President Donald Trump, who assured conservatives that “nobody loves the Second Amendment” more than he does, tepidly promised the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference that he’d make some progress on preventing school shootings.
“We really do have to strengthen up, really strengthen up background checks,” Trump said during his visit to the annual conference.
The president also repeated a proposal he’s latched onto in recent days: arming what he says are the 10-20 percent of teachers and school employees who are “gun-adept people.”
Trump said that teachers would be more emotionally invested in protecting students than dedicated school security officials. He said that school shooters are “inherently cowards” and would be deterred by armed teachers.
Speaking about the perpetrator of the Parkland shooting last week, Nikolas Cruz, Trump said, “A teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened.”
Trump acknowledged opposition to his proposal to arm teachers. “I feel it’s a great idea but some people who are good people are opposed to it,” he said. (On Thursday night, Sean Hannity, a reliable defender of the president, expressed some reservations about arming teachers.)
Using the same language he used in a meeting at the White House on Thursday, Trump asked: “Why do we protect our banks, our government buildings, but not our schools? It’s time to make our schools a much harder target for attackers. We don’t want them in our schools.”
Trump’s remarks on gun control didn’t draw a particularly passionate response from the crowd, though he was on more solid ground criticizing “fake news” CNN and making a pitch for merit-based immigration.
“I will never, ever let you down,” the president told the crowd in closing his speech.