“There’s just a lot that needs to be done,” Sen. Lankford speaks about background checks for gun sales

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Lawmakers say the issue of gun control continues to be one they take seriously, especially in the wake of a tragic high school shooting which left 17 people dead.

"We want to be able to make sure we can do more in that area as we have," said Sen. James Lankford told News 4. "We’ve dramatically increased funding for mental health care in the nation, there’s just a lot that needs to be done."

Authorities say a suspected gunman, identified as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, opened fire on teachers and classmates using an AR-15 rifle Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 people. The gun was purchased legally one year ago, police say.

Phillip Driskill, an Edmond resident, says he'd like lawmakers to consider new legislation on gun control.

"It’s a difficult thing from my background as a high school teacher, where you’re always concerned about that sort of thing," Driskill told News 4. "As a grandfather of two children who are in schools, it makes you sick to your stomach when you see something like this."

Driskill, a retired lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Air Force, says he questions whether semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines should be sold to civilians at all.

"They’re military style firearms. They’re not true assault weapons in that they’re not fully automatic; however, they can be modified to be almost that," he said. "The ability to fire a shot every time you pull the trigger and to be able to do that as many times as 30 times is a weapon that most Americans don’t need."

Lankford described himself as an "outspoken advocate" for the Second Amendment as well as the law. He told News 4 that he believes the United States does have good restrictions when it comes to purchasing firearms, but there are areas to improve.

"The gap that's in the system is if federal entities or local entities aren't turning in their information about domestic abuse, about mental health issues, about records- criminal records. If that's not getting in the system, then there's a gap in the system," Lankford said. "I actually have a bill called Fix NICS to make sure that data is getting into the system and so we have good information."

Driskill claims there are major obstacles to getting any new laws passed.

"The problem is the NRA is probably the most powerful lobby we have in the United States that donates millions of dollars to our congressmen, senators and House of Representatives who have similar views," he said.

We asked Lankford about these claims. According to opensecrets.org, a non-partisan research group tracking money in U.S. politics, the NRA has contributed more than $11,000 to him between 2008 and 2016. The organization has also reportedly donated to other members of Oklahoma's congressional delegation.

Lankford called it a "false argument" and said contributions from the NRA, if any, have no impact on his decisions regarding gun control whatsoever.

"Organizations look for people who already think like they do. They’re not trying to buy a vote and change your vote. They’re saying 'Are you a Second Amendment proponent and do you believe we have a constitutional right to buy and own a firearm?' Yes, I do. I think that’s been a protective right from the very beginning," said Lankford. "If the NRA donates to me, it’s because of that, not because they’re trying to sway a vote."

News 4 reached out to the NRA for a comment. We have not heard back yet.

Speaking with KTUL on Friday, Rep. Markwayne Mullin said he's not a proponent of more gun legislation. He said people want to talk about gun control after tragic incidents, but he said more gun regulations only punish law-abiding citizens.

Instead, he said the real issues that need to be addressed are mental health and the desensitization of children.

Mullin told KTUL children, for example, are playing more and more graphic video games.

"When it's that graphic, they get the feel of it. What they don't understand is the reality of it," he said. "When they have a little bit of mental illness and they're desensitized to the violence...it's literally killing our kids."

Credit: Open Secrets
*NRA contributions in 2016


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