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Las Vegas Shooting; Trump Visits Puerto Rico After Hurricane; Gun Laws; Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired October 3, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, 59 dead more than 500 wounded because of one man with an arsenal of 42 weapons. Why America's gun problem
still won't be going away, the horrifying truth from a congressman who fought the good fight and lost. Also ahead, often called the divider in
chief, President Trump tries to united a wounded community, he's come to Puerto Rico almost two weeks after the hurricane hit, the first Puerto
Rican woman elected to the U.S. congress joins me with this warning;
NYDIA VELAZQUEZ, FORMER U.S CONGRESS: If the people in Puerto Rico feels that there is no hope, if they lose faith in the (fair) government as a
partner then what you're going to see is an (out) immigration of at least half a million people coming to the states.
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone and welcome to the program, I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. There have been 276 days so far this year,
2017 and in the United States there have 273 mass shootings that is an incident in which four or more people have been killed. Since the last big
one when 49 was slaughtered in the Orlando night club last year 585 people have been killed in such shootings. As police search for a motive behind
the last Las Vegas massacre, President Trump was asked if now was the time to talk about America's gun laws.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, we have a tragedy, we're going to do, and what happened in Las Vegas is in many ways a
miracle. The police department has done such an incredible job and we'll be talking about gun laws as time goes by.
AMANPOUR: But the laws republicans are talking about these days are about bills to make it easier to buy silencers, easier to travel with a concealed
weapon and President Trump already earlier this year made it easier for mentally disturbed people to buy guns. Gun control advocates lay all of
this at the feet of the all powerful National Rifle Association but the NRA isn't even close to being a top spender on lobbying in Washington so what
is up? Why are all these lives lost clearly less important than gun owner's rights?
After the Orlando massacre, many in congress actually staged a 24 hour sit in to demand legislation on gun safety as democratic Congressman Steve
Israel, he was there in the New York Times Today. He has written "Fewer lessons about Congress were starker than the ones I learned about why,
after each mass killing, nothing happened". Congressmen, thank you so much for joining us.
STEVE ISRAEL, FORMER DEMOCRATIC U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Good evening, Christiane, thank you for having me on.
AMANPOUR: You heard my set up to you that you were there when this last one happened. I spoke to a key advocate for gun safety last night on this
program, as he said, you know, it's not only that nothing is happening to make us safer but America is going the wrong direction with new laws making
it easier for people to carry and use guns. What is going on, in a nutshell?
ISRAEL: Well, you know, I was in congress, Christiane, for 16 years, and I left with two profound regrets; number one, we didn't do enough on climate
change and number two, we actually did damage, more damage on the issue of gun violence. In my 16 years in congress, there were 52 mass shootings,
over 16 years. And each and every time congress reacted by doing several things.
Number one, they would do tweets about our hearts and minds, and thoughts go out to the victims. Number two, they would lower the American flag and
number three, they would have moments of silence. These things aren't enough; we've got to do more than that. The problem is that you have one of
these strongest, deepest, most powerful lobbies in Washington D.C. in the gun lobby and it's not just the National Rifle Association, Christiane,
it's a whole infrastructure of lobbies, they're actually competing against one another.
And these lobbies are so powerful, that when I would go on the members only elevator, which is one of the few places on Capital Hill where reporters
like you and members of the public aren't allowed on and the doors closed and you really knew that you had some -
ISRAEL: that when I would go on the members only elevator, which is one of the few places on Capital Hill where reporters like you and members of the
public aren't allowed on and the doors closed and you really knew that you had some, confidentiality, I talked to my colleagues, they would say this
is horrible what happened, we've got to do more, we've got to pass laws and I would say to them, well will you vote for common sense bills like safety
locks or limits on a magazine, and they would look at me and say "no, I can't do that because if my legislative score on guns goes down, I'll be
the next casualty".
I'm more concerned about the casualties in Las Vegas that we had yesterday or Sandy Hook.
AMANPOUR: Well, right, you may be, but not many people are. You just said Sandy Hook; let us play the emotional response from a governor of
Connecticut who was in office and still is when Sandy Hook happened, 20 children between six and seven were slaughtered there and six adults. Let's
just listen to what he said.
DAN MALLOY, GOVERNOR OF CONNECTICUT: Please America, wake up and smell the coffee, our children are dying because we won't take common sense steps
to protect them. Shame on us as Americans. We're not showing the strength or the fortitude that we pretend to have when we lecture other countries
about their difficulties, about their terrorism or about their domestic problems.
