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California To Fully Reopen July 15 Amid Falling Case Rates; Supreme Court Again Blocks Religious Restriction; Medical Examiner: George Floyd's Death Was A Homicide; Inside Myanmar's Brutal Military Crackdown, As Pro-Democracy Activists Beg For Justice; People Bang Pots And Pans Showing Resistance To Military Rule In Myanmar; Debate Grows Over Use Of Vaccine Passports; At Least 13 Mass Shootings In The U.S. So Far This Month. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 10, 2021 - 19:00   ET




PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM tonight. And we have new details about how the federal government plans to help Michigan deal with a surge and new COVID infections.

A senior administration official telling me tonight those 160 FEMA vaccinators were heading to Michigan, but not additional vaccines. The Governor has been asking the White House for a surge in vaccines as cases have spiked in recent weeks.

The official I spoke to noted that Michigan is getting hundreds of thousands more weekly vaccines than a month ago, and that Governor Whitmer does have the ability to reallocate within her state to the hotspot areas.

The concern of the administration is that what is happening to Michigan could spread to other states given how contagious the UK variant is? Also tonight, concerns about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Georgia becoming the fourth state to report complaints of reactions after people have received the vaccine.

Despite apparent setbacks the senior administration official tells me the White House is not concerned about issues with the actual vaccine. And turning now to California which now has the lowest COVID positivity rate in the country and is said to be fully reopened by mid June CNN's Paul Vercammen joins us now from Los Angeles so Paul, what's going to happen between now and June 15. And he benchmarks the status set?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're hearing is, is we're going to see this gradual reopening and I'll tell you in the live events business, I'm at Staples Center right now, they are calling it jubilation mixed with panic because they now have to actively re hire employees. This venue is where the Clippers Lakers and Kings play. And again, they're saying that we're going to see a new advent of ticketless entry into these various arenas. And we're also going to see a lot of jobs provided in the coming weeks.


VERCAMMEN (on camera): How many jobs does that mean here at Staples alone?

DAN BECKERMAN, PRESIDENT & CEO, AEG: Its thousands - it's thousands of part time staff. When you think of on any given night there are hundreds and hundreds of people from security officers Usher's ticket takers, concession workers that are working throughout the venue. So on any given night, there will be hundreds of staff here. And we start back up next week.

One of the lessons learned about how things are going to change. We think about things like air purification, we think about a touch-less environment. We think about paperless tickets, we think about cashless payments.

These are the things that our fans have told us that they need to see and sense in order to build up that trust and confidence to come back to live events. So we want to make sure that we create the safest possible environment for them.


VERCAMMEN: And as we look at these empty seats for the first time since they won the world's championship, we will see fans in the stands a limited amount of fans, but that's Thursday, when the Lakers play it? How did we get here?

Well, California has put shots in the arms of 22 million people. That is the populations of Austria, Israel and Uruguay combined. It's been a very aggressive, and we've also seen a lot of cooperation with the social distancing.

So suddenly, for the first time in a long time, we're hearing about people going back to concerts and into sports arenas and into stadiums throughout California. Reporting from Los Angeles, I'm Paul Vercammen. Now back to you, Pam.

BROWN: As always, thank you so much, Paul, for bringing us the latest there from California. And also in California, and a victory for religious groups fighting for more freedom during the pandemic, the Supreme Court and a five four late night ruling sided with a bay area Bible study group.

It sued Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom over a COVID law that limits any private gathering at a home to just people coming from three households. Conservative justices found that to be unfair because hair salons, retail stores and movie theaters, among others can have more people inside. But Chief Justice Roberts sided with the liberals on the court who noted the law applies to homes, whether it's a religious gathering or not. Our Supreme Court Analyst Joan Biskupic joins me now for more on this. So, Joe, and are you seeing a trend here when it comes to faith groups testing the government's limits on COVID rules?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Good evening, Pamela nice to be with you. Yes, we're seeing one of the most defining patterns of the Supreme Court of our times right now, in these religion cases.

When religious challengers come to the Supreme Court to challenge a government regulation here safety precautions related to the COVID-19 pandemic they're winning and they're especially winning with the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump's third appointee who came on last October succeeding the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.


