ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
September 17, 2013
Guest: John Morse, Angela Giron, Dave Cullen, Lucia McBath, Maya Wiley
CHRIS HAYES, HOST: Good evening, from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Tonight, we know the names of the victims of our latest national mass
shooting national nightmare. This time, it was 12 adults murdered eating
breakfast beginning their workdays. And this time, the national response
has been reduced to the one thing the country`s political leaders seem
capable of pulling of: a moment of silence -- just as they have done every
single time we have faced this horror.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: Members and those in the gallery will
please rise and observe a moment of silence in memory of the victims of
violence at Ft. Hood.
HAYES (voice-over): A mass shooting and a traumatized nation, observes a
moment of silence. After Tucson, the president and first lady led the
After Aurora, Congressman Ed Perlmutter of Colorado.
REP. ED PERLMUTTER (D), COLORADO: So I ask that all of you stand with me
and our delegation, in a moment of silence.
HAYES: And after Newtown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Speaker, I would ask that the House now rise.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I ask all present to rise
and to observe a moment of silence.
HAYES: But in the wake of Newtown, the silence broke as President Obama
did more than just observe a moment of quiet reflection.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These tragedies must end,
and to end them we must change.
HAYES: This was a breaking point -- and the White House was ready to act.
The president signed 23 executive orders on gun safety and called for new
legislation, including universal background checks and an assault weapons
ban. The White House began a full corps press on harnessing public
opinion, moving lawmakers into their column.
But the NRA also went to work, having developed a script for how to deal
with these now routine moments of horrific massive gun violence. First,
lay low for a couple of days. Next, move the discussion to other factors
like mental health.
WAYNE LAPIERRE, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: Given our nation`s refusal to
create an active national database of the mentally ill.
HAYES: And violent video games.
LAPIERRE: Vicious, violent video games.
HAYES: Then, just go to town on legislators. The NRA and its legislative
arm outspending pro-gun lobbying efforts by hundreds of thousands of
dollars, and more importantly, rallying their 5 million members to deluge
congressional offices with letter and calls, to terrify them away from
crossing over into support of even minimal legislation.
This time, though, it looked like the game plan might actually fail. Even
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a pro-gun Democrat with an A-rating
from the NRA, a man who got elected with this campaign ad, that Joe Manchin
took the lead. Manchin worked with the NRA to arrive at a watered down
background check bill.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: Defeated, the post-Newtown gun control
legislation goes down in the Senate.
HAYES: But after helping author this weakened alternative measure, the NRA
turned around and successfully killed that bill, along with all the others,
because this is what they do.
And when the White House`s attempt at gun safety went down to defeat, the
normally unflappable president was anything but.
OBAMA: The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill. All in
all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.
HAYES: The state by state score card is hardly any better. Since Newtown,
four states passed laws for a limited measure of gun safety. But 18 states
have expanded gun rights, gun safety measures in 10 other states are in the
process, many of them stalled.
HAYES: The NRA wasn`t satisfied with their efforts and one of the few
states that passed a gun control law, Colorado, the NRA found its next
target -- Colorado State Senate President John Morse and State Senator
Angela Heron, who in a remarkable act of political courage supported three
gun safety measures, including background checks and limiting magazines to
15 rounds. Those two lawmakers were recalled, the first such recall in the
state`s entire history.
That recall in one part of the nation, just six days before another
shooting horror played out, this time in the nation`s capital, and today,
in the well of the U.S. Senate, the majority leader of the United States
Senate did just about all he could do from that position.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY: I wish we could do more, but I do ask
that we now ask unanimous consent that the Senate now observe a moment of
silence in honor of the victims in the Navy Yard, those killed and those
suffering from the wounds inflicted in that terrible day that occurred not
far from the capital.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without objection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: With me now are former State Senators John Morse and Angela Giron,
Democrats from Colorado.
I have to ask you both -- how you are feeling having lost this recall six
or seven days ago, watching what played out yesterday.
STATE SEN. ANGELA GIRON (D), COLORADO: Well, Chris, obviously certainly
disappointed here in Colorado six days ago, but knowing that those laws
still exist and they will go on. And Colorado did some great things in
this last legislative session.
But, of course, I would want to give my condolences to everybody at the
Navy Yard, victims and victims` families. And like you, and I`m sure like
John, we`re tired of having to do this, these moments of silence.
And so, we will not stay silent. We`re going to be talking about this and
we`re going to continue to confront the NRA.
HAYES: Yes, Senator Morse, what is -- what is your take away from this? I
think a lot of people have drawn the lesson that the NRA wants you to draw.
