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NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal has some strong words in the wake of the Parkland shootings.
The former Miami Heat star and reserve police officer for Doral and Miami Beach told WABC Radio host Rita Cosby that banning guns is not the solution to stopping the school shootings that led to the deaths of 14 students and three faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.
“The only problem with that is, there’s 15 million of ’em out there already on the streets,” he said. “And then another problem is if you ban ’em, then you gonna create an underground market, and the gun collectors, you know, it’s gonna become more valuable.”
Instead, he wants to see more armed police officers in and around schools across the country like they have on military bases.
In the interview, which aired Tuesday on “Curtis and Cosby,” O’Neal said, “The government should give law enforcement more money. 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.”
O’Neal, who was raised by his stepfather, an Army drill sergeant, said police officers should be in all schools. He added that he knew many of the law enforcement officers who responded to the scene at the Parkland school after former student Nikolas Cruz, 19, opened fire with a semiautomatic weapon right before the school’s dismissal.
“You know it was a very, very sad incident. Close to my heart. I actually live in Fort Lauderdale,” he told Cosby. “I actually knew the sheriff, called him and told him he did a wonderful job. … I grew up on a military base and there was always military police in front of the school, behind the school. … We didn’t have a lot of 3 p.m. fights.”
O’Neal also gave a shoutout to the Parkland students who have organized the nationwide March for Our Lives rallies, which include a main event in Washington and a local march in Miami Beach on March 24.
“I’m glad the people, the children are going to march on the 24th. I wish I could join ’em, but you know, hopefully it sends a message to the powers that be. Cause we have to stop this,” he said on the ABC radio program.
“I would like to see tougher background checks. If you can’t protect our children in school, where are they safe?”