At a White House “listening session” on school shootings Wednesday, President Trump argued that arming teachers and staff was potentially the best way to prevent tragedies such as last week’s massacre at Parkland, Fla.
Concealed carry, Trump said, “only works where you have people very adept at using firearms, of which you have many. And it would be teachers and coaches.”
Referring to Aaron Feis, the assistant football coach and security guard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who was one of 17 people killed in the Parkland shooting, Trump continued: “If the coach had a firearm in his locker when he ran at this guy, that coach was very brave, saved a lot of lives I suspect.”
Trump went on to say that his administration would look “very strongly” at allowing concealed carry weapons in schools, even though he knew “a lot of people are going to be opposed to it.”
It’s not the first time Trump has expressed the view that the only way to stop mass shootings is with more guns rather than fewer. During the 2016 presidential race, Trump pledged to end gun-free zones in schools “on my first day.”
“I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools — you have to — and on military bases on my first day. It gets signed my first day,” Trump told supporters in Burlington, Vt., a position supported by the National Rifle Association.
Two years later, and more than a year after taking office, he’s still talking about doing it.
“A teacher would have a concealed gun on them and they’d go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone,” Trump said. “Gun-free zone to a maniac, because they’re all cowards, a gun-free zone is, ‘Let’s go in and let’s attack, because bullets aren’t coming back at us.'”
Trump did pledge to support stronger background check laws, which would require congressional action, and said he would look into raising the legal age that one could purchase a firearm.
The White House event proved extraordinary in several respects, bringing together survivors of mass shootings, their parents, siblings, local government officials and educators for a freewheeling discussion on how best to curb the epidemic of gun violence in the nation’s schools.
“You think everyone’s kids are safe? I didn’t think it was going to happen to me,” said Andrew Pollack, whose daughter was killed in Parkland. “If I knew that, I would have been at the school every day … Let’s get together, work with the president and fix the schools.”
Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky described spending the last week attending funerals in her “family-oriented” city.
“I spoke to Jennifer and Tony Montalto, they just buried their daughter Gina yesterday,” Hunschofsky said. “And their comments were, Tony is an airline pilot He supports the Second Amendment, but he does not believe there is a need for assault rifles.”
Sam Zeif, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, described sending text messages to his brother and parents wondering if he would ever see them again.
“I can’t feel comfortable in my country knowing that people have, will have, are ever going to feel like this. I want to feel safe at school.”
Zeif cited gun restrictions enacted in Australia following a school shooting in 1996.
“Can anyone here guess how many shootings there have been in the schools since then in Australia?” Zeif asked. “Zero.”
Perhaps the only thing that everyone in the room agreed upon, however, was that they wanted Parkland to be the last school shooting ever.
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