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Georgia GOP Threaten Delta Tax Break Over NRA Decision; Governors Join Trump To Talk Gun Violence And School Safety; Vegas Shooting Survivors Speak Out About Florida Massacre; First Responder's Split-Second Decision Saved Student's Life. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired February 27, 2018 - 07:30   ET



[07:31:08] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It is time for "CNN Money Now."

More than a dozen businesses are severing ties with the NRA, but one state is calling out Delta's decision to do so and is threatening to kill a generous tax break.

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans in our Money Center with more. I've never heard of this.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, "EARLY START": I haven't either. This is really a new one, Chris, and the Georgia Senate moving quickly to block a jet fuel tax break for Delta Airlines. Delta is based Atlanta.

After it stopped offering special discounted flights to NRA members, Georgia Republicans vowed to kill part of a current bill that eliminates a state tax on jet fuel. That would have saved Delta tens of millions of dollars. This could be a $15-million-dollar move here.

Lieutenant Gov. Casey Cagle -- also, by the way, a candidate for governor -- tweeted this. "Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back."

Delta is one of a dozen companies under pressure from their consumers to end special discounts only for NRA members. The NRA calls this political cowardice but Delta says its choice reflects its neutral status in the gun debate. It's ending something that was specially for the NRA members.

FedEx, by the way, is keeping its special rates for NRA members. It says it has never changed rates due to customers' politics, beliefs or positions on issues. Yet, it did distance itself from NRA views.

FedEx opposes assault rifles quote, "in the hands of civilians," Chris.

CUOMO: Did they give a preference to NRA customers -- FedEx?


CUOMO: Yes. ROMANS: Yes, there are special rates for --

CUOMO: All right, so that --

ROMANS: -- FedEx customers.

CUOMO: So it's not -- it's not the same thing as keeping the rates the same as for you?

ROMANS: Right.

CUOMO: They're giving them a preference and they're going to keep giving them a preference.

Christine Romans, thank you so much, as always.

President Trump urging governors, don't be afraid of the NRA. The White House says one topic that did not come up in that White House meeting was raising the age limit for buying rifles like the AR-15- style gun used in the Florida massacre, which suggests to the White House maybe this isn't a good thing to fight for.

Is that right?

Joining us now is Colorado's Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper. Gov., good to have you.


CUOMO: So, report for us for a second. What was your take after the meeting? Where do you think the president's head is? What do you think the prospect for change at the national level is?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, it doesn't look too encouraging that we're going to get anything resembling an assault weapon ban or raising the age by which teenagers could buy these military-grade weapons. Obviously, we're going to try and get -- he's going to try and get something done, which is -- which is progress.

CUOMO: They say fix NICS -- that's the real problem. There's not enough information sharing, intra-agency, intrastate, with interagency and interstate that allows us to have good, safe background checks.

Do you agree is that enough?

HICKENLOOPER: I agree that we need to fix NICS but I don't agree that that's enough.

And if you look at certain common factors of shooting after shooting it's almost always males. I mean, literally, every time it's males and a predominant number of young males -- males under 21 -- to try and make it a little harder for them to acquire these military weapons.

These weapons are designed not to hunt for elk, they're designed to kill people. Kids shouldn't be getting their hands on these things. CUOMO: So, a couple of points of pushback.

One, the hunting community is saying that the AR-15 is coming up in popularity as a hunting rifle and there are articles about that now. You'll see that it's placed in the top 10 or 12 of weapons that can be used for hunting. Of course, all the other ones are usually bolt action or shotguns. So, that's one aspect about the evolution of the -- of the gun culture with the AR-style rifle.

The other is the age limit. Is the age limit a little bit of a distraction because in most -- I think it's only two of the last dozen or so school shootings have we seen the shooter is within that age of 18 to 21?

Is that really an effective measure?

[07:35:01] HICKENLOOPER: Well, it's not the ultimate solution but I think it's one of many things we should be looking at.

Why not -- why are we not talking about universal background checks, right, which we did in Colorado. Again --

CUOMO: Did it make a difference?

HICKENLOOPER: -- very polarizing.

It's hard to say what thing makes a difference. We haven't had a massive school shooting since then in Colorado but don't have them every couple of years. It's hard to measure what implementations are going to have a positive effect.

CUOMO: But that's the criticism, though. People say if you cover private sales, sales intrafamily, gun show sales, you can't really enforce those laws so you shouldn't have them.

HICKENLOOPER: Oh, that's ridiculous. I mean, the bottom is that -- and almost every Republican I know -- civic leaders, board members of large cultural institutions -- almost every Republican civic leader I know says universal background checks make perfect sense.

