WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump suggested on Wednesday during a meeting with families and friends of victims of school shootings that one way to minimize casualties in such situations would be to provide teachers and other staff members with guns.
Among those taking part in the “listening session” at the White House were six students from Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a 19-year-old man armed with an assault rifle killed 17 people a week ago.
“If you had a teacher who was adept (with) the firearm, they could end the attack very quickly,” Trump said.
Schools might choose to arm 20 percent of their teachers to respond to attack by “maniacs,” he said.
“This would be obviously only for people who were 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 and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone,” the president said.
Acknowledging that the idea was controversial, Trump said that his administration would give it serious study.
Turning to another facet of the problem, he said that he planned to be “very strong” in the matter of background checks to prevent known criminals and mentally disturbed people from buying guns.
He said that his administration is likewise looking at establishing a minimum age to purchase an assault weapon, a measure that would have stopped the Florida shooter, Nikolas Cruz, from legally buying the AR-15 he used to carry out the Feb. 14 massacre.
Several of those present for the session endorsed Trump’s notion of arming school staff, while others expressed strong opposition.
“School teachers have more than enough responsibilities right now than to have to have the awesome responsibility of lethal force to take a life,” Mark Barden, the father of a child killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, said.