Following a growing wave of activism in the wake of a deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, President Trump has offered a series of contradictory and confusing statements about his stance on gun control. In listening sessions with survivors of the shooting, Trump suggested arming teachers as a solution to the problem. Now, he's taking his first steps to make his proposal a reality — amidst refusals to implement other policy changes.
Trump's proposal is now in the process of becoming more formalized. Along with programs to train teachers in firearms, Trump plans on bolstering background checks for potential gun owners, expanding mental health programs in schools, and encouraging military and police personnel to become educators, according to NBC.
Conspicuously absent from the plan is an increase in the minimum age required to purchase firearms — an idea the President had breifly considered.
Betsy DeVos, the Education Secretary, had discussed the issues of mass shootings in a conference call with reporters. She says she is beginning a new commission to study America's "culture of violence" and called Trump's proposals a "pragmatic plan to dramatically increase school safety." She was somewhat vague while discussing her thoughts on arming teachers.
“This is an issue that is best decided by local communities and by states,” DeVos said, according to NBC. "The point is that schools should have this tool if they choose to use the tool...but nobody should be mandated to do it."
In the same conversation, DeVos defended the NRA.
"They are patriots that love our country, so they want to find ways to help," she said.
An unnamed source added that Trump had no specific deadline to implement the proposal.
Proposals to arm teachers have been met with considerable criticism. Both shooting survivors and The National Education Association have denounced the idea, according to The Washington Post.
Democrats have similarly been critical of the lack of action taken by the current administration in the wake of the shooting.
“The White House has taken tiny baby steps designed not to upset the NRA, when the gun violence epidemic in this country demands that giant steps be taken,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said in a statement, according to The Washington Post. “Democrats in the Senate will push to go further including passing universal background checks, actual federal legislation on protection orders, and a debate on banning assault weapons.”
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