Gov. LePage on push to raise legal age for firearms

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 26, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO: All right, now, the one thing that the president did propose today and seemed to think he could do this by executive order or at least something to act on his own to do, and maybe work it out in the courts later, is take away these so-called bump stocks, the devices which weren't used necessarily in this school shooting, but was of course a key part of that Las Vegas shooting that claimed 58 lives, a device that essentially can make a semiautomatic weapon behave like an automatic one.

But, beyond that, there is some consternation over where the middle ground will be.

Let's discuss this with the Republican governor of Maine, Paul LePage, who joins me right now.

Governor, I know you were with the president today among those governors. And the issue back and forth concerned background checks and how far you go and all that. Where do you stand on this?

GOV. PAUL LEPAGE, R—MAINE: I believe that background checks are absolutely important.

But as I said to the president today and asked him to -- we have to take a look at mentally -- mental illness in this country. And some of the federal regulations on HIPAA prevent us from having true background checks.

We can check the background of someone who has committed a crime, but we don't know what their mental state is. And so I think that that needs to be loosened up and we need to have the ability to do that.

I do believe that there was a lot of good dialogue today. I think there's a lot of good suggestions being made. But I do believe that we have to get the guns away from people in domestic violence. We have to get guns away from people that have committed crimes against others.

And I do believe that we have to look at mental illness as one of the elements that needs to be addressed in the whole discussion about guns.

CAVUTO: What about raising the age of those who get their hands on such weapons?

LEPAGE: My feeling about the age is a little bit different than Governor Scott.

And in the state of Maine, you can't buy a pack of cigarettes unless you're 21-years-old. I believe that we have to decide what age is going to be an adult and we have to pick an age and let's stay there. If it's 21, that's fine. But it's got to be for signing contracts. It's got to be for only guns, but going to war. If you're going to raise the age, let's treat everybody the same.

CAVUTO: Governor, you're pretty much your own man on a lot of these issues.

But one of the things that comes up -- and the president even quasi-joked about it, I think -- is that everyone is afraid of the NRA, to take on the NRA, there's nothing to be afraid of.

You know, do you believe that? Because the NRA does exert a great deal of power and influence, it is said, over people in your party. Unduly so?

LEPAGE: I think it's unduly.

I think the NRA wants to protect the Second Amendment rights. But I have never heard anybody at the NRA saying that bad people should have guns, that people that hurt others should have guns.

I don't believe that for a second. I support the NRA. I believe that they want law-abiding citizens to have the right to bear arms. But people that shouldn't have them shouldn't have them, people with -- with intellectual, mental disabilities, people that will hurt others.

I'm a firm believer that if you're ever convicted of domestic violence, you shouldn't be allowed to have a gun.

CAVUTO: Much has been made on these background checks about how far you go, that once you have any hint or your child of any hint of either taking medication or anything like that, it could spread to be, you know, a scarlet letter on everybody who has had any issue, and all of a sudden they are ostracized.

What do you think?

LEPAGE: Well, I really think that we need to take a hard look at mental illness, because you know, it only takes one person that is ill to cause a whole lot of damage to society and kill a lot of people.

So I'm willing to take a look at mental illness. And I said to the president today, I think we need to take a look at our federal laws, because people -- I believe psychiatrists, psychologists who treat people that are a danger to themselves and others shouldn't have guns.

And I do firmly believe that. And I think that mental illness is a big problem, that we just look the other way. And when we look the other way, people die.

CAVUTO: You know, governor, another issue came up with your counterpart from Washington State, a Democrat, who had kind of zinged the president a little bit on his idea that teachers should be armed, and it got a little testy.

What did you think of that? He was essentially saying that wouldn't work, teachers teach, they shouldn't have to worry about also arming themselves and fighting off killers.

LEPAGE: Well, the way I look at it is, if he chooses to do that in Washington State, that's fine. In the state of Maine, I want to protect teachers, I want to protect students, and we're going to do what we have to do.

And I don't believe for a second that advertising gun-free zones is the right place to go.

CAVUTO: All right, but just to be clear, sir, when you're talking about arming teachers and what the president is talking about arming teachers, he wasn't saying, I take it, you're not saying that this applies to all teachers?


CAVUTO: That you just -- those who are interested or those who have some arms background or know a little bit about weaponry like that, that it would be good for them to be armed?

LEPAGE: He wasn't restricting it to teachers.

What he said was, if you have properly trained people that work in the school system, they could in fact have guns, and he would support that. He gave an example of an assistant principal who was a Navy SEAL, retired Navy SEAL who is an assistant principal. And he carried -- could carry a gun.

I think, if they're well-trained, I see nothing wrong with it. I don't think it should be mandatory. I think it should be voluntary. But I -- if I knew that a well-trained personnel in the school was there to protect our children, I find that to be a good move.

CAVUTO: Governor LePage, thank you very much, sir. Very good having you.

LEPAGE: It's a pleasure to be back.

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