Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal has been a supporter of the police for years — being sworn in as a deputy and saying he’ll run for sheriff — so his answer to school shootings is simple: more cops, but not a ban on guns.
“The government should give law enforcement more money,” he said on WABC Radio’s “Curtis and Cosby” show. “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 and we need to pass information. … I would like to see police officers in schools, inner cities, private schools.”
O’Neal lives in Florida so the shooting in Parkland that killed 17 people hit home even more.
“You know it was a very, very sad incident,” he said. “Close to my heart. I actually live in Ft. Lauderdale, I actually knew the sheriff, called him and told him he did a wonderful job.”
O’Neal showed interest in law enforcement years ago, has unofficially gone through a police academy program and has been named an honorary officer or reserve officer by agencies around the country. He announced in November that he plans to run for sheriff in Georgia in 2020.
While many law enforcement groups have supported bans on semiautomatic weapons, O’Neal doesn’t think a ban is the answer.
“There’s a lot of those weapons already on the streets. So it’s not like, if you say, okay, these weapons are banned, people are gonna go, ‘oh man, let me turn it in.’ That’s definitely not going to happen,” he said. “Cause once you ban ’em, now they’re going to become a collectors item and you’re going to have people underground and they were $2,000. … I’ll give you $9,000 for that gun. So, you know, we just need to keep our eyes open.”
But O’Neal does support students who are marching to protest gun violence in schools.
“I wish I could join ’em, but you know, hopefully it sends a message to the powers that be,” he said. “Cause we have to stop this. … I would like to see tougher background checks. if you can’t protect our children in school, where are they safe?”