Trump Holds Listening Session For Victims of School Shootings

2/21/18
from The Wall Street Journal,
2/21/18:

President Donald Trump, leading an emotional discussion with families touched by school gun violence, signaled support for a plan to arm teachers and coaches and also tighten background checks and mental-health screening before gun purchases.

Mr. Trump spent more than an hour listening to anguished stories of children killed in school shootings and pleas to break the gridlock surrounding the gun debate. Among his guests in the State Dining Room were students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were fatally shot last week by a 19-year-old former student using a Smith & Wesson M&P 15, as well as parents of children killed at Columbine High School in 1999 and Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

The discussion also coincided with student protests demanding action by lawmakers, and an organized lobbying effort by survivors of the Stoneman Douglas attack in the Florida legislature. “I’m pissed,” said Andrew Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter, Meadow, was killed at Stoneman Douglas. “I’m not going to see my daughter again. She’s not here. She’s at North Lauderdale in King David Cemetery. That’s where I go to see my kid now.” Mr. Pollack said school safety needed to be the first priority, and then gun laws could be debated later. “How many schools, how many children have to get shot?” he said. The president signaled his support for that priority and reiterated his recent calls for tightening the background check system for gun purchases, saying they need to be “very strong.” Mr. Trump said a more complicated solution may be needed to identify people who are mentally ill and ensure they don’t threaten others. “Today if you catch somebody they don’t know what to do with them,” he said. “He hasn’t committed the crime, but he may very well. And there’s no mental institution, there’s no place to bring them.”

Mr. Trump sought to be a soothing presence at the meeting, allowing everyone to speak in a respectful setting. Though the president and his guests searched for common ground, policy differences were evident.

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