BISKUPIC: She provided the fifth vote last night to block these COVID restrictions in California, as she did last November in a New York case, also blocking New York limits on occupancies at churches and synagogues.

And what the - what the majority said last night, Pam is that when a state treats a religious activity in any way unfavorably compared to any secular activity, it's a violation of the free exercise of religion.

Justice Kagan pointed out in her dissent, that the majority was essentially comparing what she said were apples and watermelons a bad comparison, saying hardware stores or grocery stores should be compared with churches because when you go to those retail establishments, you're essentially just going in for a little while.

These enterprises are likely better ventilated, and people are wearing masks. Whereas if you're in a home for these Bible study, or prayer services, you're likely there for a longer time, perhaps mask less and socializing and speaking more.

BROWN: And it's so interesting, that Chief Justice Roberts once again sided with the liberals just fascinating to watch this play out. John Biskupic, thank you so much.

BISKUPIC: Thank you.

BROWN: We'll CNN gets an exclusive look inside Myanmar for the first time since the deadly coup nearly two and a half months ago. Our Clarissa Ward gives you a firsthand look at some extraordinary acts of courage. You will not want to miss the CNN story.

Plus, week two of testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial finished with accounts from medical experts about what led to George Floyd's death. A Floyd family attorney joins me live up next.


BROWN: Well, for two weeks, the world has watched gripping testimony in the trial of Derek Chauvin, a Former Minneapolis Police Officer charged in the death of George Floyd. The prosecution this week brought a litany of top law enforcement and medical experts to the stand.

And they painted a clear picture of the painful events that turned out to be the last moments of Floyd's life. CNN's Adrienne Broaddus explains the critical moments that could help decide this case.


ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The second week of the Derrick Chauvin murder trial concluded with a key witness Hennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew Baker.

JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTOR: You conducted the autopsy on Mr. George Floyd.


BROADDUS (voice over): Acknowledge that heart disease and drugs played a role in George Floyd's death, but the manner of death remains a homicide.

DR. BAKER: That's what I put on the death certificate last June, law enforcement sub dual restraint and neck compression.

BROADDUS (voice over): Baker's statements capped off a week of testimony from medical experts and law enforcement officials repeatedly poking holes in Chauvin's defense, which argues Floyd, died from a combination of underlying health conditions, along with the ingestion of methamphetamine and fentanyl. DR.

MARTIN TOBIN, PULMONOLOGIST, EXPERT WITNESS: That's the moment the life goes out of his body.

BROADDUS (voice over): Dr. Martin Tobin, a world-renowned pulmonologist broke down in detail, four critical factors that he says cause Floyd to stop breathing, like Floyd's position on the asphalt which restricted his lungs.

BLACKWELL: You mentioned several reasons for Mr. Floyd's low oxygen. You mentioned one handcuffs and the street, right?

DR. TOBIN: Correct.

BLACKWELL: You mentioned knee on the neck?


BLACKWELL: Prone position?

DR. TOBIN: Yep. BLACKWELL: And then the knee on the back arm inside were those the


DR. TOBIN: Yep, these are the four.

BROADDUS (voice over): Defense Attorney Eric Nelson argued that Floyd could have died as a result of taking drugs moments prior to officers forcing him to the ground.

ERIC NELSON, DEREK CHAUVIN'S ATTORNEY: Is it fair to say that you would expect the peak fentanyl respiratory depression within about five minutes?

DR. TOBIN: Right. I mean, obviously, it would depend on how much of it was ingested. But what if there was any amount of it ingested? Yes, the peak will be five minutes.

BROADDUS (voice over): Tobin ultimately concluded drugs didn't kill Floyd, testifying that he had not taken a proper breath for almost 10 minutes, at which point the carbon dioxide in Floyd's body had reached lethal levels. The jury also heard from Chauvin's former boss, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. He later said what happened to Floyd was, "Murder". The chief was asked about Chauvin's use of force.

STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTOR: So is it your belief then that this particular form of restraint, if that's what you will call it, in fact violates departmental policy?

CHIEF MEDARIA ARRADONDO, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE: I absolutely agree that violates our policy.

BROADDUS (voice over): The defense pushback arguing that Chauvin's knee placement, which they say was actually on Floyd's back was a proper police prone hold.