You cross us and this is what happens to you. What do you say to other
state legislators out there or members of Congress who are going to be
maybe voting on gun safety legislation, having gun through what you`ve gone
STATE SEN. JOHN MORSE (D), COLORADO: Again, the price that we paid are so
small in comparison to what these families are paying. And now, we have 12
more or arguably 15 more families that are going to have to pay this cost.
I think as leaders, we need to stand up, recognize this as something that
we can prevent and we have a duty to prevent it. So that nobody has to go
through this instead of just ceremonially saying, yes, this is really too
It`s worse than too bad. It`s unconscionable and it`s preventable in large
streams. And we ought to be taking the stand to make sure that it is. And
each of those legislators around the country, ought to look into those
families` and those victims` faces and say to them, there`s really nothing
more that I can do. See if they can do it, because we couldn`t do it.
HAYES: One of the things that is perverse about the discussion we have
about legislating around gun safety, Senator Giron, is the fact that in
order to make some kind of piece of legislation, something that could get
passed, it has to be fairly tailored and fairly marginal around the edges,
right? We have the Second Amendment which creates individual right as
Supreme Court has found, and then there are things we can do around
magazine capacity or certain kinds of weapons and perversely, advocates of
maximalist gun rights will turn around and say, well, that`s not going to
stop a person who`s intent on doing harm.
What do you say to that argument?
GIRON: Well, in fact, we know that in this particular case, that this man
who went and gunned down people would probably not have passed a background
check had he went to purchase some firearms. So, I mean, what we have said
all along is that, there is no perfect law, but certainly, universal
background checks, which 90 percent of Americans agree to and believe in,
as well as 60-some percent of NRA members.
And limiting capacity magazines to 15, that is so reasonable, that`s what
police carry, and we know that in some of these shootings and these
massacres, that these huge rounds, 100-round magazines, that when they jam,
it really gives them opportunities. So, we do know it can make a
HAYES: Senator Morse, do you think you were defeated by the gun lobby or
by gun owners? Which is to say, sometimes I think we who favor more gun
safety legislation can create the NRA into being this monstrous entity that
in some ways serves these purposes. Was this a product of the gun lobby or
were your constituents really angry at you for the vote you took?
MORSE: In my view, it`s 100 percent the gun lobby. They bought the
signatures to force the election in the first place. They sent flyers
before the signatures were gathered. They paid for television
advertisements. They did all kinds of misinformation and disinformation
So, there are a lot of gun owners. I`m a gun owner in my district that
actually say, look, we can be responsible gun owners and it doesn`t mean
that we need to fully arm our mentally ill to where when they want to
create mayhem, they can do it quickly and easily. So, I actually -- I
don`t think it was the gun owners in my district, I think it was more the
NRA and the way they whipped up the frenzy as they always do.
HAYES: So, what is, Senator Giron, what is the recipe for defeating them?
I mean, we -- I think you are sick, and Senator Morse is sick, the
president is sick, I`m sick, everyone watching this is sick of this just
absolutely brutally macabre national ritual that we have these once in a
while and we shake our heads and we move on. What is the solution to
beating the NRA, to beating the gun lobby?
GIRON: You know, I think we`ll continue to -- I know I will -- to expose
the NRA for what it is. It is no longer a gun owner`s organization. It`s
a manufacturer`s organization. That`s how they`re benefiting.
If you look at their board members, they`re all manufacturers, they`re all
making money. And I think that the more we can inform people and inform
NRA members about what`s really going on here. It`s just follow the money
and people are dying because of greed and their continuing effort to
convince people that more guns equals safety.
In this case in particular, we can look at it was a Naval Yard. You
couldn`t have had anymore armed people than in that case right there. And
so, we know that`s not the case. The data doesn`t show that. And so, we
just continue to be out there.
You know, in our case here, I mean, our seats were taken away, certainly
not in on our terms, but our voices will not be silenced and we will
continue to be out there beating this drum, because at least for me, this
wasn`t an issue. I mean, I went to the state legislature for many other
issues, this was not one.
But I have been probably forever branded with this. And so, I will be out
there continuing to be able to let people know what`s really going on here.
HAYES: You didn`t choose guns, guns chose you.
Former State Senator John Morse and Angela Giron, thank you very much.
