Instead, Trump said he wanted to look at the possibility of giving “concealed guns” to teachers with military experience or special training — which he qualified as “only the best” 20 per cent of school employees.
There are around 3.6 million full-time elementary and secondary school teachers in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That means Trump wants to arm 720,000 teachers across the country.
The tweet comes after a “listening session” Trump had at the White House Wednesday, with survivors of the Florida school shooting that killed 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.
After listening to a series of emotional stories and pleas to enhance school safety, Trump promised to be “strong” on background checks and mentioned the possibility of school employees carrying concealed weapons.
WATCH: Florida school shooting survivor urges Trump for change to ‘never let this happen again’
“If you had a teacher who was adept with the firearm, they could end the attack very quickly,” he said. Trump then asked for a show of hands in the room over the proposal: some were in favour, others were against.
“We can understand both sides and certainly it’s controversial,” he said.
On Thursday morning, Trump criticized media reporting of his remarks, saying he only spoke of the need to train teachers and give guns to “only the best.”
“Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this. Far more assets at much less cost than guards,” Trump stated. “A ‘gun free’ school is a magnet for bad people. ATTACKS WOULD END!’
“If a potential ‘sicko shooter’ knows that 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!”
Trump also tweeted about the National Rifle Association, saying the “folks who work so hard at the NRA are Great People and Great Americans Patriots. They love our County and will do the right thing.”
Trump did not go into detail about how arming school teachers would work, such as where the weapons would be stored and how staff would get proper training.
During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, Trump said he was not in favour of bringing guns into the classrooms.
In Alabama, Republican Rep. Will Ainsworth introduced a bill this week that would allow teachers to carry firearms if they undergo 40 hours of training, paid for by the state, and a mental health evaluation.
Could it work?
During the shooting at the Florida high school, there was an armed security guard on site but he did not get a chance to engage the gunman, Nikolas Cruz.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told Politico, “Anyone who suggests this has no real understanding of what goes on in schools, or worse doesn’t care, and is more focused on the needs of gun manufacturers and the NRA than of children.”
“You’re asking the teacher to have the presence of mind to not only do what her instincts compel her to do, but then find her loaded handgun and get in position … and be a good enough shot — in the middle of all of this — so that she can be the marksperson who then maims or kills the intruder with the rifle,” she said.
“That may work on a movie, but in real life that is not a situation that most people will — even those who have been trained — will be able to do.”
In 2016, a Colorado school district voted to allow school staff to volunteer to be armed on the job after undergoing training.
Teachers in the school district must undergo an initial 46 hours of training, including live fire training, plus yearly training and undergo a psychological examination.