President Donald Trump, speaking during Tuesday’s roundtable discussion on his Federal Commission on School Safety best practices report, said that teachers love their students so much, they “want to fight” for them. “Fighting,” in this case, doesn’t so much refer to pushing for more funding for student resources, but instead, literally fighting to save students’ lives by being armed in the classroom in the event a school shooter attacks.
Trump called it “critical” for armed staff to be available, and said that on average, active shootings happen in the span of less than five minutes—according to a 2014 FBI study, a majority of 63 studied mass shootings where duration could be ascertained ended in five minutes or less. “These are people, teachers in many cases, that are the highest trained that you can get,” he said. “People that are natural to firearms, people that know how to handle them, people that have great experience.”
“Also, they love our students,” he added. “I’ve seen the teachers, I see so many of them, over the last two years especially, where something’s happened, and they truly love their students. And by loving their students they want to fight for their students, more than anybody else would.”
Despite Trump’s tangent, however, the panel notably avoided calling for arming teachers and generally didn’t touch on the role of guns much at all, instead opting for “alternatives” like rescinding Obama-era policies to reduce racial disparities in school discipline.
Regarding arming staff, the commission’s 177-page report includes a suggestion that states, districts, and local schools determine “whether or not [sic] it is appropriate for specialized staff and non-specialized staff to be armed for the sake of effectively and immediately responding to violence.” Another recommendation includes school districts considering “arming some specially selected and trained school personnel (including but not limited to SROs and SSOs) as a deterrent” also taking into consideration preexisting security measures, the school’s community, local laws, and other factors.
Once again, no one knows how to veer off message faster or more radically than Trump.