AMANPOUR: You know, that's what he told me last night, and I have to say, as somebody sitting on this side of the Atlantic, we do wonder a little bit
about what is happening to American society, what is happening to the American values and morals that you rightly try to project around the
world, it looks like you're losing the plot over there.
I mean our leaders were able to come up with strong anti gun legislation when they when there was a massacre in Dunblane all as you remember in
Australia and Tasmania.
ISRAEL: Well you're absolutely correct. You know, yesterday I had lunch with a former Israeli Ambassador and I've been to Israel many times and I
said to him, look, in Israel it's not like there are no guns, I mean you see a fairly well armed people around the country and yet you have a
fraction of the gun fatalities that the U.S. has, why is that?
And this is what he said; number one, guns are regulated in Israel. Despite the fact that the Israeli government states that they're surrounded by
threat, guns are still regulated in Israel. Number two, you can't just walk into a gun store in Israel, there's no such thing. You can't go to a gun
fair and buy a gun the way you would, as if it's a flea market. Like you would buy an antique, but you can do that here.
And so the ease and accessibility of the most dangerous assault weapons combined with the major loopholes in background checks explains why you
have the number of fatalities and injuries in the United States that are so much higher than the rest of the world.
AMANPOUR: OK, so these are the - you're describing what's going on, I'm trying to figure out what are the reasons that people won't push back
despite what popular opinion is. Here is for instance a conservative pundit who is a spokesperson often for NRA issues and is targeting liberals and
democrats. The party you come from. Listen to what she's been saying
DANA LOESCH, NRA SPOKESPERSON: They use their media to assassinate real news, they use their schools to teach children that their president is
another Hitler, they use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and awards shows to repeat their narrative over and over again. The only way we
stop this, the only we save our country and our freedom is to fight this violence of lies with a clinched fist of proof.
AMANPOUR: You know it's scary; it's very, very scary. That is Dana Loesch, and she has a very, very big audience.
ISRAEL: Well, but doesn't that tell you everything? Fifty Nine people are killed in Las Vegas and her statement is about movie stars and poor
President Trump and lies? Who cares about that? We ought to be caring about our fellow Americans. And if I may, let me take you behind the scenes, let
me tell you why. Let me answer your questions about why nothing happens.
It's three reasons; number one, it is the power of the gun lobby, many of my colleagues, by the way, on both sides of the aisle, wanted to pass
common sense, bi partisan gun legislation, they're afraid they're going to be defeated in the next election. Number two, we have this thing in the
United States called Congressional Redistricting and congressional districts have been drawn so far to the right that it's pulling moderate
republicans further to the extreme.
And they have to out gun one another, literally, on the issue of guns. And number three, it's American complacency, you're viewers in Europe and
around the world may be staggered, may find it absolutely shocking that this happens, but yesterdays incident was just one of many and there's
going to be another-
ISRAEL: And number three, it's American complacency, you're viewers in Europe and around the world may be staggered, may find it absolutely
shocking that this happens, but yesterdays incident was just one of many and there's going to be another one next week and the week after that. And
I think the gun lobby wants us to low us into a sense of complacency so that we don't organize and we don't fight back when these things happen.
It's accepted as the new normal.
AMANPOUR: Alright, well how do you fight back against that? Because obviously about 47 percent believe that they should have their guns. I mean
look, Americans are second amend mentors et cetera, what kind of message, what kind of, isn't it sort of up to you all now to try to change the
ISRAEL: Yeah, we have to do that, look, I'm a second amendment guy, I support the second amendment, I believe that people have the right to bear
arms and nobody is talking about confiscating weapons, taking guns away, what we're talking about are simple common sense things like this; if the
Department of Homeland Security says that you are too dangerous to board a plan because you are on the terrorist watch list, you shouldn't be able to
buy an assault weapon.
That has the support of 85 percent of Americans, has the support of the majority of members of the NRA. And yet, congress does nothing. We're
saying that if you are mentally deranged, there needs to be firm background checks so you can't do what some nut did in Connecticut, take a gun and
slaughter children and faculty and staff. Even that has been rejected by republicans in the House of Representatives.
So, what we've got to do is focus on those common sense areas of compromise and we've got to keep pushing and demanding that congress act finally. And
the best way of doing that in America is at the ballot box.
AMANPOUR: There you have it, congressman Israel, thank you so much indeed for joining us from New York.