GIRON: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Yesterday, as word spread about the shootings, everyone started
creating a mental profile of the perpetrator. I know you probably did, I
did. Well, today, we find out how he lived, up to some of our
expectations, but also the surprising details of a veteran and Buddhist
that committed mass murder. I`ll be joined by two friends of his in a
HAYES: We have really been enjoying hearing directly from you on our
Facebook page. And for tonight`s question, I want to ask you about gun
violence. OK. If politics were no obstacle, what would actual
comprehensive meaningful gun safety legislation actually look like? You`re
your answers on Facebook.com/allinwithchris. I`ll share a couple later on
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTI SUTHAMTEWAKUL, FRIEND FO AARON ALEXIS: He just had this new passion
for life. So he was trying just to get out on his own and secure a good,
MICHAEL RITROVATO, FRIEND OF AARON ALEXIS: It hurts because we considered
him part of our family out here. And it just hurts us to think that he
would do something like that. We don`t understand why he would snap and do
something to this magnitude. We don`t understand. It`s just -- we don`t
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I spoke with those people earlier today. They knew the man named
Aaron Alexis, they were sitting in the same Texas restaurant where he once
worked, the same spot in which he sits in this photo that was released
today. They called him a friend.
As more details emerge about the man considered responsible for yesterday`s
mass shooting, we are beginning to get a clearer picture of who he was. It
is a picture that in some ways confirms and in other important ways
confounds the profiles and stereotypes we have in our heads of what kind of
person does this sort of thing.
Aaron Alexis was not a loaner. He was a practicing Buddhist. Some
described as gentle, a helpful guy who liked to watch cooking shows on TV.
While others who knew him say he was paranoid and delusional, someone with
a long history of anger issues, mental illness and gun possession, which is
looking to be the deadly combination that took 12 people`s lives.
The former Navy reservist had shown a pattern of misconduct in military was
cited at least eight times, and was given an honorable discharge from the
military over two years. That pattern included an arrest record but did
not prevent Alexis from receiving low level security clearance good for 10
years from the Navy in 2008.
As NBC News reports, it`s unclear whether the government didn`t know or
wasn`t concerned about Alexis` prior arrest. In 2004, Alexis shot the
tires of a parked car near his house in Seattle. He told police he had
experienced an anger fueled blackout, did not remember the incident until
In 2010, Alexis fired a shot into a neighbor`s floor from his apartment
below in Ft. Worth, Texas. Alexis told police his gun had gone off while
he was cleaning it. But a neighbor said Alexis has harassed about supposed
noises coming from her apartment and believed the shooting was deliberate.
Alexis was never convicted of anything and was not legally prevented from
buying guns. Just last month, Alexis checked into a Rhode Island hotel and
called authorities to complain he was hearing voices and being followed.
Alexis told police he heard voices speaking to him through the wall,
flooring and ceiling, that people he believed were following him were also
using a microwave machine to send vibrations and prevent him from sleeping.
A short time later, Alexis sought treatment from a nearby V.A. hospital.
Officials tell NBC News it would have been illegal for the V.A. to report
that he was seeking psychiatric treatment.
Joining me now is Dave Cullen, author of the book "Columbine," about the
1999 Colorado school shooting.
I want you to talk a really provocative piece that you wrote today about
how we handled talking about the shooter.
Before that, though, I was gutted by this report today about him calling
the authorities and saying people were vibrating his bed and he was hearing
voices, because one of the rituals that we go through in this horrific
national pattern of watching mass shooting happen is we talk about mental
health. And sometimes it seems actually not that grounded in the facts of
the matter. It`s just one of the things we do to make sense of it.
Hearing that made me think we are now dealing with looks like someone who
was genuinely mentally ill in the way that we all recognize as needing
DAVE CULLEN, AUTHOR: Right. And, you know, I heard from some mental
health experts who are sort of mentors to me, and, in fact, I got a public
apology I need to make about one thing, because I referred to him by name,
but as the goon who did this yesterday in my piece and was immediately
chastised for that, because the point my mentor Dr. Auckberg (ph) said is,
we have to treat these people differently when they turn out to be mentally
And, clearly, there`s evidence in this case, it`s a different kind of
situation and he was. We need to put them in a whole different category,
treat them much more sympathetically. So, people are going to hate me for
HAYES: I mean, this gets to bedrock stuff about where we draw the line
between moral culpability and illness and obviously this is something that
can be litigated in the court of law with an actual affirmative defense,
about being not guilty because of mental illness.
How -- when we see someone like Lanza or the boys of Columbine, we think
they`re not well. They`re in sick in some way, but that`s a different,
you`re saying that actually like diagnosed mental --
CULLEN: Very, very, completely differently.
And I can tell you, you know, I have spent so much time with a psychologist
talking about these kinds of people. I`ll tell you one kind of way, we
don`t with this situation, but see sometimes with these kinds of people,
and with paranoid schizophrenics, where it`s not necessarily that they
don`t understand what they`re doing, but sometimes they feel voices are
inside their head different forces are inside their head and taking
control. And they`re in terrible fear. They live in terrible fear.
