US President Donald Trump, defending his controversial proposal to arm some of America’s teachers, yesterday said that a teacher with a gun would have “shot the hell” out of the teenager who went on a shooting rampage last week at a Florida high school.
Trump, in a speech to a conservative gathering near Washington, also called for stronger background checks for gun buyers and criticised an armed deputy who failed to intervene during the shooting at the Parkland, Florida, school which left 17 people dead.
Florida Governor Rick Scott announced plans meanwhile to station a police officer at every public school in the southern state and that the age for gun buyers would be raised from 18 to 21.
Trump, speaking to a receptive crowd of thousands of fellow Republicans at the Conservative Political Action Conference, said “well-trained” teachers could help stop school shootings.
“Maybe 10% or 20% of the population of teachers,” he said. “Not all of ‘em, but you would have a lot. And the beauty is it’s concealed,” Trump said.
Referring to Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who attacked his former classmates at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last Wednesday, Trump said “a teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened.”
Trump also criticised by name the sheriff’s deputy who allegedly failed to take any action against Cruz during the shooting spree. “You had one guard. He didn’t turn out to be too good,” the president said. “He was not a credit to law enforcement.”
Leaving the White House for the CPAC event, Trump had even harsher words for the deputy, Scot Peterson. “When it came time to get in there and do something he didn’t have the courage or something happened,” Trump told reporters. “But he certainly did a poor job. There’s no question about that. They didn’t react properly under pressure or they were a coward,” he said.
The Broward County sheriff said Thursday that Peterson had resigned after being suspended without pay.
Speaking at a news conference in the state capital Tallahassee, Florida Governor Scott unveiled a $450mn plan aimed at improving school safety. “I am proposing at least one law enforcement officer for every 1,000 students,” Scott said of stationing police officers in schools. “My focus is on providing more law enforcement officers, not on arming the teachers,” he added.
Scott also announced plans to raise the minimum age to purchase firearms from 18 to 21 and ban “bump stocks,” an accessory which turns a semi-automatic weapons into an automatic one.
In his speech to CPAC, Trump praised the National Rifle Association (NRA), the powerful gun lobby which has long advocated for more armed security at US schools. “They’re friends of mine, they backed us,” Trump said of the NRA. “They’re great people. They’re patriots.”
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