Senate Republican rejects gun control, wants to make schools more like military checkpoints

Sen. Rounds describes gun control as an "emotional" one -- for gun owners.

CREDIT: SCREENGRAB
CREDIT: SCREENGRAB

During an interview on CNN Thursday afternoon, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) reacted to the nation’s latest deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida by arguing that the solution is to make schools more like military checkpoints.

“I think that we should be, as I would say, be putting in additional defensive capabilities,” Rounds said. “A series of defenses within the different school systems, and I think at the federal level we have an obligation to step in and to work in with those governors and local units of government to try and see that happen. I know schools have tried, I know they have done a lot of it, but the reality is that we could do more, I believe, by making a series of defenses.”

When CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Rounds to be more specific, the senator painted a picture of entering a school that’s not unlike the process people have to go through to board an airplane:

Let me give you an example — this morning I walked into an office building in downtown Washington, D.C.

When I walked up to the front door, the door was locked. There was a television camera there, they looked at me, [we] identified ourselves, we walked in to the next set of doors. Another person came, looked at me, and then opened up the second set of locked doors. I then went to a desk where a person wanted to see my identification. Once I provided my identification to them they then gave me an ID card, and then another person came and opened the door and allowed me to walk into an office building.

Think about what would happen if at the school systems we had experts — professionals — actually laying out a series of defenses. In other words, a series of layers, in which we could actually provide additional security for young people.

An armed “resource officer” was already stationed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday, when 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz allegedly opened fire, killing 17. School officials say they diligently prepared for the possibility of a shooting event.

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On Thursday, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters that he wasn’t sure more armed guards would’ve made a difference.

“If a person is predisposed to commit such a horrific act… there’s not a lot law enforcement or any entity can do about it,” he said.

One thing that may have made a difference is if military-caliber weapons like the AR-15 Cruz allegedly used were banned. But when Cooper asked Rounds about gun control, mentioning that law enforcement officers are broadly supportive of common-sense gun laws, the senator bristled, citing how “emotional” the issue is for gun owners like him.

“Part of the problem that we have, Anderson, is that it becomes a very emotional issue at that point where, once you start saying this is an assault gun because it has a larger magazine, or this is an assault gun because you can have it as a semi-automatic,” Rounds said. “I’ve got a 3-shot automatic shotgun. Under some proposals that suggests that since it’s a semi-automatic, that it also defines itself as an assault weapon. Even though it’s not a rifle, it could be used.”

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He added, “I think that’s where a lot of those of us who actively have learned how to properly and safely use firearms over the years, that’s where we get really nervous about who is defining what those are, and at what point does that become a license to simply eliminate the opportunity to exercise Second Amendment rights?”

Predictably, Republicans are resisting calls for gun control in the wake of the latest deadly mass shooting. Rounds’ comments echo Thursday morning’s edition of Fox & Friends, where hosts argued on behalf of more armed guards who could “shoot back.”

Both Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave speeches on Thursday where dismissed the possibility of gun control, with Trump not even mentioning guns a single time.

One of Rounds’ colleagues, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), gave a speech on the Senate floor Thursday where he struck a nihilistic tone and suggested that gun violence prevention efforts were a waste of time. During a Fox News interview, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) went as far as to argue that more guns are actually the solution to America’s gun violence epidemic.