House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday Congress needs to look into how to best prevent more school shootings while ensuring they aren’t infringing on people’s constitutional rights.
While a number of lawmakers have called for taking up legislation to implement stronger gun control laws in the wake of the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — which resulted in 17 deaths and 14 injuries — the Wisconsin Republican noted the number of systematic failures that failed to prevent the tragedy from taking place.
“We shouldn’t be banning guns for law-abiding citizens, we should be focusing on making sure that citizens that should not have guns in the first place don’t get those guns. And that is why we see a big breakdown in the system here,” he told reporters. “In this particular case, there were a lot of breakdowns, from local law enforcement to the FBI getting tips that they didn’t follow-up on to school resource officers who are trained to protect kids in these schools and who didn’t do that — and that one is probably the most stunning one of all.”
Ryan said he hopes the Senate will take up the bill aimed at strengthening the background check database passed by the House in December, adding the lower chamber also passed mental health reform legislation he hopes will help prevent future mass shootings.
The speaker said lawmakers are looking to find common ground on legislation to protect children from future acts of violence.
“Of course we want to listen to these kids, but we also want to make sure that we protect people’s due process rights and legal constitutional rights while making sure that people who should not get guns do not get them — this kid was clearly one of those people,” he continued.
“I think this speaks to bigger questions of our culture — what are we teaching our kids, look at the violence in our culture, look at what they are getting as far as a culture that is provided to them,” he continued. “There are bigger questions here than a narrow law. What about law enforcement? What about school resource officers? What about the FBI? What about background checks? Those are all things we need to get answers to get answers to.”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy echoed Ryan’s sentiments, calling on the Senate to take up the House-passed Fix NICS universal background check proposal.
“We are learning more and more about the failures, the inaction and the ignored warning that ultimately gave way to this horrific act,” he said. “As the investigations continue to look into how this happened, even after all the warning, important debates are happening to ensure nobody like this deranged Mr. Cruz person can get their hands on a firearm again.”
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said Congress should look at the laws that are currently in place yet haven’t been enforced as they try and find a solution.
President Donald Trump recently proposed allowing teachers to arm themselves in an attempt to make schools safer.
Ryan said he thinks it’s a “good idea,” but feels it should be left up to the states to decide.
“As a parent and as a citizen, I think it’s a good idea, but as speaker of the House I think we need to respect federalism and respect local jurisdictions,” he said.