Paul Ryan Says Arming School Teachers Is a 'Question for Local Government'

Posted: Feb 27, 2018 12:00 PM

At a news conference with Republican leadership Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) criticized the “colossal breakdown” from law enforcement and the FBI in regards to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Ryan also expressed personal support for arming school teachers but said that it should be left up to the states.

“That really is a question for local government, for local and state,” Ryan said of the idea of arming teachers. “As a parent myself 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.”

President Trump has promoted the idea of arming teachers since the tragic shooting but tweeted Saturday that it should be “up to states.”

Ryan went on to emphasize the need to repair the system of background checks and FBI response to these situations, pointing to the failures by law enforcement in this case.

“We shouldn’t be banning guns for law-abiding citizens. We should be focused on making sure that citizens who should not have guns in the first place don’t get those guns,” he said.

“In this particular case,” he continued, “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 were trained to protect kids in these schools and who didn’t do that.”

"We need to get to the bottom of this and how these breakdowns occur," Ryan emphasized.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), who survived being shot by a gunman at a Congressional baseball practice in June, expressed anger and disappointment by the failures of law enforcement in this case.

"I think what angers me the most is when I see breakdowns with law enforcement,” Scalise told the news conference. “The FBI had this guy's name on a silver platter. Not just innuendo...he himself said he wanted to be a professional school shooter, and it was posted under his name and ultimately turned over the FBI.

“And somewhere along the way in the FBI's chain of command, they let it go,” he said, “I think we ought to ask those tough questions and hold people accountable."

Scalise said in his case he was saved by brave law enforcement officers who took down the gunman and he was angry that, in this case, the trained and armed deputy present on school grounds "hid out" instead of confronting the shooter.

“I wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for law enforcement confronting the shooter in my case,” he said, “and it’s really disappointing that ultimately somebody didn’t go into that school, that was there and armed to protect those kids.”