Students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, are heading to Tallahassee Tuesday, where they’ll meet with state legislators and rally Wednesday, demanding stronger gun laws including assault weapons bans. But not all those legislators are convinced that gun bans are the way to prevent massacres.
Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson talks with Republican State Sen. Greg Steube (@gregsteube), who says that shootings occur overwhelmingly in gun-free zones, and that schools should allow trained shooters into campus buildings.
On his efforts to put a “school safety program” in place
“I mean one of the things that I’ve tried to do in the state of Florida since 2013, after Sandy Hook, was put a program in place called a ‘school safety program’ that would allow individuals who work at our schools, that go through a rigorous training program, that are former/current law enforcement, former/current military in good standing, go through background checks, go through active shooter training, go through all of the things that school resource officers go through to be able to carry during their time of employment at the schools. And unfortunately we haven’t been able to get that done, but I think … the overall package that the governor, the Senate leaders and the House leaders are working on will have some piece of that included in it.”
On whether there should be more guns in schools
“I believe that properly trained individuals can stop terrorists and assailants from walking into a school and wreaking havoc for five to seven minutes before law enforcement gets there. Absolutely.”
On recent mass shootings
“Every single mass shooting that’s occurred in the state of Florida has been in a gun-free zone. Pulse nightclub, gun-free zone, and it took law enforcement 3 1/2 hours to get into the Pulse nightclub, 3 1/2 hours while our citizens [hid] behind urinals and bathrooms and [lied] on the floor waiting for medical treatment because law enforcement didn’t go into the building, and that was a gun-free zone. Florida State University, Fort Lauderdale airport and now Parkland. It’s not a coincidence. If you look at some of these people that commit these heinous acts, and you read some of the things that they’ve written about their plans — like ‘The Dark Knight’ shooter out in Colorado, if you read his journal, he did a lot of research on what movie theaters he wanted to attack. There were eight movie theaters within a 4-mile radius of his home. There was one movie theater that didn’t allow patrons to carry concealed firearms, and that’s the one movie theater that he attacked. So there’s a ton of evidence to show that this is where people like this want to go. They create mass chaos, and they’re going to try to do it in a place where they know law-abiding citizens aren’t carrying.”
On the issue of gun control as it relates to Florida
“I would just say the facts are pretty well-taken. In the state of Florida, we have concealed carry permit holders and we’ve had that for 28 years. Concealed license permit holders are 10 times less likely to commit a misdemeanor or a felony than certified law enforcement officers. So, if you’re OK with a police officer carrying a gun and walking around with a gun on his hip, you should be 10 times more OK with a concealed license permit holder carrying a gun in a concealed manner and walking about wherever he’s walking around the state of Florida, because they’re 10 times less likely to commit a crime. Why wouldn’t you want somebody like that in our schools that would have to go through a series and litany of training programs — current/former law enforcement, current/former military in good standing — to be able to defend our children?”
On background checks
“You’re required right now to get background checks. Federal law requires you to get a background check, just like a background check was committed on this assailant in the Parkland case, just like a background check was committed on the shooter at the Pulse nightclub. It worked in the sense that he didn’t have a criminal history … and they didn’t have an adjudication of mentally ill. So if there are things that we can do to try to ensure that people like this don’t get firearms, there’s going to have to be a way to do it that goes into the criminal history background checks. But the background checks were done in both these cases.”
On legislative changes
“The overall package that was recently reported in the news from our Senate leadership, some of the things that they were looking at doing, they were looking at putting some more money into mental health counselors and mental health funding in the state of Florida, which I’ve said for years is abysmally low. We rank 49th and 50th out of the country in mental health funding. I think that’s something that we can do. There’s also a lot of discussion about putting some more money in school hardening, so that our schools can spend some resources to make sure that there is one entry and exit point, and people like this can’t just walk onto a campus and start shooting. So I think there’s a lot of things like that that are going to be in the overall package that you’ll probably see released next week.”
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