NELSON: Does this appear to be a neck restraint?


NELSON: Does this appear to be a prone holds that some an officer may apply with his knee?


BROADDUS (voice over): But the testimonial theme from law enforcement and use of force experts was clear. Witnesses clearly told the jury that Derek Chauvin used "Excessive and deadly force on George Floyd when restraining him with his knee for more than nine minutes".


BROWN: And are they thanks to Adrienne Broaddus for that reporting. Joining me now is Jeff Storms. He is a civil rights attorney representing George Floyd's family. Thanks for coming on, Jeff. I can only imagine what the Floyd family is going through watching this trial, having to relive that day and perhaps even learn more new details?


BROWN: The prosecution is set to rest soon. Do you think that they have done the Family justice so far in presenting their case?

JEFF STORMS, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE FLOYD'S FAMILY: But certainly, they have - put every witness before this jury that they've needed to thus far to make it clear that the conduct of officers Chauvin had no place in policing. It was illegal, and it caused George's death.

BROWN: So out of all the testimony you heard this week, what stood out to you the most?

STORMS: Well, I think we were all mesmerized by Dr. Tobin's testimony, which made it very clear for the jury that what killed George was being in the vise right with one wall device being a blue wall of officers, and then the hard pavement on the other side. And as a result, they squeeze every last bit of oxygen from his body. And he explained it so well.

BROWN: It is, frankly, unprecedented to see so many law enforcement officers testifying against one of their own, you know, there's this unwritten code, a blue wall of silence that certainly is not holding up here. What do you think about that?

STORMS: Well, I think that tells the world just how egregious this conduct was, that the old playbook of the blue wall of silence can even be used. And, you know, for the family and the legal team and the world.

When you look at all the officers who have come to testify against Derek Chauvin, top notch experts who are testifying for free, you ask yourself, if a white officer cannot be convicted of killing a black man, under these circumstances, when can an officer be convicted?

BROWN: You've heard the defense as well. Their job is to poke holes in the prosecution's case, particularly and we saw that in Adrienne's piece when it comes to drug use, and when the peak of the fentanyl would have happened to slow down his breathing and so forth. What do you think about how the defense has done so far in terms of poking holes in the prosecution's case?

STORMS: Well, I think they've, you know, really failed to have any coherent theme and attempting to do it. It's sort of like throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks. But you know what you learn in trial practices, if you don't have consistent themes and a consistent message that makes sense.

It's difficult to convince a jury that your defense has any merit. And I think that desperation will be clear to the jury.

BROWN: So Chauvin is facing several charges, the lower charge being manslaughter, it's easy to get caught up in the talking of devastating testimony. But we know there is no such thing as a slam dunk case. Is the Floyd family prepared for the possibility of any verdict they might find disappointing?

STORMS: Well, I think that, like any black family, they are afraid that the justice system could let them down once again, as it's happened, you know, for black families in the past. But I - you know, I think that they've really put their faith in the prosecution and believe that America has finally gathered around this cars and gathered around their family member.

And all have uniformly said this was wrong, and I believe they're very hopeful that the jury will reach the same conclusion.

BROWN: All right, Jeff Storms thank you very much.

STORMS: Thank you for having me.

BROWN: And up next, a CNN exclusive report from inside Myanmar where troops are gunning down innocent people. What the military wants you to see and what is actually happening there? We'll be right back.



BROWN: Well, now it's your exclusive look at Myanmar where the ruthless killings continue on the military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. Now this is a country of about 55 million people in Southeast Asia bordering Thailand, Laos, China, India and Bangladesh.

It gained independence in 1948 but has lived under military rule for much of that time. Only for the last decade did Myanmar enjoy any civilian rule, a taste of democracy. But that all ended two months ago when the military one of the largest in Asia reasserted itself and took over in the violent coup.

CNN's Clarissa Ward and her team were the first outside journalists allowed into the country since the coup at the permission and escort of the military as she filed this report.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): By day, the junta continues its brutal crackdown, killing pro-democracy protesters who refuse to submit to military rule. At night, the raids begin as soldiers round up activists and drag away the dead their body's evidence of the military shoot to kill tactics.

