Mass shooting in California reignites gun control debate

A mass shooting in Thousand Oaks left 12 people dead, and there are constitutional questions about the appointment of Attorney General Sessions' replacement.
26:56 | 11/08/18

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Transcript for Mass shooting in California reignites gun control debate
And good Thursday afternoon Terry and Devin Dwyer ABC news in Washington welcome to the briefing room on this very busy news day armed drummer appear Thomas or chief. Our justice correspondent all somewhere else parks deputy political director we come T today obviously on the heels of yet another. Deadly shooting in this country mass shooting this one the deadliest since the Parkland high school shooting earlier in the year. Left seventeen kids dad the death total in Thousand Oaks, California. 1112. Including the shooter overnight simply a tragic scene at a country western bar there and community. Full of college students and our Natalie brewer now. Joins us now she's live in that community she knows it very well she went to school there are Natalie. I imagine that if there's certainly been an outpouring of grief this afternoon. Absolutely seven if it's very close to home and my heart goes out for all of the college students that were in there as well as that the college communities including Pepperdine University. Where we have learned that one of the students. Was among the extent that we are standing right across the street from the bar where. It's how behind me there are a lot of command units. And a massive law enforcement presence that is still here. Canvassing the scene for evidence is all. Unfolding last night at about 11:20 PM when the gunman went into the borderline barring Grail here in Thousand Oaks. And some great big area with bullets killing a bouncer first and then hiding inside. I'm and shooting victim inside people and went into a state of chaos people throwing chairs through windows trying to get to safety and helping each other. I get to first responders. And right now we're learning a little bit more about this. Suspected gunman 28 year old. I in the long heat and with a battery of the United States Marine Corps and we know that he had several run in. With the law enforcement but really the big question is what was the motive why would he choose this. Area the target because as you mentioned. So many college students here last night it was actually college tonight and this happened on Wednesday I remember it from my time at Pepperdine. And this is a night where 1819 to one year old. Were able to come here they got and act on their hands it's his signal to the bartenders that they were not old enough to drink. The aim here was it. To drink it was really did just go wow how fun dancing around line dancing night helped the dancing night. And this is really hitting the community hard to say an absolutely heartbreaking tragedy. Natalie thank you so much for that report and we know you'll see on the story for ABC news peer. You know he feels like we've been here so many times before just last week. It feels so long ago but that shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh eleven dead senseless acts they keep happening. We can talk about guns we have some guests coming up to talk about that but also seems here with the former marine potentially some mental health issues at play. It looks like it there was an incident in April and neighbors are telling. Some of the reporters there that the mother was concerned about. Acts of violence are prone. To violent outburst if you will. In one particular call there was a lot of banging on the walls when neighbor described the mother is telling them that her walls had been kicked in. So that was the state of the home so. Police came to the scene apparently there was some conversation about whether he should give a psychological evaluation. Nothing was done or nothing was found not enough evidence to have and committed. And no. Stop put on his ability to buy weapons and apparently bought the weapon legally and as you said. The country is dealing with an increasing number of mass shootings are increasing in frequency and larger and larger in scale. Just a thumbnail search since last on October. Las Vegas have been at least six of these type issues including yesterday with a 129. People killed. This is simply incredible and we know that two of our guests joining us now. Doctor Jon Ash and ABC news medical correspondent of course. Mark Kelly former astronaut and gun control advocate joins us as well it's great to have both them in this conversation mark let me start with you. From you we don't know what's your reaction to 222 this this latest killing in in the context of the numbers peiris siding and your efforts seems. We've been here so many times in just the past year lot of positive momentum lot of young people out there and yet these things simply keep happening. Well we've got 4% of the world's population and 46%. Of the world's firearms we've got more. Guns and people and we make it very easy for people who are. Have mental health issues are felons even. League lead in that suspected terrorists can buy firearms and our country. So we've got a lot of loopholes in the laws we've got to fix than California actually has done. A pretty good job at this. It's not gonna stop everything. Several years ago in California there was a gun violence restraining order that was passed through ballot initiative at what that means is. If you identify a family member or