It's really only the elected officials who depend on the NRA for their campaign funding. They're the only ones who are saying wait, wait, if this doesn't work perfectly we shouldn't even try it. It's not -- it doesn't hurt anything to make sure that we keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

CUOMO: The White House says you guys weren't bringing up the age restriction so that's why it seems that the president has backed away from it. He wants to go with what seems will work with the group.

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think there's -- in a forum like that there weren't -- there wasn't enough time for everyone to ask questions and certainly, there's a selection process that doesn't get every question that's out there raised. To say that just because no one spoke up about trying to raise the age limit it doesn't mean it's not a good idea. And again, let's say it only reduced school shootings by 10 percent or

20 percent. Is that enough? Does that make a difference?

I don't know. I would say so.

CUOMO: And you didn't get the feeling that the president was going to take this on in a very big way yesterday?

HICKENLOOPER: I wouldn't say that. I mean, I'm an optimist. Most people, when you're up -- becoming a governor, you've got to be somewhat of an optimist, and I'm hopeful.

You know, he said very clearly, he was going to get rid of bump stocks. He can do that without having to go through Congress. He could just do it through his executive powers.

My goodness, I hope he does that immediately. That makes a lot of sense.

There's no reason -- I mean, bump stocks, I would say, are already illegal, right? We banned automatic weapons. Why do we even have something like a bump stock?

CUOMO: Well, you know, look, the gun experts will make all kinds of arguments about a bump stock.

But you're colleague, Democrat senator from California Dianne Feinstein, says the president can't get it done his way. He has to support legislation like hers.

Do you agree?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, again, I'm not a lawyer. It's a strength and a weakness. I do think however they do it we should -- we should encourage Congress to do it, we should encourage the president to do it.

And the very fact that the president went and negotiated with the NRA over the -- over the past weekend -- that was one of the things that he brought up and discussed -- is, in itself, interesting. But it suggests that maybe the NRA isn't hung up on bump stocks and this isn't something that helps them sell more --


HICKENLOOPER: -- assault weapons.

CUOMO: What I thought was odd -- and help me with this because you've been in the business a long time and there are lots of lobbying groups that put out a lot more money than the NRA does. They put out a lot of money but, you know, maybe they make it into the top 10 moneywise as a lobbying group.

But for President of the United States to say I met with the NRA and you guys have them wrong -- they're ready to do something. They want to do something on the NRA. Since when do you look for cues from the special interest lobbying group for what to make policy for the United States of America on that kind of basis?

I know special interests have a ton of influence, Gov. I'm saying that it seems that the NRA really does have -- even though the president ironically said don't fear them -- they do have a lot fear factor with these politicians.

HICKENLOOPER: I mean, it is exceedingly rare where a special interest group would be brought into a discussion like that and say well, here's our discussion with them and I think this is OK. You know -- well, what can I say?

The NRA is one of the most aggressively organized lobbying groups that there is. They inspire an amazing level of loyalty in their over six million members. And clearly, there is something to do with people's Second Amendment rights that -- and their relationship to the -- to the -- to their weapons that is very important to people all over the country.

I think it's part of this kind of urban-rural divide and people living in the urban-suburban areas -- I think you have to go listen harder and understand better the relationship that people -- a lot of people who hunt and live in the rural areas, they don't want someone in the cities coming in and telling them anything to do with their guns.

CUOMO: It's true, but there just seems to be a miscommunication or some type of deception where none of that is threatened by anything that I've heard. And yet, every time you hear about any measure that comes up the resistance is it's going to be a ban. There's going to be a registry.


CUOMO: There's going to be confiscations of our weapons. And until you get past that I don't think you get any kind of consensus.

[07:40:03] HICKENLOOPER: Well, they think it's going to be a slippery slope. And I try to -- pretty much every time I talk about gun safety I try to say no one's talking about taking away your guns. We're just trying to make sure that guns don't get in the hands of dangerous people.

CUOMO: Governor Hickenlooper, thank you very much. Appreciate your perspective on the show.


CUOMO: Alisyn --

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So, Chris, up next, they survived the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas. Now, after watching another attack, they have a message for lawmakers.


CAMEROTA: So, the Florida high school massacre brought back very painful memories for survivors of last October's mass shooting at the Las Vegas concert which killed 58 people and injured hundreds. Those survivors are now sharing how their lives have changed in hopes of helping the victims in Florida.

CNN's Sara Sidner is live in Los Angeles for us with more. What have you learned, Sara?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, the victims of the Vegas mass shooting say that their lives will never be the same but they want the Parkland students to know healing is possible, though it may take a very long time.


CHELSEA ROMO, SURVIVOR, LAS VEGAS SHOOTING: My cheek was shattered so my scar is my eyebrow and then it goes over a little bit further.

