tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC September 2, 2019 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT
we are continuing breaking news coverage of hurricane dorian and the extremely dangerous category 4 storm that is lashing, continuing to lash parts of the bahamas. hurricane dorian is one of the most powerful atlantic storms ever recorded. at least five people are dead in the bahamas with sustained winds initially of 185 miles per hour. the hurricane is now basically
stalled literally over the bahamas along with heavy winds and storm surges, 30 inches of rain could fall in some isolated areas. videos show devastating damage in the abaco islands with homes nearly fully submerged with water. the devastation is unprecedented. >> we are in the midst of a historic tragedy in parts of northern bahamas. our mission and focus now is search, rescue and recovery. i ask for your prayers for those in affected areas and for our first responders. >> officials there said they received a tremendous number of calls for rescue, but in many places conditions remain unsafe to respond. we are tracking dorian's impact on florida, as well, where thunderstorms from the outer bands of this storm are already
dropping rain on some areas. we will go live to florida to discuss some of that. dorian is expected to track along florida's coast over the next few days where everyone is keeping a very close eye on the storm, no one more so than bill carens. >> the hurricane center is finding the storm slightly lower. it's still a category 4. the maximum sustained winds are at 130 miles per hour. we peaked at 185. now we are at 130. that's the lowest you can get and still be a category 4. if it takes down anymore it will go down to a category 3. still a major hurricane and still devastating. this, besides the headline of one of the strongest ever, the stationary movement will go down in history. the new forecast path and for the first time in about seven days, all of florida is out of the cone of uncertainty. it means the hurricane center is
saying the odds of any direct landfall in florida are pretty much over. they have been saying we kind of knew that throughout the last two days. now the cone is completely off the coast. none of our computer models are taking it towards the florida areas. you will get the indirect effects, the tropical storm forced winds, power outages here and there. we're not going to have the devastation from the wind. rain is not going to be an issue. we have to watch out for the storm surge. even a storm this powerful this far off the coast can produce a storm surge four to seven feet. you can get damage like we saw with matthew. further up the coast. this didn't change too much. all of georgia is out of the cone of uncertainty. that's a sigh of relief for our friends. we have charleston, myrtle beach, georgetown and all of eastern north carolina and virginia beach area is in the
cone. we extend the cone and our friends here in eastern massachusetts and cape cod is in the left most portion of that cone. we'll have to watch that friday, friday night sneaking past safely past new england. notice the intensity. it's at about 130 now. they don't have it weakening all that much. over the next two to three days, it only dpoez from about 130 to about 105. they think it will stop turning the water in the same exact spot and then be over warmer water so it won't be weakening as quickly. as far as the impacts go, i haven't changed any of my impact graphics. i think storm surge is the concern in florida. minor problems bewind and inland flooding. georgia, same for you. issues with storm surge. if you're not right on the beaches and not right on the coast, it's going to be an inconvenience and windy and maybe minor power outages.
you shouldn't have much damage in georgia and florida. if you have beach front property thapt is very much a concern. south carolina kind of the same for you with the storm surge. i did take you down a notch with winds from moderate to minor because it looks further off the coast. as far as north carolina goes, i think with the chance of a direct impablth even with a category 1 still have moderate impacts. >> in your initial storm track you showed into north carolina and virginia beach area, it's still being at 90 miles per hour. and then it shows a line going up -- >> possibly nova scotia. >> at what point does it stop being a hurricane? >> the hurricane center, i didn't see what they were saying once it gets to nova scotia. at that point, it does begin to become extra tropical. it starts to lose tropical characteristics of having a warm core. we are looking at the warm
thunderstorms here. so sometimes they dpoe from the tropics and being a tropical system to an extra tropical storm. so you can have high extreme winds. >> tell me about surf. you talked about storm surges. the storm surge is particularly relevant depending on where your tide happens to be. >> all the storm surge map is actually showing you, it's showing you how much is the water going to rise more than it would have. on a normal day if you were there. here is our storm surge map. they have extended these warnings. four to seven feet is still a possibility. if we have damage out there, if you are watching our coverage at these high tide cycles when the storm surge comes in, that's when you see the water going to the dunes or over or through the dunes. that will be the most problematic.
