Gun control debate shifts to hardening schools after Texas shooting

Gun control debate shifts to hardening schools after Texas shooting
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Gun control once again dominated the spotlight on this week’s Sunday shows after a shooting at a Texas high school left 10 people dead on Friday.

But unlike after most recent mass shootings, this week's gun control debate shifted from the typical calls for banning weapons like the AR-15, which has been used in several mass shootings in the last year, to hardening schools against potential shooters. 

Guests on both sides of the gun debate suggested schools need increased protection from potential shooters, including incoming National Rifle Association (NRA) President Oliver North and gun control advocate Mark Kelly.

Kelly, who is married to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was seriously wounded in 2011 in a shooting in Tuscon, said that while schools “absolutely” need additional protections like metal detectors, lawmakers should focus primarily on preventing dangerous individuals from being able to obtain guns. 

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“We should make it more difficult — I mean figure out a way to prevent people coming in the door with a firearm,” Kelly told “Fox News Sunday.”

“At the same time, make sure that that irresponsible person can’t get the gun in the first place.”

North, who the NRA tapped earlier this month to serve as its next president, also pushed for metal detectors in schools. North, however, blamed a culture of violence for the recent shootings.

“The disease in this case isn’t the Second Amendment. The disease is youngsters who are steeped in a culture of violence,” North told “Fox News Sunday." 

“You’re not going to fix it by taking away the rights of law abiding citizens,” North later added.

Texas's lieutenant governor echoed North by emphasizing the need for protections at schools and focusing on the people who perpetrate the shootings. 

"We have our schools that are not hard targets. We've done a good job since 9/11 of protecting government buildings, and airports and private buildings, but we have not done anything to harden the target at our schools," Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) told ABC’s “This Week.”

Gun control advocate Fred Guttenberg, the father of one of the victims of February's shooting in Parkland, Fla., slammed Patrick for his comments.

“I think those are the most idiotic comments I’ve ever heard regarding gun safety,” Guttenberg told ABC.

“Let me be clear, he should be removed from office for his failure to want to protect the citizens of Texas. To hear him continue to make the argument after 10 people died in his state that guns are not the issue is simply a crock.”

Republicans, including President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE, have pushed to harden schools since a gunman opened fire at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, leaving 17 people dead.

But gun control advocates have been critical of this approach and argued for stricter gun laws to prevent future shootings. 

Democratic lawmakers have joined student activists in slamming the NRA since the Parkland shooting, which reignited a nationwide push for reformed gun laws.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSenate to vote Monday on Trump's VA nominee Senate approves resolution warning Trump not to hand over US officials GOP leader blocks resolution backing intelligence community on Russia MORE (I-Vt.) on Sunday blamed the NRA for the lack of action in Congress on gun legislation.

“It’s a three-letter word. It’s the NRA,” Sanders told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“And it’s Trump and the Republicans who don’t have the guts to stand up to these people and that’s pretty pathetic."

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate panel advances Trump IRS nominee Bipartisan bill would bring needed funds to deteriorating National Park Service infrastructure Senate Dems press for info on any deals from Trump-Putin meeting MORE (D-Va.) said he doesn’t believe there is one piece of legislation that could prevent the shootings, instead calling for ramping up security at the schools. 

But the Virginia senator said he doesn’t believe arming schoolteachers is the correct approach.

“I think more mental health training for particularly these troubled youth — boys — in the high school-age area. And I think we need reasonable restrictions on guns,” Warner told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“I mean background checks, as I've said to you last time I was on. I think we need to look at assault weapon bans.”

Nicole Hockley, the mother of one of the victims in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, echoed Kelly by highlighting the need to prevent some people from obtaining weapons.

“This isn't just about school shootings. This is about shootings everywhere. This is happening in every community, every day,” Hockley told ABC.

“And there are actions that we can take. And prayers are very important. Talking about this is very important. Looking at issues around violence is important,” she continued.

Guttenberg also argued that shootings are a multifaceted problem, criticizing those who participate in the debate without discussing guns.

“This is not just about guns, it’s not just about school safety, it’s not just about mental health, it’s everything,” he said.

“And the problem is when these shootings happen, the crowd that doesn’t want to blame guns, they want to talk about everything else but guns.”