updated 4/17/2007 11:32:44 AM ET 2007-04-17T15:32:44

Guest: Rev. Franklin Graham, Aaron Cohen

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight, of course, more coverage of the massacre at Virginia Tech, the morning calm of this campus life shattered by the crack of gunfire.  When the shooting stopped, 33 students and teachers lay dead, including the gunman, whose identity remains a mystery.  But whoever it was, the gunman was responsible for the worst campus killing spree in American history, shocking Virginia Tech students and parents on what should have been a uneventful Monday morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES STEGER, VIRGINIA TECH PRESIDENT:  I want to repeat my horror and disbelief and profound sorrow at the events of today.  I‘m really at a loss for words to explain or to understand the carnage that has visited our campus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  This gunman, whoever he was, carried two handguns, wore a vest, inside that vest, extra ammunition.  And then he chained the doors of one of the buildings where the shootings took place, sealing off any exit for students.

A shaken President Bush addressed the country earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Schools should be places of safety and sanctuary and learning.  When that sanctuary is violated, the impact is felt in every American classroom and every American community.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Tonight, why?  Why did this assassin do it?  Why did campus police and school officials wait more than two hours after the first murders to warn students on that very campus that they were in danger and to shut down the campus?  And who‘s to blame for this horrible tragedy off the campus?  Some groups are already blaming lax gun laws, while others are talking about Hollywood.  We‘re going to be searching for answers on this special edition of SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, “Massacre at Virginia Tech.”

NBC‘s Brian Williams joins us now.  He‘s live from Blacksburg, Virginia, and the Virginia Tech campus.  Brian, I understand you just talked to somebody who escaped the gunman when he jumped from the classroom.  What can you tell us in setting that scene?

BRIAN WILLIAMS, ANCHOR, “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS”:  Joe, on this cold evening on this campus that is demonstrably in shock, I just spoke to a young man who came here after four years of college to study engineering.  And today, he was actually surprised tonight, having heard none of the coverage of what happened here today, to hear my characterization that he had witnessed a small part of what is being called the largest mass shooting in American history.

He was sitting in a classroom in the building now famous for what happened there today when he heard thumps that he later identified as gunshots in the room next to his.  He knew enough to get out of there.  There was some disagreement among the students in his classroom whether to leave out a second-story window or whether to stay.  They threw the window up and knocked out a screen door, and they dangled by the windowsill until they dropped into whatever shrubs and bushes were below, not enough to break their fall.  He has twisted his ankle.  He scratched his leg.  But otherwise, he is looking back with tremendous clarity tonight.

I‘m afraid—and it always sounds a bit patronizing when we often come into a situation like this where there‘s been great tragedy and great sadness to say that people are—are in a kind of shock, but I‘m afraid that is what is in effect here tonight.  I‘ve spoken to many students, many of them able to quite matter-of-factly discuss what happened here today.  And of course, the great sadness has not set in.

In the case of this particular young man, he knows students in that classroom.  He knows the students who said they weren‘t going to jump out that window.  He knows some of the students didn‘t make it out of that classroom.  And yet there‘s no information tonight, no names yet being released as they call and make the next of kin notifications.

As a 40-mile-an-hour wind whips this hillside in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, this small college town where, after all, Virginia Tech is everything, a community of 26,000 people is indeed hurting, as the entire nation comes to grips with what happened here today—Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Brian Williams, thank you so much for being with us tonight.  We greatly appreciate your insight and setting the scene for those of us who‘ve just been watching this all day today on TV.  Thank you so much.

Now, we‘re going to continue following this story throughout the hour, and we‘re going to bring you the very latest developments.  But right now, let‘s listen to eyewitness account from a Virginia Tech sophomore who was actually shot today while simply sitting in German class.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEREK O‘DELL, VA TECH SOPHOMORE:  We saw him actually reload a clip while he was in our room.  He had unloaded probably eight or ten shots into people in our class, very tragically.  And he reloaded his clip, and nobody could really stop him because we were all hit or scared out of our minds.

WILLIAMS:  Methodically like in the movies.  You see people reload in the movies and on television.

O‘DELL:  Yes.  He was—he looked to be trained in how fast he reloaded the gun.

WILLIAMS:  How would you describe him physically?

O‘DELL:  He was a male Asian, about 6 feet tall, with a maroon hat and a leather jacket on.

