MSNBC host Chris Jansing and her guests focused their coverage of the Maryland high school shooting Tuesday on the shooter's handgun in contrast to the Florida high school shooter's AR-15 while discussing the school resource officer's heroics in stopping the would-be killer.
Authorities say Austin Wyatt Rollins shot and injured two classmates at Great Mills High School in Maryland before school resource officer Blaine Gaskill responded to the scene and killed Rollins.
"[Austin Wyatt Rollins] had a handgun. He didn't have, as you said, a semiautomatic weapon," Jansing said. "He didn't have a weapon that was designed essentially for war and you had a resource officer, which is again a rare thing, who is a SWAT team member."
Jim Cavanaugh, a retired Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent, said about a third of school shootings come from guns at home and that they should be locked up by parents. He then pushed back against the notion that "arming everybody" is going to guarantee everybody is going to be safe by listing off multiple cases where armed police officers have been ambushed and killed, despite the officers carrying guns.
Cavanaugh praised the school resource officer's heroics in stopping the school shooting in the same interview, but then started talking about how the school shooter's handgun was less dangerous than the Florida school shooter's AR-15.
"It sounds like he was probably confronting a handgun, which is an equal confrontation—a trained officer with a handgun—the officer has the edge. He's trained, it's going to be a better shot, and has the edge. When you are confronting a AR-15, even though you're trained, you don't have the edge. That rifle takes the edge from you," Cavanaugh said. "This was a sad loss of life all around, but nevertheless the law enforcement might have stopped something that could have been a lot worse."
Cavanaugh's commentary appeared to insinuate the Maryland school resource officer may not have intervened in the shooting had the shooter been using a more powerful firearm because he would have had the "edge" like he did against the handgun.
Jansing and MSNBC national security analyst Clint Watts also discussed the Maryland officer's background as a SWAT team member being a rare thing for someone responding to this sort of situation. They believed it would reignite the debate over whether to arm teachers at the school.
The armed school resource officer at Stoneman Douglas High School, Scot Peterson, failed to intervene in the school shooting last month when Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel admitted Peterson was alerted and arrived at the school building where the shooting was happening, but he never entered the building as the massacre unfolded. He was forced into retirement after threat of termination for his actions.