A day after an emotional meeting with parents and family members to discuss the threat of school shootings in the United States, President Donald Trump on Thursday signaled his strong support for the idea of allowing some teachers and administrators to carry a firearm at schools, in order to form a first line of defense, as the President also backed an end to the sale of bump stocks, and raising the minimum age for buying weapons like an AR-15.
“Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive,” the President tweeted, arguing it would stop any “savage sicko” who was intent on attacking students.
“Far more assets at much less cost than guards,” the President tweeted, as he said undefended schools are a “magnet for bad people.”
“ATTACKS WOULD END!” the President added. “GREAT DETERRENT!”
In a series of morning tweets, Mr. Trump first objected to news reports which he said he would support arming teachers, and then went on to detail how this would be a special plan for only certain people at a school.
The President’s comments came hours before a second day of meetings on school security, as he prepared to meet with state and local officials; the White House had not made public who would be in that meeting in the Roosevelt Room.
In his Wednesday meeting, which featured wrenching stories from parents who lost children, and students who lost friends last week in Parkland, Florida, the President emphasized a series of themes:
+ Stronger school security, by hardening entrance points to schools.
+ Allowing teachers and administrators to carry a firearm in a school.
+ Stronger background checks on guns sales, though Mr. Trump has yet to define exactly what that would entail.
+ Raising the age to purchase a powerful weapon like an AR-15.
+ Doing more to provide mental health treatment to people – like the Florida shooter – who have been identified to authorities.
In Congress, Democrats were calling on the President to take extra steps toward gun control – but it was not clear if Mr. Trump would do that, even as the White House said earlier in the week that items like a ban on assault weapons was on the table for discussion.
Democrats pointed the finger at the National Rifle Association for the lack of action on the issue in House and Senate.
“The NRA has been an implacable enemy of legal mechanisms to enforce gun laws,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA).
But with a solid majority in the Congress right now favoring the side of gun rights, any quick move to press forward with gun controls seemed to be remote – unless it drew support from the President himself.
Along with the plan to arm certain teachers at schools, Mr. Trump again said he would back efforts to tighten background checks on gun buyers.
Not mentioned by the President on Thursday morning was anything about background checks on private gun sales – sometimes referred to as the ‘gun show loophole’ – which Democrats say should be addressed in any effort to deal with gun violence.
“Let’s all be clear what “comprehensive background checks” means – subjecting all commercial sales (gun stores/shows, online sales) to checks,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), in reply to Mr. Trump’s tweet.
“If that’s what you mean, I’m listening,” Murphy said, addressing the President.
This above Trump tweet seemed to be the best summation of the President’s plans right now, which would also include an end to sale of bump stocks, and a move to raise the minimum age for buying a powerful weapon like an AR-15 from 18 years old to 21 years old.