WILLIAMS:  Either of you guys recognize him from around campus?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Not at all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Here‘s Clint Van Zandt.  He‘s a former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst.  You know, Clint, every time a tragedy like this happens, it seems that people are trying to figure it out, trying to point the finger and blame somebody.  I was very reluctant to do that throughout the day as I was watching, but as the events unfolded, some things happened that started to really disturb me and I started thinking about if my child was on this campus and if there were a shooting around 7:15, if this campus waited two-and-a-half hours to notify the other students, if this campus waited two-and-a-half hours to warn them, if it waited two-and-a-half hours to shut down the campus, I would be angry.  And those same officials tonight, Clint, will still not admit that this was a lone gunman.  What‘s going on at Virginia Tech?

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER, MSNBC ANALYST:  Boy, this is part of the challenge, Joe.  Two of my sons both graduated from Virginia colleges, and you know, I would have felt just—just like you‘re suggesting right now.  And I think what‘s gripping us is not only the level of carnage that took place, but the understanding that that could be anyone‘s child or grandchild, niece, nephew, sister on any college campus in the country.

Now, I think the challenge for the police department on campus—we hear this abundance of care that they‘re taking to make sure they say it right.  Well, you know, I understand that, but look, there was either one shooter or two shooters.  If you have no reason to believe there‘s a second shooter because we‘re told they‘re not conducting a fugitive investigation, simply say, At this point in the investigation, we think there‘s only one shooter.  That‘s not...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and Clint...

VAN ZANDT:  ... too heavy a lifting.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, and Clint, that—that‘s what‘s so frustrating is, again, it would be better for them, as far as public relations goes, since they took two-and-a-half hour to talk about how there was a shooting on a campus, and these—these students—all these students just wandered into classroom not even knowing of the dangers.  But if there‘s just one gunman, of course, tonight, they should be able to say that.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  They should also be able—because they‘re not searching for another shooter.  Talk about the two-and-a-half-hour gap.  As far as the security measure goes, did they blow it?

VAN ZANDT:  Well, you‘ve heard multiple stories today, Joe, in the news.  One story said that law enforcement originally, when they responded, they thought it might have been a domestic situation, perhaps it was a homicide-suicide.  Well, then we‘re told the story, Well, no, there was perhaps a boyfriend of one of the women who came.  He confronted this woman.  The resident assistant came and tried to intervene.  Then the gunman shot those two people and left.

Well, then the police chief says, Well, we had reason to believe he had left campus, maybe left the state.  Well, what is that reason?  Joe, as an investigator, unless I‘ve got the guy in handcuffs, if I‘ve got 26,000 students out there, you have to wonder what level of care and security were they going to enact for them.

Now, in the flip side of this, let me play devil‘s advocate.  How do you tell 26,000 students and 10,000 employees, many of whom drive back and forth onto campus, who aren‘t sitting in front of their e-mails—how do you advise them all at the same time?  The answer is right now...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well...

VAN ZANDT:  ... we can‘t, but you tell who you can, and otherwise, you shut the campus down.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and that‘s—that‘s just what I was going to ask you, Clint.  If you‘re in charge of this campus, if you‘re in charge of security for this campus, and if there‘s a shooting in a dorm room and two people are killed, you don‘t keep it to yourself.  If you‘ve got 20,000 young people on that campus, you do immediately notify them, right?

VAN ZANDT:  You do.  And you know, your initial comment was right, Joe, and it bothered me today, as—you know, we always wind up saying, Who are we going to hold responsible?  Who are we going to blame?  You know, in this case—I‘ve been involved in shootings.  I‘ve been involved in tragic situations as an FBI agent.  And you know from the news side and from your time in Congress how long it takes to really put together what‘s happening.

When bullets are flying and bodies are dropping, it‘s hard to have an understanding of everything that‘s going on.  So can I see a one, one-and-a-half-hour lapse of time take place?  I guess I can understand that.  But again, what is in place to notify everybody in campus?  Do we have, you know, like, air raid sirens that we can to set off in campus that blow all over the campus that tells everybody, Hunker down in the classroom or the dorm room.  Don‘t leave until we to do it.

If they don‘t have something like that, Joe—and realize this is an anomaly.  This is one half of one percent, at most, of incidents on a college campus.  You know, do we enact this?  There has to be lessons learned, Joe.  The loss of these young men and women...

SCARBOROUGH:  Right.

VAN ZANDT:  ... the potential that—you know, and again, Iraq sees these losses every day.  We don‘t in this country.  We‘ve got one little taste of it.  But there‘s got to be a lesson learned that can go across every college campus that says, Let‘s learn something.  Let‘s not all of these losses just—let...

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.

VAN ZANDT:  You know, there‘s got to be a reason for it.

SCARBOROUGH:  There certainly does.  And certainly, it would seem a good place to start would be when you have a shooting in a dorm room or in a campus, you know, if you don‘t have the man apprehended, you shut the campus down.

Stay with us, Clint, throughout the hour.  I want to bring in right now Franklin Graham.  He‘s president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, named after his father.  That organization right now is sending chaplains to Virginia Tech tonight.