water kills the most people in all these storms. so some people with this storm are going to be thinking i don't want to evacuate or maybe i want to check it out down on the beach. that's the fear of all the emergency managers and police and sheriff's departments is now with the storm further offshore, the winds are not enough to knock you down. then you get the storm surge coming in and they're like what's this? and then they can get caught in it. >> every time i'm on the beach in a hurricane -- >> if we are going to lose lives, that's one way. as you mentioned a bunch of times, the cleanup afterwards, we always have people with accidents with power and chainsaws. >> at the bottom of that map with storm surge is west palm beach which is where we will go right now. i'm joined by our nbc correspondent in west palm beach, florida. you are at the bottom of the danger zone. the danger according to the national hurricane center has
shifted. there is not any likelihood of this storm making landfall in florida, but there are going to be heavy winds and the storm surge quite possibly. >> reporter: that's right. i don't know if you can hear the rain as it's rr picking up. we are currently under one of the rain bands that are stretching out from hurricane dorian. we are currently about a mile from the beach. all eyes are on that tide right now. i'm so glad that you and bill were just discussing that because this area has been experiencing higher than normal tides. we are about to approach high tide in just about an hour and a half. and some areas we are hearing reports that some areas nearby have already been experiencing flooding as a result of that. those high tides in combination with this additional water these storm surges of about four to seven feet that we could be seeing over the next 24 hours, that is cause for concern for residents and officials here in this area even though the wind and the rain might not be as much of a concern for our
friends inland right now, for the people on the beaches, as you mentioned, this is worrisome. >> what is the status of things around you in west palm beach? i know it's fairly late, but there does not appear to be anybody in the suvinity. is that a curfew or did people decide to stay home? >> reporter: parts of west palm beach and palm beach island have been under a mandatory evacuation order. that's part of the reason we are not seeing many people on the streets. palm beach island isn't letting anyone in past 5:00 p.m. today who isn't a resident. i think you are seeing a lot of people heeding those evacuation orders. frankly, at this hour, if you haven't evacuated already, it's too late to get out. we were driving up and down the state earlier today. we stopped by a shelter where 200 people will be spending the night tonight. that's where a local police
officer reminded me of the danger of flooding and mentioned things have been relatively calm at the shelter and throughout the state, we haven't seen a lot of traffic. that's one of the things he is thinking about tonight. >> thank you in west palm beach, florida. i want to go to katie beck in savannah, georgia. when i was there yesterday, people had gone to savannah from southern florida to outrun the storm. and then they were confused by where is the storm actually going. >> reporter: yes. they might have come here to escape and then they had to escape again after the governor's order to evacuate earlier today. savannah looks different than it did yesterday. hotels have shut down, restaurants have shut down. we are right in the historic district. this is an area that is normally packed with people. it's actually closed to traffic most of the time because there are so many people wandering in the streets going to bars, restaurants, hotels. right now everything has sand
bags, has plastic. this is an area that is basically a ghostland right now. it's kind of eerie, actually. the few times i have been to savannah have been full of life and fun especially in this area, a really big night slief spot. right now there is nobody out and about in savannah and none of the hotels have any dpess. and those mandatory evacuation orders came and people heeded the warning. earlier the mayor of savannah issuing some really, really tough advice saying it only takes one chance. it only takes one risk and you only have one life to lose, so don't do that, ordering people to get out of town and really heed these warnings. starting tomorrow, there will be contraflow on i-16 heading out. they want people to get out of town. they don't want backups before the bad weather arrives here on wednesday. additionally, the civic center is going to be opening its doors
