In Benton, Ky., this week, two teenagers were shot and killed at a high school, in an incident that left another 18 people injured. As the New York Times noted, it was “one of at least 11 shootings on school property recorded since Jan. 1.”At a White House press briefing the day after the deaths, a reporter asked Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about the president’s efforts to prevent these school shootings. She talked about the administration’s efforts to “crack down on crime,” but had little to say about school shootings specifically.
That same afternoon, however, Trump delivered remarks at the White House to a group of mayors, and raised a curious point about public safety.
“We’re supporting our local police beyond what we’ve ever done. Great. And fire departments. We’re also getting you a lot of our excess military equipment; you know all about that. Previous administrations – but in particular, ‘-on’ – the previous administration, ‘-on’ – they didn’t like to do that, and someday they’ll explain why. But we had a lot of excess military equipment; we’re sending it to your police as they need it. And it’s made a tremendous difference.
“We believe every child deserves to live in a safe home, attend a great school, and look forward to an amazing and very, very safe future. So you’re getting a lot of equipment.”
The transcript may appear a little disjointed, but if you watch the video of his remarks, it was clear Trump was trying to condemn the Obama administration for scaling back local police department’s use of military weapons.
For months, Trump has appeared completely baffled as to why Obama was reluctant to have weapons of war on American streets to be used against civilians. It’s really not that complicated, but the Republican remains dumbfounded.
This week, however, was the first time I’ve heard Trump connect police use of military weapons with school safety.
Look at the quote again: “We believe every child deserves to live in a safe home, attend a great school, and look forward to an amazing and very, very safe future. So you’re getting a lot of equipment.”
In context, in his comments to mayors, “equipment” appears to refer to military equipment to be used by local law enforcement in communities across the country. Looking at the full transcript, there were no other references to schools or other kinds of equipment.
The Washington Monthly’s Nancy LeTourneau noted in response, “[T]o suggest that turning schools into war zones with grenade launchers and armored personnel carriers will keep our children safe leaves me at a loss for words. It is utterly insane.”