Trump: Give Guns to Teachers Who ‘Want Them’

For the second day in a row, U.S. President Donald Trump spoke at length about school safety, advocating arming teachers with guns to thwart campus massacres.

“Unless we have an offensive capability, it’s going to happen again and again,” Trump said. “You can’t hire enough security guards.”

Asked by VOA News to respond to teachers who say they do not want guns in their classrooms, Trump replied, “These would be people that actually would want them. And it would be a small percentage, but it would be a lot of people. And once you do this, you will have a situation where all of a sudden this horrible plague will stop.”

Earlier in the Roosevelt Room meeting, he suggested that up to 40 percent of classrooms could see teachers qualified in shooting guns and that such instructors would get a “little bit of a bonus” for such certification.

“I want my schools protected just like I want my banks protected,” Trump said during a 55-minute session with law enforcement, state and local officials.

Thursday’s meeting followed an emotional and lengthy encounter, also at the White House, with students, parents and teachers affected by last week’s high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which a former student is accused of killing 17 people.

Trump, who enjoyed strong support during his 2016 election campaign from the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA), which claims 5 million members, said he had spoken with NRA officials during the past two days and that the organization is “ready to do things.”

The president, however, clearly indicated he does not intend to battle the powerful organization, which gave more than $11 million to the Trump campaign in 2016 and spent nearly $20 million attacking his Democratic Party general election challenger, Hillary Clinton.

“I don’t think I’ll be going up against them,” Trump said. “They’re good people.”

Hardening schools

During Thursday’s event, which also included U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Trump derided “gun-free zones” around schools, saying that makes it “like going in for ice cream” for shooters.

Schools need to be hardened because at the Florida school “bullets went right through those steel doors like they were butter,” he added.

When Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart suggested increasing the number of active-shooter drills as a defensive measure, Trump called that crazy, explaining, “I think it’s very hard on children.”

A spokesman later explained that the president’s issue is not with the drills themselves. Rather, he wants them called something else so as not to frighten young children.

In the wake of last week’s school shooting, some victims and gun rights activists have called for a ban on semiautomatic rifles, such as the AR-15, which was used in the Florida shooting.

Deputy press secretary Raj Shah, however, told reporters that the Trump administration is seeking “solutions that don’t ban a class of firearms for all individuals, but ban all weapons for certain individuals who are identified as threats to public safety.”

Shah also clarified that Trump’s mention Thursday of age restrictions (at 21 years) for weapons purchases refers “only to semiautomatic weapons.”

Background checks

Trump reiterated on Thursday that he would also be “strongly pushing” comprehensive background checks of gun buyers and ending the sale of bump stocks, which increase the firepower of some weapons.

Among his string of Thursday tweets on the subject, Trump made his case for putting guns in schools, calling the option a “​great deterrent.”​

During the two lengthy White House meetings on school safety, the emphasis has been on mental health issues that result in people taking up guns to kill on campuses, rather than on limiting access to firearms.

Popular culture

Trump, in the Thursday meeting, also suggested popular culture could be a contributing factor for such violence.

“I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts,” Trump said. “And then you go the further step, and that’s the movies.”

He added that films are “so violent and yet, a kid is able to see the movie if sex isn’t involved. … Killing is involved, and maybe they have to put a rating system for that.”

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