to those who maybe wanted to evacuate and didn't have any place to go. we will be seeing as they await this weather more and more preparations in place. as for now, it is a very, very quiet city while they await this storm. >> katie beck in savannah, georgia. let's turn now to retired u.s. army lieutenant in baton rouge, louisiana. he, ochk, led the relief effort on the ground in new orleans after hurricane katrina. let's talk about the bahamas for a moment, because while we are all breathing a sigh of relief that this will not make landfall in the continental united states, this has been over the bahamas for more than 24 hours, has just been reduced to a category 4 storm. it landed as more than 180 miles per hour sustained wind storm. this -- when day light sheds on the bahamas tomorrow, it's going to be very, very dangerous, it's
going to be devastating. >> absolutely. the good news is there will be a united states coast dpard has gotten some elements in there and started establishing contact and start the search and rescue effort. and with fair winds and seas we should see a contingent of marines with helicopters getting there i'm sure as soon as the weather permits. they are circling out in the ocean looking for an opportune time to get in. the storm stalling there continues to prevent that type of activity from happening. and then on the mainland, there is change in the weather forecast still leaving a significant surge threat along the coast. the challenge that the department of defense along with the national guard who have been putting and maneuvering forces
along with fema, fema had moved hundreds of ambulances, search and rescue teams that were initially focussed in that southern mid florida area around the space center, now those assets will just wait there to see where they are needed next. but it's a function of maneuvering ambulances, power teams, the active duty helicopters that have been deployed in the area. where do they go? that's the flexibility that the military has. and the longer the storm drags out, the more planning and preparation we can do, but it's certainly going to stretch the nerves of the people along the coast of those who have been thinking about whether they should evacuate. and with all current progress nose s, those who have been told that they need to be evacuated for surge need to evacuate otherwise they can wind up being a casualty of the storm. look at what happened in the
bahamas. >> a little bit of water can be catastrophic for an area particularly because of access to power, inability to drive. and really you were the nation's eyes and ears on this in katrina where you realized what the aftermath can look like and sometimes it's worse than the hurricane itself. we have come a long way since those days, since the day that you had to be called in to organize the relief effort past katrina. i think we are in a much better place, thankfully. >> i think a lot of people said never again another katrina. and then we could have done better on maria. i think everybody is saying we are going to do this different this time. and the activities i see by the chief of the national guard bureau working hand in hand with u.s. northern command on colorado and their commands to preposition helicopters, preposition task force truck and
engineers that with hundreds of high clearance vehicles that can go in and assist with search and rescue and engineers that can help clean roads. those on top of what's already in the state in florida, georgia, south carolina, north carolina who are working hand in hand with the county officials. these are federal backups as well as that ship at sea that's about to go in and help our friends in the bahamas. a lot of planning has been going on, a lot of positioning of resources. we'll see how that gets reset tomorrow depending on the storm. at the end of the day, the storm has a vote. and it can be horrible for those that hit landfall. >> we are in a position now to lend search and rescue and those resources to the bahamas. >> absolutely. absolutely. that's an agreement, a long-standing agreement with the bahamas, because they are a
commonwealth. that's one of the agreements we have with them to assist in a tragedy like this. >> dp to see you dpen, sir. thank you for being with us. there is much more ahead as millions of coastal residents brace for whatever dorian might bring. we will get the latest on the slow-moving storm. we'll have an update on the search for victims of that tragic driving boat fire just 60 feet off the shore of california's santa cruz island. msnbc's special coverage on a very busy holiday monday night continues right after this. y ht continues right after this. i hear you, sister. stress can affect our minds. i call this dish, "stress." stress can also affect our bodies. so, i'm partnering with cigna to remind you that your emotional and physical health are more connected than you think. go in for your annual check-up. and be open with your doctor about anything you feel. physically, and emotionally. body and mind. cigna. together, all the way.
