A listening session at the White House with survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida found President Donald Trump mulling over possible solutions to gun violence in the U.S., and one of the answers he opted to champion is arming and training teachers.
One week after 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the president sat for a roundtable discussion with some survivors and their families, teachers, and parents of Sandy Hook and Columbine victims, and listened to their harrowing stories, impassioned pleas, and thoughts on how to prevent future massacres.
When Trump spoke about proposed solutions, he suggested that arming teachers in their classrooms could act as a deterrent when a gunman enters a school.
Trump echoed the line that gun-free zones invite gun violence, saying that armed teachers would have been able to stop school shooter Nikolas Cruz last week before so many lives were lost:
The president, appearing to reference how football coach Aaron Feis died shielding students, suggested: “If the coach had a firearm in his locker… he wouldn’t have had to run, he would have shot [Cruz], and that would have been the end of it.”
Trump also explained that rather than have firearms locked away, staff would carry concealed weapons at all times.
“This would only obviously be for people who are very adept at handling a gun. It’s called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They’d go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone.”
In another scenario, the president envisioned armed veterans standing guard at America's schools, ready at a moment's notice:
“You’d have a lot of people that would be armed, that would be ready,” Trump said. “They’re professionals, they may be Marines that left the Marines, that left the Army, left the Air Force... They’d be spread evenly throughout the school.”
If would-be school shooters knew that trained vets and armed teachers populated campuses, “they wouldn’t go into the school to start off with,” the president said.
But in a move counter to many of his fellow Republicans' ideas, Trump also voiced support for better mental health and background checks.
"We’re going to be very strong on background checks,” Trump declared. “We’ll be doing very strong background checks. Very strong emphasis on the mental health of somebody. And we are going to do plenty of other things.”
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