In the few weeks since the attack on Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, there have been a further 15 mass shootings across the United States, killing 16 people in total. And that’s without including all the people killed in single-person shootings and gun-related suicides, of which there are many, many more.
But since the school shooting that left 17 – mainly students – dead, very little has been done to make future massacres less likely. In fact, Trump was met with outrage after suggesting that the best way to protect students was to arm teachers.
Speaking at a White House meeting with students and family members shortly after the attack, Trump said: “If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms they could very well end the attack very quickly.”
And now the President is doubling down on his obsession with arming teachers by announcing a new commission that will look into, among other things, the best way to train teachers to kill people with weapons.
The administration will start working with states to provide ‘rigorous firearms training’ to teachers and other school personnel, said Andrew Bremberg, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, according to the Washington Post.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who will chair the new commission, told NPR: “There’s no time to waste. No student, no family, no teacher, and no school should have to live the horror of Parkland, or Sandy Hook or Columbine again.”
That’s right, the woman leading the campaign on gun safety in schools is the same person who once infamously claimed guns were needed in the classroom because of potential grizzly bear attacks…
You literally *cannot* make this stuff up.
The President explained his position on arming teachers today in his customary, garbled manner: “Highly trained expert teachers will be allowed to conceal carry, subject to State Law. Armed guards OK, deterrent!…….
“If schools are mandated to be gun free zones, violence and danger are given an open invitation to enter. Almost all school shootings are in gun free zones. Cowards will only go where there is no deterrent!”
And while Trump carries on with his proposal to arm teachers, he’s also performed an enormous U-turn on his promise to raise the age of weapon ownership.
Soon after the shooting in February, Trump said in a meeting with lawmakers: “Now, this is not a popular thing to say, in terms of the NRA. But I’m saying it anyway… you can buy the kind of weapon used in the school shooting at 18. I think it’s something you have to think about.”
Now, however, he has abandoned his proposal – thanks in large part to pressure from the NRA, who hold huge political power. Trump basically admitted his own lack of political leadership on Twitter, saying that there is “not much political support (to put it mildly)” to raise the age limit.
Understandably, people were furious with the President. Powerful New York Senator Chuck Schumer said on Twitter: “The White House has taken tiny baby steps designed not to upset NRA when the gun violence epidemic demands giant steps be taken.”
And gun control pressure group the Brady Campaign added: “Was hopeful President Trump would follow-through on critical measures he acknowledged were needed to prevent gun violence, but today’s announcement was completely inadequate and showed profound lack of leadership.”
Whether Trump’s administration will do anything at all to make American kids safer is highly unlikely - but the inspiring students who survived the shooting in Florida have continued to grow their public campaign for stricter gun laws.
You can support them here, as they prepare for worldwide marches on 24 March “to demand we end the epidemic of mass shootings”.