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INSIDE POLITICS

Motive For Mass Shooting Still A Mystery; Police Find 42 Guns In Shooter's Hotel Room & Home; Gun Control Debate Reignited; Trump: "We'll Be Talking About Gun Laws As Time Goes By"; Hospitals Working Non-Stop To Treat Shooting Victims. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 3, 2017 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[12:32:00] JOHN KING, INSIDE POLITICS HOST: The President is in Puerto Rico today and tomorrow he will visit a city left traumatized by the worst mass shooting in modern American history. The death toll at 59 in the wake of Sunday's concert massacre in Las Vegas. 104 or more than 500 injured.

In the 36 hours since we've learned a bit about the gunman, 64-year old Stephen Paddock. But we still don't know why he brought an arsenal of high powered weapons into his Las Vegas hotel suite and why he opened fire on the huge crowd. 22,000 people attending the concert below. The President spoke this morning about the tragedy.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He was a sick man, a demented man, a lot of problems I guess and we are looking into him very, very seriously. But we're dealing with a very, very sick individual. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, folks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: CNN Dan Simon is tracking the investigation. He is live outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas where that shooting happened, from where it happened on Sunday night. Dan, what do you got?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, at this point there are no clear signs of motive. There's no criminal history. There's apparently no sign of mental illness. His brother says that there are no ties to political group or religious groups. Those are the things you immediately look to.

At this point, we can say that his one passion apparently was poker. High stakes poker here in Las Vegas. Of course he also had an affinity for guns. Twenty-three guns found in his suite at the Mandalay Bay. Another 19 found at his home in Mesquite, Nevada. At best as we can tell, those guns were purchase legally across many states.

This is what gun store owner in Utah had to say. Take a look.

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CHRIS MICHEL, OWNER, DIXIE GUNWORX: Nice guy. I mean, came in enough that I remembered him, you know, the second and third time I probably had his name, you know, memorized for who he was. There was no nervousness to him whatsoever.

As he came through, it took him about three weeks to actually pick up the shotgun. It was one that we had on our shelf. He was looking for it specifically. He didn't like the price in the beginning. Came back the next week, kind of looked it over again, wanted to see if we would wheel and deal a little bit from there. And we only have so much room that we can with firearms. And then he came back the third time and he made the purchase.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON: Well experts will tell you that those guns found in the hotel room appear to be modified in some fashion effectively making them into military grade machine guns. That's something that investigators are going to be looking at. They're also going to be looking at the surveillance video from inside the hotel, John.

As you know, there are probably more security cameras in Las Vegas than anywhere in the world. You cannot escape them whether it's at the check in desk or in the casino itself and the elevators, etc. They're going to be looking at all that footage to see if any information can be gathered, John?

KING: Dan Simon on the ground for us in Las Vegas. Dan, appreciate the reporting.

Let's get now to continue the conversation about the shooter. Joining me is Joe Navarro, he's a former senior profile. He's in Tampa, Florida. Let me just start, Joe, with this question. From everything you have heard in the last 24 plus hours, what is the most significant fact detail you do have about the shooter that might help you get to the why question?

[12:35:03] JOE NAVARRO, FORMER FBI SENIOR PROFILER: I think the most significant thing, John, is the fact that this individual was planning this for a long time. I think this was a well-meditated, well-ideated plan. The purchase of the weapons was done well in advance. The planning and the tactics speak to me of someone who we may in fact be looking at a psychopath.

KING: Twenty-three weapons in the hotel room. He used a hammer-like device to knockout two different windows, two different angles clearly thinking about his view of the concert below. The authorities are saying they believe he brought all of these weapons into the hotel by himself.

I assume when they say that, they have looked at surveillance video from the hotel showing him from his vehicle and elevators up into the room or the like. To your point about premeditation, what does it tell you that he found a room overlooking two different angles from the windows, had tripods? NAVARRO: Exactly. This is well-ideated. This was well thought out. This was planned out. This was not a spur of the minute event. If there was a trigger, this goes back months. And I suspect we're looking at an individual who truly has reptilian indifference towards his fellow human beings.

KING: And when you talk about a trigger event, you saw the interviews with his brother who said this is like an asteroid hitting the earth. He cannot fad them on how this happened that his brother is a gambler, his brother is a real estate speculator, but his brother in his view, that he didn't know anything about him never having contact with any gun let alone having dozens of weapons.

The neighbors say he seemed like a nice guy. There gun shop owner right there said, I looked up, he's got no criminal background. There are no issues here. The one person we have not heard from (INAUDIBLE) she was overseas is the girlfriend. His closest friend. Do you assume that she is central to trying to figuring out what the trigger was?

