In recent years, much of the right has embraced the idea that the only credible solution to gun violence is more guns. It gave rise to the NRA’s “good guy with a gun” mantra.And in the aftermath of the massacre in Parkland, Fla., last week, it appears Donald Trump is prepared to address school shootings by bringing more guns into schools.
Trump spoke about potential solutions to address the violence, expressing support for arming school officials and teachers and backing ending gun-free zones, which he said are a sign to shooters that says, “Let’s go in and let’s attack because bullets aren’t coming back at us.”
The president conceded that concealed carry “only works” with people who are “very adept at using firearms” but said that if one of the “brave” coaches in Parkland who tried to stop the shooter had had a gun, he could have shot the shooter instead of running at him.
In May 2016, after Hillary Clinton suggested Trump intended to bring guns into school classrooms, the Republican insisted she was wrong. Nearly two years later, it appears he may have changed his mind.
Trump added yesterday that he’d also consider a plan to bring armed retired veterans – who are “very adept” at handling firearms – who could be “spread evenly throughout” a school to prepare for a possible shooter.
Indeed, the president told his White House audience yesterday that having more people with guns in schools – teachers, coaches, principles, veterans – “could very well solve your problem.”
Of course, this isn’t just their problem. In the United States, it’s our problem.
It’s worth emphasizing that Trump’s event was a listening session, and he wasn’t unveiling specific new policy prescriptions yesterday. The discussion covered a fair amount of ground, and when he talked about bringing more guns into schools, the president wasn’t talking up specific ideas he hopes to have implemented anytime soon.
But he nevertheless pointed to this approach as one he thinks would be effective. “We’ll be doing a lot of different things,” Trump said, “but we’ll certainly be looking at ideas like that.”
If the president expects this idea to receive broad support, he should probably start lowering his expectations now. Mark Barden, who lost his 7-year-old son in the Sandy Hook massacre, received applause at yesterday’s White House event yesterday when he said, “School teachers have more than enough responsibilities right now than to have the awesome responsibility of lethal force to take a life…. Nobody wants to see a shootout in a school.”
Politico had a related piece on this yesterday:
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the White House is “very strongly” considering the possibility of arming teachers and other school staff following the deadly Florida school shooting – but the reality is that won’t happen any time soon, even in states that would allow guns in schools.
Lawmakers in at least half-a-dozen states – including Florida – are considering legislation this year that would ease restrictions on firearms on campus. But such attempts nearly always hit strong opposition from teachers and community members. Even in states that have passed laws allowing school districts to make the decision, few school boards have bit.
“The vast majority of schools superintendents and boards don’t even blink before saying, ‘Thanks but no thanks,’” said Kenneth Trump, a school safety consultant not related to the president. “We know that by and large there’s mass opposition to this in the education community.”
Even Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who’s earned an A+ rating from the NRA, denounced the idea at a forum last night.
Referring to armed school personnel, Trump added yesterday, “We’re going to be looking at it very strongly.” Perhaps he should starting looking somewhere else.