WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday expanded on his idea to train and arm some teachers with guns, suggesting that firearm-adept school staff be given “a little bit of a bonus” for carrying weapons, and promising federal funds to train them.
At a White House discussion on school safety solutions with state and local officials, Trump said “highly adept people … who understand weaponry” could carry guns in schools, estimating that 10 to 40 percent of teachers could be qualified for such a task. Those who are would undergo “rigorous training,” he said, later adding that he’d consider offering federal money for that effort.
Officials “can’t just give a teacher a gun,” he said.
Asked if he had concerns about teachers with guns making quick judgments in the chaos of a school shooting, the president said he did not, because they would be “experts.”
Earlier Thursday, Trump lashed out on Twitter at news organizations, including NBC, for saying he wanted to “give teachers guns” — an idea he supported during a meeting at the White House on Wednesday with parents and students who had lost loved ones to gun violence.
“I want my schools protected just like I want my banks protected,” Trump said at Thursday’s White House event, where he was joined by a mostly Republican group of state and local officials, with Mayor Christine Hunschofsky of Parkland, Florida, the lone identified Democrat.
The president also proposed regulating the content children consume in video games, movies and online because, he said, the “level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts” and “bad things” are happening to their minds.
“We have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it,” Trump said, adding that some movies are “so violent” but don’t feature sex so they’re often available for children to see and he wondered if some type of rating system might be necessary to address the issue.
It was unclear if the president was referring to potential changes to the current ratings systems for video games and movies, which already flag and often age-restrict such content, or was proposing a new system.
Trump also said he didn’t like the idea of schools conducting active shooter drills, calling them a “very negative thing” that are “very hard on children.”
“I wouldn’t want to tell my son that you’re going to participate in an active shooter drill,” Trump said, in a rare reference to his 11-year-old son, Barron.
Trump — who described himself Thursday as “the biggest believer in the Second Amendment” and an ally of the powerful National Rifle Association — said “there’s a tremendous feeling that we want to get something done” to prevent any more school shootings.
That feeling, Trump said, is shared by the NRA, whose leader, Wayne LaPierre, on Thursday attacked “opportunists” who he said were exploiting shootings for “political gain.”
Trump’s remarks came hours after he voiced support on Twitter for what he called the “Great American Patriots” of the NRA, while also noting areas where he would support policy changes that could restrict weapons access: more rigorous background checks, including an increased emphasis on flagging those with mental health issues; raising the minimum age for legal gun purchases to 21; and ending the sale of bump stocks that can be used to make certain weapons fire rapidly like automatic guns.
During LaPierre’s remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, which took place shortly before the White House event, the NRA leader derided some of those solutions, such as more stringent background checks, as unacceptable and ineffective.
Still, the White House has already made early moves on a few of those fronts. This week, Trump directed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to propose regulations that would ban the use of bump stocks and similar devices “that turn legal weapons into machine guns.”
The White House has also said Trump supports bipartisan legislation from Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., that would make the current national background check system function more effectively, though it wouldn’t expand the system’s reach.
On Wednesday, the president presided over a heart-wrenching White House listening session with students, parents and teachers affected by recent mass shooting tragedies — including last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
In the aftermath of that shooting, which killed 17 students and teachers, surviving students have publicly pushed for action on gun control.