Two months after overthrowing Myanmar's democratically elected government in a coup. The junta has been unapologetic in its ruthlessness and silent in the face of international outrage. Fearless local journalists and activists have risked everything to show the world what is happening while outside access to the country has been blocked?


WARD (voice over): But now the military has granted CNN the first access to visit Myanmar. From the moment we arrived, our movements are tightly controlled.

WARD (on camera): Gives you a sense of the intense level of security with us 123, another three over there six trucks full of soldiers accompanying our every move.

WARD (voice over): At township offices across Yangon alleged victims of the protest movement dutifully await us. They tell us they have been beaten and threatened and humiliated by the violators of pejorative term the military uses for the pro-democracy protesters.

In North or - the local administrator complains that the demonstrators were noisy. It broke the law by gathering in groups of more than five.

WARD (on camera): Are you seriously comparing these infractions to more than 500 people being killed among them children? Are you saying that these are equal?

WARD (voice over): Our minders are perturbed by the question and it goes unanswered. They take us to a shopping center, one of two attacked by arsonists overnight. Like many businesses in Myanmar they are partially owned by the military.

The strong implication from our minders is that the protesters are to blame. It's a similar story at several burned out factories. This is the third factory that the military wanted to show us. They say it's a clear proof that the protesters are violent that they have been setting fire to businesses like this, but the protesters say they had nothing to do with it at all.

And the factory owners who we've spoken to say they simply don't know who's responsible. Sandra's Chinese own garment factory was completely destroyed. She asked we not show her face.

WARD (on camera): Do you have any sense of what you will do now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Working for the government give me some sense heavy.

WARD (on camera): Who is the government right now in Myanmar? Sorry, is that a hard question?


WARD (voice over): Every moment of our visit is carefully choreographed. When protesters begin posting about our movements on social media, the military cuts off Wi-Fi across the country. Still, from the window of our convoy we catch glimpses of reality.

Some people from the balcony just flashed three fingers at me. That's the "Hunger Games" salute, which has become emblematic of this uprising. I'm speaking very quietly because I don't want our minders to know what they just did because, honestly, it could be a very dangerous situation.

We pass a small protest, rejecting Myanmar's returned to more than half a century of repressive military rule. Their banner calls for a spring revolution. Our minders won't let us stop. Finally, after days of pushing, we are allowed to visit a public space an open market, we avoid approaching anyone mindful of the fact that we are surrounded by security forces. But within minutes, one brave man flashes the three- finger salute.

WARD (on camera): I saw that you made a sign.


WARD (on camera): Tell me what you mean by making that sign?


WARD (on camera): We don't want - you just stand back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justice, justice - we want the justice.

WARD (on camera): You want the justice?


WARD (voice over): Moments later, another man approaches.


WARD (on camera): No scare?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing. We don't have a - not scared. But every day, every day, just like this.

WARD (voice over): As word of our presence spreads, we hear an unmistakable sound. Banging pots and pans is a tradition to get rid of evil spirits. But it has become the signature sound of resistance. This young teacher says she ran to talk to us when she heard the noise.

WARD (on camera): You want democracy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want democracy. We don't want military coup.

WARD (voice over): You know we're surrounded by a military like this guy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't, I'm not afraid at all. If we are afraid we people around to we're not hit the bands in the pan.

WARD (voice over): Like many young people, she sees her future being ripped away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't want to go back to the Dark Age. We lost our voice and we had democracy only for 10 years. We don't have weapons. We don't have guns. Just only we have voice.

WARD (voice over): But even words can be punished here. Not wanting the situation to escalate, we decide to leave the market, as people honk their horns in support of the protest movement.

The junta has grossly underestimated the determination of its people, and the growing hatred for the military.

In the capital, Naypyidaw, we finally have the opportunity to confront Myanmar's senior military leadership.

MAJOR GENERAL ZAW MIN TUN, MYANMAR MILITARY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): I will tell you the reason why we have to crack down. The protests were peaceful from February 1st to the 8th. The reason for the crackdown was because they blocked civil servants.

The Security Forces are giving warnings. Firstly, shouting to break the crowds, and then shooting in the air. And the crowds are throwing stones, and using slingshots.