And Reverend Graham, thank you for being with us.  What in the world do you tell parents tonight, those chaplains as they go on the Virginia Tech campus?  How do you explain to them that a loving God would allow this to happen?  How do you counsel them to get through this terrible time?

FRANKLIN GRAHAM, BILLY GRAHAM EVANGELISTIC ASSOC.:  Well, first of all, Joe, my prayers are with these families and the victims, and of course, the entire community there at Blacksburg.

First of all, we know that God loves us and God cares for us.  And there is a devil in this world.  There is evil, and we have seen this manifest itself today in the life of one individual who took the lives of these students.  It‘s a tragedy.  But God loves us very much, and I don‘t think we should ever forget his love for us that he has provided a way for us to be with him in heaven and that‘s through his son Jesus Christ.

But right now, we reach out to the those that survived, to their families, and just love them and be with them.  And these chaplains that we have had a lot of experience working in tragic areas not just in the Gulf but all cross the United States.  After 9/11, we formed this rapid response team.  And so they‘re there just to serve the community, to work with them and just to try to counsel them and love them and just be there for them.  And I think that‘s probably the most important thing we can do right now.

There‘s a lot of questions that everyone is asking, but right now, we just need to be with people and love them.

SCARBOROUGH:  And your association—again, you‘ve done so much throughout the years.  You certainly did it during Katrina along the Gulf Coast.  A lot of faith-based organizations really stepped up and did some things when they needed to.  In this case tonight, though, what  specifically do the chaplains tell these parents?  And what do you tell people that are watching tonight who would—who would ask you the question that so many people would ask me or other Christians, how does a loving God allow this to happen?

GRAHAM:  Well, I don‘t blame God for it, Joe.  This is what we have to understand.  There is—there is evil in this world.  There is a devil who‘s called the god of this age, who wants to seek and destroy your life and my life and every life.  And when a tragedy like this comes, I think it‘s time for us to remember how short life is, and we need to be prepared to stand before a holy God.  There is a God in heaven who cares for us, and we are going to have to stand before him.

And a tragedy like this doesn‘t increase the death rate in this world.  The Bible says (INAUDIBLE) to die, and after that, the judgment.  All of us are going to cross this valley of death one day, but right now, our focus is on the living, the families, the children there at that university, these students who‘ve been traumatized, who are discouraged, who are afraid.

And there‘s a lot of—you know, we don‘t go in with all the answers.  I think the point is we listen to them and try to answer the specific questions they ask.  But the most important thing is to reassure people of God‘s love, that God has not abandoned us in a time of tragedy like this.  God very much loves us.  He cares for us.  And this is a time where we as a country I think need to come together and be united and stand with these families at this time.

The blame game of who‘s responsible—we‘ll find that out sometime in the months to come.  But right now...

SCARBOROUGH:  All right...

GRAHAM:  ... that‘s not the issue, it‘s to care for these families and to pray for them.  That‘s the most important thing.  Everyone who‘s listening right now is to pray for these families.

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  And I remember reading something about your father.  After he‘d been in the ministry for so many decades, he was asked what struck him most about the life he had lived, and he had said, the brevity of it all, and certainly, that reality came crashing home today for so many people at Virginia Tech.  Thank you, Franklin Graham.  Greatly appreciate it, and appreciate the work in sending your counselors there.

And Clint, stay with us because still ahead, we‘re going to be taking a look at the history of on-campus violence as we ask the question: How do we stop this kind of attack?  That and a lot more when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Today‘s massacre at Virginia Tech brought to mind the tragedy at Columbine eight years ago this week.  But you know, it‘s just the latest in a long and violent and deadly string of school shootings in America.  NBC‘s chief investigative correspondent, Lisa Myers, has a story about campus violence in America and what schools are trying to do to stop it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA MYERS, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Until today, the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history was 90-minute homicidal rampage at the University of Texas.  In 1966, an engineering student climbed the clock tower and opened fire, killing 16.  In 1999, eight years ago this week, two students at Columbine High School who felt they‘d been bullied killed 13.  In 2002, a graduate student dismissed from Virginia‘s Appalachian School of Law killed the dean and two others.  Also that year, a failing student at the University of Arizona nursing college killed three of his instructors.

UNIDENTIFIED:  He did have multiple handguns in his possession...

MYERS:  The shooters were different ages.  Some had signs of mental illness.  But experts say most had one thing in common, an inability to deal with their rage.

VAN ZANDT:  They determined that they were going to act out their frustrations at the tip of a gun instead of sitting down and working these things out with a counselor.

MYERS:  In recent years, most colleges have improved security, especially at dorms.