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welcome back to msnbc's live breaking news coverage of hurricane dorian. this is myrtle beach. this is the beach in myrtle beach. you can see the people walking around, somebody with a dog here. that's what people do before a hurricane shows up. we now, of course, have heard that that hurricane itself is not going to make landfall in florida, but people like to go out there to see the power of nature. it can be an interesting thing and a very dangerous thing to do. we are still paying attention to a very, very dangerous storm. hurricane dorian. take a look at this. this is 36 hours. that's the beginning of the 36 hours until now. this is where the storm is still over grand buhamma island. it came into the bahamas more than 36 hours ago. it is basically stalled over
parts of the bahamas. it is still packing sustained winds of 130 miles per hour. when it started in the bahamas it was 180 miles per hour. let's get the latest update from the national hurricane center which just issued its 11:00 p.m. update. i want to go to miami. ed, at some point, are the people of the bahamas going to be able to look up in the sky and see the sun tomorrow? >> i would think so. it would be first for the abacos and then grand bahama island. this is one of the last eight hours. the center ofrt hurricane just hasn't moved. unfortunately, that meant that the eye wall has stayed right over the grand bahama and northwestern abacos island. this is the national weather service radar. here is free port. here is the eye. the eye of the storm.
freeport is right along the southwestern eye wall. they have had around 24 hours of hurricane conditions. they will have another six to 12 hours or so. by tomorrow, though, we expect that the hurricane will be moving first fully and then accelerating to the northwest on a course that will go roughly parallel, but most likely offshore from the southeastern coast of the united states. >> ed, does that mean that folks on the southeastern shores of the united states are out of danger? >> no. that's the next step. yes it's going to be offshore but only 50 miles offshore and hurricane force winds extend out about 35 to 40 miles. and they broaden a little bit in time. that means that even on this forecast track, hurricane force winds will come right up to the shore line and maybe go ashore, as well. tropical storm force winds is the big orange area here. that is moving up the coast. everybody will have at least tropical storm conditions.
and it's a possibility of hurricane force winds which will be driving the storm surge ashore. we have been showing this today. perhaps you have been talking about it. as much as four to seven feet of inunidation is possible. storm surge is the biggest killer. you can see the damage it has done in the northwest bahamas. this is our biggest concern for dorian over the next few days. >> thank you to the folks at the hurricane center for remarkable forecasting. this has been a stubborn storm and a powerful storm. we are relying on you for all this information. hurricane dorian has been unusually challenging for forecasters like ed. it has been slow to move and especially tough to track. joining me is the founder and ceo of our daily planet, a daily news service focussed on environmental issues. she is also the former deputy administrator for n.o.a.a. hurricanes are something you understand well, monica. it used to be -- i have been
covering hurricanes for a long time. it used to be that if you brought up the effect of climate change on hurricanes, people would say to you this isn't the time to talk about that. we're past that now. people don't say that anymore. they understand that we have to talk about this. hurricanes are gaining in intensity in large part because the oceans are warming. >> it's a triple whammy. it's increased storm surge which we have talked about a lot tonight already. it's also a huge increase in the amount of rainfall associated with storms and the storms are more powerful. so it's a triple punch that this climate change impact is having on storms and it is pretty well documented at this point after we have seen it after several recent hurricanes like hurricane harvey. >> when we talk about katrina and how it hit the gulf and all of those coastal towns had to undergo changes to their codes
so the wind didn't rip roofs off. what can we do for the fact that ocean levels are rising? when we are looking at the east coast of florida, hurricanes are safe because of things to keep the roofs on. >> we can't. they have risen a foot in the last 50 years or so. the sea temperature has risen a degree in the last 50 years or so. those are both things that will impact our hurricanes going forward. i would submit that we need to upgrade our ability to forecast the storm track and just look at what's happened over the last 36 hours and the frustration or the unpredictability of this storm. i think that we in the future will see more and more of these category 4 and 5 hurricanes. we need to know where they are going to go and how long it's going to take to get them there and what's going to happen when they do so we can both be prepared and build, and impruchb
our infrastructure so that we're ready if them. >> what's the way in which we improve our resilience to these things? are we good at -- in the end how dee we mitigate the idea that we are a country that populates? >> we have learned a lot since sandy. i was at the defense department during hurricane sandy. we had to stand up a situation room in the pentagon to deal with that storm surge. it wasn't even so much it was a category 1 hurricane and then a tropical storm when it hit land, but the storm surge was unbelievable. and up there in new york city where you are, it devastated lower manhattan. so we have to get better at this. no one was ready for those tunnels to flood. we are beginning to deal with these things, but we need to spend a lot more of our resources. we need to put more on this, more brain power, more
government resources. it's just not enough particularly when you think that this is the new normal. this is the way things are going to be. >> thank you for joining us. coming up, it's one of the worst maritime disasters in this country in decades. the latest on a deadly boat fire off the coast of southern california when we come back. f california when we come back. this is anne marie peebles. her saturdays are a never- ending montage of comfort. [tv sfx]: where have you been all my life? but then anne laid on a serta perfect sleeper. and realized her life was only just sorta comfortable.
