During a Wednesday listening session at the White House with survivors of mass shootings, including the one last week in Parkland, Florida, President Trump threw his support behind a tentative plan which could lead to one out of every five teachers in U.S. classrooms being armed and trained to combat school shootings.
According to the Boston Globe, Trump made the statement in response to a participant who said that “schools are soft targets” and that “we need to harden the targets by … increasing our deterrence capabilities so that a potential murderer knows that that’s not going to happen; that there’s going to be people there ready to respond.”
The president responded that he supported concealed carry on school campuses, while noting that “this would only be, obviously, for people that are very adept at handling a gun.”
The teachers involved 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’re all cowards — a gun-free zone is, let’s go in and let’s attack, because bullets aren’t coming back at us.
“And if you do this — and a lot of people are talking about it, and it’s certainly a point that we’ll discuss — but concealed carry for teachers and for people of talent — of that type of talent. So let’s say you had 20 percent of your teaching force, because that’s pretty much the number … If you had a teacher with — who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly.”
Trump: "If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly, and the good thing about a suggestion like that — and we're going to be looking at it very strongly…but the good thing is you'll have a lot of [armed] people with that." pic.twitter.com/wGRSTDK38o
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 21, 2018
The president’s comments are a major win for Second Amendment supporters, many of whom expressed concern after Trump’s decision on Tuesday to direct the Department of Justice to ban bump stocks for rifles, even though bump stocks weren’t used in the Parkland shooting.
The president did add that “we’re going to be very strong on background checks. We’re going to be doing very strong background checks. Very strong emphasis on the mental health of somebody. And we are going to do plenty of other things.”
On the mental health aspect, the president seemed to intimate that he would look into significant improvements when it came to the mental hospital system.
“You know, years ago, we had mental hospitals — mental institutions,” Trump said.
“We had a lot of them, and a lot of them have closed. They’ve closed. Some people thought it was a stigma. Some people thought, frankly, it was a — the legislators thought it was too expensive.
“Today, if you catch somebody, they don’t know what to do with them. He hasn’t committed the crime, but he may (not be) very well. And there’s no mental institution, there’s no place to bring them. And we have that a lot.”
The president’s comments, to that end, seemed to reference several red flags raised about previous mass shooters in regard to their mental health. In the case of the Parkland shooter, tips to the FBI and more than 30 visits to the home of the shooter by police, many involving violence against his adopted mother, apparently didn’t worry officials enough to act.
There are plenty of things that need to be done in the wake of the Parkland shooting, of course. However, campus carry initiatives have been a long time in coming, particularly when you consider the fact that schools have been soft targets even almost 20 years after Columbine.
It’s time for that to change, and it looks like President Trump is heading in that direction.
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