MICHAEL SHEEHAN, NBC NEWS SECURITY EXPERT:  Classrooms generally have not been protected like dorms have.  And of course, the campus—most college campuses are wide open, so they‘re also—haven‘t been locked down at all.

MYERS (on camera):  Virginia Tech did have an emergency action plan, but it included only four pages on workplace violence, with the most obvious instructions: Call 911, evacuate, and take cover.

(voice-over):  Experts say even with sophisticated security, it‘s tough to stop a lone individual out to die.

VAN ZANDT:  Whether one is a suicide bomber in Iraq or a suicide shooter on campus, if they‘ve made up their mind and prepared to both kill and die, there‘s little we can do except perhaps kill them before they‘re able to act out.

MYERS:  And while there will be efforts to identify these individuals before they erupt in gunfire, experts agree tonight this day will happen again.

Lisa Myers, NBC News, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Here‘s Aaron Cohen.  He‘s a U.S. government SWAT team trainer who‘s trained the University of California Riverside police force.  Thank you for being with us tonight, Aaron.  Let‘s just ask the $64,000 question.  Is there really anything that can be done to stop these type of killings, the type that we saw in Lisa Myers‘s package and the type that we saw earlier today at Virginia Tech?

AARON COHEN, U.S. GOVERNMENT SWAT TEAM TRAINER:  Yes, Joe, I do believe that there‘s something that can be done, and it involves the most basic training at the patrol level.  After Columbine, in the tactical community, myself and my instructors noticed that a lot of this events tactical SWAT training was supposed to be flooding into patrol units.  And the logic was, OK, SWAT is going to be able to show up in time, so patrol can‘t stand around.  They got to go inside and go do the work.

Problem is, it hasn‘t flooded successfully.  Problem is, is that it costs money.  Problem is, is that most of the SWAT teams in this country, not even thinking about patrol, are part-time SWAT units with limited time, limited funds, limited equipment and limited resources.  Now what we see is we‘ve seen...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Go ahead, Aaron.

COHEN:  I‘m just—here‘s what I‘m trying to bring out, Joe.  Here‘s what I‘m trying to bring out.  With what we saw right here with this B-roll, the bottom line is, is that these guys need to go inside.  They can‘t stand around.  They need to go directly to the threat.  And the mindset has to be to pull them out of this anti-warrior mentality that they‘ve been pressured into because of liability, and they need to be able to make that switch and go from passive to active and go directly to the threat.  The sooner they neutralize the threat, the sooner the threat can‘t kill people.  And it‘s just a question of going inside and doing the job.

SCARBOROUGH:  And speaking of passive, of course, you know the word is that the first murders occurred at 7:15 AM this morning.  They waited two-and-a-half hours.  Lisa Myers‘s package talked about how they had the most basic of instructions—call 911, evacuate.  They didn‘t even—they didn‘t even seem to do the most basic of things, which would be to notify students on this campus if there is a gunman out there that they haven‘t accounted for and to lock the campus down.  Now, how hard would it have been for them at 7:15 to lock down this campus?

COHEN:  You know, I don‘t disagree, Joe, with anything you‘re saying.  The bottom line here is that in addition to the training for patrol, there needs to be emergency response and shut-down procedures that are going to be adequate.  And what we saw here was a complete failure in planning and proper execution of whatever plans they had in place.  We heard there was only four pages or so.

The bottom line is, is that there was no communication.  I don‘t know whether there were phones inside these classrooms to deal with to pick up and call everybody on the campus.  There wasn‘t a bullhorn system, or some type of emergency bullhorn system, where teachers can come outside and at least scream into the bullhorns and say, Listen, everybody off the campus.

The emergency procedures obviously were ineffective, and we saw today a clear failure of proper planning.  So there‘s a lot of things involved here.  But the most basic is going back to your first question, which is you got to get to the threat.

SCARBOROUGH:  You got to go to the threat.  You got to be aggressive. 

I agree.  Aaron Cohen, thank you so much.  Greatly appreciate it.

And I‘ll tell you what, in these age of cellphones, where everybody has a cell phone, there‘s a way to keep in touch with people inside those classrooms and warn them of a coming threat, especially if you have two-and-a-half hours.

Now, when we come back, we‘re going to hear from some of the students who witnessed the massacre but who fortunately lived to talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s so hard to describe, just people shot, just blood pretty much everywhere, just completely unreal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  So how terrifying was it inside the classrooms at Virginia Tech today?  Well, NBC‘s Brian Williams spoke with a student who met the gunman up close and personal and risked his life to stop him from getting back into his classroom.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TREY PERKINS, EYEWITNESS:  We were both sitting in German class.  She actually sits right in front of me.  It was about—I remember looking at my clock and it was 9:35.  And about 10 minutes later, we heard some gunshots across the hall.  Or we really didn‘t know what it was at the time.

