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Trump Vows to 'Turn Our Grief into Action' on School Shootings


President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with the members of the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 26, 2018.

President Donald Trump told the nation's governors he will sign an order banning the sale of bump stocks no matter what Congress does or doesn't do.

"The bullets come out fast, but you don't know where they're going. So, we're going to get rid of them," Trump said. "I don't care if Congress acts. I'm writing it out myself."

The gunman who killed more than 50 people in Las Vegas in October 2017 used a device called a bump stock, which allows a semi-automatic gun to fire more bullets in a shorter amount of time.

Trump held a White House meeting with governors Monday to talk about ways to prevent another school massacre, two weeks after a troubled former student allegedly killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida.

Gov. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., right, speaks about school safety during an event with President Donald Trump and members of the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 26, 2018.
Gov. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., right, speaks about school safety during an event with President Donald Trump and members of the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 26, 2018.

Trump said it is time "to turn our grief into action." His proposals include the possibility of arming select teachers and school personnel, who would be "highly trained people that have a natural talent, like hitting a baseball or hitting a golf ball."

The president said a school that is a gun-free zone is an invitation for "very sick people" to go there.

Washington state's Democratic Governor Jay Inslee strongly disagrees with Trump's proposal to arm some teachers. He said he spoke to a number of educators who say they do not want to carry a weapon, and to police who say they do not want to have to train them.

"We need to listen that educators should educate and they should not be foisted upon this responsibility of packing heat in first-grade classes," Inslee told Trump.

Later Monday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump is listening to voices from all sides of the gun debate.

Bucking the National Rifle Association, Sanders said there is support for "the concept" of raising the minimum age for buying assault-type weapons.

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The accused Florida shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was armed with an AR-15 rifle.

Sanders also said the president supports the idea of strengthening background checks.

Trump said he had lunch over the weekend with three top NRA officials. The powerful organization supported Trump for president and contributes heavily to politicians who tout gun rights, the overwhelming number of whom are Republicans.

But Trump said, "There's nothing to be afraid of. Don't worry about the NRA. They're on our side," even if "we have to fight them" on some gun control ideas.

Trump said there was "no bigger fan of the NRA" than him, but that "we don't want to have sick people having the right to a gun. We're going to have stronger background checks" of gun buyers.

Trump said it was "pretty sad" that an armed Florida deputy sheriff, Scot Peterson, stood outside and did not run into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the shooting.

The president declared, "I really believe I'd run in there even if I didn't have a weapon."

Sanders tried to clarify the president's remarks by saying "as a leader, he would have stepped in and been able to help ... would want to take a courageous action." Sanders said others who helped during the shooting were unarmed.

FILE - This Feb. 18, 2015 image taken from video provided by Broward County Public Schools shows school resource officer Scot Peterson during a school board meeting of Broward County, Fla.
FILE - This Feb. 18, 2015 image taken from video provided by Broward County Public Schools shows school resource officer Scot Peterson during a school board meeting of Broward County, Fla.

Peterson was suspended, and then resigned. He spoke out for the first time Monday, saying in a statement that he believed the gunfire was coming from outside the school. He said he did what he was trained to do by seeking cover and assessing the situation and taking up a "tactical position."

Peterson denied being a coward and said it is "patently untrue" that he failed to meet the county's standards.

Peterson's lawyer calls Sheriff Scott Israel's accounts of his client's actions that day a "gross oversimplification."

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel speaks before the start of a CNN town hall meeting in Sunrise, Florida, Feb. 21, 2018.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel speaks before the start of a CNN town hall meeting in Sunrise, Florida, Feb. 21, 2018.

Israel has said "It makes me sick to my stomach that he didn't go in," calling Peterson's actions "dereliction of duty."

A new CNN poll shows growing support for more expansive gun controls, with 70 percent favoring new restrictions, compared to 52 percent in an October poll not long after the Las Vegas mass shooting.

VOA's Ken Bredemeier contributed to this report.

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