VICTOR BLACKWELL (CO-ANHOR): According to the Gun Violence Archive, the Uvalde shooting is the 245th mass shooting in the state of Texas, since 2014. Joining me now, Republican Texas state Rep. James White. Sir, thank you for your time here. Let me start here. We know what's happening in Washington and more importantly, what is not happening in Washington. ... What, if anything, should the Texas legislature do in response to what happened in Uvalde yesterday?
JAMES WHITE (TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE): Hey, thank you so much for that question. And, on behalf of the citizens in East Texas that I represent, our condolences and compassion goes out to our fellow Texans in Uvalde. And what I think we should do is we should allow the law enforcement and the investigators to do their work. As they're doing their work, we should look at the work product and what we can do going forward. Victor, this is what we have discovered, so far. This demented individual that did this horrific incident at this Uvalde elementary school, when he purchased the first weapon, he passed the background check. When he purchased a second weapon, he not only passed that background check, but because he did two background checks — or, excuse me, two purchases within 30 days, the ATF did another background check. OK? And, he cleared all three of those hurdles. He, you know, shot his grandmother. She is, you know, fighting for her life, trying to recover in the hospital. He took out Texas law enforcement, and the citizens of Texas, on a high-speed chase that ended at a school. And he went into that school and did that horrific incident. So, we're going to look at this —
ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-ANCHOR): Yes. But Mr. White — Mr. White, I'm sorry to interrupt. We know those details. What we want to know is what your solution is. And the reason I ask is because we've all seen how quickly and creatively Texas, your local legislature, can act when it wants to say, protect the unborn embryo. Why not act with that alacrity to protect living, breathing 10-year-olds in this school behind me? Use that same blueprint that you used for your abortion law. Make there be waiting periods. Make them have to come back to the scene more than once. Make them have to answer questions. Why can't you protect living 10-year-olds?
WHITE: Well, thank you for that question. And let me tell you why we will not — have not taken that approach, consistent with the legislation you brought up, as it relates to innocent unborn life in the womb, is because we have this thing called the Constitution. OK? And what we really need to be looking at is, whether it's in Buffalo, whether it's in Uvalde, is these young men for some reason that have some very disturbed emotional state. We need to look at our mental health system and how we get —
BLACKWELL: What evidence is there that there is a mental health issue here, sir? We heard the same thing from the governor. We heard it from several elected officials. The governor has said there is no known connection to mental health illness. The statement from the NRA. You have a 92% rating from the NRA, you're a lifetime member. They say that this was the act of a lone, deranged criminal. There's no evidence that he was deranged. It was no evidence that there was mental illness.
WHITE: Well, well, look, “deranged” is a is a state of mental health, OK. So, look, we're going to look at everything, Victor. All right. But at the end of the day —
BLACKWELL: Are you going to look at the guns?
WHITE: Yes. We're going to look — we always look at the look at the firearms. But at the end of the day, we're going to look at the people who do these acts. We're going to convict them and we're going to punish them.
CAMEROTA: You can't convict him, sir. Sir, you can't convict him. He was killed.
BLACKWELL: Yeah, because he's dead.
CAMEROTA: He was killed along with 19 children in the school behind me. And so why don't we hear you saying that there is some nexus between mental health and gun purchases? It seems as though you could do something at the point of purchase where maybe you could do a little bit more intervention or ask some more questions. Because, again, we've seen you do this recently with the abortion legislation.
WHITE: Well, according to the federal statute, when someone presents themselves to a federal firearm licensee, to purchase a weapon, there is a background check. That FFL [Federal Firearms License] has certain rules or regulations, according to the federal government, to transfer or sell that weapon to that person. And no FFL is required to sell a firearm to to anyone. So, again, we've been here three different background checks, Victor, and he passed each one of them.
BLACKWELL: Listen, we've been here before. I just read off a number of shootings after the 2018 shooting in Santa Fe. You say you're going to wait for the end of the investigation. You didn't wait here, in which you sent this letter to the governor about recommendations for school safety. Your recommendations were to make sure that there weren't too many entrances and exit points, you agree with the lieutenant governor there. You suggested that some constables offer security. These are peacemakers who deliver summons, they are now school security officers. And you say that the architecture of the buildings should be a “spirit of oasis and not a fear box” for students. That's the totality of your recommendations to prevent school shootings and school safety. When you say we're going to wait, this is what you have four years ago, is that really the totality of what should happen to protect students in schools?
WHITE: Well, Victor, I don't know the architecture of the layout at the elementary school at Uvalde. In Uvalde. OK. Those were my recommendations. Other members —
BLACKWELL: How is that relevant? How is that relevant to protect children? You say that they need to be places. You say here “the architecture and feel should be an oasis of learning.” How does that keep someone from going in and shooting up a room full of fourth graders?