WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Donald Trump, who’s been highly critical of the law enforcement response to the Florida school shootings, says he would have rushed in, unarmed, if he’d been there.
Speaking to a roomful of governors at the White House, Trump said Monday, “You don’t know until you’re tested, but I think I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon, and I think most of the people in this room would have done that, too.”
Trump’s heroic hypothetical vividly demonstrated his frustration at the way the deadly events unfolded at the school in Parkland, Florida.
His session with the governors, in Washington for their annual winter meeting, was heavily focused on finding ways to address the massacre of 17 students and teachers in a Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It was the latest gathering in which the president spoke of a need to enact new gun-control measures as well as act to improve school safety.
Trump said his recent calls for the arming of many teachers wasn’t a universal one, instead likening it to taking advantage of educators with athletic talents to provide additional protection within schools.
“The headline was ‘Trump wants all teachers to have guns. Trump wants teachers to have guns.’ I don’t want teachers to have guns,” the president said. “I want highly trained people that have a natural talent, like hitting a baseball or hitting a golf ball or putting.”
As for his statement about what he would have done personally, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “He was saying that he would be a leader and would want to take a courageous action, and a lot of the individuals that helped protect others that day weren’t carrying firearms, which I think shows that you can be helpful in that process.”
Trump said anew that he was disappointed in officers who didn’t stop the gunman, calling their performance “frankly disgusting.”
“They really weren’t exactly Medal of Honor winners,” Trump said.
The president also said he had a weekend lunch with key leaders of the National Rifle Association and said they all agreed they “want to do something” to address gun violence and school safety.
Trump told the governors there is “no bigger fan of the Second Amendment than me,” but there’s a need to boost background checks and ensure that a “sicko” is unable to get a gun.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy attended the meeting, but New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not.
Seventeen students and teachers were killed in the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, sparking a public outcry for new gun-control measures as well as action to improve school safety.
Trump has floated numerous ideas since the shooting, including raising the minimum age for the purchase of assault-style weapons, improving background checks for gun purchases, arming educators and paying them bonuses, and re-opening mental institutions.
“I think we’re going to have a great bill put forward very soon having to do with background checks, having to do with getting rid of certain things and keeping other things, and perhaps we’ll do something on age, because it doesn’t seem to make sense that you have to wait until you are 21 years old to get a pistol, but to get a gun like this maniac used in the school, you get that at 18,” Trump said during a late Saturday telephone interview with Fox News Channel. “That doesn’t make sense.”
The NRA opposes raising the minimum age to buy a gun.
“This is really a discussion about banning all semi-automatic firearms and I wish that we could be genuine in our discussion of that,” said NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch. “That’s the position on AR-15 and AR-15s are going to be in that school protecting students and teachers when they return back to class.”
Trump’s session with the governors Monday was the latest in which he solicits ideas for stopping gun violence at schools as the White House works to finalize an expected legislative proposal.
He renewed his criticism of former Broward County Sheriff’s deputy Scot Peterson, though Peterson’s lawyer said in Florida that accusations are untrue that he acted unprofessionally and cowardly during the shooting.
Lawyer Joseph DiRuzzo said Monday that the school resource officer didn’t enter the high school because it sounded like the shooting was happening outside the building.
Trump wasn’t impressed.
“Look what he did in Broward where he thought he was probably a brave guy, but he wasn’t a brave guy under pressure,” the president said. “He choked and other people choked. A lot of people choked in that case.”
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)