Trump says arming teachers could help prevent school massacres

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US President adds he will tighten checks for gun buyers at meeting with Florida school massacre survivors

WASHINGTON United States President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that arming teachers could help prevent massacres like last week's mass shooting at a Florida high school, voicing support for an idea backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) gun rights group.

Mr Trump made the comment during an emotional hour-long White House meeting with students who survived the Florida shooting and a parent whose child did not as hundreds of students joined scattered protests across the country.

The Republican President, who has championed gun rights and was endorsed by the NRA during the 2016 presidential election campaign, said he would move quickly to tighten background checks for gun buyers and would consider raising the minimum age for buying certain types of guns.

He spoke at length about how armed teachers and security guards could frighten off potential school shooters.

"If you had a teacher... who was adept at firearms, it could very well end the attack very quickly," he said.

The attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida - where 17 students and educators were slain on Feb 14 by a gunman with an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle - has revived the long-running US debate over gun rights.


Some of the participants at the meeting indicated support for Mr Trump's idea of arming teachers. Others were opposed.

Mr Mark Barden, whose son was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, said his wife, Jackie, a teacher, "will tell you that school teachers have more than enough responsibilities right now than to have to have the awesome responsibility of lethal force to take a life".

Mr Trump listened to ideas from about 40 people, including those from six students who survived the Florida shooting.

"I do not understand why I can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war, an AR," said student Sam Zeif, 18, sobbing after he described texting his family during the attack.

Yesterday, Mr Trump tweeted he never said to "give teachers gun", adding: "What I said was to look at the possibility of giving concealed guns to gun-adept teachers..." - AFP