Thursday 24 May 2018

Trump: US will turn grief into action in wake of mass shooting

The US president is seeking input from state chief executives during meetings at the White House as governors gather in Washington for their annual winter meeting.

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with the members of the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room of the White House (AP)
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with the members of the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room of the White House (AP)

By Darlene Superville and Ken Thomas

US president Donald Trump has told the nation’s governors that America will turn its grief into action following the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school.

Two weeks after 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Mr Trump said: “We have to have action.”

Addressing the governors in the State Dining Room, Mr Trump again found fault with the officers who did not stop the gunman who carried out the massacre, saying they “weren’t exactly Medal of Honour winners”.

The president suggested that if he or the governors had been in that position, they would have acted.

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Mr Trump suggested he would have acted, had he been in the school when the shooting took place (AP)

“I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon and I think most of the people in this room would have done that, too,” Mr Trump said.

Under pressure to act to stem gun violence on school grounds, Mr Trump solicited input from the state chief executives during meetings at the White House as governors gather in Washington for their annual winter meeting.

He said: “Our nation is heartbroken. We continue to mourn the loss of so many precious and innocent young lives.”

“But we’ll turn our grief into action. We have to have action.”

Seventeen students and teachers were killed in a Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, sparking a public outcry for new gun-control measures as well as action to improve school safety.

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Mr Trump spoke to 39 state governors at the White House (AP)

The president pointed to a number of ideas that he has floated since the shooting, including improving background checks for gun purchases, arming teachers and re-opening mental institutions. He has also suggested raising the minimum age for the purchase of assault-style weapons, along with paying teachers bonuses for carrying concealed weapons as a way of warding off potential shooters.

Mr Trump said he had lunch during the weekend with key leaders of the National Rifle Association, including Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox, and said the NRA officials “want to do something” to address the issue.

Mr Trump said there is “no bigger fan of the Second Amendment than me,” but there is a need to boost background checks and ensure that a “sicko” is unable to get a gun.

“Don’t worry about the NRA,” Mr Trump said. “They’re on our side.”

His session with the governors was the latest in which he solicits ideas for stopping gun violence at schools as the White House works to finalise an expected legislative proposal. The president spent several days last week hearing emotional pleas from parents and students, including some who survived the Parkland shooting, and others who suffered through school shootings in Connecticut and Colorado. He also solicited input from state and local officials.

The NRA, which backed Mr Trump for president, opposes increasing the minimum age for assault-style weapons purchases but favours arming teachers.

Press Association

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