Rep. Castro 'Dumbfounded' by Proposal to Arm Teachers

May 22, 2018

By Philly Bubaris

The failure to enact gun-control legislation after yet another deadly school shooting may be frustrating, but Representative Joaquin Castro said Tuesday he was dumbfounded by alternative proposals to arm teachers to prevent mass shootings.

"I don't think that the answer is to put a gun in every classroom," the Texas Democrat said in an interview with Cheddar. Castro said he consulted his own father, a teacher for 31 years, on the issue. "Like so many other teachers, they didn't sign up to be soldiers or police officers," Castro said. "I just don't see that as a solution."

Castro is one of many members on Congress and the general public upset by the slow ー often non-existent ー pace of gun control legislation after another mass shooting. The latest, at Santa Fe High School southeast of Houston, saw 10 people killed when the suspected shooter, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, went on a rampage with his father's shotgun and .38-caliber pistol.

Pagourtzis is being held without bond, on suicide watch, in the Galveston County Jail. His father told the Wall Street Journal that his son was a "good boy," and the bullying his son received caused him lash out.

Castro said all levels of government and all members of the community must take some action to help prevent future mass shootings.

He said it was parents' responsibility to lock up their weapons, and he said schools deserve increased resources to provide mental-health services. Castro also called on local and state officials to take action to limit the threat of guns in some public places.

"The state legislature has passed open carry and campus carry, which promote the carrying of guns on college campuses," Castro said. "I'm hopeful that the conversation is finally changing in Texas. The people of Texas understand that there's a problem, and something needs to be done."

Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, will be hosting discussions with educators and local law enforcement officials in the coming weeks to figure out the best ways to make schools safer.

Representative Castro said it was encouraging that the governor is recognizing gun violence as a problem, but he was dismayed that more serious action had not been taken sooner. State and local officials need to do more, Castro said.

"You may never get the number of gun deaths to zero, but you can't use it as an excuse to be paralyzed and do nothing."

For the full interview, click here.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Congressman Castro: You know, I was dumbfounded because I don't think that the, that the answer is to put a gun in every classroom. I, I have, I'm a parent of a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old and they're in learning centers right now. But they'll start official school so to speak, kindergarten soon enough and I wouldn't want a teacher to be, to have a gun in their classrooms, and my dad was a teacher for 31 years, and I spoke to him about it. Like so many other teachers, they didn't sign up to be soldiers or police officers. So, I just don't see that as a solution.

J.D. Durkin: You will have critics point out with the fact that by all accounts it seems as if the suspect er responsible for this deadly shooting had legally obtained weapons that were simply his father's.

Congressman Castro: Right.

J.D. Durkin: I believe a shot gun and a, and a 38-revolver. You'll have critics who'd say, "Congressman Castro, there is no gun law on the books that can take the place of personal responsibility." How would you respond to people who point that out?

Congressman Castro: I think that it's a combination of things. I think it's making sure that in that case, parents take responsibility for locking up their guns. I think it's any increasing mental health resources for students. Uh I also think in states like Texas, it means allowing local governments to make laws about where you can carry guns, for example. Right now under Texas State government, uh local governments are not allowed at all to legislate on the issue. Uh so, you know, we're in a situation where you may not ever get the number of gun deaths to zero, but, you can't use it as an excuse to be paralyzed and do nothing.