ARMED GUARDS, METAL DETECTORS, MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES DISCUSSED
by Sharon Rondeau
The video of the full listening session is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKblXAikzEc
After the opening remarks, Trump passed the microphone to his right, with each attendee sharing his or her experiences, many of which were raw from last week. The students and many of the parents who spoke were clearly traumatized and described the events of last Wednesday at Stoneman Douglas as “crazy” and surreal.
Another Stoneman Douglas survivor whose best friend was killed in the assault said that “Time has stood still” since it occurred, carried out by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who is now in police custody. His attorney has reportedly offered a guilty plea for the 17 murders in exchange for a sentence of life in prison, although the prosecutor has not issued a statement as to whether or not he will seek the death penalty.
One student to Trump’s left said that a solution to the scourge of school shootings will be “multi-faceted.”
A Stoneman Douglas sophomore said that he has grown up with school shootings in the news. “People need to feel safe,” he said, and that “there needs to be some change.”
Many referred to the April 20, 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Columbine, CO which killed 12 students and one teacher and injured 21, at least one of whom is spending his life in a wheelchair.
Darrell Scott, his daughter, Rachel Joy Scott was the first person killed at Columbine, spoke about the organization he founded a year later, Rachel’s Challenge, with the goal of helping students to feel connected to others and preventing teen suicide.
On March 24, 1998, a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old carried out a gun assault on the Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, AR, killing four students and a teacher and injuring a teacher and nine students.
After hearing from a significant number of attendees, Trump said that “background checks” will be strengthened and noted that many “mental institutions” have been shuttered in favor of community and home living for those with mental illness.
Trump also recognized a suggestion from a parent who said that certain teachers, guidance counselors and others could carry concealed weapons to provide a swift response in the event of an attack. “I think a lot of people are going to be opposed to it,” he said of the idea, while adding, “I think a lot of people are going to like it.”
He said that concealed-carry individuals would be “very adept” at handling firearms and might be retired military, particularly Marines. He noted that U.S. airliners, some of which have pilots now licensed to carry firearms on board, have experienced a sharp decrease in hijackings and other attempts at violence than before the attacks of 9-11.
Trump was of the opinion that public schools, as “gun-free zones,” are vulnerable to attacks by the “cowards” who perpetrate such attacks.
The mother of a child killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT in 2012 emphasized the need for intervention in the life of a student who shows signs of instability or a troubled home life.
A dean of students at a southwest DC school said that metal detectors installed at certain checkpoints based on “the TSA model” are mandatory for students, visitors and parents alike. He also said that school resource officers speak to the students when they arrive to flag anyone who perhaps should not attend school that day. He said that cell phones are not permitted in the school to maximize learning during the school day.
On Thursday morning, Trump tweeted some of his thoughts following the listening session.
Trump also tweeted his support for the National Rifle Association (NRA), which is often blamed for school shootings.
At 11:30 a.m. EST, Trump will meet with some members of Congress about the problem, and next week he will meet with state governors as he did at this time last year.
The National Governors Association (NGA) will host its annual winter meeting beginning on Friday through Monday, February 26, in Washington, DC.