NAVARRO: You know, she may or may not be, but I have to tell, John, we need to stop thinking about these triggers and start thinking about what we may have here is a wound collector. And individual who has a crude -- a lot of psychological wounds or events in his life which he has harbored. And often times these things are not communicated at all. It doesn't surprise me that his brother, his family, friends, neighbors don't know anything.

Look back to John Wayne Gacy when they were digging up the last body underneath his house, the neighbor said he was a great guy. So, I never rely too much on what neighbors and friends or family know because rarely do they know everything.

KING: And economic circumstances mean nothing to that as well. I assume people say here's a retired guy, behead some wealth. Maybe he blue wealth gambling. Maybe that's part of this but the guy who lived in different places that some wealth doesn't matter at all.

NAVARRO: Well I think, you know, you have to take everything into account including finances. But I think the predominant thing we have to look at is, is there are some sort of psychopathy going on here. The planning, the calculation and how fast ailed (ph) he was at conducting this heinous crime. The collection of the weapons, the tactics. Military tactics for someone who's never been in the military. This is speaking to me of psychopathy and we cannot dismiss this kind of disorder.

KING: Joe Navarro, I appreciate your insights today. We'll continue the conversation as we try to get more information about Stephen Paddock and his motive. Thank you very much, Joe.

Up next, this tragedy once again reviving here in Washington, the debate about gun control. But, will a debate actually lead to any new legislation?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [12:43:12] KING: Welcome back. The numbers are simply stunning. At least 59 killed, 527 injured. This too is a shocking number. Forty- two firearms, 23 found in Stephen Paddock's hotel room, 19 more found in his home along with thousands of rounds of ammunition.

As authorities try to sort the motive and dozens of families deal with pain and tragedy, Washington turns to a familiar debate. Advocates have great gun control ask what will it take to force action. Opponents say, now isn't the time to have that discussions.

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SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: And the reality is that much of it is rooted in the evil inside this one individual. But much of it is also rooted in our laws which allowed him to get his hands on weapons that are illegal in almost every other civilized country.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), MAJORITY LEADER: When they tried to divide our nation, it's a really a time that we have to heal. It's really a time that we find what divides us to put aside.

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KING: Now the political map in Washington whatever your view on this issue, the political map quite clear. Republicans control both the House and the Senate. And after past mass shootings in recent years have made clear, no new gun controls will be considered. The only person with the power to change that is probably the President, who wants back at assault weapons ban but who has been a staunch national rifle association ally since entering presidential politics.

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TRUMP: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's the President today as he was getting ready to leave the White House, headed to Puerto Rico. He'll be in Las Vegas tomorrow. When he says we'll be talking about gun laws as time goes by, is that a punt meaning let's not deal with this today? You know, and hoping it just fade as an issue as it has after every other mass shooting, there's a week or two and then nothing gets done in Congress and it fates away or is the President serious that he's going to have a conversation?

[12:45:07] JULIE DAVIS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, there's clearly no sense of urgency there. I mean, what we saw from him just then -- what we heard from Sarah Huckabee Sanders yesterday at the first briefing at the White House right after this tragedy occurred was not a sense that they are, you know, drilling down to see what can we do in terms of gun laws to make sure that something like this can't happen again. In fact, the opposite, Sarah Sanders actually suggested that what the White House -- the way the White House looks at it is that, you know, this is a tragedy that would have happened anyway.

And look at Chicago that has strict gun laws and gone violence all the time. And that is a point that opponents of gun controls have made to stall the progress of this kind of legislation on Capitol Hill. So, I don't see any real likelihood that Donald Trump is going to reverse course on this. And I do think that everything we've seen from the President thus far on issues like this is that he is trying to keep together this coalition of his core supporters who have a few issues that they feel passionately about. Immigration is one and the second amendment is one. And I would be shocked if he were to have reverse course on something like that even after this horrific event.

FRANCO ORDONEZ, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY: It's business as usual. I mean, I think what's interesting is how quickly they will get back to regular order. You look at Twitter last night you t would think that the public is ready to jump out and come to the Capitol and change things. But the reality is Twitter is not a barometer of the American public. The reality is gun ownership is extremely popular in the United States.

KING: Let's show we have some poll -- the NBC Wall Street Journal poll expected in 1995 then to August 2017. And if you look at the polls, if you put them up on the screen here, you can see in the sense that, you know, just the government go too far in restricting gun rights. If you look it's govern too restrictive -- this is 1995, gun laws is too restrictive, not restrictive enough. 58 percent not in 1995, 58 percent saying they're not restrictive enough.

Now, if you fast-forward here and look at this. Attitude toward gun laws too restrictive, not restrictive and it drops when you get close enough. So more Americans now think they don't want the government. They don't want the government involved. Which is one reason -- remember Donald Trump was a Democrat, then he was an independent, then he was a Republican.

