President Trump said Friday the armed school guard who failed to protect students during a massacre in Florida last week was either a “coward” or froze under the pressure of the moment.
“He certainly did a poor job. That’s the case where somebody was outside, they are trained, they didn’t react properly under pressure, or they were a coward,” the president said.
Mr. Trump told reporters that the failure of the sheriff’s deputy to confront the shooter at the high school where 17 were killed doesn’t change his mind about arming more school personnel nationwide.
“We have to have protection” inside schools, the president said.
Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson resigned Thursday after he was suspended for failing to enter the school during the shooting. His actions were captured on surveillance video.
Mr. Trump said the National Rifle Association “wants to do the right thing” to make schools safer.
The president also said Congress wanted to act on this issue, particularly on background checks and mental illness.
“I see Congress wanting to act now for the first time. So we certainly have to strengthen background checks. Everybody agrees with that, and we’re going to make background checks very, very strong,” Mr. Trump said.
But he added that another part of the problems is a lack of security at the schools. He said that despite the lack of action by the deputy at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School, there needs to be more security in the schools.
“I also believe that schools have to have some form of protection. They can’t just be open ended and gun-free,” Mr. Trump said.
“If they’re not gun-free, if there are guns instead, held by the right people, but highly trained professionals, you’re going to see this end,” he added.
• Sally Persons contributed to this article.