Trump’s solution for school shootings: Arm teachers

The idea has been widely panned by teacher’s groups.

Seated between teenage survivors of the Florida school shooting, President Donald Trump said during an Oval Office listening session Wednesday that arming teachers and posting gun-toting veterans in schools could deter or stop school shooters. 

His comments came during an emotional meeting that included Vice President Mike Pence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and school-shooting survivors and families who had lost children to gun violence, including a father who buried his daughter just last week. They poured out grief and anger over the lack of efforts to stem school shootings. 

Trump talked about strengthening background checks and increasing mental health resources. But his most pointed and specific remarks came when he spoke about adding security to schools by arming teachers and posting gun-equipped veterans. 

Trump posited that if Aaron Feis, a popular football coach, has been armed, he could have stopped the gunman who killed Feis and 16 others last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. 

"If the coach had a firearm in his locker when he ran at this guy — that coach was very brave, saved a lot of lives, I suspect — but if he had a firearm he would not have had to run. He would have shot and that would be the end of it," Trump said. 

He then proposed to arm 20 percent of schoolteachers and to hire veterans as armed school guards. 

"A teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They'd go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer be a gun-free zone," Trump said. He suggested that an armed teacher on campus could reach a school shooter faster than responding police officers. "You'd have a lot of people that would be armed, that'd be ready." 

He then polled the room, asking who liked the idea. Several people — including the parents of survivors and victims of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High — raised their hands. 

His proposal to make 20 percent of public schoolteachers ready to fire back at a school shooter would mean training and arming about 640,000 people nationwide. The idea got a warm reception among some parents, but was met with swift backlash from teachers' groups nationwide. 

"Bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence. Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms," said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, the largest teachers union. The group represents 3 million educators in K-12 schools and on college campuses. "We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators. Arming teachers does nothing to prevent that." 

"This is bar none, the worst theory of action I've ever heard," said Shanna Peeples, a former educator who worked in Texas when she won the 2015 National Teacher of the Year award. She shared her thoughts on Twitter. "Texas law allows schools to arm their teachers. That's not a good thing. None of us are trained to respond to threats in the way law enforcement is." 

At least two school districts in Texas have armed teachers, both in remote parts of the state. Their superintendents have defended the policies, saying their educators are prepared to respond if a gunman arrives on campus, according to KXAN-TV. 

At a town hall hosted by CNN on Wednesday evening, Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie, whose district includes Stoneman Douglas High, roundly rejected the idea. 

"We don't need to put guns in the hands of teachers. You know what we need? We need to arm our teachers with more money in their pocket," Runcie said to roaring applause. 

The idea of arming teachers has received a mixed reception among Americans. In a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 42 percent of respondents said armed teachers could have prevented last week's school shooting in Parkland, Florida, while 51 percent disagreed. 

Delaney Tarr, a 17-year-old senior who survived the shooting at Stoneman Douglas, said it was impractical to arm schoolteachers. 

"There are so many things that could go wrong," Tarr said. "We are not a prison. We are not a police force." 

But the father of a Stoneman Douglas High student suggested that arming school personnel - even having undercover police officers work as janitors or cafeteria workers - could be the key to stopping a school shooter when other measures fail. Frederick Abt pitched the idea to Trump early in the meeting. 

"If you can't stop it from happening - and with hundreds of millions of guns out there, I don't know if it will ever be fully stopped — the challenge becomes when it starts how to end it as quickly as possible," Abt said.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Trump

Man accused of robbing thrift store smiles in mugshot after arrest
Man accused of robbing thrift store smiles in mugshot after arrest

A Texas man apparently was all smiles after he was arrested in connection with a thrift store robbery. According to KWES, police arrested Shawn Paul Melonakos, 36, of Odessa, on Saturday after he was accused of trying to steal items from the Door of Hope Thrift Store. "Investigation revealed that a male subject, later identified as Melonakos,...
Don't vacuum while wildfire smoke is in the air, health officials say
Don't vacuum while wildfire smoke is in the air, health officials say

Poor air quality will be common across parts of the Pacific Northwest this week as winds push smoke from surrounding wildfires into the region, forecasters and regulators said. Air quality alerts are in effect for much of Washington state through Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. Officials with the Washington State Department of...
Girl, 15, says Georgia police officer sexually assaulted her for hours
Girl, 15, says Georgia police officer sexually assaulted her for hours

A Georgia police officer is under investigation after a 15-year-old girl accused him of sexual assault. The girl’s mother told Atlanta's WSB-TV that her daughter was terrified and eventually told her about the incident. “She just broke down and was crying,” the girl’s mother told WSB-TV's Mark Winne. The...
Dramatic video shows father and son's drive through Montana wildfire
Dramatic video shows father and son's drive through Montana wildfire

A father and son trip in Montana's Glacier National Park took a turn for the worst in an instant as a raging wildfire ripped through the area. Charles Bilton and his son Justin were backcountry camping earlier in August when they got caught in a bad situation. A wildfire had engulfed more than 2,000 acres and was going for more. The duo was in their...
2018 MTV VMAs: Madonna criticized for Aretha Franklin tribute
2018 MTV VMAs: Madonna criticized for Aretha Franklin tribute

One of the biggest nights in music celebrated achievements in music videos, and took some time out to honor the late Queen of Soul. Close to the very end of the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards, the life of Aretha Franklin, who died of pancreatic cancer at age 76 Aug. 16, was celebrated.  >> Read more trending news  Returning for a commercial...
More Stories