President Trump Monday criticized Florida deputy sheriffs who didn’t confront the gunman at a Florida high school, saying he would have gone in unarmed to stop the slaughter.
“I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon,” Mr. Trump told governors meeting with him at the White House on ways to improve school safety. “I think most of the people in this room would have done that, too.”
The president called the actions of a deputy sheriff who waited outside during the shooting “disgusting.”
Mr. Trump also said he’s willing to fight the National Rifle Association if necessary over new gun regulations, although he said the gun lobby is “on our side.”
“Don’t worry about the NRA,” the president told governors. “But sometimes we’re going to have to be very tough and we’re going to have to fight them.”
The president revealed that he had lunch last weekend with top NRA officials Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox, and told them “we need to do something.” Mr. Trump seemed delighted that the media didn’t find out about the lunch.
The NRA is opposed to Mr. Trump’s proposal to raise the age limit for purchasing semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21. But the NRA supports the president’s call to arm more qualified teachers and other school personnel to confront a gunman or serve as a deterrent to an attack.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, told the president that teachers in his state don’t want to carry guns. The nation’s largest teachers unions also have blasted the proposal, which Mr. Trump has said he will leave up to states.
Mr. Inslee said law enforcement officials doesn’t want teachers carrying guns, either. He advised the president to do “less tweeting [and] a little more listening.”
Mr. Trump reiterated he’ll act to ban “bump stocks” if Congress doesn’t. The accessories make semi-automatic rifles fire more rapidly, although the gunman who killed 17 at the high school in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14 didn’t use a bump stock.
He also cited the need to improve early response systems for warning signs about violent people. Alleged gunman Nikolas Cruz, 19, was the subject of numerous police calls in the years before the shooting.
The president suggested the country may have to make it easier to involuntarily commit people to psychiatric institutions.
“In the old days you’d put him in a mental institution,” Mr. Trump said, referring to Cruz. “We’re going to have to start talking about mental institutions.”