Trump Considers Arming Teachers amid Lobbying Efforts on Gun Rights

Trump Considers Arming Teachers amid Lobbying Efforts on Gun Rights

Thursday, 22 February, 2018 - 06:45
US President Donald Trump greets Julia Cordover, Parkland Student body president, as he arrives for a “listening session” on gun violence with teachers and students in the State Dining Room of the White House on February 21, 2018. MANDEL NGAN / AFP
Asharq Al-Awsat
US President Donald Trump suggested arming teachers as students galvanized by the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school confronted lawmakers on Wednesday with demands to restrict sales of assault rifles.

Trump made his suggestion as he faced broken voices, tears and demands for action at a White House meeting Wednesday with survivors of the gun rampage that killed 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Trump also promised "very strong" background checks on gun owners during the poignant "listening session," in which he heard first-hand accounts from bereaved parents and friends, and schoolchildren who narrowly escaped with their own lives.

But his proposal to arm educators received a cool response from a teacher who survived the shooting as well as the local sheriff at a town hall meeting in Florida.

Also Justin Gruber, a 15-year-old Stoneman Douglas student, said "there needs to be significant change in this country because this has to never happen again."

"People should be able to feel that when they go to school they can be safe," Gruber said.

The unprecedented lobbying effort by groups of teenagers and parents at the White House and at the Florida statehouse in Tallahassee played out as fellow students staged classroom walkouts and rallies in cities across the country.

Students are planning a march on Washington on March 24, with sister rallies planned across the country.

The attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 was the second-deadliest shooting at a US public school. It has revived the long-running US debate over gun rights.

Investigators said the assault was carried out by 19-year-old former Stoneman Douglas student Nikolas Cruz, who purchased an AR-15-style assault weapon nearly a year ago.

"The laws of the country have failed," Stoneman Douglas student Laurenzo Prado said, referring to a Florida law that allows people as young as 18 to buy assault weapons.

Lawmakers in Tallahassee said they would consider raising the age limit to 21 although the state Senate opted on Wednesday not to take up a gun control measure.

Trump directed the Justice Department on Tuesday to work on a regulation that would effectively ban bump stocks.

Last October, a retired real estate investor used multiple assault rifles equipped with bump stocks to kill 58 people at a Las Vegas outdoor concert, the deadliest attack by a single gunman in US history. Bump stocks have not played a prominent role in other recent US mass shootings.

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