Shaquille O'Neal is a longtime friend of the police. He's running for sheriff in Georgia in 2020, he was named an honorary officer after completing an unofficial police academy program in 2016 and he's remained outspoken on police rights. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that Shaq's answer to school shootings is to make schools safer by placing cops around them, not by banning guns.
"The government should give law enforcement more money," he said on WABC Radio on Wednesday, via ESPN. "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. ... I would like to see police officers in schools, inner cities, private schools."
O'Neal points out that the prevalence of weapons already on the street would make a ban counterproductive, and allow the black market to thrive.
"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. [Because] 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."
The ban of semi-automatic weapons is one that has largely been supported by law enforcement, particularly after the shooting in Parkland, Florida on Valentine's Day. O'Neal, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, said that the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School -- which resulted in 17 deaths -- touched him close to home.
"You know it was a very, very sad incident," he said, per ESPN. "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."
Students staged a walkout of schools on Wednesday to protest violence in schools, which O'Neal also supported.
"I wish I could join 'em, but you know, hopefully it sends a message to the powers that be," he said. "[Because] 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?"
In response to the shooting, Florida Governor Rick Scott passed a bill that would lead to sweeping reform of gun laws, including banning sales to anyone under 21, a three-day waiting period for purchases, the ban of bump stocks, the confiscation of weapons by police and the arming of certain personnel in schools. It's a massive move from the Florida legislature.
O'Neal may not believe it's the right direction. For him, the guns aren't the problem. The wrong people carrying them are.