WARD (on camera): Are you seriously comparing stones and slingshots to assault rifles? The military is using weapons against its own people. They really only belong on the battlefield.

TUN (through translator): The main thing is, they are not only using stones and slingshots. We have evidence they used gasoline and Molotov cocktails. You need to add those, too.

For the Security Forces, they use crackdown weapons for riots. There will be deaths when they are cracking down the riots, but we are not shooting without discipline with the rifles we use for the front lines.

WARD: So this is CCTV footage of 17-year-old Kwa Min Lah (ph) going past a police convoy. You can see the police shoot him on the spot. His autopsy later said that he suffered a brain injury as a result of a cycling accident, which I think we can all see, that's not a cycling accident. How do you explain this?

TUN (through translator): If that kind of thing has occurred, we will have investigations for it. We will investigate it if it's true or not. There may be some videos which looks suspicious, but for our forces, we don't have any intention to shoot at innocent people.

WARD: So, 14-year-old Tung Aung (ph), who was killed by your forces, what do you say to his mother? You say that he was a violent protester? Or what would you say to the father of 13-year-old, Tun Mak Nguyen (ph)? Also shot dead by your forces.

TUN (through translator): We have heard about the deaths of the children, too. There is no reason we will shoot children. This is only the terrorists that are trying to make us look bad.

WARD (voice over): But the lies are paper thin. According to the U.N., as of March 31st, at least 44 children have been killed.

Back in Yangon, our minders take us to another market, in a military area. Keen to show they have popular support, but the ploy backfires.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want democracy. WARD (on camera): I understand.

A man just told me, "We want democracy" as he walked past. But he was too scared to stop and talk.

WARD (voice over): Others are more bold.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please save our country.

WARD (on camera): Save your country?

WARD (voice over): These people are not activists. They are ordinary citizens, and they live in fear of the military.

WARD (on camera): You have goose bumps. You're like, shivering.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are not -- they are not human.

WARD: Yes. They're not human?


WARD (voice over): They are desperate for the outside world to know their pain. One girl approaches us, shaking.

WARD (on camera): I feel like you're very nervous. Are you okay?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. We are not safe anymore. Even in the night. There are shooters, and the shooters shoot the children.

WARD: I don't want you to get in trouble. I don't want you to get arrested, okay?


WARD: All right.

WARD (voice over): She knows her bravery will certainly be punished, but this is a resistance movement built on small acts of great courage.

Clarissa Ward, CNN, Myanmar.


BROWN: And that woman was arrested just as she was running away from the market. Ten others were also arrested for talking to CNN.

Thankfully, they were all released after a couple of days, but it's really an illustration of just how threatened the military is by this popular movement and also of how extraordinarily brave, courageous these men and women are in risking their own security to make the voice of people heard.

Thanks to Clarissa Ward for that incredible reporting. And next hour, the first U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar in over 22 years

joins me live to talk about the worsening situation there and how it got there.


BROWN: The debate over so called passports to prove that you have been vaccinated against COVID-19 is becoming a new political divide. But why is that? We're going to take a look up next.


BROWN: There is a debate heating up especially among politicians over the possible use for vaccine passports. Several governors across the country have said they will not implement them in their states, but despite this opposition, schools and businesses across the country are demanding proof of vaccinations and nowhere is the debate as heated as it is in Florida.

CNN's Randi Kaye has more.



RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): At Rocco's Tacos and Tequila Bar in Delray Beach, Florida, customers are returning and with them talk of so-called vaccine passports.

Owner Rocco Mangel has been vaccinated and would like others to do the same, but he is not in favor of requiring it in his restaurants for staff and customers. For him, it's about freedom of choice.

ROCCO MANGEL, OWNER, ROCCO'S TACOS AND TEQUILA BAR: Requiring people to have a vaccination card to come into the restaurant or a vaccination app or a passport, I think it infringes on their rights.

KAYE (voice over): That tracks with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's view, it is part of why he issued an Executive Order banning vaccine passports in the State of Florida. DeSantis has dismissed vaccine passports in the same way he did many other measures during the pandemic, like mask mandates and lockdowns, all in the name of protecting rights, and in this case, privacy.

KAYE (on camera): Do you think you'd get more business or see more business if a vaccine was required here?

MANGEL: I think quite the opposite. If we required it that would be a perception of that we're trying to govern them.

KAYE (voice over): DeSantis argues that vaccine passports reduce individual freedom and would create two classes of citizens based on vaccination.

KAYE (on camera): According to the Executive Order, businesses here in Florida are prohibited from requiring customers to provide documentation certifying a COVID-19 vaccination or post transmission recovery in order to gain access to that business.

KAYE (voice over): DeSantis's order puts him at odds with those who believe they are included in the order and are planning for or at least considering requiring a vaccine passport. Like the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa.

JUDY LISI, CEO, STRAZ CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS: It's really critical to our reopening and eventually to get us to 100 percent capacity.

KAYE (voice over): CEO Judy Lisi says she is surprised by and disappointed with the Governor's decision.

LISI: If you think about mass gathering places like theaters and stadiums and arenas, we're sitting right next to each other. So it becomes really important to have a vaccine program as an option for our guests, and for our artists.

KAYE (voice over): At Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, proof of COVID-19 vaccination was going to be mandatory for staff and students come the fall semester. But when I alerted the University's CEO to the Governor's Executive Order banning vaccine passports --

GEORGE HANBURY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NOVA SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY: I will change whatever is necessary to comply with the law and to the Governor's Executive Order.

KAYE (voice over): The popular South Beach Wine and Food Festival may also now have to change its plans to require proof of a vaccine or a negative COVID test to enter next month's event.

LEE BRIAN SCHRAGER, FOUNDER, SOUTH BEACH WINE AND FOOD FESTIVAL: We'll be constantly re-evaluating up until the last second, but for now, this is the plan we have in place and the plan that I hope stays in place.

KAYE (voice over): Back at Rocco's Tacos, Rocco Mangel says he doesn't think a vaccine passport would make his restaurant any safer than it already is.

MANGEL: People make a choice and people need to make hopefully a choice that they're not going to put other people at risk.

KAYE (voice over): Randi Kaye, CNN, Del Ray Beach, Florida.


BROWN: And now a story about a simple solution to a cold hospital setting.

Look at this, this video from a nurse in Brazil went viral. It is such a simple thing, filling a medical glove with warm water and placing it on the hands of her often isolated COVID-19 patients, well, it provided some much needed comfort by warming the hands and it made it possible for her to properly measure oxygen levels. But more importantly, the warm gloves simulated the feeling of human

contact. Something rare, so rare for so many hospitalized COVID patients.

Well, so far in April, there has been more than one mass shooting per day in America. President Biden addressed the crisis with his first Executive Orders to combat and gun violence. And up next, I'll ask a survivor of the Parkland shooting if Biden's actions go far enough.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.



BROWN: Well, there have been at least 13 mass shootings in the U.S. so far this month. That is more than one per day. Think about that.

As a candidate, President Biden offered a vast list of gun control proposals. There they are on your screen, scrolling from his campaign site. The list included sweeping promises like bringing back the assault weapons ban, ending online gun sales and starting a national gun buyback program and he vowed to take decisive action on day one.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On my first day of office, I'm going to send a bill to Congress repealing the liability protection for gun manufacturers closing, the background check loopholes and waiting period.

I won't let too many people -- that now let too many people slip through the cracks.


BROWN: Well, in reality, day one came and went without that legislation or any other gun control actions from the White House. It wasn't until Thursday after roughly two and a half months in office and dozens of mass shootings that Biden took his first steps on gun control.

His actions included tougher restrictions on ghost guns and pistol braces, ordering the Justice Department to draft red flag laws and an annual gun trafficking report and increased investment in violence prevention programs.

I'm joined now by Cameron Kasky. He is a survivor of the Parkland shooting and a gun control advocate. Thanks for coming on. What do you think about these first actions from Biden?


CAMERON KASKY, SURVIVOR OF THE PARKLAND SHOOTING AND A GUN CONTROL ADVOCATE: I think it's a ton of great steps in the right direction, right? I mean, the American Jobs Plan and proposing $5 billion for evidence based community violence intervention programs is great.

It shows that the administration does know, you know, addresses how great those programs are, and how much change they've been able to make. They are going after the ghost guns. They are going after the gun manufacturers.

