- In the wake of the Parkland, FL, school shooting, President Donald Trump has called for teachers to be armed and highly trained to deter such incidents, The New York Times reports.
- Trump suggested that federal money could be set aside for educators who receive training and carry a firearm, adding that they could get a "a little bit of a bonus" of around 10% to 40% per year for doing so.
- Additionally, the president has offered support for raising the age limit to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21, as well as enhanced background checks, though he spoke against the idea of having schools practice active shooter drills as a defensive measure.
As The New York Times notes, Trump's call to arm and train educators is one that falls in line with the National Rifle Association, which has called for such a measure in the wake of prior school shootings. Critics of such an effort, and other "good guy with a gun" rhetoric, have noted that such scenarios carry equal risk of breeding confusion for police and other first responders, as discerning who the aggressor is in a scenario where two parties are firing at each other can be difficult. Additional criticism has called into question the economic benefits for gun manufacturers if such a measure was enacted.
And while having a school full of trained, armed educators might deter a "savage sicko" trying to perpetrate such an attack, it doesn't exactly create a warm and welcoming environment conducive to learning. Additionally, holding drills in preparation for the worst, even if doing so is inconvenient and that scenario never happens, is likely to save more lives even if teachers are armed.
Public outcry in the wake of the Parkland shooting has been notably more pronounced, with intense pressure for lawmakers to put some sort of gun safety regulation in place following years of calls for change fading soon after these incidents. Notably, the president's call to arm teachers contradicts a 2016 tweet in which he wrote, "Crooked Hillary said that I want guns brought into the school classroom. Wrong!"
Crooked Hillary said that I want guns brought into the school classroom. Wrong!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 22, 2016
In a statement issued Thursday, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said, "I spoke to 60,000 educators last night in a telephone town hall. The response was universal, even from educators who are gun owners: Teachers don’t want to be armed, we want to teach. We don’t want to be, and would never have the expertise needed to be, sharp shooters; no amount of training can prepare an armed teacher to go up against an AR-15."