In the wake of another US school massacre, Trump unbelievably suggested that arming teachers is the answer – what would it take for America to really ban guns?
How do you eradicate American teens’ fears that someone might bring a gun to their school? Make sure there are loads of guns in the school already, according to Donald Trump.
Yesterday, the president met with the families and survivors of the Parkland, Florida massacre that killed 17 people on February 14. Still shaken, they went expecting answers and suggestions that would prevent future school shootings. However, true to form, the President remains convinced that the only way to prevent the use of guns is making sure absolutely everyone has one.
“If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms they could very well end the attack very quickly," Trump proposed. “Where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them they would go for special training and they would be there, and you would no longer have a gun-free zone.”
Gun-free zones were created by President Bush in the 90s. The law makes it illegal to have a firearm near schools. “A gun-free zone, to a maniac, because they are all cowards, a gun-free zone is, ‘let’s go in and let’s attack’”, said Trump. There was a show of hands among the room as to who agreed with the idea; some were for, some were against.
Obviously, as a distant observer, the fact that any Americans would still opt for guns on school premises, this soon after a massacre, is beyond bizarre. It’s particularly bewildering as President Trump will have been informed that this was the eighth shooting at a US school to result in injury or death this year, despite the fact we’re only two months in. It’s incomprehensible to me, and many of the children who witnessed the attack, that a politician would argue against gun control, despite figures that show how successful it has been elsewhere. For example, the Dunblane massacre in 1996 was the UK’s first and only school shooting. After that Britain banned handguns – there has only been one mass shooting since Dunblane. In contrast, America had almost 300 last year alone.
Sam Zeif, a student who lost his friend, used the meeting as a way of highlighting how out of step America’s attitudes are with the rest of the world: “I don’t understand why I can still go into a store and buy a weapon of war. How is it that easy?” He went on to quote international figures to the president. “In Australia, there was a shooting in 1999 and after that, they put through legislation together and they stopped it. Can anyone here guess how many shooting there’s been since then in Australia? Zero.”
“It’s incomprehensible that a politician would argue against gun control, despite figures that show how successful it has been elsewhere”
Not only does Trump’s suggestion for a sinister and heavily armed state remain wilfully ignorant to other gun control success stories, it also stands in direct contradiction with his own public stance in 2016 while he was campaigning. On May 21 he tweeted: “Crooked Hillary said that I want guns brought into the school classroom. Wrong!”. The idea is also a long-held view of the National Rifle Association (NRA), a powerful pro-gun lobby group. Emma Gonzalez, 17, went viral over the weekend for her scathing speech where she said she wanted to ask the president “how much money he received from the National Rifle Association.” It’s been reported that the group contributed an estimated $30m to Trump’s election campaign. This shouldn’t be treated as a coincidence.
During the meeting, Trump also asserted that he would be “very strong” on background checks for gun buyers as well as mental health issues. “We’ll be very strong on background checks, very strong emphasis on the mental health of somebody. It’s not going to be talk like it’s been in the past," he added. However, if the past has taught us anything, it’s that NRA-backed presidents favour guns over citizen’s lives.
Arming teachers doesn’t account for instances where teachers may want to open fire on students, or students that might get their hands on their teacher’s guns. What do we do then: arm the students? All this action would do is make guns even more of a staple in American schools. You have to wonder what it will take to make politicians work towards an America where nobody is using a gun. For now, it seems that each mass shooting pushes the country towards a future where every American has their finger on a trigger, just in case.