After we heard that, a man just ran in.  He shot our professor.  And he—we all just got on the ground really quick, and he just continued to shoot.  And I mean, I was just praying that, you know, I would be OK and as many people around me would be OK, as well.  And I‘m incredibly fortunate I wasn‘t hit.

WILLIAMS:  So you just dove under desks.

PERKINS:  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  Did you pile together at all, or were you all individuals?

PERKINS:  It was a very small class, so there weren‘t a lot of people to get together.  So we just kind of—I turned a couple desks over to try to get that between us and the shooter.  He shot for probably a minute-and-a-half.

And after that, he left.  And I got up.  I saw Derek.  He had been hit in the arm.  And another girl in our class, as well.  She was standing up.  And we went over to the door and the three of us were just trying to keep it shut.  And he eventually tried to come back in.  He was pushing on the door, trying to get back in, but we were holding it shut with our feet and our hands.  And he shot through the door four or five times.  Fortunately, none of us were hit when he was shooting through the door.

And after that, he finally just went away, and I just started looking around.  And I went over to another student who had been shot in the leg.  I just took my sweatshirt off and kind of put it on his leg to try to stop the bleeding, just tried to do whatever I could.  And then we just—police arrived pretty shortly after that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Unbelievable.  No telling how many lives he saved.

Still ahead, the debate over gun control and much more when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Today‘s tragedy at Virginia Tech has once again sparked a national debate about gun violence.  Tonight, there are calls for tighter gun control.  The Violence Policy Center, a group that lobbies for gun control, issuing this statement.  Quote:  “Today‘s shooting at Virginia Tech is only the latest in a continuing series over the past two decades.  These tragedies are inevitable and an inevitable result of the ease with which firepower necessary to slaughter dozens of innocents can be obtained.  We routinely search for the reason for the tragedy except for the most obvious:  the easy access to increasingly lethal firearms.

Here now, Paul Helmke.  He‘s the president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.  We also have with us Brent Bozell, founder of the Parents Television Council.  And also John Ridley, a frequent commentator on National Public Radio.  He‘s also the author of “The American Way.” 

Paul, we begin with you.  Would gun control have saved lives today?  I mean, I got press releases from pro-Second Amendment-rights groups who were saying that, because these students weren‘t allowed to carry guns, because it was a gun-free zone, that‘s what caused this slaughter. 

PAUL HELMKE, PRESIDENT, BRADY CAMPAIGN:  Obviously what we‘re doing now isn‘t working.  There‘s very few gun control laws in this country; basically just the background checks when someone buys from a federally licensed dealer are the only real restrictions we have. 

It‘s eight years since Columbine.  We‘ve done nothing.  It‘s six months since the Amish country shootings.  We‘ve done nothing.  I think we need to have a national debate on gun violence.

And right now, we do make it too easy for too many people to get guns that have too much power.  And having everyone carry a gun in a classroom, that‘s not the answer.  But if someone wants to suggest that as a solution, let‘s have that debate.  Let‘s get the facts and statistics out there.  What we‘re doing it now is not working, and ignoring the fact that guns are what are causing this level of brutality is something we need to face directly.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, Brent Bozell, Paul talked about Columbine.  I remember, after Columbine, a lot of people wringing their hands, not only about gun control, but also talking about trying to regulate the violence that our children, that my children, that everybody‘s children sees, not only on the airwaves, but also on video game systems.

You know, and the thing is, I remember—speaking of eight years ago, I remember my son‘s playing a James Bond video game.  It just stunned me, because it would actually show somebody with a gun going up and killing a very lifelike human figure.  My gosh, eight years later, the level of violence on these very realistic video games just more extreme than ever.  Is that part of the problem, too? 

BRENT BOZELL, PARENTS TELEVISION COUNCIL:  I think it is.  After Columbine, Les Moonves, the president of CBS, famously stated, “Anyone who thinks there isn‘t a connection between violence on television and real-world violence is an idiot.”  Since uttering those words, violence on primetime television, during the family hour, is up 45 percent.  During the 9:00 hour, it‘s up 92 percent.  And during the 10:00 hour, it‘s up 167 percent.  Fifty-four percent of all crimes on television involve death. 

And then, if you look at other forms of violence, there were 624 documented examples of torture on primetime television.  This is the broadcast airwaves.  So it‘s everywhere.  It‘s in your video games.  It‘s at your movie theaters.  It‘s in your rap music. 

I‘m not saying that Hollywood caused the death of 32 students today, but it is a culture of death that‘s surrounding us everywhere.  And I think don‘t think there‘s a single element in society that can walk away from this and say, “Well, it‘s just not me.  People have to be more responsible.” 

