Under the Dome

NC Republican wants to arm teachers in response to Florida shooting

A North Carolina lawmaker says letting teachers bring guns to school would help save lives in situations like the school shooting that occurred in Florida on Wednesday – and a legislative committee wants to hear more about the idea.

A 19-year-old is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder following a shooting rampage with an AR-15 rifle that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

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On Thursday morning, Republican state Rep. Larry Pittman of Cabarrus County near Charlotte told other lawmakers that he recently met with a police officer who wants to talk with lawmakers about training school personnel and allowing them to carry guns on campus.

“We have to get over this useless hysteria about guns and allow school personnel to have a chance to defend their lives and those of their students,” Pittman said during a meeting of the Joint Legislative Emergency Management Oversight Committee. Republican state Rep. Michael Speciale of Craven County also met with the police officer, Pittman said.

Pittman referenced the Florida school shooting and said “many lives could have been saved that were lost before the police got there. ... I believe government officials are accountable for the number of deaths and injuries being as high as they are in these incidents.”

Pittman says he’s brought up the topic before but “my proposal was sneered at in a very dismissive manner.”

In a Facebook comment on another user’s post, Pittman speculated the Florida shooter was part of a conspiracy to “push for gun control so they can more easily take over the country.”

That user’s post later was deleted. Some people online had circulated this photo of a man who is not the suspected shooter, according to Snopes.

This man has no resemblance to the suspected Florida school shooter, according to Snopes. Screen shot from Facebook

Pittman’s full comment: “Not surprising to see the people depicted on his T-shirt. So many of these shooters turn out to be communist democrats, that I suspect they are doing these things to push for gun control so they can more easily take over the country.”

NC Rep. Larry Pittman’s comments on a later-deleted Facebook post. Screenshot from Facebook

The lawmaker has made controversial comments in the past. Last year, he compared President Abraham Lincoln to Adolf Hitler. Thursday’s remarks, too, immediately drew criticism.

“He is correct. Government officials should be accountable. Government officials who share his ridiculous, blood thirsty, comic book view of the world,” Wake County Commissioner John Burns, a Democrat, tweeted. “He should have resigned a long time ago and stopped embarrassing his party and our state.”

On Thursday, though, committee co-chairman Ron Rabin, a Republican state senator from Harnett County, said he’d like to hear from the police officer.

“We’ll hear it in the next session as far as I’m concerned,” Rabin said. The committee’s next meeting has not yet been scheduled.

Paul A. Specht: 919-829-4870, @AndySpecht

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