Since the Parkland, Florida school shooting on Feb. 14 that left 17 people dead, the debate surrounding gun control has drastically increased as many marched for a solution. The latest public figure to voice their opinion surrounding the issue is NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal.
“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. 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.” The former NBA star added he supports the presence of officers in “inner cities” and “private schools.”
The 46-year-old has always been a strong advocate of law enforcement and even has plans to run for sheriff in Georgia in 2020. According to ESPN, O’Neal was named an honorary reserve officer by police departments across the country after completing an unofficial police academy program in 2016.
O’Neal admitted that the Parkland shooting especially hit home since he lives in Ft. Lauderdale. The former Los Angeles Laker said he “called the sheriff and told him he did a wonderful job” since he knows him personally. However, the Diesel is not a big proponent of banning semi-automatic weapons; he believes it will not do much to prevent further shootings.
“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 is supportive of the student-led protests that happened on Wednesday (Mar. 14) as teenagers around the country walked out of their high schools in protest of gun violence. He even wished he could’ve joined them but believes their efforts will send a message to “the powers that be.”