After the devastating shooting in a Florida school that left 17 terrified kids dead last week, Donald Trump upset victims and their families by suggesting they were partly to blame for not reporting the shooter to authorities.
And now the US President has enraged Americans yet again by saying that the best way to prevent further massacres in classrooms is to arm teachers. You read that correct: he thinks the answer to America’s shocking gun problem is even more guns…
Speaking at a White House televised meeting with students and family members from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Trump said: “If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms they could very well end the attack very quickly.”
He added: “Where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them they would go for special training and they would be there, and you would no longer have a gun-free zone.
“A gun-free zone, to a maniac, because they are all cowards, a gun-free zone is, ‘let’s go in and let’s attack.’”
But the president immediately received push back.
Mark Barden, whose son was killed in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook, said: “Schoolteachers have more than enough responsibilities right now, than to have to have the awesome responsibility of lethal force to take a life.”
And Andrew Pollack, whose daughter died in last week’s attack, added: “We, as a country, failed our children. I’m pissed!”
Alfonso Calderon, a student who survived the shooting, told CNN that arming teachers is a “terrible idea.” He said: “I don’t know if Donald Trump has ever been to a public high school… teachers are meant to be educators… They are not meant to know how to carry AR-15s.”
Reacting to Trump’s unbelievably insensitive comments, Eugene Gu, MD said: “Trump’s proposal during his “listening session” to arm teachers and bring more guns into our schools is beyond preposterous. That’s like saying the solution to lung cancer is to smoke more cigarettes.”
Political commentator DL Hughley added: “Trump wants to arm teachers with guns, but not arm them with the resources they need to teach!”
Trump also drew criticism for relying on a listening session ‘cheat sheet’ during the meeting with survivors and their families. One topic reminded him to ask: “What would you want me to know about your experience?” Because when it comes to traumatised school kids, you can’t expect him to show genuine care and empathy – he needs to be reminded to do that of course!
The only small glimmer of hope from this awful episode is that young people across America have started to mobilise and have become motivated to seek real gun control law changes.
Teenagers walked out of their classrooms across the country to take part in gun control protests outside the White House and in Florida, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Phoenix, Arizona.
Let’s hope their passion can start shifting the badly needed conversation around guns in the country.
*UPDATE*: This afternoon, Trump launched a tweet rant filled with pretty offensive and insensitive remarks defending himself and his position on guns in schools.
He said: “I never said ‘give teachers guns’ like was stated on Fake News @CNN & @NBC. 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. 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!
“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!
“If a potential ‘sicko shooter’ knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won’t go there…problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won’t work!”