Trump defends school safety plan that doesn't include raising age to buy guns

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

President Trump defended his “action” plan on school safety Monday, claiming that the White House’s newly unveiled proposals aimed at curbing gun violence in the wake of last month’s Parkland, Fla., massacre are “moving rapidly” — and saying he will take a wait-and-see approach to increasing the minimum age to purchase certain firearms.

“Very strong improvement and strengthening of background checks will be fully backed by White House,” Trump tweeted early Monday. “Legislation moving forward. Bump Stocks will soon be out. Highly trained expert teachers will be allowed to conceal carry, subject to State Law. Armed guards OK, deterrent!”

“On 18 to 21 Age Limits, watching court cases and rulings before acting,” the president continued. “States are making this decision. Things are moving rapidly on this, but not much political support (to put it mildly).” Trump, as president, could try to rally political support behind the measures.

But Trump has remained focused on his argument that some school faculty should be armed.

He added in another Monday tweet: “If schools are mandated to be gun free zones, violence and danger are given an open invitation to enter. Almost all school shootings are in gun free zones. Cowards will only go where there is no deterrent!”

On Sunday night, the Trump administration announced several policy proposals, including a vow to provide “rigorous firearms training” to some teachers and the endorsement of a bipartisan bill intended to “fix” the national background-check system for buying guns. But the announcement did not include increasing the minimum age to buy certain guns from 18 to 21 — an idea Trump raised himself last month during a meeting at the White House.

At that time, Trump said he was willing to take on the National Rifle Association, which opposes raising the age limit, and he even predicted the nation’s most powerful gun lobby would follow his lead.

“It should all be at 21,” Trump said. “And the NRA will back it.”

The president then stunned lawmakers and the NRA when he suggested that law enforcement should seize guns from potentially dangerous people “first [and] go through due process second.”

But after meeting with NRA executives earlier this month, Trump appeared to back away from any changes to age limits or due process protocols.

On Friday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a school safety and gun bill that raises the minimum age of purchasing firearms to 21. The NRA, which had said it supports the idea of states determining gun laws, immediately sued the state of Florida, claimed the ban on firearm purchases by those under 21 was unconstitutional.

The White House also called for the establishment of a federal commission on school safety chaired by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

The move angered some of the student survivors of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which left 17 dead. DeVos visited the school last week but reportedly refused to answer questions about her plans for preventing future school shootings — and abruptly ended a press conference following the visit.

“Betsy DeVos basically paid for her position,” student David Hogg said on CNN Sunday night. “She doesn’t really have any experience in this area. She doesn’t support public schools. She paid $200 million just to get this title. And I think she’s not the right person for this.”

During her confirmation hearing, the education secretary acknowledged that her family had donated about $200 million to Republican candidates.

On NBC’s “Today” show Monday, DeVos insisted that “everything is on the table” — including raising the minimum age for firearms purchases.

“The plan is really the first step in a more lengthy process,” she said.

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