"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."
- President Donald Trump blasted NBC and CNN for spreading what he called "Fake News" for reporting that he would "give teachers guns" to stop school shootings.
- Trump made a more nuanced point about arming teachers in tweets and at a listening session on Wednesday, but he did mention the idea.
- In subsequent tweets, the president doubled down on his support for concealed carry in schools.
- Trump has signaled a willingness to enact some forms of gun control, but it remains to be seen if he'll make a major push toward regulating firearms, as many at the listening session urged him to do.
President Donald Trump blasted NBC and CNN for spreading what he called "Fake News" for reporting that he would "give teachers guns" to combat the growing epidemic of school shootings in the US.
"I never said 'give teachers guns' like was stated on Fake News
@CNN & @NBC." Tweeted Trump on Thursday morning, referring to a listening session he held with high school teachers and students on Wednesday.
"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," he said in a follow-up tweet. 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 suggests arming teachers to prevent school shootings," a headline on NBC News' homepage read on Thursday morning. "Trump suggests arming teachers as a solution to increase school safety," a CNN headline ran.
During the listening session, Trump suggested trying concealed carry to protect schools, but said "it only works where you have people very adept at using firearms."
"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," Trump said on Wednesday. "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."
He then asked the group, which was mostly made up of school shooting survivors and their families, if they supported the idea. Most said they didn't.
Trump isn't the first to talk about arming teachers as a response to school shootings. A participant at the listening session brought it up, and other conservatives have floated the idea before.
In follow-up tweets on Thursday morning, Trump doubled down on his support for concealed carry in schools.
"History shows that a school shooting lasts, on average, 3 minutes," he tweeted. "It takes police & first responders approximately 5 to 8 minutes to get to site of crime. Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive. GREAT DETERRENT!"
The president continued: "If a potential "sicko shooter" knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won’t go there...problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won't work!"
'An actual discussion'
During the session, Trump mainly listened after making opening remarks. In conclusion he thanked the students and teachers for their time and sentiments.
Aaron Blake, a senior political reporter for the Washington Post gave the White House credit for the event. "Much credit to the White House: This is not a photo-op. It's an actual discussion," Blake tweeted.
Trump, as a Republican president who has weathered criticism from his own side of the aisle, has already signaled a willingness to enact some forms of gun control, and could potentially get something major done.
But the National Rifle Association has loyally campaigned for Trump, and it's unclear so far if he's willing to publicly cross them.
In the last post of his tweetstorm on Thursday morning, Trump outlined gun control policies he supports.
"I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health," he tweeted. "Raise age to 21 and end sale of Bump Stocks! Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue - I hope!"