While the focus of student activists, and the attendant media coverage, following the horrific Parkland, Florida, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has primarily been on gun control, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal apparently has a different view. Shaq seems to think that there should be a stepped-up, armed law enforcement presence in educational facilities. Most public schools are otherwise considered gun-free zones.
He also implied that police cadets not yet ready to be deployed on the street should be stationed in schools, Sports Illustrated and various other news outlets reported.
In a tweet, Shaq separately threw his support to the March for Our Lives rally on March 24 that demands an end to gun violence and mass shootings.
A reserve police officer in several jurisdictions around the country where he has lived, Shaquille O’Neal outlined his views Wednesday for what he described as a quick fix on the “Curtis and Cosby” show (hosted by Curtis Sliwa and Rita Cosby) on New York City radio station WABC.
“The government should give law enforcement more money. 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 behind the schools, you put ’em inside the schools…”
Shaq, whose stepfather was a U.S. army sergeant, also noted that “I grew up on a military base, and there was always military police in front of the school, behind the school…We didn’t have a lot of 3 p.m. fights.”
He is also a fan of more strict background checks for gun purchases.
Parenthetically, one sheriff in Ohio — in a county that has already experienced a school shooting — is offering free firearms training to teachers and other school personnel leading to a concealed carry license, and hundreds of educators and others signed up. It will be left to the local school board to determine if they can carry on campus, however.
In the same interview, O’Neal asserted that banning AR-15s or other weapons would not accomplish much since millions of owners are unlikely to turn them in, plus, it could be self-defeating in that it would create contraband and a lucrative underground market for the semi-automatic rifles.
With a home in Fort Lauderdale, Shaquille O’Neal added that the “very sad” Parkland incident was close to his heart. He revealed that he called the sheriff to praise him for “a wonderful job,” the Miami Herald reported. That, however, is not necessarily the dominant view, given the multiple reported failures by deputies before and on February 14 to take appropriate action.
A studio analyst for Inside the NBA on the Atlanta-based TNT network, plus a ubiquitous and popular TV pitchman, Shaquille O’Neal, 46, announced in December 2017 that he is considering running for sheriff in nearby Henry County, Georgia.
Drafted by the Orlando Magic with the first overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft out of LSU, Shaq won three consecutive world championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and one a few years later with the Miami Heat.
Among many honors on his stellar pro basketball resume, the 7 ft. 1 center was a three-time NBA Finals MVP, a 15-time All-Star, a two-time scoring champion (despite an inability to consistently make free throws), and the 1993 Rookie of the Year.
The potential future lawman also played for the Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Boston Celtics as his 19-year pro career wound down. Shaq is one of only three players in the league to win NBA MVP, All-Star game MVP, and Finals MVP awards in the same year. Shaquille O’Neal was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.