23 February, 2018, 12:00 am
WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that arming teachers could help prevent massacres like last week’s mass shooting at a Florida high school, voicing support for an idea backed by the National Rifle Association gun rights group.
Mr Trump made the comment during an emotional hour-long White House meeting with students who survived the Florida shooting and a parent whose child did not.
Hundreds of students joined scattered protests across the country on Wednesday, including in Washington, Chicago and Pittsburgh.
The Republican President, who has championed gun rights and was endorsed by the NRA during the 2016 campaign, said he would move quickly to tighten background checks for gun buyers and would consider raising the age for buying certain types of guns.
He spoke at length about how armed teachers and security guards could frighten off potential school shooters and prevent student deaths.
“If you had a teacher … who was adept at firearms, it could very well end the attack very quickly,” said Mr Trump.
The attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and educators were slain on February 14 by a gunman with an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle in the second-deadliest shooting at a US public school, has revived the long-running US debate over gun rights.
The US Constitution protects the right of Americans to bear arms, a right fiercely defended by Republicans. But Mr Trump has been under pressure to act.
Some of the participants at the meeting indicated support for Mr Trump’s idea of arming teachers. Others were opposed.