friend who you feel is a danger. In danger of shooting themselves or somebody else you can have that firearm pretty easily removed from the from the home under current law in California. Obviously you know this this person slip through those cracks but you know we know that with stronger. Gun laws there is less gun violence that's clear across the country it's clear across the planet as well. So we've it would just got to do a better job we had an election that. Really spoke to this just two days ago the pass is gonna allow us to make some serious change in congress. And I do want to ask you about that in a second who want to bring jobs doctor Chan Ashton into this as well doctor rationing does scene here is mark was saying that. The mental health system. Sort of failed to cash sister felt the reporter the systems work there are on the suspect had been getting some help had been seen and been on the radar. Com. What's the fix for that and why can't we seem to to break through and stepping up the availability of those resources. You know I think when you talk about the mental health issue here they're really two elements are two sides admit that we need to be aware of number one. The shooter. In many many cases of these horrible tragedies. There is a clear mental health or mental illness angle to this. Because otherwise. A scene healthy person could not possibly do. 21 other human being let alone many others. What went a lot of these people do that's the case in the majority of cases not all but the majority so what do we need to do for that. The things that mark Kelly was just talking about we need to treat this no differently than if you saw someone bleeding on the street or having a seizure on the street. We hoped you wouldn't just walk over that person you would bring them to medical attention or bring medical attention to them. If you feel that someone is in danger of hurting themselves or someone else. We need to drop the stigma that's associated with mental illness and get that person help. That's one aspect the other aspect here which is very very important for all of us to keep in the front of our minds and hearts on a daily today. Is that when we keep hearing and seeing. Tragic and violent cases of violence particularly gun violence lake we're seeing now a lake wesun Pittsburgh. It takes its hold on all of our mental health and condition you can't watch these things were here about them. And not empathize and sympathize with the victims their families the first responders and that. Does psychological stress and damage to us as a society that we need care for so we need to care for the victims we need to care for. Be shooters in many cases and we need to care for ourselves. It you've heard people talking about. Cases like this fall into the cracks and not talk to law enforcement officials around the country one of the things they mentioned is that. When you have police or others in the government own community if you will who have interactions with someone who's showing some level of distress or violence particularly if that the police have an encounter. They say that there's got to be a better way for the system to blink or read if that person goes in to tried to buy a weapon. Elise to let law enforcement no hey that person that you had a conversation with two months ago six weeks ago. This person is trying to buy a weapon so that could be some sort of follow even if you don't confiscate weapons. And I want to put that to mark Kelly mark in trying to find some common ground here does seem that mental health protections. Restrictions on gun buyers seems to be one of at least from recent polling the pew institute. Had 89% of gun owners in non gun owners alike supporting. Preventing people with mental illnesses from getting. Be able to purchase a weapon. You have your pulse on congress in the legislative pipeline is there an effort afoot could we see something take place on mental health in this new congress to think. What we could look let me just say when you say 80% of Americans that's true right 94% of Americans. Support. Universal background checks for all gun sales 67%. Support stronger gun laws to protect people from gun violence. That does not extend to the gun lobby that though and that's part of the problem is that fell. At about every turn will oppose. What seems to the rest of us to be common sense legislation let me give you an example. Under current federal law. The veterans administration. Consent names. To the national instant criminal background check system of people that they really feel are a danger to themselves or others there's a 174000. Of those. In the system and those people are in theory prevented from buying a firearm. The problem with this says. Just about two years ago the House of Representatives try to undo that with a new piece of legislation I think it was eight Charlotte and 81. To try to remove that from the system it hasn't been debated in the senate. War voted upon we hope it doesn't pass but my point yes even when it comes to mental health. And keeping guns out of the hands of people that are. Potentially dangerously mentally ill we have the National Rifle Association. And some members of congress a lot of home. Largely from the Republican Party work against us. This congress though this election two days ago was a referendum on gun safety. An NBC poll showed that it was the top it was a set you know second most important issue. Among Democrats fourth most important overall. People want to see some change and now we have a House