A week after a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, left 17 people dead, President Donald Trump held a “listening session” on school shootings Wednesday. Students, teachers, and parents whose children have been murdered in school shootings begged him to do something. In return, the president suggested “concealed carry for teachers.”
Trump: "If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly, and the good thing about a suggestion like that — and we're going to be looking at it very strongly...but the good thing is you'll have a lot of [armed] people with that." pic.twitter.com/wGRSTDK38o
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 21, 2018
(As this piece in Politico asked way back in 2015, “But if these Second Amendment-purists really think that guns make places safer, if they really think that guns are an important check on government and safeguard of liberty, then why do so many of them keep their workplace—the U.S. Capitol—free of firearms?)
Trump also promised his administration would “go very strong into age, age of purchase. And we're also going to go very strong into the mental health aspect of what's going on." (Watch the full video below.)
That line came after an hour’s worth of testimony from students, parents, and teachers including students and parents from Parkland and the father of a Sandy Hook victim.
“I was born into a world where I never got to experience safety and peace,” Justin Gruber, a 15-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, told Trump.
“I’m never going to see my kid again,” said Andrew Pollack, whose daughter died in Parkland. “I want you all to know that. Never, ever, will I see my kid. I want it to sink in. It’s eternity.”
Andrew Pollack, the father of a student killed in the Parkland shooting: "How many schools, how many children have to get shot...should have been one school shooting and we should have fixed it! And I'm pissed because my daughter I'm not going to see again." pic.twitter.com/lCPEw5ftPc
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) February 21, 2018
Samuel Zeif, another Stoneman Douglas student, said he lost his best friend in the shooting and called assault rifles “weapons of war.”
Several parents called for arming teachers or other staff on campus or tightening security at schools to make them more like airports. One speaker whose sister was killed called for “more firearms on campus.”
Mark Barden, whose son died at Sandy Hook, pushed back on the idea. Barden said his wife is an educator and “she will tell you that school teachers have more than enough responsibilities right now than to have to have the awesome responsibility of lethal force to take a life.”
“Nobody wants to see a shootout in a school,” Barden said. “And a deranged sociopath on his way to commit an act of murder in a school knowing the outcome is going to be suicide is not going to care if there’s somebody there with a gun. That’s their plan anyway.”
Watch the full listening session here:
Also today, Parkland students rallied in the Florida state capitol calling for gun safety measures and chanting “enough is enough” and “vote them out.” Yesterday, the Republican-controlled Florida state House voted against considering a ban on some semiautomatic weapons and large magazines.
See more from the rally here.
Starting at 6 pm Pacific Time, CNN will host a town hall with Parkland students, the National Rifle Association, and others.