This is Donald Trump speaking to the NRA Convention making crystal clear as President, I'm with you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end. As your President, I will never ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Never ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And here's the President this -- for a reminder -- this is the wild cart here. This President had shifted his positions. You're right. He tends to his base. That's the garden he tends to every day as his base. But we've seen on spending plans, we've seen on health care, we've seen on other issues where he has given the politician the moment shifted.

He did write this in a book back in 2000. The America we deserve when he was thinking of running for president as a reform party, independent candidate. "I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun."

Now he walked away from those views in this last campaign. I think the only potential to change the conversation in Washington is it somehow his moved during his visit to Vegas tomorrow to say let me think about this.

MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: Yes. I agree with the announces so far. I just don't see any sign at this point that here is movement on this, whatsoever. When Congressman Scalise was shot and had a horrific recovery, it was very touch and go for a long time.

It would have been a natural moment for this theory that some people have politics that when it hits close to home, it affects the way you shape your ideology. It did not take hold then of course Sandy Hooks, as we've discussed often in the school shooting.

Looking at Republicans in the suburbs in sort of the close in suburbs in potential scenarios there at United States, that is a potential area over time where if they were going to do a shift. That'd be an important marker to watch. Right now, this ideological lines are fairly entrenched and everyone agrees this is hard tragedy, but what to do man if there's not a movement.

ZELENY: I mean, he's gone on both sides of the issues. So he is the only one and he started this flexibility as a virtue. It is hard to imagine him being flexible on this but he was, in that book, he was a pretty -- has some strong words against Republicans for always walking the NRA line.

Again, it's a fascinating moment. We'll see if he is moved by this. We'll see if he is sort of persuaded or influenced by people around him. But the only thing that can change on this is a grassroots effort. Now, if gun manufacturers become sort of more of a target within the NRA. The NRA has always been a successful shield for any type of change in gun legislation but it will take a Republican to get this done. We'll see if it's Donald Trump or not.

KING: And the past history suggests that it will not. That this will be an issue for a couple of days (INAUDIBLE). Everybody sit tight up.

Next, hundreds of people recovering from their injuries, many of them still fighting for their lives.

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[12:54:20] KING: Welcome back. Since the first urgent calls came in late Sunday night, Las Vegas hospitals working nonstop try to save lives. CNN Stephanie Elam is just at the University Medical Center which has treated more than 100 victims from Sunday shooting. Stephanie, what's the latest on these victims?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, we just got an update here, John, and we're told (ph) that there are still 12 patients that remain in critical condition of this 104 that came in here. I actually was able to talk with the chief of the surgery department and I've got a bit of a tour inside of the trauma department to see how they were functioning inside of this base.

[12:55: 02] And it was so full at one point that they were triaging people outside and actually had gurneys lined up on the inside of the building where they were because there was a need to prioritize which patients needed help first. We've also just learned that they did not deal with any amputations here. They are saying there that greater than 80 percent were dealing with gunshot wounds. As you might expect with other had graze wounds and other wounds from trying to get away from the scene including someone hit by a car and trying to run from the scene as well.

But they are dealing with all of this and keeping these patients stabilized. They're saying a lot of patients that they've had, 40 of them as a matter of fact have been treated and released and they do have some patients that are showing progress and starting to seem to be stabilizing. But obviously still keeping their eyes on these patients and really just having such a quick response, John, just to let you know they were mobilized and here at the hospital before the bullets even stopped flying.

KING: We don't say enough for the people. First responders and medical personnel, thank you, thank you. Stephanie Elam on the ground for us, thank you as well.

And thanks for joining us here in INSIDE POLITICS today. Hope to see you back here tomorrow. Wolf Blitzer picks up our special coverage after a quick break. Have a good day.

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WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We're going to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. The President is now in San Juan, Puerto Rico, meeting with victims from Hurricane Maria. We expect him to be speaking shortly at the same time.

I don't if we can hear what he is saying right now. Let's listen in quickly and see if we can hear the President early posing for some pictures with some of the victims from Hurricane Maria.

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BLITZER: We do expect the President to be speaking shortly and we will of course have live coverage. Chris Cuomo is joining us. He's in Las Vegas right now but he was in San Juan just a day or so ago. Chris, you saw firsthand what's going on in Puerto Rico right now. The President is there in San Juan.

There's one picture in San Juan, it's another picture you get when you leave San Juan. And you go half an hour or hour outside of town.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the analysis is 100 percent right by you. It's not even 30 minutes. We went 15 minutes to Toa Baja just on the outskirts of San Juan by design. So I bet it was one of the closest areas to the nexus of relied and recovery.

Two things are very obvious to anyone who's on the ground. One, the first responders there in big numbers, they're working very, very hard. Wolf, there's no question about that. We talked to --