Politics

‘Harden’ Schools to Combat Shooters, Trump Says

Calls for offensive measures, training and arming teachers

Washington, D.C., area students and supporters protest against gun violence outside the White House on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump wants to “harden” schools to secure them like banks, but the security guards he envisions would be teachers and other school employees.

For the second consecutive day, the president pitched the notion of giving firearms and specialized training to some teachers and school staffers so they could combat individuals who enter schools with the intent of killing people. He further drove home that he opposes existing laws allowing individuals under the age of 21 to purchase assault rifles.

“We have to harden or schools, not soften them up,” the president said during a Thursday meeting with state and local officials about gun violence and school shootings. Maintaining schools as “gun-free zones” makes those facilities like “going in for the ice cream” for mass shooters, he added.

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“I want certain highly adept people, people who understand weaponry, guns” to have “a concealed [carry] permit” that work in the school so they can take on school shooters. He added to his idea, saying those school employees that qualify after “rigorous training” to be armed could get a 10 percent to 40 percent bonus — but he did not specify how much that might cost or how his administration would propose to pay for the idea.

“You can't hire enough security guards.,” he said, according to a pool report released by the White House. “You need 100, 150 security guards. ... But you could have concealed on the teachers. … I want my schools protected just like I want my banks protected."

“If you harden the sites you’re not going to have this problem,” he said. “If we don’t have offensive measures within these schools, you’re just kidding yourselves folks,” he said.

The president said he has talked to lawmakers in recent days about gun violence, saying those members are “into doing background checks that maybe they wouldn’t be thinking about” before the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.

He also said officials might have to “do something” about violent video games and movies, though he did not provide specific ideas, according to a pool report released by the White House.

“We have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it,” Trump said during a meeting on the matter with state and local officials, and members of his administration. “We may have to talk about that also.”

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Trump defended the NRA after officials criticized calls for stiffer gun control laws Thursday amid the recent string of mass shootings.

“I’m the biggest believer in the Second Amendment,” Trump said. “The NRA is ready to do things. People like to blame them.”

The president also reiterated his calls that the minimum age for assault rifle purchases be set at the same level as the drinking age.

“It should all be at 21, and the NRA will back it,” he said, going against what the gun owners group and lobbying giant said earlier Thursday.

The president appeared to break with his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, about schools holding training runs for students and teachers so they know what to do if a shooter enters their school.

“Active shooter drills is a very negative thing. … I don’t like it,” he said. “I’d much rather have a hardened school. I think it’s crazy. I think it’s very hard on children.”

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