Mar 12, 2018
Trump Vows To Train And Arm Certain Teachers, Tighten Gun Background Checks
On Sunday, the White House vowed to fight gun violence in schools after last month's horrific school shooting by offering “rigorous firearms training” for certain teachers and tighter federal background checks while backing off from President Trump’s earlier suggestion to raise the minimum age to purchase guns from 18 to 20 years old.
The idea of arming schoolteachers did not originate with President Trump, yet it remains sharply controversial and is highly criticized by teachers' lobby groups and others.
Trump plans to establish a Federal Commission on School Safety to be chaired by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who described the administration's efforts as “a pragmatic plan to dramatically increase school safety.” The Commission will explore possible solutions, including the age requirement for purchases.
“We are committed to working quickly because there’s no time to waste,” DeVos said on a conference call with reporters on Sunday evening, according to the Washington Post. “No student, no family, no teacher and no school should have to live the horror of Parkland or Sandy Hook or Columbine again.”
After the persistent and impassioned demands for gun control reform from some of the survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, Trump said he was personally "moved" and raised the priority of school safety in his administration, initially calling for a raise to the minimum age to purchase a gun.
“Now, this is not a popular thing to say, in terms of the NRA. But I’m saying it anyway,” Trump said in a February meeting with lawmakers. “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.”
In an effort to “harden our schools against attack," arming certain teachers has been a highlight of Trump's plan. During a Feb. 22 listening session at the White House with teachers, students and parents, the president said, “A 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."
Andrew Bremberg, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council said that the administration will start working with states to provide “rigorous firearms training” to teachers and other school staff who volunteer to be armed.
The administration also plans to integrate mental health, primary care, and family services programs in their efforts. The president has also ordered a full audit and review of the FBI tip line in light of the fact that the bureau ignored a warning that 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz was a "school shooter in the making" just weeks before the attack.
“The president is determined to get to the root of the various societal issues that lead to violence in our country,” Bremberg added. “No stone will be unturned.”