And the thing is, I hear a lot of talk about how we need to hold the gun lobby accountable, and that's true. The gun lobby is a massive part of what has been holding back the changes we need to make. But the Biden administration is really putting the pressure on the manufacturers and the manufacturers are largely responsible for all the violence that we're seeing.

So it's a lot of great steps in the right direction. I think that a lot of people, we are hoping that we'd see more and are concerned that this is all we're going to see from the Biden administration on gun violence. These are immensely popular measures that are supported, but vary widely between Democratic and Republican voters, and I think a lot of people want to make sure we're not seeing the last bit with this.

BROWN: Do you think any of these measures could actually have prevented a mass -- you could prevent a mass shooting or prevented what you experienced at your school?

KASKY: Sure. Federal laws for gun control are great, because there's a lot of laws that are passed at a state level that can really curb this violence. But ultimately, these laws are only going to be as strong as they are on a Federal level.

You can go to other states and buy guns, you know, and the Biden administration is putting pressure on trafficking. It's putting pressure on ghost guns, which are very, very dangerous, and are much harder for the government to keep an eye on, because of the way that -- because of their nature, I think that a lot of violence is going to be stopped by this.

I don't think this is the end of what we need to do, I think we need a very, very strict assault weapons ban. I think there's a lot more we need to see from the administration.

But again, there are shootings that are not going to happen because of this, and while I don't think it goes far enough, this is action that we would have never seen from the last administration, obviously.

BROWN: So most gun deaths in this country are caused by hand guns. Tennessee just became the 19th state to allow adults to carry a handgun without a permit. Should gun control advocates focus more attention on handguns and less on assault rifles in your view?

KASKY: Well, it's complicated. I think a lot of people who advocate for gun safety do believe that people should be able to carry handguns. I know a lot of people who carry handguns and have a permit, and also support wider background checks and carrying a permit, right?

And these states that are suggesting people can just carry these around are completely ignoring how much gun violence comes from handguns. They're just letting people bring them around willy-nilly.

It's very, very dangerous, and I think that most gun owners in this country agree that we need to see background checks, we need to see people carrying permits, because while a lot of people want to defend themselves, it's just insane what the gun manufacturers are willing to do to get more guns sold and pushing this legislation is exactly that.

BROWN: Let's talk about the sales of guns. Mass shootings, obviously garner a lot of media coverage and outrage. They also drive spikes in gun sales. By most estimates, America has the world's highest amount of guns per capita.

Can gun violence be reduced without reducing the number of legal guns in circulation? What do you think?

KASKY: Well, look, the gun manufacturers are -- mass shootings are their financial machine. Mass shootings are how these people make their money because like you said, the gun sales spike so very much.

So ultimately, what they are going to do is push for as much legislation as they possibly can to make sure they're selling the weapons. And look, gun violence is not just a gun control issue. It's a healthcare issue. It's a policing issue. It's a community issue.

It's such a symptom of so many different problems we face in this country, it is not just going to be stopped by implementing gun control or the restriction. We need to see change at a fundamental level. We need to see things across the board. We need to see people taking steps to stop this.

And when Americans can't afford healthcare, gun violence is going to be worse. When Americans are going into debt, we are going to see more gun violence.

It's driven by a lot of things. That being said, laws and proposals like what we're seeing from Biden, these first couple of steps, they are baby steps. But they're all right, and I think we need to see more because while again, it is an issue that takes over a lot of different aspects of American life, if you're not going to make the most fundamental, simple changes that are so widely supported, you're not going to see anything.


BROWN: Just to be clear, though, again, given you know, we talked about how there's a spike in sales after mass shootings. You don't think manufacturers actually want to see mass shooting, so there is a spike in sales, right? Or is that what you were saying?

KASKY: Look, they're selling guns and when there's a mass shooting, they sell guns. I don't think human beings are happy to see other human beings die, but businesses are businesses and the things that drive up sales drive up sales.

And again, I don't think that gun manufacturers sit around in a room watching mass shootings while they're cackling and prancing about, but they sell a lot of guns when there's a mass shooting, and that's an irrefutable fact.

BROWN: All right, Cameron Kasky. Thank you very much and we'll be right back.

KASKY: Thank you.