President Trump calls active shooter drills ‘a very negative thing’
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(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump continued to push the idea of arming teachers in schools during a meeting with state and local officials at the White House on Thursday and also said “active shooter drills is a very negative thing”.
Trump said he’d like to see a “hardened school” where teachers with training or a military background carry weapons.
“We have to harden our schools, not soften them up,” Trump said. “You come into our schools – you’re gonna be dead. And it’s gonna be fast,” he added later.
His suggestion to arm educators in the wake of a deadly mass shooting last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida which left 17 dead and 14 injured has been panned by some education groups, including the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers union.
“Bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence. Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms. Parents and educators overwhelmingly reject the idea of arming school staff,” NEA president Liky Eskelsen Garcia said in a statement. “Educators need to be focused on teaching our students. We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators. Arming teachers does nothing to prevent that.”
Trump disagrees, said that teachers carrying a weapon should be paid more money, and added that it would be cheaper and more effective than hiring armed guards.
He said that “practically for free” you have made the school less of a target, but did not provide specifics during Thursday’s meeting as to how the administration would reduce the cost for school districts to train and arm teachers. He said later in the meeting, in which Education Sec. Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions also participated, that the federal government would provide some funding for additional training.
Trump’s comments come as part of an ongoing discussion on how to change the country’s gun laws.
Over in Maryland, Vice President Mike Pence echoed some of the administration’s suggestions for reform and said school safety will be a top national priority in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
“As the president has said, no child, no teacher should ever be in danger in an American school,” he said, adding that the president has called on Congress to strengthen background checks and asked the Justice Department to regulate devices like bump stocks used to change rifles into machine guns.
“Later this week when the president meets with the nation’s governors in our nation’s capital we’ll make the safety of the nation’s schools and our students our top national priority,” he said.
National Rifle Association vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre echoed calls for schools to amp up security during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
“I refuse to leave this stage until I say one more time that we must immediately harden our schools every day,” LaPierre said. “Every day young children are being dropped off at schools that are virtually wide-open soft targets for any one bent on mass murder.”
During Thursday’s meeting at the White House, Trump also said he’s spoken with lawmakers who support changes to strengthen the background check system and that the administration needs to look into how the Internet affects young people, saying that exposure to violent videos and video games are affecting people’s minds.
And he repeated an earlier promise to push raising the federal minimum age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21.
The NRA said in a statement on Wednesday that it would not support such a change.
“Passing a law that makes it illegal for a 20 year-old to purchase a shotgun for hunting or an adult single mother from purchasing the most effective self-defense rifle on the market punishes law-abiding citizens for the evil acts of criminals. The NRA supports efforts to prevent those who are a danger to themselves or others from getting access to firearms. At the same time, we will continue to oppose gun control measures that only serve to punish law-abiding citizens,” NRA Spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said in a statement.
The president met with students and family members affected by the shooting for a listening session on Wednesday on solutions to prevent mass shootings.
In that meeting, too, Trump floated the idea that more teachers should carry weapons in schools, indicating that if they had a gun they would be able to stop an active shooter.
“If the coach had a firearm in his locker, when he ran at this guy — that coach was very brave — saved a lot of lives, I suspect,” Trump said in the listening session, a comment that seemed to reference Aaron Feis a teacher and coach who was killed protecting students last week. “But, if he had a firearm, he wouldn’t have had to run. He would have shot, and that would have been the end of it. 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.”
There was an armed security guard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but law enforcement said he did not encounter the gunman during the mass shooting, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said during a press conference on Friday.
Trump also defended the idea of arming teachers in a series of tweets on Thursday morning, saying that knowing there were armed teachers in a school could deter potential shooters.
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