CNN political commentator Van Jones suggested Thursday that armed teachers would be more likely to use guns against African-American and Latino students than their white classmates.
Van Jones made the comment on "CNN Tonight" during a discussion with fellow guest Ken Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general, and host Don Lemon. The three were debating President Donald Trump's idea of arming teachers with guns to help bolster school security and prevent shootings.
Cuccinelli mentioned Washington, D.C.'s strict gun laws and sarcastically mentioned the level of gun crime in the nation's capital before Jones, a former adviser to President Barack Obama, suggested students of color would be more likely to have guns used against them if teachers were armed.
Lemon then said the only reason last week's mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, occurred was because of the shooter's access to guns, brushing aside the failure of school resource officer Scot Peterson to engage the shooter.
"In Washington, D.C., you have some of the most restrictive gun laws in America, and it's certainly a land of peace and harmony. All the people doing the killing are illegally obtaining the guns," Cuccinelli said. "The notion that that isn't going to happen isn't the solution—"
"That's part of the problem, then," Lemon interjected. "That's part of the problem."
"And you brush aside the idea that other responsible people who have shown a commitment to these children might be willing to undertake that responsibility," Cuccinelli said.
"Most of the people who have guns are responsible and use them responsibly. That is not the issue, and you're conflating two different issues," Lemon said. "That's not the issue. But, do you need a military-grade weapon on the streets of the United States, anyone who is not a police officer or who is trained or licensed to use it? No, we don't need that."
"Why do we need to have that silly argument and pretend that it's other than our access to guns?" Lemon asked.
"Well, if it's a silly argument, then it's not an argument at all," Cuccinelli responded.
"Ken makes a good point in talking about, listen, let's have an open mind, and let's have a full conversation. And I am actually glad that—" Jones said.
"An open mind, though, Van, doesn't mean being stupid. Come on, let's be honest," Lemon interjected.
Cuccinelli laughed in apparent disbelief at Lemon's remark.
Jones then gave his opinion about allowing teachers to have firearms in their classrooms, arguing that race would play a role in how teachers may use the weapons.
"The positives are maybe somebody would use that gun well and stop an intruder. There are some real negatives as well," Jones said. "African-American and Latino kids already get treated fairly badly in schools as it is. They're more likely to be seen as a threat. They're more likely to be expelled, more likely to be suspended for the exact same behavior. Videotape the exact same behavior: ‘This kid is a threat; this kid is a class clown if they're white.'"
"So there is a concern that I think parents have, and you've heard now African-American educators coming out saying, ‘If you just start passing out guns in schools as they are, given some of the bias that's there, you might wind up having those guns used against students in ways that are not good,'" Jones said.