President Donald Trump on Thursday defended his proposal to arm teachers, saying he wants "adept" educators with concealed guns to fire back at a "sicko shooter" and he praised the National Rifle Association as patriots who will "do the right thing."
Trump said in a morning tweetstorm that if a shooter knows a school has "a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won’t go there...problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won’t work!"
He also followed up his defense of arming teachers by praising the work of the NRA.
"What many people don’t understand, or don't want to understand, is that Wayne, Chris and the folks who work so hard at the @NRA are Great People and Great American Patriots. They love our Country and will do the right thing. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" said Trump, who was endorsed by the NRA.
Trump's comments come a day after he heard emotional pleas and personal stories of loss from the parents and friends of young people who had died in school shootings at a White House event.
At that meeting Wednesday, Trump spoke about potential solutions to address school shootings, such as advocating arming school officials and teachers with guns and ending gun-free zones, which he said are a sign to shooters that says, "Let's go in and let's attack because bullets aren't coming back at us."
Sam Zeif an 18-year-old survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, called the idea "absurd" on MSNBC late Wednesday after the president's listening session.
"That is absurd to feel the need to arm those innocent people with the choice of not knowing if they're going to have to kill a kid that day, granted it would protection, but, I mean, come on — a shootout in our class? This is not the Wild West," he said.
The president said later Thursday at meeting with state and local officials to discuss school safety that the NRA wants to get "something done."
"There's a tremendous feeling that we want to get something done...including at the NRA," the president said.
Trump said he wants to work with officials to identify warning signs of potential school shooters, calling the alleged Florida gunman Nikolas Cruz a "sicko." He also said Congress is now "into doing background checks," which "they wouldn’t be thinking about" a few weeks ago.
The president said at the White House event that concealed carry "only works" with people who are "very adept at using firearms" but said that if one of the "brave" coaches in Parkland who tried to stop the shooter had had a gun, he could have shot the shooter instead of running at him.
Some parents present seemed to open to the idea on Wednesday at the White House. But Mark Barden, who lost his 7-year-old son, Daniel, in the Sandy Hook massacre, vehemently pushed back.
"School teachers have more than enough responsibilities right now than to have the awesome responsibility of lethal force to take a life," said Barden, who is married to a teacher.
Shooters are "not going to care if someone's there with a gun," he said. "That's their plan anyway."
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in a CNN town hall Wednesday night that he does not support arming teachers.
"The notion that my kids are going to school with teachers that are armed with a weapon is not something, quite frankly, I'm comfortable with," Rubio said.
The president on Thursday, in a tweet, also continued to push his plan for comprehensive background checks, mental health measures, raising the age to buy firearms to 21 and banning bump stocks.