of Representatives that can deliver that. You a Newser sure did your organization. Michael Bloomberg's every time for gun safety also had some electoral success as we saw on the number of races Mary else distracting those. Virginia Pennsylvania Colorado Arizona Minnesota candidates sweeping in. On platforms running on platforms for gun violence safety protections. And I know you'll knock was able in a lot of ways to. How climber is for a lot of those candidates. From emails and to what has been sort of a fundraising and manage that and carrying it backed candidates and how in the past can you see it's not did you feel like this year you had. More power not stand. Yeah well we we endorse 307 candidates 249 number 195. Of them are going to congress. The NRA lost 333. Of their. Top rated people from the House of Representatives. Not only did we you know help raise money for candidates we raise money ourselves and spend money. On this issue to get people elected office. In one key in in the case of four house races we we put up about seven million dollars to hope these people and we we had people across the board both Democrats and some Republicans by the way that ran on a platform of gun safety. So this issue one at the ballot box in the House of Representatives. Here couple days ago and now we're gonna we're gonna pass some legislation in the house and now it's gonna go over to the senate. To see if they're just gonna sit by and do nothing which is typical or they're going to feel some pressure to actually act. You know what percent like to put to both of you. That actually came from from a fact sheet that the difference group put outs just today your group but I just today. So that women in the United States eleven times more likely to be murder with a gun and peers in other country we often see that women are more likely to be victims. Why is Matt. Well it's cause of domestic violence a lot and women are more often in. Shot and killed by people they know where for men and it's more likely that it comes from a stranger. Strong domestic violence legislation why ache. Ability he clover charts a sponsor of in the United States and it. Can really go a long way to protecting women from gun violence. I think it comes back to the fact and and this is coming from a gun owner somebody who served in the military for 25 years I'm a supporter of the Second Amendment. But when we have. 46%. Of the world's firearms among 4% of the world's population. We've got a lot of guns and made very frequently wind up in the wrong hands so because of that. We need to take extra steps to make it hard for certain people to get guns and we generally don't do that. And doctor Ashton one of those low hanging pieces of fruit if you will for. Gun safety advocates here also even the NRA in some cases seems to be re starting some government or search on the gun violence epidemic in this country it effectively hasn't taken place aren't any. Government studies by the CDC since 1997. Since the so called Dickey amendment went into place some effort now to get better or how important is it to get those do get that data to get the CDC to look at this. As a health and safety problem for America. It's important. You know we're starting to see more of it in the medical literature. There have been articles about guns. And gun violence and gun shot wounds in OB GY and journals and pediatric journals. The CDC starting a chorus a little bit late but to be more aggressive with how they collect deed. But I I just want to get back to the to the issue about gun violence against women because I think. It really bears emphasis here that we hear so much now in the me to movement. About the path to parity in everything I want to be crystal clear in medicine in health. Women are. Decades behind where they should be in a country like the United States. And we need to change that there are major gender differences in Madison. And in terms of access of care care that women gad. Disease process sees that affect women differently than men and now we're hearing statistics like gun violence against women we have to be very careful when we say treat women exactly the same as men because in medicine at least. In some cases they shouldn't be treated exactly as men they're different in some ways they need more attention. Things occurred differently this is not a one size fits all approach in medicine and in science and I think to do that. Runs the risk of not giving women the care of the research and the attention that they need. An important reminder for sure as we all sort of hope. That this moment is a turning point and ways that others have not our thanks to mark Kelly. For joining us are alive today for his import and doctor Esther we know you're sticking around so thank you both. Very much for coming to the briefing room. Moving on today here Washington Mary Alice we've got continuing fallout from the firing of attorney general Jeff Sessions yesterday by president trump. And today scrutiny sort of focusing on his replacement ad the former chief of staff Jeff Sessions that would occur someone who has a controversial past. Are criticizing. In the Muller probes. And Democrats demanding that he also refuse himself. From oversight over the Muller investigation at this point that doesn't look likely. But politically really puts Democrats in a tough spot they wanted to come in with a new majority in the house and passed some legislation potentially on health care or crunch and and now almost as if the president. Daring them to work on investigations in this nature instead. And they are going to investigate in fact today right out of the gate a number of Democrats have sent letters to the White House asked him to preserve documents related to the firing of Jeff Sessions. Looking into the past of Matthew Whitaker. And our legal contributor Kate Schott joins us now by phone to talk a little bit more about that background how could impact a fight. Over the appointment of Matt would occur to be the acting attorney general Kate great to have you with us. We understand that the west wing is buzzing this afternoon over not bad that just posted in the Washington Post by the husband of Kellyanne Conway George Conway he's a constitutional. I scholar and he is raising some question as a contrarian and a contrarian. He is basically raises some questions that this is unconstitutional two point Matt would occur and take a look here he says that we can't tolerate. The evasion in the constitution's explicit presides design that mean that the senate has to confirm. Someone who is gonna lead the Justice Department. Matthew workers and nobody's job as chief of staff didn't require confirmation. And for the presence to install Matt when occurs the chief law enforcement officers to betray. The charter of the document the constitution. Does he have a fair point Kate shock. You know I think it's a joint op that the church currently authored with democratic lawyer Neal Cotts jell and this is the second recent upset because it and that Britain together. And the thing to be trying to make the point that certain constitutional principles transcend partisanship so they wrote an op Ed a couple of weeks ago. Arguing against the president proposal to end birthright citizenship and now we had this thought that that suggests. That installing without senate consideration or confirmation. Somebody to head the Justice Department is unconstitutional now there's a statute. That don't allow the president to insult someone on an acting basis but they're suggesting that in this instance that statute is unconstitutional. And no cut killed himself with actually the acting solicitor general under President Obama but he says. That was you know that's an inferior kind of position in the acting solicitor general at the couple bosses about him. The attorney general to the top of the Justice Department. Interpretation doubt important the constitution says the president had to nominate the senate had to take a look right nobody scrutinize the background of its individual. To assess you know the kind dispute he holds the kind of you know whether he's actually fit for a position like that and that they suggest it's unconstitutional and I'm not surprised her the west wing is buzzing about it. Yeah in fact they point out these two constitutional scholars that this has never before happened in those several hundred years as it as an attorney general of the United States been appointed without any confirmation any scrutiny as you point out to certainly unprecedented in many ways. I guess the next question is before that she OK can just be challenged who would bring a challenge to this appointment. Yeah I mean being in public anyone who is subject to any kind of action that initiated by the Justice Department could bring to challenge that the Justice Department is headed by an individual who has installed unconstitutionally. Center. You know it literally any action that there are that they take right now. Could be fraught become legal doubt you know I should say that just balancing it's not just. George Connolly but other prominent conservative thinkers including it looks like John you. Who was ahead of the opposite legal counsel under George W. Bush and awfully scary. Prominent conservative scholar and a proponent of executive power in presidential power also seem to agree that the took an unconstitutional claiming cook. I think we really your credit. A growing chorus. Are skeptics about the constitutionality of what it happened. I don't like that and I look at it quickly need to move to actually nominate someone and subject them to senate scrutiny. Or there could be I think period legal challenge you know in the very near future. And we don't like interest it's fascinating we know the White House those planning on taking their time and on naming the permanent replacement for Jeff Sessions case shot during us by phone. ABC news legal contributor think you so much Kate good job. Is shifting gears a little bit to mid term politics were still tracking the results from Tuesday night's historical actions Mary Alice and there are some cliff hangers out there in fact. I'm fascinated by what's going on in Florida and Andrew him gill on the Democrat African American candidate conceded now he's sort of walking it back. Right not a complete walk back but we all -- on election night there on stage kind of formally concede in front of the cameras. And yet asked me is absentee and provisional ballots have come in and the margin has really narrowed in his theater also in bill Nelson's favorite Democrat. Senate senatorial candidate now we're talking about the potential for recounts it's looking like we really could end up with in not margin that would trigger an automatic. Recap here about my last check just before we came to air they are under half a percent. Apart and that alone and we would be the which would be the trigger about 38000. Votes. And Andrew Young you saw they're just speaking says let's count every vote let's see it so that could be headed also in the senate