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Trump condemns Florida officer who stood idle, but sticks by plan to arm teachers

Trump condemns Florida officer who stood idle, but sticks by plan to arm teachers

President Donald Trump on Friday condemned a Florida sheriff’s deputy who stayed outside the sc...
Trump condemns Florida officer who stood idle, but sticks by plan to arm teachers
President Donald Trump addressed the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
Photographer: Tom Brenner/The New York Times

President Donald Trump on Friday condemned a Florida sheriff’s deputy who stayed outside the school he was patrolling while a shooting rampage unfolded inside, even as he insisted that his proposal to arm well-trained teachers would prevent such massacres.

“When it came time to get in there and do something, he didn’t have the courage, or something happened, but he certainly did a poor job — there’s no question about that,” Trump said of Scot Peterson, who resigned Thursday after surveillance video showed that he had failed to enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland to confront the gunman as he was in the process of killing 17 people.

“He was there for five minutes — for five minutes,” Trump added. “That was during the entire shooting. He heard it right from the beginning. So he certainly did a poor job, but that’s a case where somebody was outside, they’re trained, they didn’t act properly under pressure, or they were a coward.”

He spoke on his way to a conservative conference in Oxon Hill, Maryland, where he planned to promote his proposal — embraced by the National Rifle Association — to allow teachers and other educators to carry concealed firearms in schools. He said Thursday that such gun-wielding teachers should be paid a small bonus and that he would devote federal resources to training them to use weapons to protect students.

“Schools have to have some form of protection; they can’t just be open-ended gun-free,” Trump said. “Our schools are essentially gun-free zones, and that makes them very dangerous places.”

At the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, the president planned to tell the audience that “well-trained, gun-adept teachers and coaches should be able to carry concealed firearms.”

According to excerpts of his speech provided in advance, Trump was also planning to call for “common-sense measures that will protect the rights of law-abiding Americans while helping to keep guns out of the hands of those who pose a danger to themselves and to others.”

He told reporters Friday that those would include improving background checks for people seeking to buy guns and ensuring that mentally ill individuals could not have access to firearms.

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