Trump wants to arm teachers with guns to prevent shootings
Sheetal Sukhija - Thursday 22nd February, 2018
Trump said he will consider a proposal to arm school teachers to prevent shootings
The move is certain to prove fiercely divisive
The idea was made at Trump’s listening sessions at the White House with survivors
WASHINGTON, U.S. - In a suggestion that is bound to be controversial, U.S. President Donald Trump said that he would consider a proposal to arm school teachers with guns, in a bid to prevent school shootings.
The suggestion was made by the President while he held a listening session at the White House on Wednesday with survivors of last week’s Florida school shooting that claimed 17 lives.
In the horrific rampage at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last Wednesday, a 19-year-old teenager identified as Nikolas Cruz was armed with a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle and a large amount of ammunition and slaughtered a total of 17 people.
While Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, his background and reported mental illness threw open a gun control debate in America, that led to rallies full of furious students, teachers, parents and several others, who demanded action from the country’s lawmakers and the President.
What made matters worse for Trump is that the President shared close ties with the National Rifle Association during his presidential campaign in 2016.
The association, which is one of the most powerful gun-rights organizations in the country even donated more than $30 million to Trump’s presidential campaign.
Trump’s response to the Florida shooting also drew criticism from gun control advocates.
While the President expressed empathy, he clarified that he would not break from his base or the Republican party’s position on the issue - pointing out that it does not appear to be preventing such tragedies from occurring.
Now, after meeting survivors of last week’s shooting and others affected by gun violence, Trump said he will consider a proposal to arm school teachers in an attempt to prevent mass shootings.
Further explaining his move - which is certain to prove fiercely divisive - Trump claimed that allowing airline pilots to carry and conceal guns had demonstrated the measure could be a success.
He said during the emotional session that was broadcast live on national television, “It only works when you have people very adept at using firearms, of which you have many. It would be teachers and coaches.”
The President cited the situation involving a football coach, Aaron Feis, who used his body as a shield to protect a student during the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, Trump said, “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. But if he had a firearm, he wouldn’t have had to run, he would have shot him, and that would have been the end of it. 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. 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’.”
The President continued, “An attack has lasted, on average, about three minutes. It takes five to eight minutes for responders, for the police to come in, so the attack is over. If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly.”
Trump argued that knowledge of this would act as a deterrent to a would-be attacker.
He said, “You know, a lot of people don’t understand that airline pilots now, a lot of them carry guns, and I have to say that things have changed a lot. People aren’t attacking the way they would routinely attack and maybe you would have the same situation in schools.”
He even asked for a show of hands over the proposal and while some were in favour, others were against it.
Trump vowed to discuss the plan seriously and said, “We can understand both sides and certainly it’s controversial.”
Incidentally, global media reports were quick to point out that in May 2016, during the presidential election, Trump had tweeted, “Crooked Hillary [Clinton] said that I want guns brought into the school classroom. Wrong!”
Meanwhile, Nicole Hockley, whose six-year-old son Dylan died at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, challenged the president during the session, and said, “This is not difficult. These deaths are preventable. And I implore you: consider your own children. You don’t want to be me. No parent does.”
She later expressed her position against the idea of arming teachers and told the President, “It’s not personally something that I support. Rather than arming them with a firearm, I would rather arm them with the knowledge of how to prevent these acts from happening in the first place.”
She explained that safety assessments programmes and interventions for troubled children are vital.
She said, “Let’s talk about prevention. There is so much that we can do to help people before it reaches that point, and I urge you please stay focused on that as well. It is the gun, it’s the person behind the gun and it’s about helping people before they ever reach that point.”
Trump meanwhile reiterated a statement made by the White House that he would be “very strong” on background checks for gun buyers as well as mental health issues.
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