WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBSNewYork) – President Donald Trump spent Friday pushing his plan to prevent school shootings.
At a joint press conference with the Australian Prime Minister, Trump once again made his case for gun legislation.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, he called for stronger background checks and banning so-called bump stocks – the devices that can turn weapons into machine guns. He also elaborated on his idea of arming teachers.
“It’s very important that we have offensive capability, as well as defensive capability, that’s within the schools,” the president said.
Insisting he will take action on guns and school shootings, Trump doubled down by saying that armed security guards are not enough and trained teachers should also carry guns.
“A security guard doesn’t know the children, doesn’t love the children,” he said. “The teachers love their children, they love their pupils, they love their students. They’re doing it also for love.
“Now, they have to be very adept. I’m not talking about every teacher; I’m talking about a small percentage,” he continued.
The idea has triggered reaction and ridicule around the country.
Surrounded by teachers who returned to school for the first time since the massacre, the Broward County superintendent spoke out against the proposal in no uncertain terms Friday.
“I am totally against arming teachers,” Robert Runcie said. “Pay to have trained law enforcement professionals on campus and allow us to have more of them. Don’t put guns in the hands of teachers.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the conversation absurd.
“Giving teachers guns suggests the only thing we have to worry about is a gun attack in a school. That’s just not true. We have gun attacks in nightclubs, we have gun attacks in shopping malls. We can have gun attacks anywhere at any give time,” he said, adding that any legislation passed would only be for show. “Bump stocks, we’ll raise the age from 18 to 21 — they’ll then have the ability to say, ‘look, we did something.’ It will be meaningless. It will be pandering. It will not address the problem.”
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said let teachers teach.
“Having a gun is a big responsibility. We have issues of safeguarding the weapon, we have issues of training,” he said. “This is what law enforcement does.”
But for one science teacher in Colorado, it’s a responsibility he welcomes – volunteering to keep a nine millimeter glock concealed in his cowboy boot. A sheriff in Ohio said hundreds of teachers signed up to be trained and carry a gun.
“So when people say that they don’t want guns — the teachers don’t want to be armed — sure there are those. But there’s just as many that want to be armed and should be,” Sheriff Richard Jones said.
Trump also talked about the armed security guard Scot Peterson, who failed to go inside the Florida high school while the shooting took place.
“He decided not to go in. That was not his finest moment — I can tell you. He waited and he didn’t want to go into the school,” he said. “I just heard this and it’s a terrible situation.”
Samantha Fuentes, a student who survived the massacre, had strong words for Peterson.
“You failed us. You took an oath, and you broke your promise,” she said. “I’m disappointed in you.”
Fuentes said he never had much of a presence in the hallways.
Starting next week, school resource officers in Broward County will be armed with semiautomatic weapons. The superintendent says it’s a temporary move that’s meant to safeguard against possible copycat attacks.
With the Australian Prime Minister by his side, Trump also spoke about the nation’s strong gun laws, which were passed after a massacre killed 35 people in 1996. There have been no mass shootings in Australia since.
“They are very different countries, with very different sets of problems. But I think we are well on the way to solving that horrible problem that happens far too often in the United States,” he said.
The president also promoted his ideas on guns at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC. Earlier at the White House, he talked about still another issue he wants to address: mental illness.
“The mentally ill people that have mental problems – we cannot allow them to have guns,” he said. “So we’re going to be very strong on that. That’s going to go a long way.”
Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will return to class Wednesday.