race in Florida Bill Nelson Democrat Rick Scott. That's also a here sliver. And that was part of flat out ensured that all he is remaining prison about Scott county was a Bill Nelson said he wasn't going anywhere he he wouldn't concede he said he needed to keep counting. I'm and edit and so the margins have gotten this close unbelievably close it's possible we get a recount in. Well arts of flashbacks to 2000 and hanging chads and Lawrence Lindsey no interest saying it's often razor thin in Florida and that is why it is a truce there we could be headed to Florida soon broadcasting live from there were also keeping our eyes and the Georgia governor race Stacey Abrams. In a very close race there were trying camp although he's declared he's resigned today his post as secretary of state he's. Ready to move into his new day so he's experienced. Says we're counting every vote as. Ultimately her team demanding that every vote is counted we know it has some of the outstanding provisional ballots are in heavy democratic area so her team feels like it's in our interest to make sure that all those votes are counted. But it's of course not it's not necessarily. That she thinks she would surpass him in a total well count but keep him from an automatic victory because. In Georgia you have to get 50% plus one to not go chill. Run off election and it is back close in that narrow. Not so she's trying to hit the runoff threshold in the and we jetty on there as well. If you weak little Georgia winning Florida actions and initiatives on the number of our outstanding house races that have yet to be caught all right moving on and finally today speaking of Democrats and something that could send shivers down their spine. Liberal icon on the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg suffered an accident last night at the court she fell in her chambers according to the court. And it has been hospitalized she is still like George Washington University Hospital she broke three ribs were told. At 85 years old that is no insignificant thing we have doctor Jan Ashton is back with us doctor Jan. Give us that your sense obviously not seen her first hand or seeing her chart but how serious is something like some broken ribs in a fall at age 85. Serious I have really anything that happens and someone who is 85. Even in the best of health could be potentially serious that's why there's a whole specialty in medicine called geriatrics. To take specialized care for for people in this age group. They are more susceptible to complications. For the scene type of injury or disease as a younger person would be but here's what I really want people to know about rib fractures. They are excruciatingly. Painful and that's when just. One rim is fracture broken when you have multiple fracture rinse used to think about it is impossible to rest the rib cage every time we take a breath. Those ribs are moving you can't put a cast on the ribs. Lake you Ken with a broken arm or broken leg so the the bulk of initial hospitalization. Is usually for pain control. But the other things you want to keep an eye on when you talk about an elderly person any internal bleeding weather at the fall that was strong enough. In some cases to break grids could cause a head injury although you know also if to remember that. Both men and women develop osteoporosis with age so often times can be an incredibly minor fall that causes a rib fracture in an elderly person. And then that things that we would watch down the road. Breathing pneumonia risk if you can't take deep breaths it does please see you at increased risk for pneumonia so. It's actually the opposite of counter intuitive thank you want to get someone up. And regulating moving around sitting up. As quickly as possible as long as their pain is well managed because. That's gonna generate the best air movement and the best environment for their lungs to help prevent. The onset of pneumonia but. She's one tough cookie cells. A tough I think. Probably out moving around right now I broke six ribs just a few years ago and she of course beat cancer. And we just sovereign and on doing daily pushups yeah. And she was he pumping some iron there she hired clerks to be with Richard Forney Forney says she is determined to stay on that court yet and we wish her well. We do thank you so much for sticking around Jan appreciate that very much. What a footnote to today's news out of the court president trump went to the court this afternoon for the investor ceremony for the newest Supreme Court justice for Kavanagh of course with greater Ginsburg wasn't there but I think we have a picture. Here's the president with his newest justices seeming mean he can't get enough of Brent Cavanaugh. And the pacers a big smiles there and of course fascinating to see the president. Among all those justices who Mary Alice could. Decide. Some pretty significant cases challenges perhaps involving the mall or investigation. Coming very soon. Among other things as well honest gerrymandering. Abortion case says. States are and it circuit courts I know that this is a very new Supreme Court and they're looking for cases that they potentially can work to get up to them thanks very fast. Are much more had from the Supreme Court and tomorrow here in the briefing room we thank you for joining us today of course you can follow the latest on all these stories and abcnews.com. And ABC news after. Great to have Murray also the son Devin Dwyer we'll see you next time.

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