Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin was in Washington, D.C., to attend the National Governors Association annual convention and agreed to an interview with National Public Radio, which is grilling as many gun rights advocates as possible in the aftermath of the recent attack at a Florida high school that resulted in the deaths of 17 people.
“We’re at a moment when some Republicans are signaling some openness to gun measures,” Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep said. “President Trump has said he would be willing to raise the age limit for buying a rifle. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said the other day he’s willing to consider, at least, restricting the size of magazines, the number of bullets you can stick in a gun at one time.”
“Would you support measures like that, governor?”
Bevin answered by characterizing the days following such a horrific event as “emotionally raw” and articulated that guns are not the only issue surrounding the issue of safety in the nation’s schools and society at large.
“I think it’s fair to say that at a time like this or, frankly, at times when it’s less emotionally raw, we would be wise to look at any and all possibilities of securing our schools and our society as a whole, our children most specifically,” Bevin said. “But as to any specific recommendation, I think it’s premature, certainly for me and I think for us societally, to assume that any one thing is the solution.”
“I have submitted that it’s broader than any one thing and any single piece of legislation,” Bevin said.
In an article titled “Kentucky Lawmakers Propose Schools Have Armed Marshals” posted on the NPR’s website, Inskeep asked, given that there have been many similar school shootings, what “would be the time to act?”
Bevin argued that the spate of school shootings in the United States has taken place in relatively recent times and that the phenomenon represents something more than gun availability.
“Over the course of the last decade in particular as we have seen these mass shootings, the number of guns that exist has not really changed,” Bevin said. “The access to them has not changed and, in fact, has gotten more restrictive. So if those are facts – and they are facts – what has changed?”
“Something has changed,” Bevin said, noting the role of today’s culture. “Something is triggering this.”
Inskeep returned to guns again, citing the increasing number in the United States.
“We’re now up to 89 guns for every 100 people,” Inskeep said. “That is a lot of guns.”
“There have always been a lot of guns per person,” Bevin said. “And the access to them by children – with no restrictions, no rules, no laws – has long existed,” Bevin said. “And yet children did not go to school and kill other children. And so we’ve got to ask ourselves if we want to be truly honest about how to address this – and we should be – as the father of nine children, all of whom are at home, this is something that matters to someone like me.”
“I don’t think I’m alone,” Bevin said. “This is an issue that we have to be very, very serious about and open-minded about. What is the root cause of this evil?”
When asked what should be done, Bevin repeated his observation that shootings like the one in Florida reflect a darker reality.
“There is no immediate solution,” Bevin said. “It isn’t – when you are dealing with evil, it’s important to understand, how can you stop it?”
“That’s the real question everybody has,” Bevin said. “Are we going to frisk every kid coming into a school? Are we going to surround them in barbed wire? Are we going to put metal detectors at the entrance of every school?”
“It’ll be just a matter of time before somebody will breach whatever security measure is put in place because if somebody truly wants to perpetrate evil, it has always been able to be done. And it’s a tragic and sad reality.”
Inskeep again pressed Bevin, asking if it wouldn’t it help to make it harder to get a gun.
“There was a shooting, as you noted, in Kentucky,” Bevin said of an attack at a school in his state where two children were killed by a student.
“This student was 15,” Bevin said. “He was too young, by law, to even own a gun. He was not allowed by law to bring a gun to school. He was not allowed by law to kill people. And yet he violated every one of those laws.”
“The question I ask – and I mean it sincerely – what other law would a child who’s willing to break those three laws have obeyed that would have precluded something like this from happening?”
Inskeep tried again, asking if it would help “if a gun dealer had made it harder for someone to get a weapon?”
Bevin pointed out that it is much harder to get a gun today than it was 50 years ago or even 20 years ago and that in some cities and states it is very difficult to get a gun.
“I’m not disagreeing that we should have certain checks and balances,” Bevin said. “I’m not. What I’m saying is to assume that that is the solution, which people seem singularly to want to focus on, I think, is a very naive and premature assumption.”
Inskeep then turned to another Democratic talking point on gun control: the cuts to researching “gun violence.”
“Would you be willing then to call up Mitch McConnell, who’s from your state, the Senate majority leader, and say, please get that ban removed?” Inskeep said. “Let’s have some gun research.”
“I think it’s important to look at everything,” Bevin said.” And by everything, I mean not those things that those seem imperatively, in their minds, to focus on but to look at what we are doing to our young people – the use of drugs, the depression, the lack of engagement by parents, the lack of morality in our society.”
“We need to look at everything,” Bevin said.