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this isn't a day that we wanted to wake up to for labor day, and it's a very tragic event. and we will search all the way through the night into the morning, but i think we all should be prepared to move into the worst outcome. >> eight people are confirmed dead, dozens are missing in california after a dive boat caught fire in the middle of the night off the coast of santa cruz island. 39 people were on board when the fire started just after 3:30 this morning. most of them were sleeping below deck. the panic on board was captured in a chilling miay day call.
>> a witness telling the "new york times" when we looked out, the other boat was totally engulfed in flames from stem to stirn. i could see the fire coming through holes on the side of the boat. there were these explosions every few beats. you can't prepare yourself for that. it was horrendous. the fire was too big. there was absolutely nothing we can do. you never anticipate something like this. we just felt helpless. that was a may day call. that was the may day call. four bodies have been recovered. officials say four others were found on the ocean floor. the santa barbara county sheriff's office says authorities will need to use dna to identify the victims. one of those on board is said to be a 17-year-old girl who just celebrated her birthday
yesterday. five crew members were able to escape. for more, let's go to former chairman of the national transportation safety board. thank you for joining us. what happens now? this continues to be a mystery for everyone involved. as you saw, someone said they saw the ship in flames engulfed from stem to stern with fire coming out of the port holes and hearing explosions. that's a lot of information for starters. >> the ntsb which according to a press report i have heard has like 16 people enroute working closely with the coast guard to investigate the accident and do an exhaustive investigation starting with what caused this. they want to do what they can to prevent it from happening again. in terms of i heard a reference to a galley fire. they will be looking at galley equipment. was it properly designed, manufactured and installed properly and maintained.
if it wasn't a galley fire, was it a fuel-fed fire? was it from equipment brought on board. you heard reference to the tanks on board. we look at the cause to figure out what caused this and then make recommendations to try to prevent it from happening again. >> we often talk about the ntsb with plane crashes and train crashes. what sort of experience does ntsb have in terms of things on boat. >> extensive experience. that's mostly working closely with the coast guard. so we have extensive experience in investigating maritime accidents. >> i always wonder when the ntsb investigates something like a plane crash. when you think about a fire in the water and all of the destruction of anything that would look like evident to you,
how do you even start? >> well, first thing i will probably try to do is see if they can raise the boat and take it someplace where they can do a careful investigation and the raising process they would want to make sure that some evidence is not destroyed. they are not able to look at issues i talked about, the galley equipment. they will not be able to do that where it sits. they will try to raise that and put it someplace where they can do the investigation. >> thank you for joining us. former chair person of the ntsb. we'll update another breaking story from this busy holiday weekend, the ongoing investigation into the mass shooting in west texas and what we have learned about the gunman. stay with us. t we have learned about the gunman. stay with us. this is also mia's pulse. that her doctor keeps in check, so she can find balance. this is mia's pulse, and now it's more stable than ever. this is what medicare from blue cross blue shield does for mia.