[07:45:00] CHRISTINE CARIA, SURVIVOR, LAS VEGAS SHOOTING: When you see somebody get shot in the head you want to get involved.

HEATHER GOOZE, SURVIVOR, LAS VEGAS SHOOTING: There was no life left in this boy that was with me.

SIDNER (voice-over): Gunfire altered all of the lives during the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. Nearly five months later, the school shooting in Parkland, Florida brought their terror right back.

CARIA: I had an automatic reaction. I couldn't control it. I went into the bathroom and I started vomiting. I was on the floor in the fetal position for two hours.

SIDNER: They know what these children are going through and the long road to recovery.

Mother of two, Chelsea Romo, still has many surgeries to get through after shrapnel tore through both of her eyes, initially blinding her.

ROMO: I thought about as my daughter grew up and not seeing her get married, or seeing her become a woman, and seeing her face as she matures -- like, oh, it's crossed my mind and that's why now I thank God every day.

SIDNER: She is now laser-focused on simply seeing her children grow.

Survivors Heather Gooze and Christine Caria are helping other survivors while nursing psychological wounds.

Gooze spent hours holding bullet-riddled strangers as their lives slipped away.

GOOZE: He got shot in the back of the head so I reached under and I was holding a jeans jacket to the back of his head. The jacket had dropped and my finger was in the bullet hole in the back of his head.

Paige Melanson was hit in the elbow; her mother shot in the chest. She's still in the hospital awaiting her 10th surgery. These survivors agree America's leaders have not done enough to tackle a uniquely American problem.

PAIGE MELANSON, SURVIVOR, LAS VEGAS SHOOTING: I mean, after the Las Vegas shooting, they said it's not the right time to talk about guns. After the Texas shooting, they said it's not the right time to talk about guns. After Parkland, oh, let them grieve. They don't -- it's not the time.

When is going to be the time?

CARIA: We all don't want to see babies die. We don't want to go to a concert or church and feel like we're going to get killed. We can do better than this as a nation.

SIDNER: Caria, a mother of two, is convinced a ban on semiautomatic assault-style weapons and bump stocks is a good start. Her conviction so strong she became the president of the Las Vegas chapter of the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence.

GOOZE: I'm very pro-Second Amendment. I love guns.

SIDNER: Heather Gooze never thought new gun legislation was needed until being covered in the blood of strangers.

SIDNER (on camera): Do you have a problem with AR-15 assault-style rifles?

GOOZE: Yes. I have a -- I have a problem with any -- with a killing machine.

SIDNER: Do you have a problem with bump stocks?

GOOZE: A hundred percent.

SIDNER: And why is it hard for you to say we need to ban AR assault- style weapons?

GOOZE: If people hear us say we want to get rid of one certain type gun, all they hear is you want to take my guns away.

SIDNER: Are you trying to take their guns away?



GOOZE: A hundred percent, no. But is this a killing machine? Yes. Is it being used to commit mass murder? Yes.

You know what? We need to start somewhere.


SIDNER: But not everyone who experienced that Vegas mass shooting believes that new gun legislation is the key. Heather Gooze knows that all too well. She has lost friends over her

new gun stance and she says she has been feeling that spear of anger from trolls on the Internet.

CAMEROTA: Oh, Chris, just what we need.

Sara, thank you so much. I mean, their voices are so important. And we hear this from the Newtown survivors, as well. Every single mass shooting brings it all back -- retraumatizes them all over again.

Nicole Hockley made the point of coming down to Florida because they do have -- they're now part of his obviously, very tragic club.

CUOMO: Yes, you know, a couple of Vegas survivors we're still in touch with and they're having rallies and fundraisers to help raise money for the other victims. They've become a community.

And, you know, there are two quick things.

One, we've never seen a group of survivors from one of these shootings come out and say you know what, we need more guns. You know, we should all have more guns. We would've been OK. We would've been better off.

It's very rare that you hear that from someone who survives one of these.

And the second thing is I can't think of another threat to the general population that we fight to do nothing about except these mass shootings. I can think of another one.

When terrorism came everybody wanted to figure out how to combat it. Nobody stood up.

The Second Amendment groups didn't stand up and say no, no, no, I don't want to -- I don't want any of that. Let me keep my rights. I don't want to surrender any aspect of my rights just to defend against terrorism.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but you know what they'll say. The Second Amendment advocates say but flying on a plane isn't protected in the constitution. But driving your car, of course, you have a seatbelt. It's not protected in the constitution.

That's what they use as --

CUOMO: They will say that it's not in the Bill of Rights but, of course, all of these -- the rights of travel and interstate commerce -- all of those things are part of the Constitution.

You're just a choice. What do you want to do as a society? What do you want to be about? That's where we are right now.

