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CNN Reporter Presses DoD on Gun Control: ‘Can the Pentagon Really Continue to Stay Out of the Gun Debate?’

• February 22, 2018 2:29 pm

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CNN correspondent Barbara Starr on Thursday pressed Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White to explain why the Department of Defense is not more involved in the national debate on gun policy.

Starr asked White during a press briefing about the Pentagon's role in the gun-control debate multiple times, referencing the fact that three of the victims in last week's school shooting in Parkland, Florida, were Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadets.

"The Pentagon has always stayed out of the civilian gun debate, but given the emotion in the country, the president's involvement in it, the fact that three Junior ROTC young people were victims, and it does involve recruiting young people into the military, can the Pentagon really continue to stay out of the gun debate in this country, realistically?" Starr asked.

White responded that discussions about gun rights and possibly enacting tighter gun restrictions are for political leaders in Congress, the White House, and their counterparts at the state and local levels, rather than the military.

"Our mission is to defend this nation and all American citizens. I think that we have to remember that the tragic events in Florida and gun control, those are issues for political leaders," White said. "Those are issues for local government, those are issues for our Congress and for our president, and it's really their responsibility to determine how we move forward with respect to all of those issues."

After White finished, Starr again pressed her on whether the military should weigh in on the gun-control debate.

"Again, there is a sense that this is a subject right now that has grabbed the national conversation. I'm not sure anybody would dispute that, and young people who might want to be recruited, might want to consider the military, certainly are watching this," Starr said. "We have seen Junior ROTC people in this situation. No one is suggesting that the Pentagon would have the solutions, but do you stay out of the national conversation given the fact that the U.S. military most certainly involves the young people of this country?"

White repeated that it is up to political leaders to have a conversation on gun policy and that the gun debate is an issue for them to handle.