Trump renews attack on Florida deputy: ‘Id run in there even if I didnt have a weapon’


The president renewed his criticism of officers outside the Florida school, while speaking to lawmakers who returned to session on Monday

Donald Trump has renewed his criticism of an armed sheriffs deputy whofailed to enter a high school in Parkland, Florida, during a mass shooting this month, saying he would have run into the building even if he did not possess a weapon.

Addressing a gathering of 39 state governors at the White House, Trump said officers who were outside the school at the time of the shooting werent exactly medal of honor winners.

The way they performed was really a disgrace, he added. I really believe Id run in there even if I didnt have a weapon.

The president spoke as lawmakers returned to Washington following a week-long recess and amid intensifying debate over gun laws.

The 14 February massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, in which 17 people were killed, has forced Congress to contend yet again with one of the most politically controversial issues.

Break the cycle

Trump has pushed for arming teachers a proposal that has been pilloried by educators. In doing so he has repeatedly criticised Scot Peterson, the armed school resource deputy who waited outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school as the shooting transpired. Peterson resigned, after being suspended without pay.

Trump has publicly attacked Peterson as a coward who he said doesnt love the children, probably doesnt know the children.

Peterson denied the allegation in a written statement released through his lawyer on Monday, saying he had not entered the building because he believed the gunfire was coming from outside.

Mr Peterson wishes that he could have prevented the untimely passing of the 17 victims, the attorney, Joseph DiRuzzo, wrote.

However, the allegations that Mr Peterson was a coward and that his performance, under the circumstances, failed to meet the standards of police officers, are patently untrue.

On Sunday, the Broward County sheriff, Scott Israel, told CNN he was investigating the behavior of three other deputies, who the network reported had been at the campus but had not entered the school.

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Moment of silence for Florida school shooting victims on House floor video

On Monday, Trump continued to call on Congress to take action on gun law a departure from his response to previous shootings under his watch. The president has signaled support for tightening background checks and instructed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to work on a memorandum to outlaw bump stocks the attachments that enable semiautomatic rifles and other devices to fire faster.

Lawmakers are likely, however, to face familiar obstacles in passing even modest legislation, as midterm elections loom.

The National Rifle Association has also come out aggressively against any new restrictions, even as public support for stricter gun laws has risen to its highest level since the early 1990s, according to a CNN poll released on Sunday.

Trump told the group of governors on Monday he believed the NRA was open to at least some changes to gun laws, noting he had had dinner with the groups leaders Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox over the weekend.

Dont worry about the NRA, theyre on our side, Trump said. Half of you are so afraid of the NRA. Theres nothing to be afraid of.

Stephen
Stephen Miller, senior adviser to Donald Trump, nods off as the president speaks about ways to combat mass shootings at high schools at the White House on Monday. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Althoughmass shootings had become almost routine in the US, drawing little reaction in Washington, events in Florida have spawned a rare grassroots backlash, led by students.

The national outcry in the wake of Parkland could tee up the first major debate over gun laws since the 2012 massacre at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 20 young children and six adults were killed.

The Senate failed to expand background checks in the aftermath of Sandy Hook, due to a Republican-led filibuster of a bipartisan bill joined by a handful of Democrats. But several Democrat and Republican senators who were in office then said on Monday that the ground has shifted, owing in large part to the vocal activism of Parkland student survivors.

Several pieces of legislation are under consideration. But only incremental measures appear to have any chance of passing, includinga bipartisan proposal aimed at ensuring that states and federal agencies comply with and accurately report criminal and mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (Nics).

The White House has said Trump supports the bill, known as Fix Nics, but may seek some revisions to its language.

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‘We must immediately harden our schools’ says NRA’s Wayne LaPierre video

A pair of senators are also poised to introduce bipartisan legislation that would raise the age for buying assault weapons, including the AR-15 used by the gunman in Parkland, from 18 to 21.

Trump was supportive of the idea in the initial days after the Parkland shooting but has been less vocal since the NRA came out against the proposal last week.

Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Monday that Trump was still supportive of the concept and denied the president had been influenced by the NRA.

The president has nonetheless sent mixed signals on the issue of guns, most often returning to the controversial suggestion that the way to prevent school shootings such as that in Florida is to arm teachers. The proposal, which is backed by the NRA, is unlikely to garner support on Capitol Hill but is indicative of Trumps allegiance to gun rights activists and his base.

Trump signaled on Monday he was open to taking on the NRA if necessary, stating: If theyre not with you, we have to fight them every once in a while.

Theyre doing what they think is right, he added.

But sometimes were gonna have to be very tough and were gonna have to fight them.

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Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/26/gun-control-laws-nra-congress-return-recess

Moment of silence for Florida school shooting victims on House floor

A moment of silence, led by Rep. Ted Deutch, was held on the House floor on Monday for the 17 students and staff killed in the Florida school shooting. Deutch represents the district where Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is located. Some of the students from the school were in attendance.

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