Look, there‘s a sickness out there. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, there really is.  And, John Ridley, you‘ve been a Hollywood screenwriter.  You understand how to balance the First Amendment and also the need to protect our children.  How do we sort through this, protect the First Amendment, but at the same say, “Enough is enough, our kids are seeing way too much violence out there”?

JOHN RIDLEY, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO:  You raise a good point, Joe, with protecting the First Amendment.  But I think you can protect the First Amendment and still restrict access.  And there are two things we have to do:  one is restrict access and make sure that R-rated material, NC-17-rated material is restricted to individuals who are under 17 years of age.

And it‘s not just at the movie theaters, but the Federal Trade Commission, which has been looking into the propagation of violence since Columbine has found that something like 81 percent of purchasers who are under the age of 17, who buy DVDs that are rater R, can buy these at whatever store and walk out with them.

So much as the way that we restrict cigarette sales, we need to do the same thing with violence and make sure that—it‘s one thing to make it.  It‘s one thing to make sure that adults who are reasonable and want to watch this, for whatever reason, have access to it.  It‘s another thing to make sure that it‘s only going to adults.

And, also, in terms of marketing, there was a big thing at the Federal Trade Commission about marketing. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly. 

RIDLEY:  Just a few weeks ago, Joe, there was a horror film called “Captivity” that had some shocking images that were on buses, that were on billboards, that were on bus stops.  It‘s one thing if people want to buy their money, go into a theater and watch these things.  If I‘m driving my kids to school—as you said, I work in Hollywood.  I make my living.  That doesn‘t mean I want my kids to see every single thing that‘s out there.  It‘s about marketing, as well.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, that‘s so interesting, Brent—well, Brent, I just wanted to say, what‘s so interesting about the marketing issue, Brent, is the fact that, I know, when I‘m sitting down watching a football game or I‘m watching other programming that‘s designed to get in young, male viewers, let‘s say 15 to 35, that I‘m going to get a lot of advertisement for horror movies.  And it‘s just like, as John said—we were so concerned about cigarette companies marketing to young kids.  That is exactly what Hollywood executives are doing.  If they know a lot of young males are doing it, I‘ll guarantee you a horror film or a murder film or a slasher film will be marketed in there.  So what do you do about that, Brent?

BOZELL:  What did Quentin Tarantino say about “Kill Bill” or—I think it was “Kill Bill.”  He said he wanted his target market to be 13-year-old girls to go see this movie.

Look, if everyone working in Hollywood just listened to John Ridley and were as responsible as John Ridley, we wouldn‘t have had this problem in Hollywood.  He is showing the quintessential example of responsibility.  He‘s saying there‘s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it.  That‘s all.  No one‘s saying you have to ban violence.  My goodness, you had it with Shakespeare.

HELMKE:  Great discussion here, but let‘s not forget, without access to guns, you‘re not going to be seeing this level of violence, either.  And I think it‘s great...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Whoa, whoa, Paul.  Let me ask you, I lived in Washington

hold on a second, Paul.

HELMKE:  OK.

SCARBOROUGH:  I lived in Washington, D.C., for eight years.  I had to move off the Hill, three blocks from Capitol Hill, I had to move out to Virginia because it was safer in Virginia because it seemed that all of us that wanted to keep our jobs on Capitol Hill didn‘t carry guns, but the people that lived 10 blocks away would wonder into our neighborhoods and hold people up didn‘t have that same concern.  If gun control were the answer, why wouldn‘t Washington, D.C., be the safest city in America?

HELMKE:  It‘s because we really don‘t have gun control in this country.  You can‘t talk about a handgun ban...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Try walking down the street in Washington, D.C., with a handgun and tell me whether there‘s gun control there or not? 

HELMKE:  The catch is—you know, I was a mayor in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for 12 years.  I‘ve seen violence in the streets.  I‘ve dealt with the police department.  I‘ve dealt with the neighborhoods.

The only real restriction on guns that‘s effective nationwide are the Brady background checks.  What one city does, what one state does, we‘ve got porous borders, people go over there. 

And it‘s interesting that, when we talk about restricting DVDs, when we talked about restricting tobacco, let‘s start talking about restricting some of these guns.  Right now, you can buy a semiautomatic with all sorts of huge clips and there are no restrictions on them.  There‘s no federal assault weapon ban.  There‘s no Virginia assault weapons ban.  There‘s very few restrictions.  If you buy it at a show, you don‘t even have to do the background check.  Those are the...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  We‘re going to have to leave, but, John, let me ask you a quick prediction.  Do you think Hollywood, do you think the executives are going to do anything to try to clean up violence or at least the marketing of violence as we move forward?