And the biggest fear comes from the fact that it comes and goes. So, they
have really lucid days and they know the bad days and the days I`m doing
the bad things, and oh, my God, it`s coming back.
HAYES: And that is what is so striking about the record of this
individual, as it comes into focus, is that you -- I was talking to his two
friends earlier today and they`re just talking about a person who, you
know, was a friend of theirs, and then we have these episodes that sound
incredibly dark and foreboding, particularly when we know what he did
later. We are talking about the shooting right now because there is a
human desire to get to the bottom of this, to make sense of it.
You wrote a piece for "BuzzFeed" today in which you said, let`s just not
name these shooters. If there was an aspect to this that is performance,
why did you write that piece?
CULLEN: A big aspect. Well, because, you know, I`ve been doing this and
I`ve been doing this for a long time.
HAYES: It`s been 14 years of doing this. And you must feel sick of it
too. It`s like oh, we should call Dave Cullen because another one of these
CULLEN: I know, the murder -- yes, sometimes I really hate that. You
know, I think in the beginning, and I call Columbine the beginning, because
that really moved us into a different phase of this, partly Oklahoma City,
although that was terrorist, and that was kind of different thing. But
those two together really move us into a different era and took us from
killing typically one or two people into these events, killing 15, 20, 30
and adding bombing and trying to kill hundreds sometimes, and really into a
whole different phase.
And really raising the stakes where they`re always trying to too much each
other. And we in the media contribute to that I think without realizing it
by keeping score, by saying this is the biggest thing since blah, blah,
blah. Or today, I heard a lot of references like, you know, the five
biggest have been in the last five years.
HAYES: Right, yes.
CULLEN: That`s communicating to potential people, go big or go home.
HAYES: This is a mark of importance, that actually there`s something
really sick about what we do in covering it. And, of course, it is the way
that we are making editorial decisions about the news worthiness of
something because there are 15 people shot, you know, urban centers around
the country every day.
CULLEN: Right, exactly.
HAYES: And the theatricality of this is what changes your mind. Does it
change your mind to think that someone actually was suffering from pre-
diagnosable and clear mental illness?
CULLEN: Not in this point. I mean, it changed my mind about a lot of
things. But no, I mean, I think all these kinds of people -- it`s not
necessarily a direct driver, or even a conscious driver. It`s not like oh,
I want to be on "America`s Got Talent", and win that, or something. You
know, it`s not that desire for fame as we often think of fame.
But it is more like an option, I`m lashing out, I`ve got I don`t know what
to do. I need to do --
HAYES: There`s something out there. And I have seen something modeled,
some behavior modeled, and that is something I cling on.
CULLEN: Exactly, exactly.
HAYES: Dave Cullen, author of "Columbine", great thanks.
CULLEN: Thank you.
HAYES: Sunday night`s football game was delayed for an hour because of the
threat of lightning in the sky. And I`ll explain what that has to do with
gun violence, mass shootings and our collective response, coming up.
HAYES: So, when I first heard the very first reports of the Navy Yard
shooting yesterday on my way to work, there were headlines about three
shooters dressed in fatigues on a naval base. And my first awful thought
was that we were witnessing some kind of hometown style domestic terror
cell inside the Armed Services. I reeled at that, and imagine very quickly
what the fallout and investigation and the recriminations would look like.
What a huge dominating story it was likely to be and how we would cover it.
And then, as the morning rolled on, that initial reporting was proven to be
wrong. There weren`t three shooters in military fatigues. There was a
single shooter, a former naval reservist who now seems to have had pretty
long history of erratic behavior gun ownership and mental health issues.
The scope of the story shrank, not because of the horror of the act shrank
or the death toll, which was three times higher in the Boston marathon
bombing, because of the way we as a society and political system have come
to look at this kind of violence. President Obama issued a proclamation,
ordering flags flown at half staff as a mark of respect to the victims of
the senseless acts of violence. "Senseless", it`s a word we`ve heard after
similar mass shootings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Such violence, such evil, is senseless. It`s beyond reason.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: What exactly, I always wonder is the opposite of senseless
violence, the kind of violence we can comprehend and make sense of.
Violence tied to some kind of ideological commitment or strategic aim no
matter how morally heinous.
Bashar Assad allegedly gassing 1,400 Syrians isn`t senseless because we
understand exactly what he was doing. He was attempting to brutally win a
civil war and punish anyone even remotely associated with the rebels. Al
Qaeda murdering 3,000 Americans in 2001 wasn`t seen as senseless. It was
seen as an act of war and mass murder executed by evil radicals who wanted
to destroy America and make its citizens cower. It had purpose as
monstrous as that purpose was.
