask you quickly, are you satisfied with the scope of President Biden’s executive order on police reform this week?
VAL DEMINGS: Well, I certainly think the duty to intervene. And, look, we know that police departments come in different sizes. Some that are 35,000. Some are as small as 10 or six. And so the level of training that they get is different. But duty to intervene the de-escalation training being included in use of force, making sure that the public is aware of criminal — or, not criminal, but misconduct — it could be criminal in some cases. I think all of those things are a good start.
But, Margaret, that’s all they are.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
VAL DEMINGS: I also think we need to look at training across the board with law enforcement and let’s standardize the training so the small agencies will have the benefit of good training, just like the larger agencies.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Congresswoman Demings, thank you very much for your time.
We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The shootings in both Buffalo and Uvalde have brought yet another degree of anguish as we honor those who’ve died defending America on this Memorial Day weekend.
On Saturday, President Biden gave a commencement address in Delaware, where he noted the pain of burying a child.
Vice President Kamala Harris attended the funeral for 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield, the last victim to be buried following that shooting in Buffalo just two weeks ago.
JOE BIDEN (President of the United States): And as I speak, those parents are literally preparing to bury their children. In the United States of America, to bury their children. There’s too much violence, too much fear, too much grief.
KAMALA HARRIS (Vice President of the United States): And so this is a moment that requires all good people, all God-loving people, to stand up and say, we will not stand for this. Enough is enough.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Enough is enough. Certainly something that’s been said before.
Here’s a look at more of what’s been said as history seemingly continues to repeat itself.
MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): There is a numbing regularity to each tragic shooting in America. But the mass murder of elementary school children is enough to take our collective breath away.
JOE BIDEN: To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away.
MARGARET BRENNAN: As we watch those Uvalde parents, we pray that none of us ever bury our children or count the anguished seconds until we’re told whether our child survived, that we never have to resort to DNA samples to identify their body.
How can American parents endure that nightmare? How can our kids?
In the past decade, there have been 3,500 mass shootings. But how do you measure the collateral damage or the trauma, the anxiety that sits with witnesses and first responders?
We promised to protect our kids after Columbine.
BILL CLINTON (Former U.S. President): We much do more to reach out to our children and teach them to express their anger and to resolve their conflicts with words, not weapons.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And Virginia Tech.
GEORGE W. BUSH (Former U.S. President): Schools should be places of safety and sanctuary and learning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The slaughter of 20 first graders in Sandy Hook shocked our conscience.
BARACK OBAMA (Former U.S. President): No single law, no set of laws, can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can’t be an excuse for inaction.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Congress did not act, but since that time Connecticut and other states signed more than 350 pieces of gun safety legislation into law.
The upswell of activism among teens who marched for their lives after the 2018 Parkland shooting did not change federal law.
DONALD TRUMP (Former U.S. President): No child, no teacher, should ever be in danger in an American school.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But it did lead to modest changes in the state of Florida. Is that enough?
As we drop off our own kids at school, the question among many parents remains, how do we protect them? And is this really the best we can do?
MARGARET BRENNAN: We are joined now by two people who lived through similar horrors to what we have seen in Uvalde. Nicole Hockley’s son, Dylan, was six years old when he was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Hockley is now the CEO of Sandy Hook Promise Foundation. Jaclyn Corin was the junior class president at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. She and her classmates organized the March for Our Lives in Washington in 2018, and they are planning another march here in just a few weeks.
Good morning to both of you.
I’m sorry you had to listen to that revisiting of history. I know it is painful. And I thank you both for coming on and speaking so bravely today.
I want to ask you, Nicole, “The Washington Post” is now reporting that the shooter had a history online of using threatening language, specifically targeting violence against young women in particular. He was described as rage-filled, isolated, into video games.
I know you’re working to raise awareness of warning signs. Are these common signs? Is this what we need to be looking for?
NICOLE HOCKLEY (Co-Founder and CEO, Sandy Hook Promise Foundation): Yes. Unfortunately, in almost every mass shooting or innocence of violence like this, there are signs present. We just need to learn to know what to recognize, how to recognize them, and then how to take action. That’s what we teach across the country at Sandy Hook Promise, and it has had tangible impact in the lives saved in school planned — shooting plans averted.
However, you need — this is — that’s about behavioral change and how do we know what to look for and take action? We also then need legislation to support and enforce those behavior. So, it is — it’s an “and” situation and not an “or.” But knowing the signs and recognizing them is critical to preventing violence before it happens.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What kind of legislation? Is that the sort of red flag law that is being promoted?
NICOLE HOCKLEY: Yes. Yes. Extremist (ph) protection orders and background checks, working hand in hand, background checks looking at your history, what — where have you displayed at-risk behaviors in the past, and should you be responsible for a firearm. And extremist protection orders, or red flag laws is like, what’s your current state of mind? Are you going into crisis? Are people worried about you? Should you be temporarily separated from weapons so that you can’t move forward but that you can then de- escalate and get the help that you need and then be deemed safe if you have — should have firearms again.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Jaclyn, I know that you are working to organize a protest here in Washington in the coming weeks. What’s the goal? What’s the specific ask?
