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CNN "Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees" Transcript: Texas School Shooting


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Joining us now is Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. This happened in her district as she was attending a violence prevention forum in Washington. In just a few minutes, she will leave us to speak with Vice President Biden about the shooting, also Texas State Senator Dan Patrick, who recently co-authored a bill that would allow people on college campuses in his state to carry concealed weapons.

Senator Patrick, it seems like this was some sort of personal dispute that spiraled out of control. There are still details we don't know, which would mean that it could have turned into a shooting incident that endangered other people only because the suspects -- or one of the suspects had a gun on them.

Does anything that happened today make you rethink whether it is a good idea to have young people carrying guns with them on a campus or anywhere?

DAN PATRICK, TEXAS STATE SENATOR: Well, Anderson, with all due respect, I don't think a lot of people in the mainstream media back maybe East understand Texas. And in Texas, we understand that you have to be 21 to have a CHL on campus. And, in fact, and Senator Brian Birdwell, who is the lead on this bill -- and 12 of us have already co-authored the bill with him.

You have to understand, Anderson, when things happen like this, it only reemphasizes the issue that people must have a right to defend themselves. People who are responsible, people with CHLs, by the way, who have hardly ever been involved in a crime or a gun crime, I mean, less than 1 percent of CHL holders, and we have half a million in the state, have ever been involved in a crime.

These are responsible adults, 21 and over, who would be professors, who would be maybe that maintenance worker, who would be adult students. These would be the people who would allowed to carry a weapon, Anderson. And here's the other point of this. Thank goodness this wasn't an active shooter randomly shooting at people on the campus.

It's terrible, the situation that it was, but it wasn't an active shooter. But one of the reasons, Anderson, that we want adult and students 21 and over to be able to carry their legally licensed firearm on campus is because a lot of crime happens on campus, the young lady who might be walking at night after a class to her car who has a CHL but can't have it with her because it's not allowed by the university.

You know, campuses have thousands of people on it, Anderson, and there are lots of crime, sadly, that goes on. I want my young daughter or I want my young son to be able to go to college, if he has a CHL and he's 21 or over, and to be able to carry that weapon and defend himself in a situation like today, an active shooter, or someone just coming up and trying to rob him.

It is every American's right to defend their life. It's guaranteed in the Constitution, Anderson. No, this doesn't -- we don't back up at all from this. This only reaffirms why we need to do this and why we're supporting Brian Birdwell's bill.

COOPER: Congresswoman, your thoughts on that?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: First of all, Anderson, thank you so very much for having me, and certainly Senator Patrick.

My sympathy goes out to all of those who were impacted. And who can not empathize with Amanda? And I wish her well and I wish her future years of great success in what she's trying to do.

COOPER: To the point, though, the senator was saying?

JACKSON LEE: Well, let me say this. My focus this evening is on the tragedy.

But what I will say is that in knowing this campus and having spoken to those who are there, this tragedy could not have been helped by the present legislation. I know when the concealed weapons bill was passed some many years ago, the wisdom of the legislature at that time was not to allow concealed weapons to be on campuses, and I believe they were right.

Just take the situation today that if there were numbers of shooters, we know full well during the tragedy of my colleague Congresswoman Giffords that there was a potential of shooting the wrong person because someone did have a gun. Now, I'm not suggesting that they couldn't have been more helpful then, but just imagine gun- toting students who didn't know who it was, thought it might have been an active shooter and the shooting level would have heightened and more would have been injured.

Right now, there are three persons as we understand who have been shot, who are hospitalized, one who had a medical issue. The panic was extensive. But in talking to the chairman of the board of Lone Star, this college has been there for 40 years and this incident has never happened. The bill that has been introduced in the state legislature's time is not now.

In fact, we need less guns, not more. When we had a hearing just the other week, there were police persons saying, we are frightened of being outgunned. The records show that there were more than 200 police or more on the scene in two minutes. The Harris County Sheriff's Department was there in two minutes. The EMS paramedics were there in two minutes, why -- or less, because that school trains paramedics.


JACKSON LEE: I would rather them be training paramedics and first-responders than arming students. And I don't think Amanda -- I cannot speak for her -- would have been happier if she had a gun in her hand and was told, now you go find the perpetrator and try to take them down.