ISRAEL: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So on the guitar is Caleb Keeter who was playing on stage when all that gun fire started in Las Vegas on Sunday night was profoundly
touched. He wrote on twitter "I've been a proponent of the second amendment my entire life until the events of last night. I can not express how wrong
I was. We need gun control right now. My biggest regret is that I stubbornly didn't realize it until my brothers on the road and myself were
threatened by it".
And when we come back President Trump will be in Las Vegas tomorrow, but today he's in Puerto Rico where 3.5 million American citizens are still
struggling with basic services two weeks after Hurricane Maria.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. President Trump is on the ground in Puerto Rico after repeated calls by the island's mayor and governor for
federal help. Trump himself is praising his government's response to the devastating hurricane but our Anderson Cooper reports that aide delivery
has been anything but swift.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Aguadilla mayor hands out bottles of water. Five per person. Where did these supplies come from?
CARLOS MENDEZ MARTINEZ, AGUADILLA MAYOR, PUERTO RICO: Well first the supply comes from the wreck for us. We haven't got hardly any supplies
COOPER: You haven't?
MARTINEZ: Well just, two times, not enough for everybody. I have 60,000 people in this town; I have one truck full of water for 60,000 people. One
truck full of water for 60,000 people.
COOPER: Not enough.
MARTINEZ: Not enough.
COOPER: Blocks away another line, New York City firefighters are handing out MREs pre-cooked meals in a pouch ready to eat. What's so interesting
that's happening here is this is a New York City fire department team, part of a group called guard that the New York City fire department set up as a
disaster assistance team. They are volunteers they came down here, they want to be here.
They've been here for days and they just kind of taken it upon them selves to sort of requisition these MREs won't go into details of how they did it.
They got (the instruction) from the American Red Cross and then they just found this town, decided this was the place and they just started
But, there's a lot of frustration among first responders that I've spoken to who say look, they've been sitting around in some cases of wanting to
get out but there is a lack of organization. It's the disorganization that's frustrating them.
Some firefighters would like to see the U.S. Military here in (Forrest) in Aguadilla.
(Understand) really what's needed is the Army just to come in just for that kind of mass organization.
CHRISTOPHER GODOY, NEW YORK CITY, FIRE DEPARTMENT: Yes, yes. It's there needs to be some sort of organization, some sort of communication outfit
between towns. It's just a complete mess.
COOPER: The lines keep growing, more people need help. Eventually more aid will come, the question right now is, how long will it take? Anderson
Cooper, CNN, San Juan.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: And, as we said the President is there. Despite the warnings though, the administration didn't prepare for
Hurricane Maria as it did for Harvey and Irma. That is the view of the Democratic Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez who's own family lives on the
Island, she joined me earlier from Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AMANPOUR: Congresswoman Velazquez, thank you for joining us from Capital Hill. Can I ask you are you happy to see President Trump touch down in
NYDIA VELAZQUEZ, CONGRESSWOMAN, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: Yes, I am happy because it offers an opportunity for him to comprehend the devastation and
the severity of what took place in Puerto Rico.
AMANPOUR: Why do you think that they did a good job and most people gave the administration pretty high marks for the response to Hurricane Irma in
Houston and along Florida et cetra. What happened? What was the, disconnect when it came to Puerto Rico which is home to three and a half
million American citizens?
VELAZQUEZ: I'm still wondering myself but the reality is that the President and the administration they were really concerned to demonstrate
that we're - that they were ready to act regarding Irma and Harvey.
The same can not be said regarding Puerto Rico. They're still a, disconnect in terms of the crisis. (Inaudible) crisis that is evolving in
Puerto Rico and the kind of relief efforts that is happening right now from the part of the (fair) government.
AMANPOUR: I have to put out this - this sound bite now for you to listen too. It's President Trump, just about to get on to AirForce1 to go to
Puerto Rico and I play it because, what we know is this huge fight between President and the Mayor of San Juan. This is what he said about her just
before he took off.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think she's come back a long way and you know I think it's now acknowledged what a great job we've
done and people are looking at that. And, in Texas and Aguadilla we get an A plus, and I'll tell you what, I think we've done just as good in Puerto
AMANPOUR: Well there he is saying that he thinks he's just done as well there. As we know the Mayor of San Juan was desperately pleading for help
and the President to exception to that. Blaming essentially Puerto Rican's for I think, for being lazy and angry. What do you make of that?
VELAZQUEZ: Well it shows a lack of empathy. It shows how he acted on Presidential. That is not what is expected from the leader of the free
world. The people, the American citizens in Puerto Rico are suffering. They are facing a humanitarian crisis. It shows the lack of understanding
of this President regarding the severity of this equation.
