SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, told Utah senators Thursday that as a mother with three children in public schools, "everything has to be on the table" after a deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school last week.
"I think it’s incredibly important for us to take ownership and responsibility for the things that happen in our schools," Love said. "I think we have to address the issue. We can't put our heads in the sand and pretend that it’s not happening."
She said in response to a question about her reaction to the Parkland, Florida, shooting that left 17 dead that she could support banning so-called bump stock devices that modify weapons to fire faster and additional background checks.
Love said she also supported "finding ways to make sure that people who should not have weapons of any kind get ahold them. There’s not reason why this young man should have had or been able to get ahold of an AR(-15)."
The AR-15 semi-automatic rifle used in the Florida shooting was purchased a year ago by the teenage suspect, according to law enforcement officials. Love said she doesn't understand that.
"So there’s something wrong. We have to fix it," she said. "So I’m open to listening to everything. I think we have to. And if we don’t, we would be doing our children and our country a disservice."
The shooting also came up when Love spoke to Republican and Democratic caucuses in the Utah House Thursday.
House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, asked Love at the Democratic caucus if she would speak out on President Donald Trump’s “inane” comment that he wants “adept” educators with concealed guns to fire back at a “sicko shooter.”
“I don’t see the president as the leader of my party,” Love said, adding she more than any member of the Utah delegation has taken the president to task. “I am not elected by the person. I was not elected by the president.”
“Do I think the answer is arming teachers?” Love said. “I don’t think that’s going to stop the problem.”
People are posting on Facebook what they’re going to do and when they’re going to do it, she said.
“We need to pay attention to that. … We need to make sure our youth aren’t able to get access to these weapons. It’s not just ARs. It’s weapons,” Love said.
Love said someone asked her if she feels any responsibility as to what’s going in Florida or other places where shootings have happened.
“Absolutely. But every single one of us should feel a responsibility and some sort of urgency to try and fix that,” she said.
Contributing: Preston Cathcart