On Thursday, Feb. 22, President Donald Trump responded to media coverage of a televised listening session at the White House, during which the president hosted parents and students of the Parkland, Florida community that was attacked by a gunman a week prior. At one point during the meeting, Trump talked about the idea of having teachers who were "adept at firearms," which prompted news articles about the president seemingly advocating for school instructors to be given guns. On Thursday morning, that coverage in turn prompted Donald Trump's tweets about the school shootings and the NRA, as well as about arming teachers.
Over a series of two tweets, the president wrote,
I never said 'give teachers guns' like was stated on Fake News @CNN & @NBC. What I 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's tweets amounted to statement of intent: that he plans to consider promoting the idea of empowering teachers to carry weapons while in school, but only those who are accustomed to handling firearms. During the listening session at the White House on Wednesday, Feb. 21, the president did indeed make similar remarks — that teachers "adept" at handling weapons could be a deterrent.
"And this would only be, obviously, for people that are very adept at handling a gun," Trump said during the listening session, per White House records. "And it would be — it’s called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They’d go for special training. And they would be there, and you would no longer have a gun-free zone. A gun-free zone to a maniac — because they’re all cowards — a gun-free zone is, let’s go in and let’s attack, because bullets aren’t coming back at us."
However, the president's mention of "special training" appeared to lend itself to being interpreted as an intention to encourage teachers without training as well.
During a town hall that featured members of Congress fielding questions from members of the Parkland community, a teacher, who identified herself as a Republican, asked Senator Marco Rubio if she's supposed to get extra training on gun use on top of her other duties as a teacher.
"I don’t support that, and I would admit to you right now I answer that as much as a father as I do as a senator," Sen. Rubio replied. "The notion that my kids are going to school with teachers that are armed with a weapon is not something that, quite frankly, I’m comfortable with."
Trump went on to send out five more tweets on Thursday, all related to the Parkland shooting, and the national discussion that the shooting has prompted. In one of the tweets, the president defended the NRA.
"What many people don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, is that Wayne [LaPierre, CEO of the NRA], Chris [Cox, executive director] and the folks who work so hard at the @NRA are Great People and Great American Patriots," Trump wrote. "They love our Country and will do the right thing. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"
Trump's defense of the NRA is indicative of how prevalent the organization has been within the discussion on gun control. Hours after Trump's tweets, during a speech televised on all three major cable news networks, NRA chief LaPierre argued for more security at schools.
"Evil walks among us and God help us if we don't harden our schools and protect our kids," LaPierre said.
La Pierra and Trump's arguments align with one of the more cliché arguments that reappear when national gun debates intensify: a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. Meanwhile, students and parents from the Parkland community argue for gun control.