Trump: Making schools safer is ‘top priority’ after Florida shooting
President Trump on Thursday said he is “making plans” to visit the Florida high school where a mass shooting took place.
The remark was part of a statement he delivered to the nation about the attack.
“We are all joined together as one American family, and your suffering is our burden also,” Trump said from the Diplomatic Room of the White House. “No child, no teacher should ever be in danger in an American school.”
Trump sought to comfort the nation’s youth who might be shaken by the “scene of terrible violence, hatred and evil” on Wednesday.
“I want to know you are never alone and you never will be,” he said. “You have people who care about you, who love you … Answer hate with love, answer cruelty with kindness.”
The president also said he would “tackle the difficult issue of mental health,” but did not weigh in directly on the contentious debate over gun control.
He also vowed that the administration will seek to address safety issues in schools.
“Later this month, I will be meeting with the nation’s governors and attorney generals, where making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority,” he said.
“It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make that difference,” he said.
Trump was speaking publicly for the first time after a 19-year-old man with a troubled past allegedly opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., killing 17 students and faculty and wounding 15 others.
It was the deadliest U.S. school shooting since 2012, when 20 children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
It’s just the latest in a series of mass shootings under Trump, who saw the worst such incident in U.S. history just last year when 58 people were killed in Las Vegas by a man who opened fire on people attending a concert.
The Florida shooting has reignited the debate about gun laws, including whether background checks should be strengthened to keep guns out of the hands of people with mental illnesses.
Trump focused on the suspect’s mental health in a Thursday morning tweet.
“So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior,” he wrote.
The president also put the onus on “neighbors and classmates” who knew about his troubles, tweeting that they “must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”
The suspect in the Florida mass shooting legally purchased the high-powered AR-15 rifle used in the attack, his family said. He reportedly had a history of making threatening social media posts and was expelled from the high school last year for fighting.
There have been 18 school shootings in the first 45 days of 2018, according to the pro-gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety, a stunning string of violence that renewed calls from Democrats for stricter gun laws.
“This happens nowhere else other than the United States of America, this epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said Wednesday.
“It only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction. We are responsible.”
Trump signed legislation one month after taking office revoking an Obama-era regulation that was designed to make it harder for mentally ill people to purchase guns.
The regulation required the Social Security Administration to share information with the national gun background check database about certain people with mental illnesses.
The National Rifle Association and civil liberties groups opposed the measure, citing privacy concerns.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) indicated Thursday he would oppose new gun control laws in response to the Florida shooting.
“There’s more questions than answers at this stage,” he said in a radio interview.
“I don’t think that means you then roll the conversation into taking away citizens’ rights — taking away a law-abiding citizen’s rights. Obviously, this conversation typically goes there.”
Updated at 12:05 p.m.