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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Texas Shooting: 14 People Remain Hospitalized, Including Children; Shooter Received Bad Conduct Discharge from Air Force; Man Who Helped Chase Down Gunman Speaks Out. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 6, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:23] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight, with wounded victims still recovering from the nation's worst mass shooting, we're now coming to grips with the nation's worst church shooting. To anyone who survived or lost loved ones in Las Vegas and now, Sutherland Springs, Texas, the scenes and the feelings are one and the same. The vigil happening tonight is no less tearful, the shock no less deep.
Twenty-six killed during church services yesterday, eight from a single family, shot by a man with a violent past and an apparent fascination with mass shootings, a grudge and, of course, with guns he simply should not have had.
The military tonight is investigating that aspect, the possible failure to put the killer's domestic violence conviction into a national database that could have kept him from obtaining firearms. A short time ago, authorities spoke to reporters. They did not say the killer's name nor will we.
For more, I want to go to CNN's Alex Marquardt in Sutherland Springs.
So, what are you learning -- we're learning more tonight about the investigation. Where does it stand? What do we know?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Anderson.
That's right. Well, the Department of Public Safety, as well as the FBI, just briefed a short time ago in which they said that they have gathered substantial evidence. They say that an autopsy was carried out today and the shooter was struck with three different rounds, two from what they called a citizen shooter who I believe you were speaking with later on and one from the authorities.
Now, we have heard from them repeatedly that this was rooted in a domestic dispute, that the gunman had an issue with his mother-in-law that he sent her repeated angry text messages.
The mother-in-law was a parishioner, who went to this church routinely. She was a volunteer there. On this Sunday however, she did not attend. Instead we believe that her mother, the grandmother in law in fact attended and was among the victims.
But tonight, the authorities are saying that they believe it is bigger than that. It is bigger than a domestic dispute. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: He intended (ph) to kill the mother-in-law?
FREEMAN MARTIN, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF SAFETY: There are many ways that he could have taken care of the mother-in-law without coming with 15 loaded magazines and assault rifle to a church. I think he came here with a purpose and a mission.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: So, we have also heard that, as you heard there, that he had 15 different magazines, each contains some 30 rounds. So that's 400 rounds. When asked how many were left over, he said none.
This was a mission that the shooter was likely never supposed to be allowed to carry out. When he was in the Air Force in 2012, he was convicted on two counts of domestic assault against his wife and stepson. He was sentenced to a year in the brig. And then upon release, he was never entered into what is known as the National Criminal Information Center database, meaning that by federal law, he would have been prevented from purchasing or owning any sort of weapons.
Anderson, the Defense Department says that they are launching an investigation.
COOPER: We knew that the one of the families, the Holcombe's, they lost eight members of their family. I know you spoke with surviving family members. I mean, I can't imagine what would they are going through right now.
MARQUARDT: Yes, we spoke with them earlier today at their farm. Yesterday, as you can imagine, was the worst day of their lives. They're absolutely devastated, but they're putting on a good face.
I spoke with the son of Bryan Holcombe, Scott Holcombe. He lost his brother, he lost his father, among other family members. He said that his parents would want good to come out of this.
He, unlike much of his family, didn't go to church. He says that from now on he is going to go to church. He told me all this as he wept through tears.
It is absolutely devastating to think that there were members of three generations of this family who died in this attack, including Bryan, who was a preacher for several decades, his wife Carla, who taught Sunday school, their son Danny, their daughter-in-law Crystal who was a mother of five, pregnant with her sixth child. She was two months pregnant, as well as four different grandchildren.
Now, we have heard from the patriarch of the family, the great- grandfather Joe Holcombe tonight. He wrote that today is today, what happened happened, we don't feel -- we don't like what happened, but I've read the book and I know how the story turns out, we will be OK.
And that is the sense that you get. They are a very tight-knit family, and they will be meeting each other to get through these dark days -- Anderson.
COOPER: It's just unthinkable.
Alex, appreciate the reporting.
Again, we are -- we don't say the killer's name. However, we do want to dig deeper into his military background, as Alex mentioned.
CNN's Ryan Browne is at the Pentagon for us with more on all of that.
So, what exactly were the details of this man's court-martial?
RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, Anderson we're learning new information about the court-martial which took place in 2012, only two years after he joined the Air Force.