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everywhere is going to get touched by climate change. as we continue to keep an eye on hurricane dorian, we are also learning new details about saturday's shooting in west texas where at least seven people were killed and 23 others were injured. today authorities revealed the gunman placed calls to the local police and to the fbi before he began shooting. we have more from odessa, texas. >> reporter: the shooter in this case over the first 24 hours was such a mystery, today we learned a lut more about him. we learned he had been fired from his job on saturday just before this shooting started. after he was fired both he and his employer called the cops. we know the shooter called the fbi tip line and left something of a rambling message, not a
threat per se but a long rambling message. apparently this was nut adjuot e first time. he was known by neighbors as he was kind of a weird guy. he could be seen sometimes standing on the roof of his home shooting small animals, all the kind of things that raise alarm but aren't necessarily criminal. i think if we connect what we have learned about the shooting to the discussion politically about what if anything states or the federal government will do about this, to me the interesting thing is this seems like a case where red flag laws might be appropriate. you have a republican-controlled legislature, a republican governor who can look a few states over at what florida did a few years ago and institute a more red flag laws there. in texas, this is tougher to do. the legislature here doesn't meet again until 2021 unless the governor decides to call a special session. he has not been inclined to do
so so far. if you keep having a mass shooting here in texas every month or so that will increase the pressure. beto o'rourke drove up here from el paso this morning. he met with some of the shooting victims and talked a little bit afterwards y. was struck by the fact that for as long as i have been covering the shootings sometimes those in favor of gun control was to wait and not politicize this, that it would be too soon. o'rourke's argument is it is too late to be starting this conversation. now is the time. folks in this country and even indeed in texas are demanding answers and solutions to this problem. we'll see if congress when they come back next week or the texas state legislature if and when they come back to address this issue are up to the job. >> thank you. here with more on that ongoing investigation is jim kavanagh, a retired special agent in charge for the atf. the explosive experts.
what is the latest information on this tell you? >> well, this guy was going down the long slope. he's obviously in some mental or emotional distrsz. he is living in a shack with a dirt floor. he has enough money to buy a $700 ar 15 and ammunition. this is a guy that was starting to come on the radar of law enforcement. his employer called the police on him when he was fired. he called the police on his employer. he has some kind of minor criminal record. we are not sure if he is convicted of a felony. a lot of people with long criminal records can have guns as long as they have not been convicted of a felony. red flag laws can come into play with a guy like this and laws where like when machine guns had to be registered, one of the requirements on that was t poli
certify that you should have the gun to atf before atf would approve the gun for washington. you know, we had a local component that congress put that in there. not only did he have to register with atf but had to go to local law enforcement official and say should this guy have a machine gun? and the chief had to sign that form and say yes it's okay. you know, he had the right to refuse it, as well. of course, that's we don't have those provisions anymore because you can't sell machine guns to the civilian population after '86. the ones in circulation still have to meet that requirement. unfortunately, it's almost rubber stamp now because the gun lobby has pushed so much. >> let me ask you about that. you and i talk way more than people should talk about these things because this happens so frequently. when you go back for years, almost everyone of these mass shootings is done with a weapon
like this, what we now call an ar-15 type weapon. a lot of people refer to them as assault weapons. a lot of gun owners don't like the term. the fact is that type of weapon was actually disallowed by federal law from 1994 for about ten years. so we have been there. we have already decided as a country that we think these weapons are not really for use by civilians, but that went away. and the resistance to changing that is strong. >> right. it went away. it had flaws with the gun manufacturers got around it because what they did the way the gun was described, they took those off and basically made the same rifle. the rifle looked pretty vanilla, but it fired the same cartridge at the same velocity and can take the same detachable
