Sen. Lankford: 'They Saw Something, They Said Something. And Nothing Was Done'

Susan Jones | February 19, 2018 | 10:29am EST
Font Size
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) (Photo: Screen grab/NBC's "Meet the Press")

( - Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said all the warning signs were there before a troubled 19-year-old opened fire in a Parkland, Florida high school, killing 17 people, 14 of them students.

"And people in Parkland and all across the country have every reason to be grieved and incredibly furious," Lankford told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "Social Services was in this home more than 20 times. Expelled from school, posted online, went into a school shooting, had warned the FBI. This person was dangerous. And nothing was done," Lankford said.


"All the warning signs were there. The community did all the things that the community should do to be able to engage. They saw something, they said something. And nothing was done."

Will Congress do anything, given the latest outrage? host Chuck Todd asked Lankford.

The senator noted that he has signed on to bipartisan legislation to fix the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn, is called "Fix NICS."

"That is the first thing of multiple things that need to be done," Lankford said. "That is, fixing our background check system to make sure that all information is actually getting in there."

Lankford said some state and federal agencies are not inputting the necessary information into NICS, and that "absolutely needs to be fixed."

"I have no issue with more extensive background checks," Lankford said. "I have no issue with slowing down purchases for people that show all the basic warning signs. We have determined, as a country, that only a court can actually take away a constitutional right. And the right to keep and bear arms is a constitutional right.

"So we have courts that step in on mental health and other things. There are ways to be able to do this to make sure that we keep the system clean and clear. It is a major issue in the country, making sure that we have background checks, but (making sure) the background checks have all the information that's needed on it."

The Trump White House said on Monday that the president is "supportive" of the Fix NICS Act.

Lankford, asked about the AR-15 that was legally purchased by the 19-year-old school shooter, said, "The problem is not owning an AR-15, it's the person that owns it."

"So there are three or four, five times as many crimes committed with a handgun than there are with a rifle. So we can have that conversation. But when you look at the statistics, many, many, many more shootings occur with a pistol than they do with a rifle. I -- I'm fully aware that you've got situations like this, with a mass shooting with an AR-15. But the pistol has still been the weapon of choice for murderers."

Lankford said he knows people in his own neighborhood who own an AR-15: "That doesn't make it a dangerous neighborhood or them dangerous individuals. It's the individual themself becomes the issue, not the weapon that they're holding."

Todd asked Lankford, "Should it be much harder to purchase an AR-15?"

"I actually don't think it should be," the senator responded. "I think what should be difficult is for any person with any kind of criminal background history, domestic violence, mental instability, all of those things, regardless. I don't care whether they're buying a .22 pistol or an AR-15."

mrc merch