When we encounter violence we see as having a purpose, we marshal resources
and political will to fight it, or prevent it or punish its perpetrators.
When we encounter the senseless, we succumb to paralysis.
We shake our heads and some in our pity, the same way we do when we hear a
story of a friend`s dear cousin who died at 30 of cancer or a child hit by
a car or someone struck by lightning.
President Obama was asked about this feeling of helplessness during an
interview with Telemundo`s Jose Diaz-Balart today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSE DIAZ-BALART, ANCHOR, TELEMUNDO: Are we condemned in this country to
live in a country where massacres are just part and parcel of our daily
OBAMA: Well, we don`t have to be. And the overwhelming majority of the
American people understand that there are some common sense gun safety laws
that we can put in place that could prevent some of this tragedy from
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And yet those gun control laws are not forthcoming. It is the
great success, the singular success of gun advocates to place not just mass
shootings, but most gun deaths into the category of the senseless.
There are more than 31,000 of gun -- those gun deaths in 2010, the most
recent year on record. But we shouldn`t accept that because human progress
requires we simply do not accept the category of senseless rather as fixed
and immutable. We spend billions of dollars on cancer research every year
because we refuse to accept that cancer will continue to steal people in
their prime from us.
And we have developed laws and engineering solutions to make cars and roads
safer and safer over the years. Heck, we even work to prevent deaths from
lightning. The NFL showdown between the Niners and the Seahawks this
Sunday, the most watched TV event of the week, was put on pause for an
entire hour, while a thunderstorm rolled through the area. They stopped
the game to protect the players` safety.
But, then again, lightning doesn`t have a lobby, now does it?
What happened yesterday will happen again. In fact the statistical
evidence is pretty terrifying. Analysis of mass shooting by the "Atlantic"
concluded that if such incidents occur at the same pace for the rest of
Obama`s term as it has since 2009, there could be 14 more before he leaves
And yet when the president spoke briefly about the Navy Yard shooting
before speaking about the state of the economy five years after the
economic collapse, the reaction was fast and furious. Belt way media and
Republican opponents were quick to criticize him. One Republican spokesman
saying most expect the president to act as a consoler-in-chief in the fact
of tragedy, not to take the podium and launch into a partisan tirade aimed
at his political opponents.
Well, you know what, the fact is, the president was just acting the way
Republicans and the NRA and most of the national media have conditioned all
of us to act. It`s a tragedy, we shake our heads, and move on.
It`s senseless. Because if we try to make sense of it, we are not going to
like what we find.
HAYES: Congress was finally set to tackle the controversial Stand Your
Ground laws, that is until a mass shooting just a few metro stops away.
What one of the witnesses called to testify would have said, coming up.
But first I want to share the three most awesomest things on the Internet
today. And gosh knows we need it. We begin in Ohio where the Fox was on
the gridiron. Nearly 32 million views on YouTube have cemented the
(INAUDIBLE) wide popularity of Norwegian novelty song "The Fox." It`s
become such a click free staple we probably don`t even need to remind you
how it goes but restraint is not one of "Click 3`s" virtues.
This weekend, the Ohio University Marching Band put the sound that no one
knows on the football field. Here`s their halftime performance of the Fox.
The Ohio Bobcats went on to win the game, but there`s probably not in the
playbook that would have topped this performance.
The second awesomest thing on the Internet today, broken records you never
knew anyone was trying to break. California man Stephen Sansweet found
himself in the Guinness Book of World Records thanks to his possession of
the world`s largest collection of Star Wars memorabilia. Stop counting the
inventory at 91,000 pieces and estimates he has about 300,000 unique items
in what he calls Rancho Obi-Wan.
And these aren`t just little action figures or lunch boxes. No, Stephen is
the proud owner of a full-sized animatronic Cantina Band as well as several
scale replica Lego characters from the Star Wars Universe. Even though
Darth Vader is part android he did not win the world record for largest
walking robot. That went to the German electronics manufacturer Zollner
whose quaint robotics design led them to -- oh dear lord, what is that?
Well, that`s Tradinno, the world`s only walking, fire-breathing, 11-ton
dragon robot. What? Are you going to tell him he`s not the record holder?
He`s got a killer wingspan and some teeth that you don`t want to be on its
business end of.
Tradinno has already starred in some stage plays. Spent a lot of time
wowing tourists in Berlin. He`s also proved that when robot apocalypse
happens, being taken over by a villainous exoskeleton is no longer the
absolute worst way to meet your maker.
And the third awesomest thing on the Internet today, the bridge is
outrageous. We couldn`t get enough of this click video favorite from a
couple of weeks ago showing the absolute worst way to transport a giant
deer statue under a bridge. Our latest obsession is the Web site
11foot8.com which chronicles the happening of the toughest bridge in the
world located in Durham, North Carolina.
Video after video of trucks, campers and busses trying to go one-on-one
with the bridge and the bridge just never loses.
Spoiler alert, they just keep doing it, over and over and over again.
Someone call the people at Guinness, we found the world`s greatest video of
a bridge demolishing many trucks.
You can find our links for tonight`s "Click 3" on our Web site,
We`ll be right back.
HAYES: The headline today so bitterly ironic, you just couldn`t make it up
if you tried. Proposed Senate hearing on Stand Your Ground laws postponed
in the aftermath of the mass shootings at the Navy Yard yesterday. It`s
just a mile and a half away from where the hearings were set to take place.
Senator Dick Durbin who chairs the subcommittee that scheduled that hearing
that`s supposed to take place this morning on to examine laws that allow
people in 23 states who feel threatened to respond with deadly force.
After George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the shooting death
of Trayvon Martin, including second-degree murder, the National Urban
Institute, along with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, took a comprehensive
look at Stand Your Ground laws and found that since 2005, on average,
states with Standard Your Ground laws have seen a 53 percent increase in
justifiable homicides, while at the same time states without Stand Your
Ground laws had their justifiable homicide rate decreased by 5 percent.
And after Florida passed its Stand Your Ground laws in 2005 its justifiable
homicide rate rose 200 percent.
Trayvon Martin`s mother, Sybrina Fulton, was one of the witnesses who was
set to testify in today`s Stand Your Ground hearing. Her story is well
And story of another teenager killed by a Florida man claiming he also did
it in self-defense has not been so widely reported. Forty-five-year-old
Michael Dunn faces first-degree murder charges after opening fire on a
group of teenagers last year in the vehicle next to him after a dispute
over their music being too loud.
Dunn told police, quote, "From where I was sitting, a shotgun was coming at
me." Well, there was no gun. After the shooting, Dunn said he went back
to his hotel and ordered a pizza with his girlfriend. And it wasn`t until
he turned on the TV the following morning he discovered he had killed 17-
year-old Jordan Davis.
Legal observers expect Dunn to use the Stand Your Ground self-defense law
in his trial which is tenably set for February.
Joining me now is Jordan`s mother, Lucia McBath. She was also supposed to
testify today at the Stand Your Ground laws hearing.
And thank you so much for joining us and my absolute --
LUCIA MCBATH, UNARMED SON WAS SHOT IN 2012: Thank you.
HAYES: -- condolences go out to you on the loss of your son.
MCBATH: Thank you very much. I appreciate that.
HAYES: What would you have told the committee today if you had been able
to talk to them?
MCBATH: I would have most assuredly let them know that unless we enact
some commonsense gun legislation, things such as what happened at the Navy
Yard yesterday will continue. The individual crimes will continue, the
mass murders will continue.
And we have got to take a stand as citizens. We have to use our voices and
we have to get our legislators because we are the constituents. We`ve got
to get them to understand that they are accountable to us and that if this
is absolutely necessary they cannot turn a blind eye to what`s happening in
HAYES: You`ve traveled to Washington, D.C. to testify and that says to me
that you think there`s some hope or you have some faith that that building
behind you in that shop there can be responsive to testimony such as yours.
Why do you have that faith after all we`ve seen?
MCBATH: I have no other choice. I have no other choice. What`s happening
in the country, most assuredly what happened with Jordan, just -- it`s
heinous. I do not believe that our country was founded to be evolving into
the violent culture that we are now. I don`t believe that by any means.
And I know that, unless we act, we`re going to self-destruct.
HAYES: There are people who have pointed to the Zimmerman trial and said
in that case George Zimmerman didn`t even invoke the kind of preemptory
challenge that Stand Your Ground legislation would have allowed him to,
that Stand Your Ground is a sideshow, it`s not really an issue. It`s only
applicable in a very small amount of cases. What do you say to that?
MCBATH: That is absolutely not the truth. If you look at the statistics
specifically in Florida, most of those -- the Stand Your Ground cases that
we`ve seen there just after it`s been enacted in 2005, there have been 52
percent more cases that have happened, 52 percent more chances and ability
-- the ability for people to stand behind the law and use the law as a
loophole to shoot first and ask questions later.
The Stand Your Ground law is definitely just something that is just
completely destructive and it has to be amended, repealed, whatever we need
HAYES: Lucia McBath, thank you so much for joining us tonight. I really
MCBATH: Thank you very much.