JACLYN CORIN (Co-Founder, March For Our Lives): Well, the ask is that our elected officials in our U.S. Congress actually do something. I mean, over 150 gun laws around the country have been passed on a state level since 2018, the first March for Our Lives, after the shooting at my high school in Parkland. You know, everything from raising the age to buy a firearms from 18 to 21 in Florida, extremers (ph) protection orders in Virginia, the prohibition of firearms at polling sites in Colorado.
But the reality is, is that those state laws is not enough. It wasn’t enough to prevent the mass shooting in Buffalo two weeks ago or the mass shooting in Uvalde a couple days ago. So, we’re getting back out there and calling on our U.S. Congress to actually care this time around because children are dying.
MARGARET BRENNAN: In this elementary school they were children. In your high school, many of your colleagues — you, yourself, are of voting age now. Is this something that you see real political mobilization around, particularly going into, for example, November, and the midterm races? Is this something that you see a movement forming around?
JACLYN CORIN: Absolutely. I mean, the reality is, is that young people are absolutely terrified in this country, and rightly so. I mean getting shot is the leading cause of death among young people now. And we can’t even enter the spaces that are supposed to make us feel the safest, the places where we’re meant to grow and become educated citizens without fearing that we are going to be shot dead in our seats.
You know, I’m four years removed from the shooting at my high school and I still fear that I picked a seat a little to close — or a little too far from an emergency exit in my college lecture hall. And no student in this country should have to feel that way.
In 2018, we saw record youth voter turnout in those elections. About 36 percent of youth voter turnout, which was the highest ever in a midterm election, and I hope that we can push to make that percentage even larger this year in 2022.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Nicole, I know your son, Jake, survived the massacre at Sandy Hook. How does a child process trauma like this?
NICOLE HOCKLEY: A great question. He’s still processing. And sometimes he talks about it, sometimes he doesn’t. However, he will be turning 18 on the 4th of July and he knows one of the first things he’s going to do is register to vote. This is — you know, for 10 years this is all he’s known is death by firearm and preparing in the active shooter drills for imminent school shootings. This is what this generation has grown up with. And I don’t know how you process that because it becomes part of your normal psyche now. This is what they expect. This is what they live with every day. And this is why they are going to be the ones to help create the change that we adults have not been able to deliver for them.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do either of you believe that the answer here, or even part of the answer here, is more police presence in schools?
JACLYN CORIN: I’ll go first on that.
NICOLE HOCKLEY: I do not.
Sorry, go ahead, Jaclyn.
JACLYN CORIN: I mean, I do not. I mean, obviously, it’s despicable that it took so long for police to enter in Uvalde. And I remember feeling so angry at the armed school resource officer at my school who refused to enter the building.
And that goes to show that evidently having armed security present does not prevent mass shooters from carrying out violence. And the reality is, is if we’re talking about what to do once a shooter has access to a school, it’s just too late. Police — more police in schools, arming police officers, arming teachers especially, is not the answer.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And you agree with that, Nicole?
NICOLE HOCKLEY: I absolutely agree. It’s about, how do we get ahead of it. By the time they get to the school, it’s too late, and there’s not enough evidence to suggest that armed security at the school will be anything other than another casualty or just not helpful at all.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What about restrictions on ammunition sales, high- capacity magazines? Those things that the president says should be talked about but are not being discussed in the U.S. Capital right now?
NICOLE HOCKLEY: Personally, I am a fan of restrictions on high-capacity magazines because the only purpose of having a high-capacity magazines is to propel as many bullets as possible in a short period of time. There’s not really a civilian use, other than target shooting, but you can’t hunt with that, you can’t — it’s not good for personal self-protection. It is for killing. And, personally, I know that in the Sandy Hook situation, because the shooter had to stop, either because his magazine jammed or because he had to change his ammunition clip, several children were allowed to escape. My son was not one of them, but those few seconds can make all of the difference in terms of saving lives.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Jaclyn, thank you, Nicole, thank you, for your time today and for sharing your perspectives.
We’ll be back in a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We leave you today with a look at those we lost in Uvalde.
ON SCREEN TEXT: Nevaeh Bravo, age 10.
Jose Flores, age 10.
Eliahna “Ellie” Garcia, age 10.
Irma Garcia, age 48.
Yziyah Garcia, age 8.
Amerie Joe Garza, age 10.
Xavier James Lopez.
Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, age 10.
Eva Mireles, age 44.
Alithia Ramirez, age 10.
Annabell Rodriguez, age 10.
Alexandria “Lexi” Rubio, age 10.
Layla Salazar, age 10.
Jailah Silguero, age 10.
Eliahana Torres, age 10.
Rogelio Torres, age 10.
Robb Elementary School, Uvalde, Texas, May 24, 2022.