RIDLEY:  I would hope they would, but I would say that I do agree with Joe.  I think we‘ve got to look at every aspect of this.  I hope that we in Hollywood do our job, but if I‘m offering to meet in the middle, I certainly hope that the gun lobby does, as well. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Brent, what do you think?

BOZELL:  I‘m just listening to John and enjoying him. 

HELMKE:  And I‘m happy to meet in the middle with—I‘m looking for commonsense stuff here on all these issues, too.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know what?  You know, I‘ve had a lot of guests on with Brent Bozell; I‘ve never once had him say, “Ditto.”

All right, thank you so much.  I greatly appreciate it.  You know, the thing is, friends, there are so many tragedies out there, and it seems to me that we as a country have been divided in the past.  I hope, when we have such tragedies of unspeakable scale, that we can have people meeting in the middle, like our last panel suggested that they do.  It‘s certainly something that, you know, past our time, certainly on violence coming out of Hollywood and violence coming—again, especially things that my children have seen, not only on TV, but also in video games.  Unspeakable tragedies, and I think a lot of them can be avoided. 

Coming up next, how could this happen again?  We‘re going to be talking to one of the survivors of Columbine right after the break. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think we did everything we could, based on what we knew at that time.  As you appreciate when you only have minutes to take these actions, and we certainly don‘t want to take actions that are inappropriate. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Now let‘s bring in Dane Miller.  He‘s a freshman at Virginia Tech.  He heard gun shots this morning during class in the building next door to where these shootings took place.

And, Dane, I understand you were next to both of the shootings, first in your dorm room, where the shooting was in the dorm room next to you.  Then you walked to class, and you were in the building right next to the classrooms where the second group of shootings occurred.  Did anybody warn you before you made your walk from your dorm room over to the class that there was a gunman on the loose? 

DANE MILLER, VIRGINIA TECH FRESHMAN:  No, they didn‘t.  When I woke up, I could look out of my window and see West Ambler Johnston.  And I saw about 10 cop cars out there, but I‘ve seen emergency vehicles there before, so—and I hadn‘t gotten any e-mails, so I didn‘t really think anything of it, and I just went to class. 

SCARBOROUGH:  So you walked across from Ambler Johnston to Norris Hall.  Once you got over—are those areas—once you got to your classroom, talk about when you heard the gunshots explode inside the classroom? 

MILLER:  When it was about 9:40, we started hearing a lot of sirens, and we thought that there might have been another bomb scare like there was last week.  We looked out the window.  We saw a lot of police vehicles, and then we started to see a lot of SWAT vans.  We were told to lock ourselves into the classroom and not let anyone in, barricade the door.  And a few minutes later, about 9:45, we heard several shots fired out the window. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, is there a feeling among Virginia Tech students that the campus police may not have done enough to warn you of the danger that you were walking into, again, when you walked across campus, almost right into the scene of the crime?

MILLER:  I‘ve talked to several people about it, and most of them think that there definitely should have been at least a delay in the start of classes, until the police department had kind of established what was going on, maybe given us some warning, and maybe this sort of thing wouldn‘t have happened. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Talk about, briefly if you can, what‘s the mood on the campus there tonight?  I‘m sure they‘re shocked.  Talk about it for a minute. 

MILLER:  It seems like everyone is pretty shaken up.  Nothing like this really ever happens here.  I mean, we had something happen earlier in the year, but nothing even approaching this.  This is something you would expect to happen in a big city, not like a little town like Blacksburg.  Everyone seems really shaken up.  A lot of parents are offering to take kids home.  There‘s talk about ending the semester early.  Everyone just seems really shaken up. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Just an unspeakable tragedy, Dane.  We certainly are thankful you‘re OK.  Thank you for being with us, Dane Miller. 

And, of course, you know, Virginia Tech is not the first school to experience this type of violence.  Almost eight years ago to the day, two teenagers shot and killed 12 of their classmates and one teacher at Columbine High School.  We‘re joined now by a survivor of that shooting, Craig Scott.  His sister, Rachel, tragically was killed there, but Craig now works with teens to prevent violence through a school program called Rachel‘s Challenge. 

Tell me, Craig, how are we doing as a country, facing up to Rachel‘s Challenge?  Are we doing enough to stop these types of incidences from happening on college campuses?

CRAIG SCOTT, SISTER KILLED AT COLUMBINE:  Well, I think that there are some things that we learned from Columbine that our family travels now and shares across the country and mostly in schools.  And I‘ve met a lot of teenagers across the schools.  I‘ve spoken to over a million people, mostly young people, across the states, in other countries.  And I know some of the things influencing and affecting my generation and teens today. 