CAMEROTA: We'll continue having these conversations.

CUOMO: All right. So another aspect of this story that we're covering is the response. The reaction by law enforcement.

One man jumped into action, saved a teenager. He got shot multiple times -- she got shot multiple times inside her Florida high school.

Now, a first responder describes the split-second decision that helped save a life, next.


CUOMO: There's so many just galling aspects to this story -- so much pain. So many people who had to do things that they never should have had to.

One first responder is part of a group being credited with saving the life of a teenage girl seriously injured in the Florida high school massacre.

His name is Lt. Laz Ojeda and he got emotional describing the decision that kept Maddy Wilford alive. Here's a taste.


LAZ OJEDA, LIEUTENANT, CORAL SPRINGS FIRE DEPARTMENT, CORAL SPRINGS, FLORIDA: I looked at her, I gave her a sternal rub. I go hey, how old are you? No response.

Second sternal rub. Hey, how old are you? She came around. She told me she was 17.

[07:55:00] So at that point I looked at Will and I go Will, we're going to North Broward. It's only 10 miles away.


CUOMO: Lieutenant Ojeda of the Coral Springs Fire Department joins us now. It's good to have you, sir. How you doing this morning?

OJEDA: I'm doing great, Chris. Thank you for having me on your show.

CUOMO: Hey, are you kidding me? It's a privilege for us to have you.

The reason I ask is -- look, I know you're a first responder. I know you guys are the best of us -- the men and women who do your job -- but this could not have been easy for you.

What has it meant for you to have lived through this experience?

OJEDA: Well, it -- that day -- the emotions came the day after, Chris. That day we were on automatic. We were almost like numbstruck if you will. We didn't feel -- I personally didn't feel what I felt after the fact.

CUOMO: Yes, I can imagine because in the moment you're just doing what you're supposed to do.

Hey, where has your head gone in this speculation about sheriffs that ran in, didn't run in, what they should have done, what's cowardice, what's bravery? What's your perspective on all of that for people like us who don't understand being there and don't understand the job?

OJEDA: I -- all I can say, Chris, is that from the stories we got, the two officers that responded -- they were inside -- our Coral Springs officers. Officer Fernandez (ph) and Sgt. Cauz (ph) -- at first glance, they thought Maddy was dead. Something made them turn around and look and elicit some kind of response. And when they did this they summoned a nearby BSO SWAT officer who placed a chest seal on Maddy.

And that, I think contributed to her being alive today because she had a tension pneumo and had she not -- had he not put that chest seal on her, her condition could have worsened to possible death.

So I don't know -- I can't comment on all the politics but I know that we were all there trying.

CUOMO: Well, you're a politician -- you're no politician, you're a lifesaver and that's what we need in those kinds of situations.

When you went to that scene and you looked around and saw what was going on what did you think?

OJEDA: I -- like I told you -- like I told you initially, I was a little on automatic.

I have to say that I was not there by myself, Chris. I had a great captain, Captain Pluchino, who put us on the call. We came from the southernmost point of the city. He put us on the call.

When I asked for additional staffing he provided it for me. I had a great driver-engineer, Robert Lubinger. I had two firefighters, Will Glover (ph) and Jeffrey Unger (ph) who were there helping me all along.

CUOMO: Any reservations when you headed there that it may not be over -- you may be having to encounter somebody who's still looking to kill people?

OJEDA: Well, our department has like clear policies and procedures. We don't go into the red zone. The P.D. takes care of that. We also have task forces that go into the yellow areas.

We were in a staging zone waiting for Maddy to be brought to us.

CUOMO: Good, so you did it the right way -- safety first.

Speaking of Maddy, I want you to hear a little bit of what she says about her experience.

OJEDA: Absolutely.


MADDY WILFORD, SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR, PARKLAND, FLORIDA: I'm Madeline Wilford and I'd just like to say that I'm so grateful to be here and it wouldn't be possible without those officers, and first responders, and these amazing doctors.

And especially, all the love that everyone has sent. I was sitting on my couch today just thinking about all the letters and gifts everyone has given and just like all the love that's been passed around. I definitely wouldn't be here without it and I just want to send my appreciation and love out to all of you.


CUOMO: Amazing recovery. Obviously, Maddy's still going to have a road in front of her.

But what does it mean to you that without you, without your team, without the people who were there we may not be able to meet this young woman today?

OJEDA: I am just beyond words. All I can say is that I thank God. Maddy's mother did so yesterday. I thank God for allowing us to be an instrument in this miracle and that's what it means to me. I was an instrument.

CUOMO: That's very well said, Lieutenant. We keep focusing on what's wrong in this situation and what needs to change, but it's also important to look at what was done right.

And we say it all the time.