Advocate Weighs In On How Gun Control Debate Is Being Received By Gun Rights Community
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
In the days since last week's mass shooting in Florida, the debate over guns in America has been front and center. Throughout our coverage, we've been hearing from many sides of this national argument that can feel hopelessly polarized. In a moment - a report on what it's like for teachers facing the threat of gun violence in their classrooms. But first we hear from a gun rights advocate.
Paul Glasco hosts a TV show and website called "Legally Armed America." He told me this is a constitutional issue, plain and simple.
PAUL GLASCO: I think the Constitution as a whole is extremely important. And I believe that once you start messing with one, they all become open.
KELLY: Should the Second Amendment trump other considerations when we live in a country where shootings like Parkland will continue to be a fact of life as long as Americans have such easy access to guns?
GLASCO: Those two things can and have to coexist. I don't know if anyone is suggesting that we disarm completely peaceable, law-abiding citizens. If that's what they're suggesting, then I will never support that.
KELLY: There's no scenario in which you could, say, imagine rolling back the Second Amendment, saying, let's try something else.
GLASCO: Absolutely not, no possible way. In fact, it would never happen in our lifetime based on the means of how it has to actually take place. It's just not going to happen. But once certain folks call for something and then you give them that, they immediately say, that's not enough; what's next? And I think ultimately the AR-15 is what they're after.
KELLY: Well, let me ask you about AR-15. One of the many voices I mentioned that we've had on our air this past week is a boy named Sam Zeif. He's 18 years old. He's a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Here's a little bit of what he told me yesterday.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)
SAM ZEIF: I turned 18 on February 15, the day after. And I'm kind of disgusted that I can still purchase an AR-15.
KELLY: Paul Glasco, what's your response to that? Why should somebody who can't buy a beer be able to buy a semi-automatic rifle?
GLASCO: I don't know why the young man is disgusted that he can exercise a constitutional right. I will tell you that I think...
KELLY: Does he have a constitutional right to be able to buy this at age 18? What's wrong with raging - with raising the age limit to, say, 21?
GLASCO: If you have an epidemic of young people buying AR-15s - or anything, for that matter - I think that that's something that most people are probably willing to at least talk about. I'm not saying I'm OK with raising the age even though Donald Trump says that he is. I just don't see what that solves.
I think that there are way more ways that we could have prevented what happened in Florida. And it's kind of perplexing to me that that's not the center of what we're talking about, the things we could have done to stop it, rather than saying that this child should not have been able to own a weapon. I'm just using those words 'cause I've heard that.
KELLY: Well, stay with Florida. What, to you, would have been an acceptable way of stopping that?
GLASCO: I think that the sheriff's department and the FBI - they could have done a lot more than what they did. I think that there's some misplaced outrage in terms of people being angry that a young man can buy an AR-15 when that man, regardless of his age, should not have been able to buy a AR-15.
KELLY: Because people were raising red flags about him that were reported to the FBI but never made their way to the field office.
GLASCO: Yes. I think that we need to have a better handle on how that information is passed from state to federal government. I think people think that pro-gun people want everybody who's alive and breathing to have a firearm. That's absolutely not the case because there's plenty of people out there who give those of us who are law-abiding, peaceable Americans a very bad name.
KELLY: Who shouldn't be allowed to have a gun?
GLASCO: I think people like the gentleman who shot up the Florida school, obviously. I don't think it's infringing on a person's Second Amendment rights when they've proven that they're not capable of owning a firearm and handling and managing it safely.
KELLY: Let me circle us back to the central question here, which is, an event like this shooting in Florida gives all of us pause as Americans. Nobody wants to see this keep happening in our country. What do you think needs to change?
GLASCO: Well, unfortunately no one is going to listen to me, I don't think.
KELLY: I'm listening.
GLASCO: If I was the one making decisions, I will tell you what I would do. First of all, you know, we have a $426 million budget for the Capitol Police, yet our children go to schools and have no protection.
KELLY: But help me understand from a common-sense perspective. If the goal is to have less shooting in American schools, how does adding more guns to schools serve that goal?
GLASCO: That's kind of the fallacy of it, too. There's an understand - or a misunderstanding that because you put a gun in a school, that suddenly that gun is going to begin shooting or the person holding it is going to begin shooting. If that gun is being fired from somebody that's placed there for defense, I'm glad.
KELLY: Paul Glasco, thank you.
GLASCO: Thank you.
KELLY: Paul Glasco - he hosts a cable TV show and YouTube channel called "Legally Armed America." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.