Roe asks constituents about views on school security, gun control

Hank Hayes • Apr 2, 2018 at 5:45 PM

KINGSPORT — In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., U.S. Rep. Phil Roe has asked constituents in the 1st Congressional District the following questions: Should you make schools more secure? Do you favor a gun ban? Should you have an AR-15 (assault rifle) ban?

Those questions, Roe said in a meeting with members of the Times News Editorial Board, were in a recent telephone town hall meeting with constituents.

Roe spokeswoman Lani Short, who was also in the meeting, disclosed the response to those questions: “Thirty-one percent said improving school security. Seventeen percent said arming qualified teachers. Another 17 percent said increasing access to mental health. Fifteen percent said banning certain types of firearms, and another 15 percent said improving background checks.”

Roe continued: “In the omnibus bill, there’s about $75 million in grants (for school security). … I think you’re going to start having limited access to the school. … I think you’re going to have to double-wall them, so there’s a space where you can be stopped. I go to a lot schools. You can’t just walk in. You have to go to a door, punch a keypad and say who you are. … I had a suggestion in the town hall which I thought was great and that was put a First Alert button with every teacher … so the resource officer would know where every teacher was.”

Roe also responded to these questions:

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens called for a repeal of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. What did you think of that?

“He’s entitled to his opinion, and I’m entitled to my opinion. I think we have to do a better job. In two mass shootings that occurred, one happened at a church in Texas and one happened in Florida. Everything but a marching band said there was a problem. The U.S. Air Force did not release information (about the Texas shooter) into the system, and he shouldn’t have bought a weapon. … Every red flag in the world happened with this Cruz kid down in Florida, and it was all over the place. We’ve gone from over 500,000 in-patient mental health beds in the 1970s to 47,000 today. … In the omnibus (bill) there was $4 billion for opioid addiction. … Other enhancements for mental health are also in this bill.”

You’ve got a bill that puts limits on opioid prescriptions. What’s going on with it?

“The state can do more if it wants to, and they are talking about a five-day limit. We’ve gotten some pushback from the medical community, but it you look at the data, 10 percent of the people are addicted. … We were taught in medical school to be very careful with these drugs. … I went 31 years in Johnson City and never wrote an Oxycontin prescription. It was a powerful narcotic and I was afraid people would get addicted. … Eighty percent of the opioids prescribed in the world are prescribed in the United States. That’s ridiculous. Some veterans are fussing about this. At Mountain Home (Veterans Administration Medical Center), they’ve reduced it by 50 percent. … Ninety-nine percent of those opioid deaths are preventable.”

What would you like to hear Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg say to Congress in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal? Would you support some regulation of Facebook?

“I think if you get back to the whole debate on net neutrality, and I was shocked how worked up people got about it … the way I explained it to people … I didn’t pay much attention to it because I had enough to pay attention to in other things I was dealing with. … When I sat down and read about it, it’s literally about the highway … the people who provide the access and then the content providers like Google. … What Facebook and Google wanted was unlimited access to this highway. What the Internet service providers wanted was they wanted people to pay for the road. … Keeping an open Internet is incredibly important. The Facebooks and Twitters … the content people are powerful about the information they keep on us, how it’s used, whether they sell that information. … I’d have to see (what regulation looks like). I’ll have to beg off on that one for now. … I think we’ve got a real debate in this country now about free speech and what’s over the top. I look at my Facebook page sometimes and it’s embarrassing what’s on there. … I wouldn’t let my grandchildren read it.”