President Trump on Sunday unveiled a school-safety plan that seeks to steer military vets and retired cops into the educational system — and provide firearms training for “specially qualified” school personnel.
Trump also called on Congress to pass pending legislation to strengthen instant, federal background checks on gun buyers, and earmark $50 million annually for technology and other programs to prevent school violence.
Other proposals include having every state follow Florida’s lead in allowing judges to issue “extreme risk protection orders” so cops can seize guns and ammunition from people who pose a threat to themselves or others.
That measure was included in a gun-control law that Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed on Friday, in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting spree that killed 14 students and three staffers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
“Every child deserves to grow up in a safe community surrounded by a loving family and to have a future filled with opportunity and with hope,” Trump said in a prepared statement.
The president’s plan — which doesn’t include raising the minimum age for buying firearms to 21, which Trump repeatedly proposed last month — was outlined during an evening conference call between reporters and Administration officials.
Andrew Bremberg, Trump’s Director of the Domestic Policy Council, said the plan came together after multiple listening sessions Trump held, including the emotional Feb. 21 White House session with survivors, teachers and parents of slain students.
Also taking part in the conference call was Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who Trump tapped to lead a commission to consider additional actions, including possibly raising the federal minimum age for buying rifles from 18 to 21 — the same as for purchasing pistols.
DeVos called Trump’s proposals “a pragmatic plan to dramatically increase school safety and to take steps to do so right away.”
“We’ve had to talk about this topic way too much over the years and there’s a been a lot of talk in the past but very little action,” she said.
“I have to give credit to the students and their courage and consistent call for action.”
On Wednesday, DeVos visited Stoneman Douglas, but cut short a news conference afterward amid questions about arming school workers.
Trump’s plan also calls for a review of federal educational- and medical-privacy laws with an eye toward increased coordination between school officials, health-care workers and law-enforcement agencies.
“We really need to focus on prevention and identifying risk early on and that starts with addressing social and emotional well-being and increasing access and consistency and transparency to mental health services,” DeVos said Sunday.
Florida’s gun-control law was immediately challenged by the National Rifle Association, which filed suit later Friday over a provision that raised the minimum age to buy rifles to 21.
The group said that move “eviscerates” the Constitutional rights of young adults under the Second and 14th amendments, which guarantee the right to bear arms and due process, respectively.
“We are not concerned about the NRA here,” the official said.A senior White House official said Trump’s plan for “extreme risk protection orders” would ensure due process in the courts.
Trump’s announcement followed contradictory messages he sent on gun control following the Stoneman Douglas slaughter.
During a televised, White House meeting with Congressional lawmakers on Feb. 28, Trump said authorities who had previously dealt with alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz, 19, should have seized his firearms “whether they had the right or not.”
“Take the guns first, go through due process second,” Trump said.
The president also chided Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-Penn.) for not proposing to raise the federal minimum age for buying rifles from 18 to 21 in a bill to expand background checks to include purchases made online and at gun shows.
“You know why? Because you’re afraid of the NRA,” Trump said.
But the following day, Trump met in the Oval Office with NRA officials, after which the group’s top lobbyist tweeted that Trump and Vice President Mike Pence “support the Second Amendment, support strong due process and don’t want gun control.”
Trump also tweeted, “Good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA!”