In an effort to prevent more school shootings, President Donald Trump suggested teachers should learn to arm themselves and, as a reward, will receive bonuses. Trump made the proposal in the wake of the recent school shooting in Florida, which claimed the lives of 17 people, mostly teenagers.
Trump held a meeting on Thursday with law enforcement officials to address the issues of school shootings and gun control. Trump reiterated the need for school teachers to be armed and prepared to use the guns in such horrid scenarios, according to CNN. Trump clarified that he is talking about “highly adept” teachers “who understand weaponry, guns.”
“What I’d recommend doing is the people that do carry, we give them a bonus,” Trump said. “We give them a little bonus.”
“They’ll frankly feel more comfortable having the gun anyway. But you give them a little bit of a bonus.”
Trump explained that people who intend to do harm will think otherwise if they know teachers or staff members in the school are armed.
“These people are cowards,” Trump said. “They’re not going to walk into a school if 20% of the teachers have guns – it may be 10% or may be 40%.”
Trump also said some teachers can get training to handle firearms so they will be able to “immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions.”
Trump first broached the idea of arming teachers during his meeting on Wednesday with students, teachers, and families of victims of school shootings, including the recent one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Aside from allowing qualified teachers to have guns in school, Trump also recommended the age limit for people to buy semi-automatic rifles be increased from 18 to 21. Trump also showed support for measures regarding gun control including a more comprehensive background check while also suggesting the importance of mental health institutions.
“I said this yesterday when we had a mental institution where you take a sicko like this guy – he was a sick guy, so many signs – and you bring him to a mental health institution, those institutions are largely closed because communities didn’t want him.”
Some experts disagreed with Trump and his proposal to arm teachers, describing it as “crazy” and “stupid,” as reported by NBC News.
Dr. David Hemenway of the Harvard School of Public Health, an expert on the impact of gun violence on public health, joked that the “crazy proposal” is akin to handing out guns to airline passengers as they board planes to prevent hijacking.
Avery Gardiner of the Brady Campaign to prevent Gun Violence described Trump’s proposal as a “colossally stupid idea.” Gardiner said the belief that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” is not true.
She indicated that having firearms in school may lead to other issues. Gardiner cited the possibility of a teacher accidentally leaving his or her gun “unlocked in the desk drawer” and the danger of a student chancing upon it. She also said schools will have to deal with the additional burden of making sure the “teachers are safe to carry guns.”
Trump also pointed out the dangers of “gun-free zones” as he explained the need for teachers to have guns. Trump believes a gun-free school is an open invitation for murderers.
“We have to harden those schools, not soften them,” Trump said. “A gun-free zone, to a killer, or somebody that wants to be a killer, that’s going in for the ice cream. That’s like saying, “‘Here I am, take me.'”
“They see that as such a beautiful target. They live for gun-free zones.”
White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said Trump’s proposal to arm teachers with guns has yet to reach “policy or legislative point.” Shah also said the possible cost if the proposal is implemented, which will likely include the bonuses, “hasn’t been fleshed out” yet. He did point out that spending a lot on the plan – which is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars – isn’t “too much to pay for school safety.”