At 'listening session' on school shootings, Trump urges giving teachers guns

At a White House “listening session” on school shootings Wednesday, President Trump argued that arming teachers and staff was potentially the best way to prevent tragedies such as last week’s massacre at Parkland, Fla.

Concealed carry, Trump said, “only works where you have people very adept at using firearms, of which you have many. And it would be teachers and coaches.”

Referring to  Aaron Feis, the assistant football coach and security guard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who was one of 17 people killed in the Parkland shooting, Trump continued: “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.”

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President Trump holds a listening session to discuss school safety
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President Trump holds a listening session to discuss school safety
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Samuel Zeif wipes tears next to Nicole Hockley of Sandy Hook Promise as U.S. President Donald Trump hosts a listening session with high school shooting survivors and students to discuss school safety at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US President Donald Trump (C), with US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (2nd L) and Vice President Muike Pence (2nd R), bows his head during a prayer before taking in a listening session on gun violence with teachers and students in the State Dining Room of the White House on February 21, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was one of the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, center, speaks during a listening session with U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, on gun violence with high school students, teachers and parents in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. Trump promised on Wednesday to act quickly to prevent more school shootings as often-tearful, occasionally angry survivors and parents of victims poured out their frustration to him in a remarkable White House meeting. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump holds his prepared questions as he hosts a listening session with high school students and teachers to discuss school safety at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Parent Melissa Blank (L) and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting surviving students Jonathan Blank (C) and Julia Cordover (R) listen to other survivors and the families of victims as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a listening session to discuss school safety and shootings at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks watches as US President Donald Trump takes part in a listening session on gun violence with teachers and students in the State Dining Room of the White House on February 21, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US Vice President Mike Pence takes part in a listening session on gun violence with teachers and students in the State Dining Room of the White House on February 21, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump takes part in a listening session on gun violence with teachers and students in the State Dining Room of the White House on February 21, 2018. Trump promised more stringent background checks on gun owners Wednesday as he hosted a group of students who survived last week's mass shooting at a Florida high school. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Nicole Hockley, mother of a slain Sandy Hook Elementary School student, attends a listening session hosted by U.S. President Donald Trump for school shooting survivors and students in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting surviving students Jonathan Blank (2nd L) and Julia Cordover (2nd R) as well as Jonathan's mother Melissa Blank (L) listen along with U.S. President Donald Trump as survivors and the relatives of victims speak during a listening session with high school students, family members and teachers to discuss school safety and guns at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018 REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 21: (AFP OUT) Andrew Pollack (2nd L), whose daughter Meadow Pollack was shot to death last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is joined by his sons as he addresses a listening session with U.S. President Donald Trump in the State Dining Room at the White House February 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump hosted the session about school safety in the wake of last week's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 students and teachers dead. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump hosts a listening session with high school students and teachers to discuss school safety at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018 REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 21: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump hosts a listening session with student survivors of school shootings, their parents, teachers and others in the State Dining Room at the White House February 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump hosted the session in the wake of last week's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 students and teachers dead. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for a listening session with high school students and teachers to discuss school safety at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018 REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump hosts a listening session with high school students and teachers to discuss school safety at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Samuel Zeif cries after his remarks to U.S. President Donald Trump during his listening session with school shooting survivors and students at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to host a listening session with high school students who survived the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and teachers to discuss school safety at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018 REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Samuel Zeif, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student, cries after speaking at a listening session with U.S. President Donald Trump, second right, on gun violence with high school students, teachers and parents in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. Trump promised on Wednesday to act quickly to prevent more school shootings as often-tearful, occasionally angry survivors and parents of victims poured out their frustration to him in a remarkable White House meeting. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US President Donald Trump takes part in a listening session on gun violence with teachers and students in the State Dining Room of the White House on February 21, 2018. Trump vows 'strong background checks' as he met with school shooting survivors. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting surviving students Jonathan Blank receives a hug from Sandy Hook parent Mark Barden (back to camera), whose son Daniel was a victim of the Sandy Hook School shooting in Connecticut, after U.S. President Donald Trump held a listening session with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors and students at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump departs after a listening session with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors and students at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School parent Andrew Pollack discusses the death of his daughter Meadow in the Parkland school shooting as he and his sons attend a listening session on school safety and shootings with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos takes part in a listening session on gun violence with teachers and students in the State Dining Room of the White House on February 21, 2018. Trump vows 'strong background checks' as he met with school shooting survivors. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Samuel Zeif gestures a "zero" and says that he believes Australia solved their school shooting problem by banning firearms, when delivering his remarks to U.S. President Donald Trump during his listening session with school shooting survivors and students at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Samuel Zeif (L) talks about a friend who was shot and killed as he delivers his remarks to U.S. President Donald Trump during a listening session with school shooting survivors and students at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 21: (AFP OUT) White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (C) and White House Communications Director Hope Hicks (R) attends a listening session hosted by U.S. President Donald Trump with student survivors of school shootings, their parents and teachers in the State Dining Room at the White House February 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump is hosting the session in the wake of last week's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 students and teachers dead. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 21: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump (R) greets Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor Jonathan Blank and his mother Melissa Blank (L) before hosting a listening session school shooting survivors, their parents, teachers and others in the State Dining Room at the White House February 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump hosted the session in the wake of last week's mass shooting at the high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 students and teachers dead. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a listening session on gun violence with high school students, teachers and parents in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. Trump promised on Wednesday to act quickly to prevent more school shootings as often-tearful, occasionally angry survivors and parents of victims poured out their frustration to him in a remarkable White House meeting. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump, right, greets Samuel Zeif, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student, at a listening session on gun violence with high school students, teachers and parents in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. Trump promised on Wednesday to act quickly to prevent more school shootings as often-tearful, occasionally angry survivors and parents of victims poured out their frustration to him in a remarkable White House meeting. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US President Donald Trump listens as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Carson Abt speaks during a listening session on gun violence with teachers and students in the State Dining Room of the White House on February 21, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Trump went on to say that his administration would look “very strongly” at allowing concealed carry weapons in schools even though he knew “a lot of people are going to be opposed to it.”