[20:05:05] Now, there was several charges listed in the court order. Two of them assault against his wife and then step -- then wife and stepson, an assault against a child deemed so serious that the force could have caused death or grievous bodily harm, according to official court documents.
Now, there were several -- those charges, he was convicted on those domestic violence charges. They should have been entered into the database as a result. He was sentenced to 12 months in military prison.
There were other charges that were dropped as part of a plea arrangement. They included his threatening his then-wife with a loaded firearm on several occasions and with an unloaded firearm on two occasions.
So, again, very serious crime, very serious charges in this document, and the fact that it was not relayed to the proper database under investigation by the Air Force and the Department of Defense. And they're also reviewing if similar miscommunications throughout the military has happened before in the past, to see if any of these cases have slipped through the cracks, in this kind of set (ph) that would have allowed people who should have never had firearms to purchase them.
COOPER: So, on under federal law, the -- it's the military who -- they would have given the information about how he was discharged and what crimes he had been convicted of and that because it was a federal offense, it would have prevented him from getting a firearm? Is that right?
BROWNE: That's correct. So, all domestic violence cases, whether they're dependent -- regardless of the type of court-martial, any domestic violence case should be entered into this database by the military. There is official Pentagon guidance directing all the military
services to make that -- make that entry, and the Air Force is specifically looking at this base, Holloman Air Force Base, in the Office of Special Investigations, saying why they did not make this entry into the database. But wider, the Department of Defense trying to make sure that this hasn't happened in the past and won't happen again.
COOPER: All right. Ryan Browne, appreciate the update.
More now on the man who confronted the killer, exchanged gunfire with him, has been credited understandably with preventing further bloodshed. Stephen Willeford spoke earlier with CNN affiliate 4029 News in northwest Arkansas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN WILLEFORD, CONFRONTED TEXAS SHOOTER: He saw me. I saw him. I was standing behind the pickup truck for cover. And we exchanged -- I'm like, it was surreal to me, and it couldn't be happening. I could believe it. And we exchanged gunfire and I know I hit him, I don't know where I hit him. But I know I hit him.
And he got into his vehicle and he fired another couple of rounds through his side window, and I fired when the window drop, I fired another round at him again. And one as he was pulling away, and he turned down 539, farm to market road, 539, and sped away. And I noticed that there was four-wheel drive Dodge truck and other truck, sitting at the stop sign.
And a guy had watched this whole thing take place, I ran over to his truck and I said, that guy just shot up the Baptist Church, we need to stop him. He opened his door and I got in, and we pursued and he had a quite a lead on us. And we chased him down 539 and when we first started chasing him, he was out of sight.
And the man driving the truck was, I found out later his name is Dan. He was driving at a high rate of speed and we were trying to pass cars and catch up and we were -- called 911 and while we're talking to 911, at that point, we did not see at that point any officers anywhere. And they were probably headed to the church at that point.
The dispatch, we started talking to. They said, where in 539 is he? And we gave a description when we caught view of him again. And again, we were coming up on him pretty quickly and when we got up closer, he pulled over to the side like he was going to pull to the side of the road, and he slowed down and I thought he was going to stop, and I reached down to open the doors, still with my rifle in hand.
[20:10:02] And he sped up, he hit a road sign, he flipped over, the truck, or his SUV, he ran across, back up on the road, about another 100 yards down and down into the bar ditch. And Johnnie stopped the truck on the road, and I told him, I said, get down, get down. He got down in the truck and I got, I stepped out of the door, and I put my rifle across the hood of the truck, and was yelling, get out of the truck, get out of the truck, get out of the truck, and I never saw any movement or anything from it, but I wasn't going to let him go anywhere.
And, finally, the police department got there and they told him to come out with his hands up, and no response. And at that point, I have actually laid the rifle down and started back and he said, not you, so I picked the rifle back up, OK, that's fine. If you need me, you know, so I hung out there and waited until saw about six more police officers show up and they did it rather quickly after the first one.
And I started to walk back and he said, no, stay there, stay there, stay there. And I stayed where I was and they drove one of the squad cars and gave me cover to walk back with the squad car.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It's incredible.
You heard Stephen Willeford there talk about that moment in hot pursuit of the killer when he decided to continue the chase but needed a vehicle to do it. That vehicle belongs to my next guest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLEFORD: We exchanged gunfire, and I know I hit him, I don't know where I hit him, but I know I hit him. And he got into his vehicle, and he fired another couple rounds through his side window and I fired -- when the window dropped I fired another round at him again. And one as he was pulling away, and he turned down 539, farm to market road, 539 and sped away.
And I noticed that there was a four-wheel Dodge truck and other truck, sitting at the stop sign, and the guy had watched this whole thing take place. I ran over to his truck, and I said, that guy just slot up the Baptist Church, we need to stop him. He opened his door and I got in and we pursued. And he had quite a lead on us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And that's where Johnnie Langendorff comes in. It was his truck.
Mr. Langendorff joins us now, along with his girlfriend, Summer Cadell (ph).
Johnnie, first of all, I mean, obviously what you've done is just extraordinary. Walk me through if you can of what happened. I know you were pulling out of the gas station when you saw the shooter.
JOHNNIE LANGENDORFF, CHASED TEXAS CHURCH SHOOTING SUSPECT: Yes, sir, actually, I had pulled out of the gas station and taken a side street that led to the residential street, to the intersection where the church is. And before I had a chance to turn, that's whenever I saw the shooting star and that's whenever I stopped to see what was going on.
COOPER: And what did you see? The man who was firing his weapon at the shooter, he came up to your truck, had you seen him before shooting at the shooter?
LANGENDORFF: No, I actually had seen the shooter coming from about where the cars were parked that the church attendees vehicles were and on the opposite side of the road, I had seen Mr. Willeford coming in shooting back with his -- with his rifle.
COOPER: So, he came up to your vehicle and explained what had happened and what did you say?
LANGENDORFF: He very briefly -- he very briefly explained what happened and he got in and he said he just said, follow him, follow him. And I said let's go. And --
COOPER: And you didn't have any hesitation?
LANGENDORFF: No, sir.
COOPER: I think a lot of people might have been scared to do that.
LANGENDORFF: I'm not sure. I only know myself really.
COOPER: So how long did you chase -- the chase the shooter for?
LANGENDORFF: It was anywhere from -- it was anywhere from like 10 to -- 10 to 30 minutes because it was around 11 to 13 miles, so it was roughly a mile a minute. We were -- we're in heavy pursuit. Every time I look down at the -- at the speedometer, it was at 90 or 95. So, it was -- it was pretty fast.
[20:15:00] COOPER: And were you -- I mean, was it -- were there a lot of cars on the road and were you weaving in and out of cars?
LANGENDORFF: It was -- it was normal traffic for a small town country road basically. There was -- there was traffic, but there was a bit of weaving, yes, sir.
COOPER: So, finally, when you found the vehicle again, how did it all come to an end?
LANGENDORFF: We had find -- we had gained on the vehicle enough and we got to keep up with him for a while, until finally, he started to slow down and we thought he was going to come to a stop. But when he slowed down, he just took out a street sign and from there, he sped up again and lost control of his vehicle, hitting the guardrail and then from there went into the bar ditch.
COOPER: And then what?
LANGENDORFF: And then once he hit the bar ditch, I got close enough that I felt safe but that we could still be in range to see him and but still be safe if he came out wielding a pistol or anything, and at the second I stopped, Mr. Willeford jumped out, mounted his rifle on my hood, aimed it at the vehicle and was telling the guy to get out, get out and there was no movement in the vehicle after that.
The man never got out. There was never any gunfire exchanged, and about the same time, we stopped, more traffic was coming and so, I had to go from the safety of the vehicle to stop traffic just in case there was going to be any crossfire.
COOPER: So you were exposed?
LANGENDORFF: Briefly, yes, sir.
COOPER: We'll have the rest of their story after the break.
And later, the president's take on the shooting and Tom Friedman's take on the president's insistence that this is not a gun problem.
[20:20:31] COOPER: Well, before the break, you heard Johnnie Langendorff, along with his girlfriend, Summer Caddell, described the moment that he became part of a story that could have been even worse than it was.
Stephen Willeford chasing the Texas church killer, needed a vehicle. Johnnie Langendorff was happy to volunteer his for a chase that ended in the killer's death.
Here's part two of our conversation starting when the chase ended.
COOPER: How soon did the police get there?
LANGENDORFF: They responded very quickly, especially coming from another county. They were there within five to seven minutes.
COOPER: Because I assume a lot of officers had to respond to the church. I assume -- did you call 911 or either of you call 911 while you were driving?
LANGENDORFF: Yes, I called dispatch once we crossed the intersection over 87 from the church to let them know that we were northbound 539, in pursuit of the shooter's vehicle and I just I kept them updated on where we were and where he was, and because from my brief knowledge, you know, it seemed that, you know, cops were all going to be called to the church and not, you know, and I didn't assume that anybody had seen where the driver went.
COOPER: Summer, when you hear what your boyfriend did, I mean, does it surprise you that this is something that Johnnie would do, that somebody would come up and he'd just say, OK, let's go?
SUMMER CADDELL, JOHNNIE LANGENDORFF'S GIRLFRIEND: It's not surprising at all. He's a great guy, great man. He's very courageous and super humble about the whole situation, and that's just awesome. It doesn't surprise me at all.
COOPER: That's the way -- that's just the way it is.
COOPER: Johnnie, knowing what you know now, I mean, would you do the same thing over again?
LANGENDORFF: I would do it a hundred times over, sir.
COOPER: And when the police got there, how quick did it -- did it all finish?
LANGENDORFF: It was actually a very drawn-out long ordeal, but the -- but once one -- once one car showed up from the -- from the police, it seemed like in a matter of just a minute, everybody that needed to be there was there, and they pushed me and Mr. Willeford back to safety, to a viewpoint actually where we couldn't see any action anymore, but from there -- from there, the police really did a great job. They make sure everyone was safe. They made sure that they took every precaution to make sure everything went down exactly how it was supposed to, without anybody else getting hurt.
COOPER: Well, Johnnie Langendorff, it's really an honor to talk to you, just so heroic I think what you -- what you guys did.
And, Summer, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us.
CADDELL: No problem.
COOPER: I want to get the latest now on the status of the people who were wounded in the shooting and remain hospitalized.
Ed Lavandera is at University Hospital in San Antonio. He joins us tonight.
What have you learned about the people being treated at the hospital there?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, they are in the fight of their lives tonight, near about hours after the rampage that sent many first responders into that church, trying to save as many people as possible.
We've talked about how 20 people were wounded, authorities telling us tonight that there are still 10 people -- out of the 14 that are still hospitalized, 10 of those people are still in critical condition. So, by no means have we reached a point where we can say that there might not be any more deaths in this tragedy.
So, many of those people suffering serious gun wounds to their legs and abdomen areas. Those are serious wounds. Hospital officials have said that there have been a number of people who have gone through a series of secondary operations over the -- throughout the course of the day as well.
Here at University Hospital, there are two children and one adult that are still being treated in critical condition as well, most of the wounded are being treated in two large hospitals here in the -- in the San Antonio area. So, that work to save their lives continues here tonight, Anderson.
COOPER: Yet, do you know how many other people are currently in other hospitals?
LAVANDERA: Well, it's 14 in all that still remain hospitalized between these two major hospitals, Brooke Army Medical Center here in San Antonio, as well as University Hospital.
So, of those 14, 10 are in critical condition. Those are -- those are the ones clearly in the worst shape and need the most desperate help here at this point. There have been a small number of people, about six or so who have been treated and released since the rampage yesterday morning.
[20:25:05] So, that is good news there, but there is still a great deal of concern for those people that remain in critical condition tonight.
COOPER: Ed Lavandera, appreciate you being there. Thank you.
Coming up next, our panel law enforcement and criminal justice professionals weigh in. We'll be right back.
COOPER: It is a sad fact but a fact all the same. What happen yesterday morning at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, is neither the first such tragedy nor will it be the last. So, it's important to try to learn all we can from each.
Joining us now is retired FBI supervisory special agent James Gagliano. He's a CNN law enforcement analyst, as his former Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia police chief, Charles Ramsey. With us as well is criminal defense attorney and Army National Guard judge advocate general officer, Thomas Kenniff.
Thomas, let me start with you. The Air Force possibly failing to enter the shooters court-martial conviction in this federal database. Is it surprising to you that something like that could slip through the cracks?
THOMAS KENNIFF, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's very surprising. You know, this is -- this goes back to something called the Lautenberg Act and after a former New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg.
