Republican Florida state Rep. Matt Caldwell insisted on Wednesday that he supported the students who survived the mass shooting in Parkland even though he opposes banning military-style assault weapons and has called to end gun-free school zones.
CNN host John Berman asked Caldwell in an interview on Wednesday why Republicans voted down a proposed ban on the type of gun used to kill 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Caldwell claimed that the bill was rejected because it was a "ban on all guns," not just AR-15s and other weapons with high-capacity magazines.
"We need to be focused on real solutions," Caldwell opined. "These maniacs that attack our schools, they're essentially lone wolf terrorists. And we have to have strategies to focus on that. You've got a great example here of where the FBI had been reported to, the school had been reported to, the local law enforcement had been reported to. They did not communicate effectively. They did not understand that this guy was a real threat."
According to the Florida Republican, lawmakers need to "focus on that side of the equation" instead of passing gun safety laws.
"We need to respond with tools that are going to make a difference," he remarked. "We know for a fact that these schools get targeted because they're gun-free zones. Ninety-five percent plus attacks happen in gun-free zones."
"Do you know for a fact that that's what happened in this case?" Berman asked. "We don't know for a fact that's what happened. We don't. Correct?"
"All across the country, these maniacs, they plan, they plot, they practice, they know what they want to do and they know what they want to achieve," Caldwell stated.
"You just said, we know for a fact these schools are targeted,'" Berman interrupted. "We don't know, in fact, that this school was targeted because it was a gun-free zone. It appears it was targeted because this student [shooter] went there."
"These students from Stoneman Douglas High School, they are all around you, I think I see them around you as we speak," the CNN host continued. "They are passionate, they are hurting so much."
Berman wondered if the presence of the students was having an "impact" on lawmakers like Caldwell who voted down the bill to ban assault weapons.
"They're grieving, I get that," Caldwell replied. "The absolute worst scenario is we go out an ban guns and we tell everybody that we've solved this problem and we haven't."
"You see I'm wearing the ribbon for Parkland, in their remembrance," he added.