WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Wednesday ignited a national furor by recommending that one in five school teachers in America be armed with guns to serve as a deterrent to potential school shooters.
The suggestion, coming amid a mounting disgust and consequent political activism on part of high school students and their parents at congressional and executive inaction on the school shooting spree in the US, outraged gun control advocates. They saw it as yet another attempt to militarize a civil society in America already awash with guns.
”@realDonaldTrump’s zeal for arming teachers is just the latest attempt to militarize civil society. Our classrooms shouldn’t look like war zones. Police departments shouldn’t view civilians as enemy combatants. An ever-expanding military erodes democracy,” was among the many thumbs down responses to the President on social media after he floated the idea at an hour-long ”listening session” with students, parents, and teachers at a carefully vetted White House event at which they begged him to do something to stop the school carnages.
One tearful parent told the President that he was ”pissed” that he now had to go to cemetery to see his daughter who was killed in the Florida shooting while pleading for action.
Trump’s answer was to arm the schools with trained teachers carrying guns. ”If the coach had a firearm in his locker, when he ran at this guy (the shooter) … he wouldn’t have had to run,” Trump said, referring to Aaron Feis, a football coach and security guard who was one of 17 people killed by a gunman last week at a High School in South Florida. ”He would have shot, and that would have been the end of it.”
After the media reported that the President wanted armed teachers, Trump finessed the idea in a series of tweets on Thursday morning, saying he ”never said ‘give teachers guns’ like was stated on Fake News @CNN & @NBC.” What he said was to look at the possibility of giving ”concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience – only the best.”
”20% of teachers, a lot, would now be able to immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions. Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this. Far more assets at much less cost than guards. A ‘gun free’ school is a magnet for bad people. ATTACKS WOULD END!” Trump tweeted.
”If a potential ‘sicko shooter’ knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won’t go there…problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won’t work!” he added.
”History shows that a school shooting lasts, on average, 3 minutes. It takes police & first responders approximately 5 to 8 minutes to get to site of crime. Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive. GREAT DETERRENT!” he said in a third tweet on the subject.
The approach horrified gun control advocates seeking tougher measures to reduce weapons and eliminate the ease with which American youth can buy weapons, but cannot buy a beer. There are over three million school teachers in the U.S for nearly 50 million public school students, and arming 20 per cent could create a new teacher-militia of 600,000, large than the country’s law enforcement force.
The prospect of an armed teacher force also jolted many gun control advocates, besides high schoolers and their parents who have erupted in protest across the country and on social media. ”Public school teachers are already educators, mentors, therapists, babysitters, writers, editors, and motivational speakers. They have enough jobs. We cannot force them to become soldiers, too. This administration is more willing to ban people rather than firearms. Let that sink in,” wrote one agitated parent.
”You are forcing teachers to buy their own school supplies cause of budgets cuts, and now you have to money to buy them all a glock and train them?” another asked.
Trump was also pilloried for phony empathy at the White House meeting when cameras with zoom lenses captured him holding cue cards tutoring him to ask the participants about their experiences and what the White House could do, along with a reminder to say, ”I hear you.” Elsewhere, pro-gun lawmakers and lobbyists were called ”murderers” in public forums even as highschoolers began to organize themselves politically to make themselves heard in the November elections.
”We’ve had enough of thoughts and prayers… we are coming after every single one of you and demanding that you take action, demanding that you make a change,” Delaney Tarr, a Florida school shooting survivor warned lawmakers bankrolled by the National Rifle Association (NRA) in remarks to network television.