And could we be doing better?  Yes, we could.  I think some of the things said on the panel before, as far the influences through media and Hollywood and entertainment industry, I think that is a great point, because my generation is a very media-saturated generation.  And we‘re constantly being affected a lot of times by very shallow, empty messages through the entertainment industry. 

And what we do in the schools—what I do is I just go in and share a story that really grips the teen‘s hearts and then give them challenges, five challenges that we learned from Columbine.  And one of those is to step out in compassion, to show kindness, which is really what my sister did when she was alive.  And she made a big difference in a lot of people‘s lives, and I feel like kindness and compassion can be a big antidote to some of the anger and hurt that teens are feeling.

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, she really did.  And I was going to ask you, Craig, though, tonight, if you can show compassion for the parents, for the friends, for the family members, the brothers and the sisters of the loved ones that they lost today, eight years later.  Step back to where you were after Columbine.  And what advice would you give to these parents that are going through just a terrible, terrible situation tonight? 

SCOTT:  Well, I think that your lives, their lives will never be the same, that this is a day that they‘ll forever remember, and I hope that they can hold onto the great memories that they had with their loved ones, and hopefully there can be 32 wonderful stories of wonderful people. 

We have a wonderful story of my sister to share, and that‘s what we do.  And I tell people of the kind of person she was.  And it really challenges people, really inspires them, and my sister has become a role model for a lot of people. 

And so I know they‘re in shock and probably just grieving with their family right now.  And I don‘t even know if they‘re going to be watching all the news, but I‘m sure they‘re just in deep hurt, and hopefully people across this country can be praying for them.  Hopefully their community, not just today, not just this next week or these next few weeks, for this next year can be there, for these people, help send them a meal, do anything they can. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, again, it goes back to what you were talking about, what Rachel did on that today, and that is, show compassion.  We all need to show a lot more compassion and certainly keep these people in our prayers. 

Thank you so much, Craig.  We appreciate you being with us and the work you do everyday.  We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, it‘s been such a long and tragic day for everybody that‘s been involved in these Virginia Tech shootings.  MSNBC‘s Tucker Carlson arrived in Blacksburg, Virginia, just a short time ago.

And, Tucker, what was your first impression of the scene when you got there?  

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST:  Well, we were at an Edwards press conference in Nashville, my producer and I, attempting to spend—we were planning to spend the next couple days with Edwards.  He comes out for this press conference, really almost doesn‘t know what to say, the tragedy was just too big. 

He didn‘t, to his credit, make any effort to make a policy statement in response to it.  We knew right then this was the story.  We hopped in the car, spent six hours getting here, and arrived to see this kind of amazing media-built instant city, with hundreds and hundreds of reporters, and camera crews, and trucks.  And they‘ve just taken this whole town over.  It‘s unbelievable. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, I‘ve heard that some of the parents are flooding onto the campus and talking about actually taking other students off campus and driving them home.  Is this a campus that pretty soon is going to be inhabited by more members of the media than students? 

CARLSON:  It already looks that way, at least from our vantage.  We walked in and saw a couple of students, some of them crying.  It was immediately emotionally wrenching, and then what seemed like hundreds of reporters.  And, of course, the irony is, even with all the press here, there‘s so much we don‘t know and so much that has been misreported already, and again and again conjecture, and policy prescriptions taking the place of facts.  And we still don‘t even know the name of the gunman.  And there‘s been conjecture that, you know, maybe there was another gunman.

So we don‘t even know the what, where, why and how of this, and already people are calling for the federal government to step in and do this, that or the other thing.  Never had so many reporters come up with so little information. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and, of course, you also have special interest groups that are already sending out press releases.  Doesn‘t it seem unbecoming, before we even know the murderer is, before we know who the poor students were that were killed, and the teachers that were killed, for people to try to take political advantage of this story?

CARLSON:  Well, it‘s disgusting.  It‘s repulsive.  And I think, to the credit of a lot of politicians on both sides, Democrats and Republicans, there has been a kind of rhetorical cease-fire for those most part.  Almost all political business is off tomorrow. 

If you have a political show like I do, there‘s going to be nothing to talk about tomorrow, as the nation turns its attention to this story.  But you‘ve just got to hope that the attention will be on the families of these 30-odd students who were killed, at least for a little while, to soak in, you know, the enormity of the tragedy before, you know, turning on a dime and telling America what we ought to do next.

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.  MSNBC‘s Tucker Carlson, thank you so much. 

And I would just ask everybody here to follow the advice of Franklin Graham earlier this evening on this show and pray for these families.  They need it.  Thank you for being with us tonight.

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

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2007 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2007 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

transcript

Watch Scarborough Country each weeknight at 9 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,