President Donald Trump on Thursday defended his controversial proposal to have teachers be able to arm themselves using concealed carry permits to protect schools – saying it would be a ‘GREAT DETERRENT’ to potential shooters.
He then suggested that he now supports raising the age for certain gun purchases to 21 – although he failed to spell out what proposal he was getting behind.
‘I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health. Raise age to 21 and end sale of Bump Stocks! Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue – I hope!’ Trump wrote.
Bump stocks allow a semi-automatic weapon to operate more like a fully automatic weapon, and were used in the Las Vegas shooting.
Trump offered a full-throated defense of the idea after the idea faced immediate criticism from his own party, even going so far as to say school shootings would end as a result.
President Trump suggested arming teachers during a listening session Wednesday at the White House with school shooting survivors and other gun violence victims who lost children in one of the nation’s mass school shootings
He claimed the force of ‘highly-trained’ teachers would be able to ‘fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions,’ neutralizing an attacker minutes before police officers would be able to arrive on the scene in the event on an incident.
Trump floated the idea during an emotional meeting at the White House Wednesday with students who survived the Parkland school shooting, where grieving youths were demanding solutions like better security and restricting assault-style weapons.
‘It’s called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They’d go for special training,’ Trump said Wednesday, pitching idea he acknowledged was ‘controversial.’
The idea faced immediate blowback, but Trump tried to explain it on Twitter Friday morning – with an attack on some of the media outlets who reported on it.
‘I never said “give teachers guns” like was stated on Fake News @CNN & @NBC,’ Trump wrote. ‘What I said was to look at the possibility of giving “concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience – only the best,’ Trump said.
He continued: ‘20% of teachers, a lot, would now be able to ….immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions. Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this. Far more assets at much less cost than guards. A “gun free” school is a magnet for bad people. ATTACKS WOULD END!’
He added: ‘History shows that a school shooting lasts, on average, 3 minutes. It takes police & first responders approximately 5 to 8 minutes to get to site of crime. Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive. GREAT DETERRENT!’
President Trump (left) shakes the hand of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors Carson Abt (center) and Ariana Klein (right) during a White House listening session on Wednesday
Trump had indeed floated the 20 per cent figure – a stunning number given the estimated 3.2 million teachers or full time equivalent educators.
‘Lets say you had 20 percent of your teaching force, because that’s pretty much the number’ Trump said, describing how it might work,’ Trump said Wednesday.
‘And this would only be, obviously, for people that are very adept at handling a gun. And it would be — it’s called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They’d go for special training.’
Trump argued that the armed teachers would be able to confront a shooter like the gunman who killed 17 in Parkland, Florida, more quickly.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, joined by Melissa Blank, mother of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Jonathan Blank, right, and Darrell Scott, Founder of Rachel’s Challenge, left, speaks during a listening session with President Donald Trump, high school students, teachers, and others in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018
‘And they would be there, and you would no longer have a gun-free zone. A 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 said.
Trump said an attack 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 with – who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly,’ Trump said.
The idea was rejected within hours by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who was confronted repeatedly by angry students at a town hall aired on CNN.
“I don’t support that, and I would admit to your right now I answer that as much as a father as I do as a senator. The notion that my kids are going to school with teachers that are armed with a weapon is not something that, quite frankly, I’m comfortable with,” Rubio said.
Trump put forward his proposal to arm up to a fifth of teachers after hearing emotional appeals for action from students and parents still grieving from the Florida school massacre.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida threw cold water on Trump’s idea of having teachers be armed through concealed carry permits at an emotional town hall meeting on CNN
Trump floated the conceal-carry proposal after a White House listening session, where some students called for regulation of assault weapons, an angry parent called for hardened school security, and others just demanded ‘change.’
After listening from a circle of participants, Trump floated his own idea, calling for arming teachers and coaches, and even bringing in Marines.
There are an estimated 3.2 million teachers or full-time equivalent teachers – which would put the armed force at 640,000 – larger than the U.S. Army, which is set to drop to 450,000 at the end of the year.
Trump said the teachers with guns would be ‘adept at firearms’ and would get ‘great training.’
Trump also mentioned Marines, saying those armed on a sprawling campus like the one in Parkland, Florida would be ‘spread evenly,’ rather than having a single security guard.
He acknowledged it was a controversial idea. ‘We can understand both sides. Certainly it’s controversial,’ he said.
Trump complained that the shooter ‘should have been nabbed.’
But with teachers and coaches armed, ‘That would’ve been the end of it.’
Trump said when there’s an intruder, ‘You will no longer have a gun free zone.’
At one point during the discussion he asked the audience’s opinion of his suggestion to arm teachers.
The president’s viewpoint was in the minority, according to the White House pool report.
Donald Trump met with survivors from the Parkland school shooting at the White House Wednesday
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Samuel Zeif wipes tears next to Nicole Hockley of Sandy Hook Promise as President Trump hosts a listening session with high school shooting survivors and students to discuss school safety
The president’s proposal seemed to be an about-face from where he stood during the 2016 campaign, if Trump’s Twitter account had been any indicator.
Trump had tweeted that May: ‘Crooked Hillary said that I want guns brought into the school classroom. Wrong!’
That was in response to Trump receiving an endorsement from the NRA and Clinton hitting him for it.
‘This is someone running to be president of the United States of America, a country facing a gun violence epidemic and he’s talking about more guns in our schools,’ Clinton said on May 21, 2016.
Trump’s tweet came later that night.
Though when appearing on Fox News the next day, the GOP nominee tried to have it both ways.
‘I don’t want to have guns in classrooms,’ he said, objecting to the tweet. ‘Although, in some cases, teachers should have guns in classrooms, frankly. Because teachers are, you know. Things that are going on in our schools are unbelievable.’
‘You look at some of our schools, unbelievable what’s going on,’ he repeated.
‘But I’m not advocating guns in classrooms. But remember, in some cases, and a lot of people have made this case, teachers should be able to have guns. Trained teachers should be able to have guns in classrooms,’ candidate Trump said.