And that act provides that anyone convicted of a felony or a even a misdemeanor if it's a crime of domestic violence, as clearly this was, they are prohibited under federal law from possessing or owning firearms. This is a big issue -- I remember when I deployed to Iraq in 2005, one of the things I did in the JAG Corps was make sure all the soldiers will legal ready to deploy. And I can't tell you how many different soldiers didn't get to go on the plane to Iraq because they had a misdemeanor conviction for a domestic violence offense in their background and were thus deemed non-deployable.
COOPER: And just the process on this is what -- I mean, because this guy served a year in a military prison, in a brig. Would that have -- would his name been -- should have been put on the list once he got out? What's the process?
KENNIFF: Yes. No, absolutely, upon conviction and also the military confinement facilities that have their own obligation or their own duty to report. And basically, what should have been done is the FBI through the criminal justice services database, that's maintained by the FBI, should have been made aware of this. From there it goes into a system called the instant -- National Instant Background Check, which then is accessed by all gun dealers in the country.
So in other words, before they can sell a gun legally, they have to run the person's information through this National Background Check Database, which is incidentally, is part of the Brady Act in 1993 named after former Reagan Press Secretary James Brady.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Right.
KENNIF: So this all these fail saves that are supposed to exist that should have been prevented this person from ever legally possessing a firearm.
And then lastly, even under Texas law, someone convicted of even a misdemeanor domestic violence offense is prohibited under a Texas state law from possessing a firearm.
COOPER: James, the DOD says they are going to investigate this? The FBI's -- the Air Force says that its initial information shows that there was a failure to do this. Does it surprise you that this information wasn't on this National Instant Registry?
JAMES GAGLIANO, RETIRED FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Anderson, I'm going to take the Air Force that at their word that the statement that they released that there was a glitch or mistake, and that this wasn't a systemic problem inherent in that sharing of that information. That information should have been given to the FBI as part of the National Instant Criminal Background Check services. And that's basically the database. That's the firewall that prevents somebody that has committed a felony or has renounced their citizenship or has been committed to sanitarium or whole host of other things that prevents him from buying a weapon. I got to say this to you, Anderson, I am the poster child for somebody who believes in gun rights.
I'm a firm supporter to Second Amendment. I'm a military vet. I spent 25 years in the FBI and Law enforcement half of my life. I'm a hunter. And as part of HR218 which is the House bill that was passed in 2004.
I have a concealed carried permit as a retired law enforcement officer. This is insanity. For 37 days now since Las Vegas and then what happened on the west side highway and now this yesterday, this is absolute insanity.
I'm a professor of military history at St. John's University. One of the things I teach my students about the 2nd Amendment, which again was created in 1791 by basically the founding fathers. Back in those days, a skilled infantrymen armed with a smooth board musket could successfully load and fire three aimed shots in a minute if he was lucky.
Today we have weapons like with the Las Vegas shooter able to put down 58 people and 500 casualties on top of that. And then this shooter with 15, 30 round magazines with an assault rifle. And understand that an assault rifle is semi-automatic weapon with a detachable magazine, a pistol grip maybe a shrouded barrel and has the ability to fire that sustained amount of fire, its insanity. We got to stop meeting like this and talking about the same things. It seems Anderson, almost every three or four weeks now.
COOPER: Chief Ramsey, how to you see it?
CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: Listen, I mean that was pretty powerful what James just said the way he laid it out. I mean it is crazy and it's going to happen again. I mean we act as if this is going to be the last time. You know, you hear people say, well now is not the time, but when is the time.
It never seems to come around. I mean, Las Vegas is five weeks ago and there's been no talks about this until of course yesterday -- occurred. So it's not going to fix itself. We do have to have real conversation around this issue and come with some action steps.
COOPER: Thomas, I mean this guy was given a bad conduct discharge not a dishonorably discharged. Can you explain the difference and would that have made a difference if he had been dishonorably discharge?
KENNIFF: I don't think it made a difference in this case because the conducts discharge even though it's considered less punitive than this dishonorable still has the same reporting requirements. I mean either the people with the air force that are require to report this stuff are going to do their job or they're not. You know what the bad conduct discharge speaks too, it sounds like there was a, you know, in the civilian world we call a plea bargain, he was charged with some very serious felonies that would've been enough to bring him to what sworn is a general court's marshal which is mostly can to a civilian trial by jury.