It’s not the first time Trump has expressed the view that the only way to stop mass shootings is with more guns rather than fewer. During the 2016 presidential race, Trump pledged to end gun-free zones in schools “on my first day.”

“I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools — you have to — and on military bases on my first day. It gets signed my first day,” Trump told supporters in Burlington, Vermont, a position supported by the National Rifle Association.

Two years later, and more than a year after taking office, he’s still talking about doing it.

“A teacher would have a concealed gun on them and they’d go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone,” Trump said. “Gun-free zone to a maniac, because they’re all cowards, a gun-free zone is, ‘let’s go in and let’s attack, because bullets aren’t coming back at us.'”

Trump did pledge to support stronger background check laws, which would require congressional action, and said he would look into raising the legal age that one could purchase a firearm.

The White House event proved extraordinary in several respects, bringing together survivors of mass shootings, their parents, siblings, local government officials and educators for a free-wheeling discussion on how best to curb the epidemic of gun violence in the nation’s schools.

“You think everyone’s kids are safe? I didn’t think it was going to happen to me,” said Andrew Pollack, whose daughter was killed in Parkland. “If I knew that, I would have been at the school every day… Let’s get together, work with the president and fix the schools.”

Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky described spending the last week attending funerals in her “family oriented” city.

“I spoke to Jennifer and Tony Montalto, they just buried their daughter Gina yesterday,” Hunschofsky said. “And their comments were, Tony is an airline pilot  He supports the Second Amendment but he does not believe there is a need for assault rifles.”

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Therapy dogs offer help after the Florida shooting
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Therapy dogs offer help after the Florida shooting
PARKLAND, FL. - February 15: One day after the deadly shooting at Marjorie Stonemason Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead and 14 injured, people gather for a memorial at Parkridge Church, on February 15, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. A group of children gather around a therapy dog at the vigil. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 16: Two women hug while surrounded by comfort dogs at a memorial site to honor victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, at Pine Trail Park on February 16, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for killing 17 people at the high school. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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This is Jacob, he’s a “comfort dog” whose been to Las Vegas, Orlando and now Parkland to comfort victims of mass sh… https://t.co/a4pRIkffmm
Emergency Appeal: LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Deploy to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School - Parkland, Florida in Response to Mass Shooting - If you are moved to help with travel expenses, please visit the link in our profile. #parkland #marjorystonemandouglas #florida #dogs #dogsofinstagram #dogstagram #travel #traveling #travelgram #goldenretriever #animals #love #comfort
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Humane Society of Broward County Animal Assisted Therapy dogs arrive at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Sunday, February 25, 2018, for an open house as parents and students returned to the school for the first time since 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at the school in Parkland on February 14, 2018. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
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Sam Zeif, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, described sending text messages to his brother and parents wondering if he’d ever see them again.

“I can’t feel comfortable in my country knowing that people have, will have, are ever going to feel like this. I want to feel safe at school.”

Zeif cited gun restrictions enacted in Australia following a school shooting in 1996.

“Can anyone here guess how many shootings there have been in the schools since then in Australia?” Zeif asked. “Zero.”

Perhaps the only thing that everyone in the room agreed upon, however,  was that they wanted Parkland to be the last school shooting ever.

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