Sen. Lankford on marijuana, school choice and gun violence
(KTEN) — Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford discussed marijuana, school choice and gun violence Wednesday in a wide-ranging live interview on KTEN News Midday.
The legalization of medical marijuana in Oklahoma brought with it an influx of foreigners who wanted to grow cannabis.
"The year after it passed, we had more acres sold in Oklahoma to foreign entities than any other state in America," Lankford said, noting that many of them were linked to China. "These Chinese criminal organizations snapped up land, started producing and then literally shipping marijuana around the country."
The state's senior senator said he introduced the Security and Oversight for International Landholdings Act — the SOIL Act — as a way to increase oversight of foreign investment in agricultural land.
"The Chinese aren't buying land because they love America; they're buying land for strategic purposes for their benefit... not ours," Lankford said.
The senator said he endorses moves at the state level to provide flexibility for Oklahoma parents in educating their children.
"Quite frankly, not every child is the same. Not every child is going to thrive in the same exact schools, in the same exact classroom. Let's give that parent the ability to be able to make some decisions on this," he said. "This will not hurt rural schools; this will help rural kids."
Questioned about the increasing number of mass shootings across the nation, Lankford said the problem is "a cultural issue," explaining:
"When I grew up, it was not uncommon to have a rifle in the back of your pickup parked at the high school parking lot, because a lot of people went hunting right afterwards, and the presence of guns in the school parking lot really didn't distract anyone; it was common during that time period," he said.
"The presence of a firearm is not the issue. There are 20 million assault rifle-type weapons — 20 million of those scattered around the country. The vast majority of those individuals are not committing crimes," Lankford continued. "But then we have individuals like this person in Kentucky that buys a rifle and then days later walks into a bank and just murders people. We have someone in Tennessee that literally shoots children on this. You're not mentally stable if you're going to walk into a spot and shoot children. That's a whole different set of issues."
The senator said he's focused on adding funding to support mental health programs.
"The strength of our nation is the strength of our families. If our families aren't strong, then our nation's not going to be strong, either," Lankford said.