November 15, 2019

Yesterday, avoidable tragedy struck yet again. This time, in Santa Clarita, CA, at a high school. A student, on his 16th birthday, brought a gun to school, opened fire, and turned the gun on himself. Two students have died, and four remain hospitalized, and an entire generation's trauma deepened.

Senator Kamala Harris represents California, and also happens to be running for the Democratic nomination for president, though mainstream media seems to largely ignore that second fact. Thankfully, Ali Velshi and Stephanie Ruhle remembered, and included her in the coverage of yesterday's awful and devastating events. Sen. Harris was a passionately arguing about the need for reform, and absolutely raged against the GOP's abject refusal to take up legislation that the vast majority of Americans are begging to have passed. She is spitting fire about the trauma being inflicted on an entire generation of children for the benefit of the NRA's bulging pockets.

HARRIS: I'm traveling the country, as you know and I cannot tell you the number of kids — and let's step back and agree that the children of our community are the children of the community, they're all of our kids — and I cannot tell you the number of kids who come up to me crying, saying "I don't want to die." I talk about this everywhere. I've had eight-year-olds, six-year-olds tug at my jacket after I talk about these drills, and as though it's a secret between us, they will whisper, "I had to have one of those drills." It is TRAUMATIZING our kids. Parents are looking up bulletproof backpacks. Our kids are literally, let me just tell you how this is happening for our children. They go to one class and they learn about what they should do in that classroom and the physical construct of that classroom to avoid the mass shooter. Sometimes, they're happy they're in THAT class, if the shooting breaks out, they're in THAT room because there's a big closet. These are the stories they've told me, kids are talking about. If I'm in my humanities class, I hope it's not THERE because that's near the stairwell. This is what our kids are going through EVERY DAY.

Stephanie Ruhle asked her about a tweet from Parkland parent Fred Guttenburg, urging people to please hug their children every day when they get home from school, and demanding Mitch McConnell open the Senate to pass the gun legislation that has been sitting on his desk for MONTHS, for the sake of our children. Senator Harris sang the praises of Guttenburg for speaking up amidst such unimaginable personal tragedy, and in the next breath, eviscerated the GOP leader and his minions for their inaction.

HARRIS: We've all been together saying Mitch McConnell needs to convene the Senate. We have a good bill that recognizes that we don't need to take everyone's guns but we need to have smart gun safety laws. And there has been a failure, Stephanie, there's been a failure, of the United States Congress to have the courage to act. It is pathetic. It is pathetic that people yield to a gun lobby on an issue that affects all our children. And by the way — these babies, and I mean BABIES — the elementary, middle, and high school kids could care less who their parents voted for in the last election. They are terrified and we need to act. This is outrageous. And it is predictable. It is predictable and outrageous for that reason as well.

Velshi took the opportunity to bring up the fact that she was the one who, after Sandy Hook, said someone should have required the members of Congress to go into a locked room by themselves, no press, no one else, and look at the autopsy photos of those slain babies. THEN they should come out and vote their conscience. Velshi said the power of photos, audio, video to produce real change was evidenced by the change that took place after Parkland when many saw and heard "the terror in those children's eyes and voices." Many states passed laws, and the House of Reps passed a bill after that.

HARRIS: That's right, Ali, and you know the reason I said that around Sandy Hook, and I continue to say that, is I have looked at autopsy photographs. I have hugged the parents of murdered children. And this has got to stop being a partisan issue. An intellectual issue. An ideological issue. And I DARE these people who stand on circumstances, I DARE THEM to look at the autopsy photos of these babies, I dare them, and then vote their conscience. Enough. ENOUGH.

Ali Velshi asked Sen. Harris what she thought what, if anything, might motivate the Senate to move, if none of this tragedy thus far has. You can hear the pain in her voice when she begins to answer turn to resoluteness and fire as she flays the Republicans' abject devotion to their own status and NRA money, and her determination to stomp it down with executive action if she's elected.

HARRIS: Honestly, Ali, I know...after Sandy Hook, when 20 six and seven-year-old babies were slaughtered and Congress failed to act? After when October, and Nevada, which was one of the biggest massacre of human beings, and Congress failed to act? I honestly, I honestly don't know what it's gonna take.

I do believe, however, that when these kids, and if you talk to any kid, who from elementary school through their mid-twenties, all of them have had these drills. And when they start voting in their numbers I do believe there will be action. And that is such a FAILURE of the people who are currently in leadership. That we're gonna have to wait for these kids to lead before there is leadership on this issue.

What a failure of the people who walk around with these lapel pins around Congress, and they've got their staff running after them as if they're royalty, and they take all of the attributes and all of the benefits of their supposed role of leadership, but when it comes to a moment when they really SHOULD lead, they FAIL. It is tragic. That's why I've said when I get elected president I will take executive action and I have received heat from other Democrats about it. So what. I will take executive action. People say what happens if someone comes in after you and they undo it. Well, you know what? I'll wait, I'll deal with that in eight years. Somebody's gotta act.

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