President Trump floated the idea of arming teachers in an effort to prevent future school shootings during a listening session on school shootings at the White House on Wednesday.
“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, and I think a lot of people are going to be opposed to it. I think a lot of people are going to like it. But the good thing is you’re going to have a lot of [armed] people with that,” the president said.
He said the “coach,” presumably meaning athletic director Chris Hixon, who was killed during the Florida shooting last week, “saved a lot of lives” but could have saved more if he had a gun.
“He wouldn’t have had to run, he would have shot, and that would have been the end of it,” he said, adding that he only supported concealed carry for people “adept” with guns.
“And there are many of them,” he added.
He also criticized gun-free zones around schools.
“A gun-free zone to a maniac, because they’re all cowards, a gun-free zone is ‘let’s go in and attack,’ ” he said. “I really believe if these cowards knew that the school was well-guarded from the standpoint of pretty much having professionals with great training, I think they wouldn’t go into the schools to start with, it would pretty much solve your problem.”
Trump then surveyed the room, asking how attendees felt about the idea.
“So does anybody like that idea here, does anybody like it?” he said. “Do people feel strongly against it, anybody? Anybody? Strongly against it? We can understand both sides. Certainly, it’s controversial, but we’ll study that along with many other ideas.”
Some attendees voiced their opposition to the idea.
“Schoolteachers have more than enough responsibilities right now than to have to have the awesome responsibility of lethal force to take a life,” said Mark Barden, whose son was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Some reacted with applause.
“Nobody wants to see a shoot-out in school. And a deranged sociopath on his way to commit an act of murder in a school with the outcome, knowing the outcome is going to be suicide, is not going to care if there is somebody there with a gun,” he continued.
The listening session was comprised of survivors and loved ones of victims from last week’s shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Connecticut Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and the Colorado Columbine High School shooting.
Vice President Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos also attended the session.
Last week’s shooting in Parkland, Fla., left 17 people dead and numerous others injured.
The shooting has reignited the U.S. debate on gun control.
Students across the country staged walkouts on Wednesday to demand action on gun laws from lawmakers, while survivors of the shooting visited Florida’s capital in Tallahassee with hopes of lobbying state lawmakers to take action on gun control.