HAYES: We`ll be right back.
HAYES: Earlier in the show, we asked you if politics were no obstacle,
what would actual comprehensive gun safety legislation look like? Got a
ton of answers posted to our Facebook page including Patricia Parris who
says, "If politics is not an object, I would want semiautos and auto guns
banned completely forever. Also the NRA would be dissolved and made
illegal. The ammunition cost $10,000 per bullet."
From Patrick Daly, "The sad thing is there is no easy answer. You have to
change a culture that now things it needs guns to protect themselves from
their own government. Guns should be for sport or home defense where you
don`t need huge clips for firing capacity."
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Twenty-seven-year-old police officer Randall
Carrick has been charged with voluntary manslaughter. His own department
said he did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon and shoot
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Knowing how it happened, does that make it worse?
GEORGIA FERRELL, SON WAS KILLED BY POLICE: Yes. But I do forgive him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do?
FERRELL: I so forgive him and I pray that God bless him, but I do want
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Over the weekend, 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell, former football
player at Florida A&M, was shot and killed by North Carolina Police. The
Associated Press, which is not in the business of editorializing, described
the incident this way.
"An unarmed man seeking help after a car crash over the weekend was shot 10
times by the Charlotte police officer who`s now charged in his death."
Joining me now is my colleague Alex Wagner, host of "NOW" which airs
weekday, noon Eastern here on MSNBC, and Maya Wiley, founder and president
of the Center for Social Inclusion, a public policy organization.
What is your reaction to the Jonathan Ferrell story? I got so angry and
upset when I read it.
MAYA WILEY, CENTER FOR SOCIAL INCLUSION: Angry and upset and seeing the
link between Stand Your Ground. Because here is what`s so interesting. We
spend and police chiefs and police departments are spending a lot of time
figuring out how not to let the Carricks happen. There`s research going
into it, there`s action happening, there are 26 police chiefs in this
country right now trying to figure out how to make sure black people aren`t
shot because they`re feared for no reason. And we actually aren`t doing
the same thing for civilians.
HAYES: Yes. That -- and then so we have a situation in which -- and we
talked about it yesterday. We`re talking about a study of New York City
Police officers in which one study over a period of time, 34 percent of the
bullets they discharged and firing actually found their way into the person
they were trying to hit.
That is crazy. Actual study of actual NYPD police officers discharging
their weapons. And you`re thinking, like, what is happening in the hands
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC`S NOW: Well, and also, Chris, I mean, you hear stories
like this and my first reaction was, that`s tragic. And then also how was
it that the stories of the vulnerable and the victims have become sort of
dismissed nationally as the stuff of folklore and happenstance?
HAYES: Right. Right.
WAGNER: And that the laws are created around their preemptively punitive
and they don`t take these stories into consideration anymore. And these
are almost seen as outliers when in fact they are more often than not the
HAYES: And this is -- this is -- and what we see here is the classic case
of suspicion hanging on the black man. Right?
HAYES: Where he`s in a car crash, it`s early in the morning, he knocks on
someone`s door for help. She calls the cops?
WILEY: Slams the door on his face, calls the -- which, all right, 2:30
a.m., I might slam the door in his face.
HAYES: Right. Yes -- right.
WILEY: That`s not really the issue. It`s calling the cops on a potential
break-in, we don`t even know there`s a break-in. Then what happens when
they show up, and he`s running, he`s just been in an accident, right?
WILEY: So obviously --
HAYES: A really bad accident and everything.
WILEY: A really where he probably had to crawl out of the back window, the
car was so smashed. So -- but this is -- this is breathing while black.
WILEY: This is breathing while black. And that`s why we --
HAYES: OK. So here`s what`s going to happen. We are faced with a world
that is a river of sorrow. And it is -- and we -- you and I sit here, and
we fish certain things out. You know, bad things happen every day, and
across the street over at FOX News, right, they went on this crazy summer
long thing where they were like any time a white person were shot or --
HAYES: Or assaulted by an African-American, it was like that was their
lead story, right? And so what can you say when you turn around, it`s
like, why are you making a big deal about this person? It`s a horrible
thing that went down. The cop happened to be white, the suspect happened
to be black. Like what is your deal? Why are -- what is the response to
why this is legitimate?
WILEY: Do you care whether black people who are innocent are being killed?
I mean, that`s really the question. So -- because once you deflect it to
there was an innocent white victim, and there certainly are, right?