It looks like he was offered and accepted a special court's marshal where the maximum sentence is a one year confinement which he actually was sentenced to and apparently served. And the bad conduct not the dishonorable. You know, why he was offered a deal like that given the seriousness of these allegations then it could be a variety of reasons, one could have been which you often see in domestic violence cases if you have the recalcitrant complainant.
[20:35:05] In other words if his wife did not want to cooperate with the military prosecutors, we're showing some reluctance that may have made them more willing to come to the table and offer him what in retrospect looks like a lenient -- a very lenient deal.
COOPER: Yes. As we said the Department Defense says they are going to be investigating why his name wasn't forwarded. James Gagliano, Chief Charles Ramsey, and Thomas Kenniff appreciate your expertise. All of you. Thank you.
Coming up we're going to hear from former astronaut, Navy Captain Mark Kelly. His wife former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords survived the mass shooting at Tucson that obviously changed their lives forever.
COOPER: All right. Our breaking news tonight, authorities in Texas say 14 people remain hospitalized after yesterday's church shooting. Twenty-six others were killed. Investigators also say the gunman have three gunshot wounds two from a civilian who chased after him and one self-inflicted gunshot to the head.
We want to get some reaction now from retired Navy Captain and Astronaut Mark Kelly. His wife is former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and of course survived the mass shooting in 2011 that killed six people. Captain Kelly joins us now.
I would say thanks for being with us, but I frankly hate having you with us in events like this. So, I mean after the mass shooting in Las Vegas when many lawmakers offered, you know, their thoughts and prayers, you went to Capitol Hill and told them that their kind words were important but that quote, your thoughts and prayers aren't going to stop the next shooting. I'm wondering what your message is tonight.
[20:40:09] MARK KELLY, HUSBAND OF FORMER REPRESENTATIVE GABRIELLE GIFFORDS: Well, it's certainly the same. You know, I said that for the first time, I think to you, Anderson, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. That I'm done saying now is not the time.
I mean if now isn't the time when is? You know, we heard the President's comments earlier today from Japan, where he said, you know, this is a mentally health issue, this isn't about the gun. So Governor Abbott talk about what everybody is doing without ever mentioning what he's going to do.
But we really need is leadership on this issue. We need the people we elect to office to first stand up and acknowledge that we have a problem in this country, 35,000 people dying from gunshot wounds, another 100,000 shot every year is completely unacceptable, it's a problem. And for problems there's a solution. And we elect these people to provide and work through these solutions.
COOPER: You know. I mean in this, 26 people killed, the oldest 77 years old, the youngest just 17 months old, after Las Vegas, after Orlando, after Newtown after your wife shooting. I mean shot does an equal action.
KELLY: No, it doesn't. And, you know, we've got to figure out how do we convince people to do -- to have courage. I mean really that's what it's about. You know, people that are elected to office that might fear the gun lobby, and the resources of the powerful corporate interest. We've got to convince them to have the courage to them stand up and do what's right. Kind of like the, you know, a little bit like the courage of the tow individuals who spoke to, you know, just 10 minutes ago, how -- and you know, they were confronted with a problem and they dealt with the problem.
Anderson, you know, I served in the military for 25 years, like your other guest. You know, I'm a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. But we continue to do this to ours.
I mean we -- It's just getting, you know, ridiculous. And if you don't want to talk about this situation that had just happened just yesterday, if now is not the time, well let's talk about what happened in Las Vegas. Just last Friday the State of Massachusetts banned bomb stocks, the Republican lieutenant governor signed it into law.
They took action. That is leadership. What is Congress doing on this issue and what will they do about what happen yesterday, my guess is probably not a lot.
COOPER: You know, I did see, you know, a lot of people who said the answer frankly is more guns. If more people had been armed and they point to the hero who, you know, with his rifle shot this murderer twice and got in their, you know, got in the Johnnie's vehicle and chased him down and waited for police to come.
KELLY: Well, I mean there are 26 people that are dead. And do we really want to live in a society where everybody has to carry a gun every time they walk outside their house? I mean, do we want to live in Somalia? I mean is -- this is crazy. We do also know where there are more guns there are more gun violence.
