Shaquille O’Neal offered his solution for protecting students in schools and it probably won’t be heard all over mainstream media.
The basketball Hall of Famer, a longtime supporter of police, called for more funding for cops and more guns around schools to keep students safer.
“The government should give law enforcement more money,” he said on WABC Radio’s “Curtis and Cosby” show on Wednesday, ESPN reported.
“Give more money, you recruit more people, and the guys that are not ready to go on the streets, you put them in front of the schools. You put ’em in front of the schools, you put ’em behind the schools, you put ’em inside the schools, and we need to pass information,” O’Neal said. “I would like to see police officers in schools, inner cities, private schools.”
Sworn in as an honorary sheriff’s deputy in 2016 after completing an unofficial police academy program, the 46-year-old retired basketball player announced last year that he plans to run for sheriff in 2020. O’Neal has been working in Atlanta but lives in Florida where February’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which left 17 people dead, was very close to home.
“You know it was a very, very sad incident,” he said. “Close to my heart. I actually live in Fort Lauderdale. I actually knew the sheriff, called him and told him he did a wonderful job.”
He also voiced his support of students who staged a national walkout on Wednesday protesting violence in schools.
“I wish I could join ’em, but you know, hopefully it sends a message to the powers that be,” he said. “‘Cause we have to stop this. … I would like to see tougher background checks. If you can’t protect our children in school, where are they safe?”
One thing O’Neal does not support, however, is a ban on semiautomatic weapons.
“There’s a lot of those weapons already on the streets,” O’Neal said. “So it’s not like, if you say, ‘OK, these weapons are banned,’ people are gonna go, ‘Oh man, let me turn it in.’ That’s definitely not going to happen.
“Cause once you ban ’em, now they’re going to become a collector’s item and you’re going to have people underground, and they were $2,000. … I’ll give you $9,000 for that gun. So, you know, we just need to keep our eyes open.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a gun reform bill earlier this month raising the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21, a three-day waiting period for handgun purchases and banning bump stocks. The National Rifle Association filed a lawsuit alleging the new law violates the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners.