Washington governor confronts Trump at White House
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) confronted President Trump on Monday over his proposal to arm educators in order to prevent future school shootings.
Inslee stood and objected to the controversial idea during a meeting with the nation’s governors at the White House, telling Trump that law enforcement agencies and instructors are both alarmed by the idea of teachers “packing heat” around young children.
“So I just suggest we need a little less tweeting here, a little more listening,” said Inslee, who has been rumored as a possible Democratic challenger to Trump in 2020. “Let’s just take that off the table and move forward.”
The president stood with his arms folded but did not directly respond to the Washington governor’s comment. He did call on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to explain how teachers and coaches are trained to carry firearms in his state.
The surprising confrontation came during an hourlong appearance by Trump, during which he spoke about issues ranging from immigration and North Korea to trade and the economy.
But the central focus of the meeting was the nation’s gun laws, which have come under increasing scrutiny following this month’s deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
The president has come under pressure from Democrats, and some Republicans, to approve stricter laws cracking down on the type of rifle that was used in the shooting, which left 17 dead.
But many Republicans and the National Rifle Association (NRA) have resisted new restrictions on guns, arguing that stronger mental health programs and turning schools into “hard targets” could prevent future massacres.
Trump said he ate lunch last weekend with top NRA executives Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox, even as he said he is willing to take on the powerful gun-rights group.
“If they’re not with you, we have to fight them once in a while, that’s OK,” the president said. “But sometimes we’re going to have to be very tough and we’re going to have to fight them.
Trump has floated a wide-range of proposals, from bolstering the gun background check system and raising the age limit to buy certain high-powered rifles to giving guns to trained teachers and staff. Trump expressed doubt the NRA would oppose his response.
“Don’t worry about the NRA,” the president told the governors. ”They’re on our side. Half of you are so afraid of the NRA — there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Trump, however, has placed the greatest emphasis on arming teachers, a proposal that has run into opposition from Democrats and many Republicans, including Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R).
The president dismissed criticism of the idea, saying that educators would have to have a “natural talent” for handling firearms, “like hitting a baseball or hitting a golf ball.”
“The headline was Trump wants all teachers to have guns. Trump wants teachers to have guns. I don’t want teachers to have guns. I want highly trained people,” he said.
Trump also said law enforcement officers must act to stop shooters given the chance, saying that sheriff’s deputies outside the Florida high school “weren’t exactly Medal of Honor winners.”
“I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon and I think most of the people in this room would have done that, too,” Trump said.
Trump did single out one area where he said he would take on the NRA: bump stocks.
“I’m writing that out myself. I don’t care if Congress doesn’t,” Trump said.
Bump stocks are attachments that allow certain semi-automatic rifles, like the type used in the Florida shooting, to fire much more rapidly.
The device was used in last year’s massacre at a Las Vegas outdoor concert, which left 58 people dead.
Over the past week, Trump has sought to demonstrate he is ready to take action to prevent future incidents of mass gun violence.
He held an emotional listening session with children and parents affected by school shootings last week at the White House, which was shown on national television.
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