Certainly, in some situations the good guy with the gun can stop these things. I mean, we do see that happening. But, you know, if everybody is armed all the time we're not going to have 35,000 deaths every year from gun to the wounds. I mean that number is certainly going to go up. But what we do know in the state that have the stronger gun laws, state's like Massachusetts, a lot less people die from gun violence.
Right now in Massachusetts it's three people for 100,000 per year. In the State of Texas that number is 11.7. In Louisiana, it's 20. These laws do matter.
And, you know, we were talking a lot today about, you know, the U.S. Air Force and their failure to include this information to the National Instant Criminal Background Checks system. I also want to put out that, you know, in the State of Texas you can also go a gun show or buy guns over the internet with no background checks.
So, I mean there are loopholes that include the Department of Defense but it also includes, you know, just our laws and who is required to get a background check and when. We need to fix the background check systems in a lot of different ways. COOPER: Well -- I mean that -- I mean you brought what the Air Force, you know, what -- earlier board seeing like they failed to do and now there's a DOD investigation because that's the other argument you hear, which is, you know, from advocates who don't want any changes. They say, well look just -- you know, there are existing laws, they just need to be followed, they need to be carried out. And obviously, in this case it seems like that wasn't done.
[20:44:58] KELLY: Well, the existing laws need to be carried out, we need to -- we need to fix the mistakes. And at the same time we need to make sure that the law applies to everybody. I mean the fact that you can walk out of a state prison in a state like Texas, or Arizona or many other states and you can walk down to a gun show and buy an arsenal of weapons and high capacity magazines. I mean that just doesn't make a lot of sense to me. And it's pretty easy to fix.
You know, Congress failed to do that after the shooting of the Sandy Hook Elementary School. You know when are we going to say, hey this is enough and we are a country of laws and our laws matter. But what we really need Anderson, is we need leadership. You know, we need people who we elect to office to say, hey I'm not going to do the most politically expedient thing. I'm going to do the right thing.
COOPER: Captain Kelly, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
As Captain Kelly mentioned President Trump has spoken about the latest mass shooting in American from his high streaks trip to Asia. What he said, well, in detail when we come back and we'll talk to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.
[20:50:18] COOPER: It's been just over a month since President Trump had to respond to the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, the Last Vegas massacre which claimed 58 innocent lives. Now after yesterday's shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas 26 more people are dead.
Once again the President speaking out this time from his trip abroad, from Japan the President echoed his response after the Las Vegas shooting saying once again that the problem is about mental health, not guns.
Joining me now is Thomas Friedman, New York Times Columnist and Author of "Thank You for Being Late, An Optimist Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations."
First of all, do you think these mass shootings are uniquely American phenomenon?
THOMAS FRIEDMAN, AUTHOR, "THANK YOU FOR BEING LATE": Yes, I think they are, Anderson. It's not going on in Japan. It's not going on in Great Britain. These countries have very strict gun laws and they have a handful of shootings every year. This is a -- at the scale, uniquely a American phenomenon. Unless we bring in say, as your previous guest say, Somalia, Beirut. COOPE: Right.
FREIDMAN: Other than Beirut, there's a lot of gun violence there. Yes, I wouldn't want to be compared to them.
COOPER: Right, but you said something in recent article you said if only he had shouted Allah Akbar -- talking about the gunman in Las Vegas
COOPER: If only he had shouted "Allah Akbar" before he opened fire on all those concert goes in Las Vegas, if only he'd been a member of ISIS, if only we had a picture of him posing with Koran in one hand and a semi-automatic rifle and another, if all of that that had happened no none would be telling us not to dishonor the victims.
You see a -- I mean --
FRIEDMAN: Not to dishonor the victims by talking about the political ramification.
COOPER: Right, you see a clear difference how the President, how our political leaders discuss the terror attack in New York for instance versus what just happened in Texas.
FRIEDMAN: I mean Trump is tweeting about that immediately of what happened in New York and also talking about -- will we need more extreme vetting which other country might be have to ban people from? Where do this guy come from? Who is back stand (ph), let's look into that. When it comes to fighting ISIS or Islamist terrorism, Anderson, a defeat is not an option. When it comes to fighting gun violence in our country, victory is not an option. It's a mental health issue. It's an issue where mentally disturbed people have too easy access to guns, that's the issue. It's not a mental health issue in the abstract.
