Former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal, a Florida resident who has long expressed an interest in law enforcement, said on Wednesday that the only way to prevent future school shootings is to ensure the nation's K-12 educational institutions have a pronounced police presence.
O'Neal spoke on the issue of school security after asked on WABC's "Curtis and Crosby" about his thoughts in the wake of the tragic school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the Washington Post reported.
O'Neal said the incident, which left 17 individuals dead and countless wounded, was heartbreaking and hit close to him.
"It was a very, very sad incident," he said. "Close to my heart. I actually live in Fort Lauderdale."
When asked if he favored any of the solutions being proposed in Congress and by gun-control and second amendments activists alike, O'Neal said this was not a time for a "quick fix."
"You hear a lot of people talk about getting these guns off the streets," O'Neal said. "The only problem with that is there’s 15 million of them already on the streets."
O'Neal expressed support for efforts to adequately fund school resource officers to properly ensure the safety of students and teachers.
"The government should give law enforcement more money," O'Neal said. "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 … I would like to see police officers in schools, inner cities, private schools."
O'Neal also elaborated on his opposition to banning AR-15 rifles, which was the firearm used by Parkland shooter Nickolas Cruz. He said attempts to institute a blanket ban on the semiautomatic rifle were ineffective in preventing further gun violence. He also criticized the one-sided nature of the ban, saying it was unenforceable.
"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."
O'Neal even said that a blanket ban on all AR-15 variants might prove counterproductive as it would be likely to create a black market for the weapons.
"Another problem is, if you ban them, then you’re going to create an underground market, and [to] the gun collectors it’s going to become more valuable," O'Neal said.
Earlier this month, O'Neal tweeted his support for the March for Our Lives rally, organized by survivors of Parkland.
I am proud to support the incredible students behind #marchforourlives. Join us on March 24 as we march on Washington, DC and across the country to demand an end to gun violence and mass shootings in America https://t.co/dt8b5D3GRr
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) March 8, 2018
O'Neal has a long history supporting law enforcement agencies and causes. While playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, O'Neal trained and was commissioned as a reserve officer with the Los Angeles Port Police. O'Neal has also expressed interest in running for sheriff in an Atlanta area county–after moving to the area–in 2020.
O'Neal ultimately said that to successfully curb gun violence, it would require law enforcement and school districts work together and be cognizant of threats.
"We just need to keep our eyes open," he said. "Just listen and share information."