magazine. the key part of the law was it limited the manufacturers to sell a magazine more than ten rounds. if you bought a new gun, say an ak-47, you couldn't buy one in the old configuration. it was the stripped down version. you can only get a ten-round magazine. the high capacity magazines tended to be horded by collectors. so the street criminals, they weren't as readily available. these things take years to take effect before they're used. these things were made for the military. this is a semi-automatic version of the military rifle. it was made to be a machine for the military to kill. it's a great design for the freedom for our soldiers and police. you know, maybe congress would come up with unique ideas if we change the congress. maybe citizens could get a tax credit if they want to give their ar-15 to the local police department who could use it and
maybe the citizens don't need to have that at home. a lot of them scream they need it. really there is nobody coming because it's just all their minuteman fantasies to have that stuff. >> good to talk to you, as always. coming up, as texas residents mourn the victims of the latest mass shooting, lawmakers are returning to washington after a summer marked by gun violence, what if anything to expect next when msnbc continues. to expect nexn msnbc continues. >> teacher: let's turn in your science papers. >> tech vo: this teacher always puts her students first. >> student: i did mine on volcanoes. >> teacher: you did?! oh, i can't wait to read it. >> tech vo: so when she had auto glass damage... she chose safelite. with safelite, she could see exactly when we'd be there. >> teacher: you must be pascal. >> tech: yes ma'am. >> tech vo: saving her time... [honk, honk] >> kids: bye! >> tech vo: ...so she can save the science project. >> kids: whoa! >> kids vo: ♪ safelite repair, safelite replace ♪
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this really hasn't changed anything. we're doing a package and we'll see what it all -- how it comes about. it's coming about right now, and a lot of people are talking about it. and that'ser representative of what happened yesterday in texas. we're looking at a lot of different things. bills, ideas, concepts. it's been going on for a long while. background checks. i will say that, for the most part, sadly, if you look at the last four or five, going back even five or six or seven years, for the most part, as strong as
you make your background checks, they would not have stopped any of it. so, it's a big problem. it's a mental problem, it's a big problem. >> the president was asked about the country's latest mass shooting less than 24 hours after the gun violence in west texas. you may recall that early last month, just after the bloodshed in both dayton and el paso, trump seemed to be for background checks. >> i'm looking to do background checks, i think background checks are important. >> but not long after saying that, the president seemed to change his mind and seemed increasingly reluctant to push for sweeping gun control measures. with congress about to come back from its summer recess, where does the gun debate actually go from here? joining us for more is peter baker, chief white house correspondent for "the new york times" and amy stoddard, associate editor at real clear politics. thank you for being here. amy, let me start with you. if i'm not mistaken, you've been
covering congress since 1994. a time at which we actually, as i was just discussing with jim cavanaugh, actually had something that -- flawed though it may have been, looked like an effort to control something to do with guns. >> right. and democrats paid a serious political price for that, losing seats in rural and southern states in small towns. and for years were very nervous about this as an issue, and now the makeup of their electorate has changed so much, they've lost those seats, they are likely to never win them back. they are picked up formerly republican seats in the suburbs all across the country in the midterm elections. and are looking at a different set of voters who are very alarmed and are registering incredible opposition to these weapons and support for background checks, even
voluntary buy-backs and things we've seen out of recent polls that make this now a signature issue for democrats in a way we have not seen in elections past, so, they will be making a major push for background checks and other remedies when the congress returns, no matter what the president and the republicans positions are going to be. >> so, peter, when you think about this, we've seen multiple polls recently, in fact, last week, there was a quinnipiac poll that showed overwhelming support for background checks. majority support for a ban on assault weapons. some support for things like buy-backs. red flag laws have taken place in several states, about 20 states, i think, have this now. so, there seems to be broad support for some measures to do with guns. but then you're listening to some candidates, including a lot of the democratic presidential candidates, but beto o'rourke saying, we're actually talking
about some people's guns being taken away. where do you think this ends up? >> that's a great question. this is one of these very rare issues where the polls don't actually tell you what is going to happen in congress, right? you see an issue like any other with a 90% approval rating by the public, you're going to expect action on a bipartisan basis. this is one of the rare exceptions. the inside game matters more than the outside game. the inside game has been played effectively by people like the nra, who have wielded influence in the face of these polls. the question is, is that going to change or not? they're in a tough position right now. the nra has been consumed by its uninternal civil war right now, a leadership battle. there is some spill laeculation means they have a little less support on the hill. but it really comes down to the president. the president's first instinct is to say, let's look at things we can do on background checks