Their entire (infrustruction) in Puerto Rico collapsed. They knew that. They knew the fact that the power (grieved) and the transportation system
was vulnerable prior to the Hurricane and now, we know that they can not get the diesel that they need.
That the gasoline that they - the stations are closed, that the roads are obstructed. So, it has nothing to do with people in Puerto Rico being
resilient and committed to rebuild Puerto Rico. It's an island; he said that with kind of surprise. That is sits in the big ocean. Yes, that is
why, we need a larger federal presence with a power of armed services.
Department of Defense, to have the engineers, to have the troops on the ground, to have their helicopters to be able to reach the most devastated
area, that in this case are the most vulnerable people. You obviously have very the kind of thing that we didn't see.
AMANPOUR: And presumably you're calling for that even now. And you have family there, just take us back to, paint us a picture of what you know
about what happened to them, what happened to the island in the immediate aftermath and still to this day.
VELAZQUEZ: It just a collective opinion of everyone, from my family to every person, look I went to Puerto Rico two days after the hurricane made
land fall with the governor of New York. I saw myself, the level of devastation. I was in Puerto Rico when other storms hit the island but this
was unprecedented and it required the full force of the federal government.
Because in Puerto Rico we have a tiny National Guard and it's not like Texas or Florida. That other National Guards and other states will be able
to send people to help them. That is not the case in Puerto Rico. We, the people in Puerto Rico depends mainly from the federal government to be able
to provide the man power to be able to provide the tools, equipments that it's needed in order to have a proper response.
AMANPOUR: So, we hear also, obviously there's still a crisis with drinking water, and as you mention there's still a crisis with electricity, also
were hearing that children may not be able to go to go to school for as long as a year. What do you think practically is going to happen? Are we
going to see many, many residents flee for help to the United States? Do you believe now the federal government will spear head some kind of rapid
reconstruction and rehabilitation?
VELAZQUEZ: Well, so if the people in Puerto Rico feel that there is no hope, if they lose faith in the federal government as a partner then what
you're going to see is an out immigration of at least half a million people coming to the states. And they're going to come to New York, they're going
to go to Ohio, they're going to go to Pennsylvania, and they're going to go to Florida.
So, it's going to be more expensive to provide the kind of bilingual services and other kinds of services whether it's hospitals, schools, they
are attending. Seniors who might be coming in, than making an effort and a commitment to rebuild a better Puerto Rico for people to be able to stay
there. They want to stay in Puerto Rico but we need a commitment from the federal government.
AMANPOUR: And I see Congresswoman that you mentioned those states in particular, they are obviously political pressure points there, and
presumably you're suggesting that politicians will pay for lack of action.
VELAZQUEZ: Definitely. You know, most of the people that leave the island of Puerto Rico, they come to Florida. And it's a republican state, it's
changing, the demographics are changing, Ohio, the demographics are changing and for some of those electoral officials from the Republican
Party they need to pay attention. They need to pay attention because the Puerto Rican community 1.1 million in Florida. I'm very upset. They really
believe that the people in Puerto Rico have been treated differently than those American citizens in any state of the nation and that should not be.
AMANPOUR: Well I really hope for all those people there that the presidential visit will really show him what's going on and you all see
some movement there. Congresswoman thank you so much for joining us.
VELAZQUEZ: Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: And when we come back, the triumph of science in the human spirit. Imagine a world discovering evermore parts of our universe. The
Nobel Prize for physics goes to? Next.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Finally tonight as the U.S. administration and congress erect road blocks to more gun control and aid makes it's way
slowly, painfully slowly through Puerto Rico.
Imagine a world that can move at an incredible pace. As the Nobel committee honors people who've made gigantic leap forward. Today three
scientists receive the Nobel in physics for discovering the same thing Einstein had predicted a century ago, gravitational waves. The ripples in
space time that let us see further into the origins of our universe and will change astronomy forever.
The three Nobel winners are American's Kip Thorne and Barry Barish and Scotland's Ronald Drever who received the award posthumously. Between
them, they figured out how to spot the wave, something nobody had done before. They designed a special device and kept it operating for years
before that eureka moment.
In tough times, it's a universal reminder of humanity's infinite potential and wouldn't I find to be thrilled to know another part of his theory of
relativity had been conclusively proved. That's it for our program tonight; you can always find us online. Thanks for watching. Good Bye