For about an hour on Wednesday afternoon, President Trump sat and listened as students, parents, teachers, and others directly affected by school shootings begged him to act before the next mass shooting. The participants in the White House meeting had ties to the shootings in Parkland, Florida; Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut; and Columbine High School in Colorado. They offered solutions including limiting assault rifle sales to people 21 and over, arming teachers and other school employees, ramping up mental health screening, and drilling students for active-shooter situations. "It's not going to be talk like it has been in the past," Trump told them. "Too many instances, and we're going to get it done."
Trump did not commit to any of the proposals, though he said "we're going to be very strong on background checks" and "we're going to go strong on age of purchase and the mental aspect." The proposal he seemed most enthusiastic about was arming teachers and coaches, an idea that got a mixed reception. Arming teachers "is an emotional response that we have heard before," Richard Myers, head of the law enforcement group Major Cities Chiefs Association, told Trump. "I don't know of any police chief who believes this is a good idea." The NRA, meanwhile, opposed raising the age limit for purchasing AR-15 and other assault rifles, on the grounds that doing so would deprive people 18 to 20 of "their constitutional right to self-protection."
The listening session was mostly polite and frequently emotional. "It's very difficult, it's very complex, but we're going to find the solution," said Trump, holding notes reminding him to say "I hear you" and ask participants about their experiences. "There are many different ideas. Some, I guess, are good. Some aren't good. Some are very stringent, as you understand, and a lot of people think they work, and some are less so." Peter Weber