By Tessa Berenson and Alana Abramson
February 23, 2018

President Donald Trump reiterated his support for arming teachers during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday morning, saying that keeping guns out of schools makes them targets for mass shooters.

“When we declare our schools to be gun free zones, it just puts our students in far more danger,” said Trump. “People that are adept with weaponry and with guns — they teach. I don’t want to have 100 guards with rifles standing all over the school. You do a concealed carry permit.”

Other than one mention of “strengthening” background checks, Trump did not talk about the ideas for tighter gun control that he has floated in the last week – including raising the age of purchasing some weapons and banning bump stocks. The National Rifle Association, which was an early backer of Trump’s and channeled over $30 million towards supporting his campaign, opposes raising the age limit.

The speech seemed in line with many of the talking points of NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, who went on the offensive on Thursday on the same CPAC stage, accusing gun control advocates of exploiting last week’s Florida school shooting tragedy.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, allegedly opened fire with an AR-15 rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, killing 17 people. In the days following, Trump pledged to take action to help prevent more school shootings in America, inviting those who have experienced school shootings to the White House. He reiterated his call to action on Friday, telling the audience, “We will act. We will do something.”

Trump also used the shooting in Parkland as supporting evidence for his argument about arming teachers. He again lambasted the Broward County sheriff’s deputy assigned to the Florida school, who authorities say waited for more than four minutes to enter the school, even as he knew an active shooter was inside. Teachers with guns, Trump said, would have more incentive to protect students than security guards. “They love their students. They don’t want their students to be hurt and killed,” he said.

Trump veered off script during his speech Friday, admitting as much by noting that the original version he was expected to give was a “little boring.” The portion about arming teachers was included in the initial speech, according to excerpts provided by the White House, but he did not mention the proposal or the Florida shooting until he had been speaking for at least 35 minutes.


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