COOPER: Senator, there's a lot of responsible, you know, young people, 21 and older on college campuses, but a lot of folks...


PATRICK: And in our military, by the way, who defend our nation, are very responsible.

COOPER: Right, yes, I know.

But a lot of folks on college campuses also do really stupid stuff, even if they're 21 or 22. When I was in college, I went to a pretty good school and I'm a relatively smart guy. I did a lot of stupid stuff that I probably regret. I'm not sure I would want my roommates who were also doing stupid stuff to have access to handguns, even though they're responsible folks. Even in the numbers of suicides on campuses, doesn't the presence of weapons make suicide even more likely?


PATRICK: First of all, I reject my good friend the congresswoman's comment of gun-toting students.

You have to understand you go through background checks. You are proficient in shooting. You learn the laws. The time has proven, Anderson, since the late '90s when this bill originally passed that CHL holders in Texas are very responsible citizens. In fact, people who do not have a CHL are 16 times more likely to commit a crime.

JACKSON LEE: Anderson, if I may...

PATRICK: Less than a fraction of a percent have ever been involved in a crime. These are responsible adults. They're not toting guns around.

(CROSSTALK) COOPER: But you mention our troops. More of our troops are dying from suicide this past year than in combat.


PATRICK: Anderson, you're a better journalist than to go down that rabbit...


COOPER: No, sir, I'm asking you a question. Suicide is a very real issue.


COOPER: I'm not getting into an argument. I'm just...


PATRICK: No, you're asking me about an issue that has nothing to do with carrying guns on a college campus.

COOPER: Suicide doesn't? The high number of suicides on college campuses has nothing to do with access to firearms?


PATRICK: Anderson, if that's the best you have to debate this issue, that's a pretty sad statement.

COOPER: I'm not debating with you, sir. I'm asking you a question. If you can't answer the question, that's fine. You can attack me all you want.


PATRICK: That has nothing to do with this story.


JACKSON LEE: Let me disagree with my friend Senator Patrick.

There have been a million homicides in America since 1968, the killing of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy. Yes, Texas has had a concealed weapons law. But even as they have had it, it is not a law that has a component to it that can say without doubt that every person who is now holding a concealed weapon is not suffering from a mental health issue, is not prone to high temper, of provocative behavior.


COOPER: Congresswoman, let me push back on your position.


COOPER: I'm not trying to take a side here.


COOPER: Hold on, Senator. I'm siding with you on this one.

I mean, I'm not taking sides. I'm just pushing back, Congresswoman, on what you're saying. Why shouldn't that young woman who we spoke to have the ability to have a weapon and not cower in a classroom under a desk hoping that the authorities show up? Why shouldn't she have the ability to be armed and respond if that gunman does come into the classroom?

JACKSON LEE: I'm very happy to say that, because we're not talking about just that young woman. We're talking about individuals all over campuses throughout the state of Texas having guns, some more prepared than others.

And the fact that you have guns on campus that may be -- one by a concealed weapons permit holder, that gun can get in the hands of others.


JACKSON LEE: It's the responsibility of our campuses to secure those campuses. And I believe Lone Star had the best response or a very full response both in terms of notification. I know there's some question about that. But they evacuated quickly.

PATRICK: Can I ask you this question, Congresswoman?


JACKSON LEE: Let me finish.

The sheriff's department was there. The EMS was there. So my concern, Anderson, is I believe in responsible gun ownership. I believe in the Second Amendment.

PATRICK: Thank you. Thank you.

JACKSON LEE: I am from Texas. I passed sensible gun legislation as a council member dealing with gun safety and securing your guns.

But to have guns on campuses with young people, 21 or older, when they're supposed to be there for an academic reason, I can tell you that that is throwing a match on gasoline. And it is really is not the appropriate approach.


PATRICK: Just because you're 21 doesn't mean you should not be able to defend your life.

JACKSON LEE: It is not an appropriate approach. My sympathy to those who are now injured.


COOPER: Senator, I appreciate your time.

Congresswoman, thank you. I appreciate your time as well.

JACKSON LEE: Thank you for having me.

PATRICK: Thank you.

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