and then he tends to back off, usually after a contact with his friends in the nra, who say, wait a second, don't go down that road, that's a slippery slope. so, the president's got a bill he's thinking about putting forward, they said they're going to try to expand an expedite, you know, the death penalty in these kinds of circumstances, but it will not be the kind of thing that satisfies the gun control group s. >> and to that point, a.b., when peter talks about the inside game, he's talking about president trump, he's talking about the nra, mitch mcconnell has legislation that was passed by congress in february that, like much of the legislation mitch mcconnell has in front of him, he's simply not going to present for a vote on the floor of congress. what's that inside game look like? mitch mcconnell is not even prepared to say, let's bring this to the floor of the senate, where republicans can defeat it. >> well, i mean, in mitch mcconnell's defense, he cannot make a move would president
trump committing to this and committing to it for good, not equivocating as he did after his initial background check support after parkland and again last month in early august and then he equivocates on it and takes the position of the nra after he hears a lot of threats from rush limbaugh. so, mitch mcconnell is not going to put anything on the senate floor that the president doesn't back and will not tell his supporters and voters that he's backing and will not provide cover for, in races where senate republicans are potentially vulnerable for re-election next year. so, that's really -- it really is on the president. if he took a position that he supported the house bill, which is background checks for all sales, including out of gun shows, then the senators would be voting on it, mitch mcconnell would put it up for the vote, he's following the lead of the president who often changes his mind. it's a bewildering process for mitch mcconnell, but yes, it is unlikely that the president, who is the leader of the republicans
and the rest of the republicans, are going to be interested in putting anything like that on the floor. >> a.b., that is really low-hanging fruit. i'm a gun owner. the gun show loophole is the dumbest thing i've ever heard of. >> like i said, the -- and peter pointed out, the polling for so many different remedies is incredibly overwhelming in ways that we have not seen before, among democrats, among independents and even some republicans, but it is a question of whether or not the president believes he will lose his base of support and he has been frightened and intimidated by the likes of rush limbaugh and others into equivocating on this position, and he is -- i mean, look, red flags, it could be effective, but it doesn't get to the real problem and capital punishment as a deterrent is a joke. >> peter, let me ask you about this. there is some view that groups like gun sense and giffords and march for our lives have had
remarkable impact in getting people signed up to vote, in raising money, by some measures, they outspent the nra in the 2018 midterms. could that be the beginning of the end of the nra's stranglehold on politics? >> well, we'll see. i mean, what you have to see is an election that's the converse of what a.b. described earlier in 1994. you have to see an election in which they actually demonstrate their muscle and punish people who don't vote the way they want them to vote. and that's when lawmakers will sit up and take notice. if there's no consequence to voting against them, then they're going to ignore them, right? if there's an election in which voting with the nra is perceived to be politically damaging and a risk to your seat, that might change the dynamics. so far, we haven't seen that. that's not the perception, anyway. as long as that's not the perception, you know, the cost of voting against these gun laws is not sufficient to change the voting patterns in the congress. we'll see whether that's changing. there are more organizations, there is more money, there is
more activism than we've seen in many, many years on guns. and the question is, can they impact the elections? >> thank you to the two of you for joining me tonight. peter, a.b. thank you. and that does it for me this hour. don't go anywhere, though. we are not even close to done. ms nbc's live coverage of hurricane dorian continues right now with my colleague chris jansing. >> i've seen you all day on tv. i'm fascinated you're back. it's a big story and i'm glad you are back. >> we have a number of big stories. usually labor day weekend, you're kind of struggling to see, is there a lot of traffic out on the roads, not today. >> i would give anything to not have to report on these very troublesome stories. >> very unfortunate stories. great to see you. i'll see you tomorrow. thank you so much, ali. it is midnight here in new york. we're continuing to follow breaking news on all these different fronts that ali just referred to. first of all, hurricane dorian, still bearing down on the bahamas right now with sustained winds of 13