COOPER: Do you think change is actually possible, honest? I mean do --
FRIEDMAN: I'm actually quite despondent. I have to tell you I looked at this event and I felt nothing but incredible sadness. See a whole family of eight people wiped out, it's unspeakable. And at the same time, it was like --it's become part of weather.
Today's gun shooting, you know. It's like the flood somewhere, you know, killed eight people. It feels like it's something we can't control anymore because our Congress is a form for legalized bribery. That's literally what it is. And we have a huge number of members who holding on it. What do these guys make? $175,000 a year to what? I don't know what they make.
They're so holding onto these seats that not one of them will tell the National Rifle Association, you know what chuck it, I don't care what you guys say. I'm voting to bring an end to this madness where we cannot have common sense gun laws. Is that seat so important? Can't these people get jobs anywhere else or Anderson, do they go home at night to some offshore island where nobody's being shot, where nobody has to fear this gun violence? I simply do not understand it.
COOPER: I want to ask you about two big events. First of all right now the President overseas in Japan, how important is this trip for the U.S.?
FRIEDMAN: I tend not to put a lot of stock in one trip or another. You know, the big issue on this trip I think is U.S.-China relations frankly and obviously the North Korea situation.
And we have a problem with China, with a structural problem. I happen to agree with President Trump on this. When we let China into the World Trade Organization and our support was critical for that back in 2001, we thought China was going to reform and open its economy. And so actually we gave them a lot of easy conditions, you know, that we didn't impose initially. It turns out China reformed and closed.
OK, if you want to import an American car into China, it's a 25 percent tariff. If you want to import a car into our country, it's a 2.5 percent tariff. If Alibaba and Tencent, giant Chinese tech companies want to have a cloud server in Silicon Valley, no problem. If Amazon and Microsoft want to have one in China, lots of problems. You have to have a Chinese partner and transfer technology and open your server to the government. That's not fair. We have a problem there.
But what I worry about is that the President is -- kind of lost focus on that. Now the Korea -- I happen to think the Chinese could do a lot more in Korea. I don't think they are for a very -- because they know it's shiny object, they can distract. You know Trump will help you, will help to that Korea thing but don't know -- it means you really can't push on trade. Trump will go to China. Boeing will come back with some airplanes. You'll see contracts flying but that's -- it's really just fair does. It's not dealing with the structure.
[20:55:18] COOPER: What about Saudi Arabia, the massive --
COOPER: -- arrests that are going on?
COOPER: I mean, we have all these people imprisoned, you know, or being held right now in the --
COOPER: -- with the four seasons, the Ritz Carlton.
FRIEDMAN: The Ritz Carlton.
FRIEDMAN: You know this is a -- this took me by surprise like everybody. I think we're seeing the end of the Saudi ruling family, that is a family that alternated power between different extremes and solve problems by consensus and we're seeing the rise of the Bin Salman Saudi Arabia that one family is going to rule.
COOPER: Is that really -- I mean he's talking about trying to bring Saudi Arabia forward. He's trying to talk about moderate Islam.
FRIEDMAN: I happened to have a lot of sympathy with that. I think that I've interviewed him twice, the crown prince. I think he's got good instincts on some of these issues.
COOPER: By the way the picture we we're just showing is like the one of the world's most wealthiest men who is now under arrest who is an investor in --
FRIEDMAN: Well, that's also the whole thing was he's arrested for corruption. Now the crown prince, remember a few months ago bought a yacht for $550 million. You think that came out of his 401K? You know, so the idea that these people are being arrested for corruption, which is back to the recent made the system work, is really a bit hard to believe. But the most important thing really for me, Anderson, is that this country needed reform.
If Bin Salman didn't exist, someone would have had to invent him. OK. It -- look at the last three kings of Saudi Arabia. One died at 90. One died at 84 and the current one is 81. Think of all the changes in the world. This country needed reform. I think that's good but he is taking on so many things at once and so many people at once, I really worry that the wheels are going to come off.
COOPER: Tom Friedman, always good to talk to you. Thanks very much.
FRIEDMAN: My pleasure.
COOPER: We now have Carter Page's testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. We're going to go through the transcript. We just got these details on that coming up. As well as the latest on the church shooting investigation including the new information on the gunman's domestic abuse conviction and the military coordinating how he was apparently still allowed to buy guns.