Donald Trump has claimed he would have rushed in to aid students and teachers during the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school.
“You don’t know until you’re tested but I think 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,” the president said at a White House meeting.
He again found fault with the officers who did not stop the gunman who carried out the massacre. “They really weren’t exactly Medal of Honour winners,” he added.
“Our nation is heartbroken. We continue to mourn the loss of so many precious and innocent young lives,” Mr Trump said during a meeting with 39 governors. “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.
“The headline was Trump wants all teachers to have guns. Trump wants teachers to have guns. I don’t want teachers to have guns,” the president said. “I want highly trained people that have a natural talent, like hitting a baseball or hitting a golf ball or putting.”
The president pointed to a number of ideas he has floated since the shooting, including improving background checks for gun purchases, arming educators, reopening mental institutions and banning bump-stock devices like the one used during the shooting at a Las Vegas music festival.
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 defended the proposal, saying he believes “retribution” is the only way to prevent more school shootings.
During the 75-minute event, he called on Florida govetrnor Rick Scott to outline the steps he is taking to respond to the shooting in Florida. Mr Scott said he plans to increase funding to protect schools and to tighten gun restrictions on those with mental health issues.
The president renewed his criticism of former Broward County Sheriff’s deputy Scot Peterson as the officer’s lawyer said accusations that he was unprofessional and cowardly during the shooting were untrue.
Lawyer Joseph DiRuzzo said the school resource officer did not enter the high school because it sounded like the shooting was happening outside the building.
The president told the governors: “Look at Peterson. Look what he did in Broward where he thought he was probably a brave guy, but he wasn’t a brave guy under pressure. He choked and other people choked.”
He 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.”