Shaquille O'Neal says more cops is answer to school shootings

Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal has supported the police for years -- being sworn in as a sheriff's deputy in 2016 and saying he'll run for sheriff in a few years -- so his answer to ending school shootings is additional support for cops, not a ban on guns.

"The government should give law enforcement more money," he said on WABC Radio's "Curtis and Cosby" show on Wednesday. "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 in front of the schools, you put 'em behind the schools, you put 'em inside the schools, and we need to pass information. ... I would like to see police officers in schools, inner cities, private schools."

O'Neal lives in Florida, so the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland that killed 17 people hit close to home.

"You know it was a very, very sad incident," he said. "Close to my heart. I actually live in Fort Lauderdale. I actually knew the sheriff, called him and told him he did a wonderful job."

O'Neal showed interest in law enforcement years ago, has unofficially gone through a police academy program and has been named an honorary officer or reserve officer by agencies around the country. He announced in May that he plans to run for sheriff in Georgia in 2020.

Although many law enforcement groups have supported bans on semiautomatic weapons, O'Neal doesn't think a ban is the answer.

"There's a lot of those weapons already on the streets," O'Neal said. "So it's not like, if you say, 'OK, these weapons are banned,' people are gonna go, 'Oh man, let me turn it in.' That's definitely not going to happen.

"'Cause once you ban 'em, now they're going to become a collector's item and you're going to have people underground, and they were $2,000. ... I'll give you $9,000 for that gun. So, you know, we just need to keep our eyes open."

But O'Neal does support students who are marching to protest gun violence in schools. On Wednesday, students across the country walked out of their schools to honor those killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and protest gun violence.

"I wish I could join 'em, but you know, hopefully it sends a message to the powers that be," he said. "'Cause we have to stop this. ... I would like to see tougher background checks. If you can't protect our children in school, where are they safe?"