Trump says arming teachers would create ‘offensive capability’
Turnbull declines to advise Trump on pursuing weapons ban
Donald Trump said on Friday arming teachers would create “offensive capability as well as defensive capability within the schools” and help deter mass shootings such as that which took place in Florida last week, leaving 17 people dead.
Trump spoke at a joint press conference with Malcolm Turnbull, the prime minister of Australia, a country which banned automatic and semi-automatic weapons after a 1996 mass shooting in Tasmania and which has not seen such an incident since.
Turnbull declined to advise his host on pursuing a similar ban, amid calls for new gun restrictions across the US since the shooting last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school.
Asked what concrete action he would take to make American children safe at school, Trump said “we are going to be very strong on background checks” with particular reference to mental illness. He described the Parkland gunman as “a very sick person and someone who should have been nabbed”.
“We’re going to get rid of the bump stocks and we are going to do certain other things,” the president said. “But its very very important that we have offensive capability as well as defensive capability within the schools.”
Trump added: “I want to have people in the building, and in many cases you have ex-marines and ex-army and navy and coastguard.
“You can have them in the building and they can have concealed weapons and still be teachers or they can be in the building in a different capacity but we have to have offensive capability to take these people out rapidly before they can do this kind of damage.”
Trump said: “If the bad guy thinks that there is going to be someone inside the room with a gun pointed at him, with live bullets, he’s not even going into the school.
“That’s the one way you’re going to solve it. You’re not going to solve it with gun-free spaces because they’ll get in there and they’ll be the only one with a gun.”
Mass shooters, he said, were “innately … cowards”.
Trump also criticised the armed deputy at the school in Florida, who did not enter the school while the shooting was happening and who has since resigned his post.
“A security guard doesn’t know the children, doesn’t love the children,” Trump said. “This man standing outside of the school the other day doesn’t love the children, probably doesn’t know the children. The teachers love the children, they love their pupils, they love their students.
“Now they have also to be very adept. I’m talking about a small percentage, but people with great ability with guns. Those are the people I’m talking about.”
Turnbull said Australia’s “history with gun control and regulation is obviously very different to the US”.
“There was a mass shooting in Tasmania in 1996,” he said, of the shooting in Port Arthur in which 35 people were killed and 23 wounded, “and my predecessor John Howard … undertook some very big reforms and basically semi-automatic, let alone automatic, weapons are essentially not available.
“The range of firearms available to people who don’t have a specific professional need, people involved in pest control and so forth, are very, very limited.
“But it is a completely different context, historically and legally and so forth. We are very satisfied with our laws, we maintain them … but we certainly don’t presume to provide policy or political advice on that matter here.”