Not that there was any doubt that President Donald Trump‘s “listening session” on the issue of gun control – held in the fallout of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting which saw seventeen staff and students murdered in cold blood – was going to be both a) tightly controlled and b) utterly insane. But, as is now the Trump Presidency’s trademark, the reality of it all managed to far-outstrip even the most wild of predictions.
In a tightly controlled appearance in front of media at the White House, Trump heard the concerns of a panel of students, teachers, and parents affected by gun violence in US schools. The bulk of the panel comprised of students either in-support of Trump, or from people with past mass-shooting experience who have publicly advocated for guns. Notably, none of the Stoneman Douglas students who have actively been in the news imploring Trump to enact gun control were invited to the session, and neither were any of the students involved in organising a mass-walk out protest of US high school students.
Incredibly, the most enthusiasm the President mustered up during the session was when he mused on the idea not of removing large assault weapons from public ownership, but instead of actually arming teachers and school staff, and implementing TSA-style security screenings for schools.
Trump referred to Aaron Feis, the 37-year-old assistant football coach who was shot and killed at Douglas High while using his own body to shield two other students, asserting that if Feis had had a firearm, while in school, he may have not been callously murdered.
If the coach had a firearm in his locker when he ran at this guy – that coach was very brave, saved a lot of lives, I suspect.
But if he had a firearm, he wouldn’t have had to run, he would have shot him, and that would have been the end of it.
Trump also suggested that teachers would have to go for “special training” in order to become very adept with firearms in order to properly handle themselves in the – apparently now likely and accepted – event of an active shooter on campus.
It only works when you have people very adept at using firearms, of which you have many. It would be teachers and coaches.
This would only obviously be for people who are very adept at handling a gun. It’s called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They’d go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun free zone.
It’s worth noting at this point that there is, indeed, a Donald Trump tweet from not-too-long ago that directs contradicts this stance.
Crooked Hillary said that I want guns brought into the school classroom. Wrong!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 22, 2016
Press photographers also managed to catch sight of President Trump’s White House-stationary talking points and reminders for the meeting of which, unbelievably, one simply read “I hear you.”
President Donald Trump holds notes during a White House listening session with students and parents affected by school shootings. (AP Photo by Carolyn Kaster) pic.twitter.com/Z0lZbSVaoF
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) February 21, 2018
Meanwhile, schools in Texas have threatened a three-day suspension for any student who participates in the planned walk-out protest, as the issue of gun control and – by extension – the staggeringly disproportionate degree of power which the NRA wields in Washington, continues to build to a head.