WILEY: There are people who are white in this killed who are killed who
shouldn`t be. That`s -- the question is, do we care when everyone is
killed? Three hundred and forty-five percent more likely to be acquitted
on Stand Your Ground if you -- if the victim is black.
HAYES: This is -- I want to read the statistic. This comes from that
study we just talked about in the previous block when we`re talking to
Lucia. So when an older white man shoots a younger black man with whom he
had no prior relationship, the shooting is determined justifiable 49
percent of the time. Yet when the situation is reversed an older black man
shoots a younger white man with whom he had no previous relationship, the
homicide is only judged justifiable 8 percent of the time.
WAGNER: And that`s the whole problem here, is that context is taken
completely -- context and history are taken completely out of the equation.
And that I think is a bastardization of justice. And also prosecution and
the criminal system that we have in the United States. I mean the idea
that race isn`t a part of this is not an accurate -- I mean, that -- sorry,
go ahead, Chris.
HAYES: No, no, I agree with you.
HAYES: You were right, Alex Wagner.
WILEY: And it was even more bizarre because some of FOX News commentators,
Sean Hannity being one of them, said black people benefit from Stand Your
Ground when it flies in the face of the facts. And I think the real
question here is, are we going to have an honest conversation in this
country about what`s happening for people or are we not?
WAGNER: And there is such a defensive look and immediately -- like
preemptive punitive laws at defensive crouch that is almost built to the
position of those at FOX News from the beginning, regardless of how
justified it may or may not be.
HAYES: And that defensive crouch is what we see also in the aftermath of
these shootings. It`s what we see in the -- like that is -- that is the
feeling that we -- everybody has to kind of run to the barricades, and one
side is much more successful in those barricades than the other. I mean,
the side that is -- that is defending maximum gun laws like wins all these
-- wins all these battles.
HAYES: But it also sort of feels like what are we -- like one of -- one of
the things I always want to say here also is that the context is, violence
in this country is going down and crime is going down. And that`s an
amazing thing. We are making progress because I think you have to preserve
the sense that there`s light at the end of the tunnel, that we are marching
towards something that is better.
WAGNER: Yes, but I think -- you also have to talk about what it is like to
be a black man in America and I am not sure that picture is getting better.
I mean, a lot was made about the Trayvon Martin case, as we all know. I
think the fact that the president decided to speak about race
extemporaneously at that moment was -- as much of a conference of the
importance of that as a -- as a statement about the reality of race in this
country at this time.
I mean, it was -- I don`t think a lot of people sort of outside in America
understood the importance --
WAGNER: -- of what happened there and what that meant to black America.
WILEY: Yes. And I also think that -- so calling us to a better, higher
more constructive conversation about race, one of the things that we should
remember is everybody has one.
WILEY: Everybody has one. And --
HAYES: Not me. I mean, you guys might, I don`t know. But --
HAYES: I`m just sitting here invisible, transparent, neutral.
WILEY: Part of the reason I say that is I think part of the problem with
our public discussion today as we assume that we`re only talking about
people of color, if we`re talking about race.
HAYES: That`s right.
WILEY: Part of what we`re saying is, we have to look at how we`re all
impacted and we have to make sure we`re all getting taken care of. That
means anywhere we see disproportionate bad stuff happening, no matter whom
WILEY: We should pay attention to it. So we should pay attention in D.C.
when these 15 people get shot. We should pay attention when black people
are dying, 45 percent of all youth were killed in gun violence are black.
Forty-five percent. Do we care?
HAYES: And if that number wasn`t that number I feel like the national --
the way that we deal with this -- I talked about earlier in the show about
what`s senseless and what`s not senseless. What we can make sense of.
Like that 45 percent number is not accidentally connected to the fact that
we`re not doing that much to make sure that that`s not going on. And that
-- and that those two things don`t sit next to each other by accident,
right? There`s some sort of deep connection in the way that we think about
who has value.
Alex Wagner, host of "NOW." You can catch it, as I do every single day,
that is an honest to god fact. Every day at 12:00 noon --
WAGNER: Bless you for that.
HAYES: Eastern here on MSNBC. And my friend Maya Wiley from the Center of
Thank you both.
WILEY: Thank you.
HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening. The "RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend.
And thank to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
We have some breaking news tonight from the "New York Times" about a key
detail of how yesterday`s mass shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington,
D.C. happened. The "Times" reporting tonight that the apparent shooter
Aaron Alexis, tried to buy an AR-15 military style, semi-automatic assault
rifle at a Virginia gun store last week but he was stopped from buying that
particular weapon because of a state law that prohibits the sale of that
particular kind of weapon to buyers from outside the state of Virginia.
While he was at that gun store, he did test-fire the AR-15.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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