Trump says teachers who carry guns at school should get bonuses for keeping their students safe

Mr Trump floated the idea of giving anywhere between 10 and 40 per cent bonuses to teachers with guns

Clark Mindock
New York
Thursday 22 February 2018 20:36 GMT
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Mr Trump during a meeting at the White House alongside Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and US Attorney General Jeff Sessions
Mr Trump during a meeting at the White House alongside Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and US Attorney General Jeff Sessions (AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump says he thinks teachers who bring guns to school should get cash bonuses for their efforts to protect students.

Speaking before a meeting with Parkland, Florida Mayor Christine Hunschofsky and members of his cabinet, Mr Trump reiterated his belief that educators should bring weapons to school to try and deter attacks like the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting last week that left 17 people dead.

"I want certain highly adept people, people who understand weaponry, guns... [and] a concealed [carry] permit," Mr Trump said, describing his vision for armed classrooms.

Since the Parkland shooting last week, Mr Trump has repeatedly blamed mental health care deficiencies for the epidemic of gun violence in the United States, and suggested that giving teachers guns could reduce deaths.

Those teachers, Mr Trump suggested Thursday, should get some extra cash if they pack heat. He floated the idea of giving 10 per cent, 20 per cent, or even 40 per cent bonuses to educators who bring their firearms to school, and who undergo "rigorous training" beforehand.

During a meeting with student survivors of mass shootings and their parents Wednesday in the White House, Mr Trump asked those in attendance whether they would support arming teachers in schools, to mixed review. He also suggested that he is interested in exploring increasing awareness of mental health issues, and said that he is considering an end to gun free school zones as well.

The President said Thursday that he does not think that simply boosting the number of armed guards in schools would be enough to stop school shootings. But, he said, would-be shooters who know that any teacher might have a gun could act as a deterrent.

"You can't hire enough security guards... You need 100, 150 security guards. But you could have concealed [guns] on the teacher," Mr Trump said.

And, adding robust infrastructure improvements to that equation could also save lives, he said.

"I want my schools protected just like I want my banks protected. We have to harden our sites. If you harden the sites you're not going to have this problem. When you say this school is gun free... that's what they want to hear. We have to harden our schools, not soften them up," Mr Trump said.

When pressed on the issue, White House spokesperson Raj Shah said that the administration is looking at ways to improve safety at schools while avoiding the ban on sales of an entire class of firearms like semi-automatic rifles. Mr Shah recognised that priorities might change as the White House determines what is and is not plausible in terms of solutions, including the arming of thousands of teachers, and the budget for bonuses for teachers who carry guns at work.

"When you have a horrific situation like you had last week, and some other school shootings we've seen these horrible tragedies, what we think and we don't think is practical can change," Mr Shah said.

Since the shooting in Parkland, a vocal group of student survivors have been putting pressure on their state and national governments, promising that they will advocate for gun control reforms so that their school will be the last school shooting in America. The pressure has focused attention on the issue for the past week, and has resulted in Mr Trump holding a series of meetings with students and stakeholders to discuss potential reforms that could be implemented to improve school safety.

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