President Donald Trump is disregarding his own initial comments in support of raising the age to purchase the military-style weapon used to murder 17 people and injure 15 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last month.
As MyAJC.com reports today, Trump has now shifted focus back to arming teachers, an idea meeting with widespread resistance from the profession.
“I am sickened by those doing the bidding of the gun lobby, and those like President Trump and Betsy DeVos who want an arms race and to turn schools into militarized fortresses by arming teachers. Anyone who wants guns in schools has no understanding of what goes on inside them—or worse, doesn’t care,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said.
(Read here what metro districts have to say about arming teachers.)
After meeting two weeks ago with survivors of the horrific Parkland, Fla., shooting and parents whose children died, Trump said, "Now, this is not a popular thing to say, in terms of the NRA. But I'm saying it anyway. You can buy a handgun -- you can't buy one; you have to wait until you're 21. But you can buy the kind of weapon used in the school shooting at 18. I think it's something you have to think about."
His comments alarmed the National Rifle Association, which immediately met with the president and was reassured, based on the tweets its leadership posted:
Now, according to MyAJC.com:
The White House on Sunday vowed to help provide "rigorous firearms training" to some schoolteachers and formally endorsed a bill to tighten the federal background checks system, but backed off President Donald Trump's earlier call to raise the minimum age to purchase some guns to 21 years old from 18 years old.
Responding directly to last month's gun massacre at a Florida high school, the administration rolled out a series of policy proposals that focus largely on mental health and school safety initiatives. The idea of arming some teachers has been controversial and has drawn sharp opposition from the National Education Association, the country's largest teachers lobby, among other groups.
Many of the student survivors have urged Washington to toughen restrictions on gun purchases, but such measures are fiercely opposed by the National Rifle Association, and the Trump plan does not include any substantial changes to gun laws.
Rather, the president is establishing a Federal Commission on School Safety, to be chaired by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, that will explore possible solutions, such as the age requirement for purchases, officials said.
“This plan from the White House is a farce. Instead of standing up to the gun lobby, the President is asking students and teachers to stand up to gunmen,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Are our lawmakers so beholden to the NRA that they’d consider asking educators to double as armed guards rather than passing common-sense gun laws? Moms Demand Action stands with America’s educators and administrators in their fight to keep guns out of schools, and we demand that our lawmakers pass legislation that would actually make us safer.”
A new poll of North Carolina teachers found more than three-quarters believe having teachers carry guns in school is a mistake, while a quarter would consider carrying if allowed.
The push to arm teachers has inspired several social media memes including this one making the rounds: