On Wednesday, Feb. 21, President Donald Trump met with survivors of the Parkland school shooting and family members of those who were killed on Feb. 14. The meeting was supposed to be a listening session for the president to hear from the victims and families to discuss what could be done to increase students' safety from gun violence. During the meeting, a photo of Trump's Parkland shooting meeting notes was snapped, and its contents raised a lot of eyebrows across social media.
One photo of the notes was taken by Chip Somodevilla of Getty Images. It shows the president, with his white shirt monogrammed "45," as in 45th president, holding a set of notes on White House letterhead paper. Another photo of the notes, taken by Carolyn Kaster for the Associated Press, shows a fuller list of notes on the paper.
In total, there are five notes written in pen for the president:
- What would you most want me to know about your experience?
- What can we do to help you feel safe?
- [Note not fully show in photos, but includes asking the students if they see something "effective"]
- Resources? Ideas
- I hear you.
You can see the AP photo of Trump's meeting notes here, as tweeted by MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin:
It was that fifth point in particular that rankled a lot of people on social media. While it was understandable to want to have some notes for such an intense conversation, many people were concerned that the president needed a reminder to tell the students and family members at a "listening session" that he was listening to them. Many took issue with the concept that Trump apparently had to be prompted to show empathy to the survivors of a horrific mass shooting that left 17 students and educators dead.
Writer Jenna Mullins tweeted, "Trump has to have notes that remind him to have empathy and compassion," while MSNBC's The MaddowBlog published a post declaring that "Donald Trump is reminded of his empathy gap."
Outside of Trump's notes, the listening session itself had some notable moments.
This included Parkland shooting survivor Samuel Zeif's speech about the shooting and its impact on his life. The 18-year-old said,
Senior year and junior year are big years for me when I turned my academics around, started connecting with teachers, and actually started enjoying school. And now I don't know how I'm ever going to step foot in that place again or go to a public park after school or walk anywhere. ... I turned 18 the day after, woke up to the news that my best friend was gone, and I don't understand why I can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war, an AR. I was reading today that a person 20 years old walked into a store and bought an AR-15 in five minutes with an expired ID.
The meeting also made headlines for Trump's comments about gun control. Since 17 people were killed in their school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students have been vocal about their desire for stricter gun control so that someone cannot access assault weapons — or at least, so that it's more difficult for someone to access assault weapons.
During the meeting, the president indicated that he would support some efforts aimed to lessen gun violence in schools, but his points did not match what the students have been calling for. Instead, Trump discussed allowing "people that are very adept at handling a gun," including teachers, have concealed carry rights in schools. This idea has been largely criticized by the right, especially as it falls into the common "good guy with a gun" concept. In a series of tweets on Thursday morning, Trump defended his idea to arm teachers who are "gun adept." He added that the NRA is full of "Great People and Great American Patriots." His Thursday morning tweetstorm concluded, "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"
It was a far cry from "I hear you."