In A Series Of Frenzied Tweets Contends Armed Teachers “Much Less Cost Than Guards”
Then, as almost a footnote, he adds:
The part that gets us most riled up, is a large part of the President’s reasoning stems from the fact that, as he says, teachers come “at much less cost than guards”.
We will also point out, as Sandy Hook father Mark Barden did during a meeting Trump had with aggrieved students, parents, and siblings yesterday at the White House, that most attacks (though not the most recent one in Florida) have been planned as suicide missions by the shooters. As Barden attempted to explain to the President: “A deranged sociopath on his way to commit and act of murder in a school…knowing the outcome is going to be suicide, is not going to care if there’s somebody there with a gun“.
At That Meeting, The President Spends About An Hour, Mostly Listening, But Also Landing Squarely On The Idea Of Arms Training For Teachers
Trump contended designating schools as “gun free zones” only act as invitations for “maniacs” to attack, because “they know bullets won’t be coming back”. Which of course makes no sense, since most attacks (though not the most recent one in Florida) have been planned as suicide missions by the shooters.
And the President seemed most engaged when Parkland father Frederick Abt brought up the idea of arming teachers. Here’s Trump’s response (click on the photo to play):
Politico points out arming teachers is a tough sell for school boards and superintendents, who ultimately control school districts in most states.
Trump’s repeatedly brought up the “good guy with a gun” argument before. After the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando where 49 people were killed. After 14 people were killed in San Bernadino. After 26 people were killed in Sutherland, Texas. As CNN points out, it’s a staple argument of the N.R.A. because of course at its core is a contention we need more guns, not fewer.
Not everybody agreed. Sandy Hook parent Mark Barden said his wife is a teacher and she would tell the President schoolteachers have more than enough responsibilities already.
He addresses the President here (the typo identifying him as “Son of Boy Killed at Sandy Hook” is C-Span’s, not ours). Click on photo to play:
Most of the suggestions in this gathering centered around school safety, with several parents noting the lack of security personnel on the high school campus. Reuters points out that even though Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had a single point of entry that all students had to pass through in the morning, in the afternoon when school was letting out, because of the school’s relatively large size, all the doors were opened, which is around the time the shooter turned up. Reuters also notes Florida’s Republican controlled legislature has not increased funding for school safety at all in the last 8 years.
Trump suggested one solution could be to bring retired military into schools.
Among the carefully vetted audience (many comments went along the lines of thanking Trump, and saying they know he’ll do the right thing), only a very few brought up the idea of gun control. In fact, the most passionate participant, Parkland father Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed last week, while expressing strong anger at the government (although not specifically at Trump) went out of his way to conclude “this is not a gun control issue”. A sentiment that was then echoed in a statement by his son.
He’s got the last word today:
Meanwhile, CNN Town Hall In Florida Almost Entirely Centers Around Gun Control
This is also worth a watch, and if you haven’t there’s a link to excerpts available here.
The discussion, which often seemed like a debate, was surprisingly civil, given the fact that the shooting itself is just one week in the past, and emotions still very raw.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio showed up, perhaps surprisingly, as he was repeatedly criticized during his unsuccessful run for President in 2016 for never going off script. And Rubio, while defending his refusal to consider a ban on assault weapons, appeared to move ever-so-slightly on a couple of other issues: he seemed to endorse raising the age at which somebody can buy a rifle to 21, and said he was thinking about restrictions on high-capacity magazines.
Here’s a clip of Rubio confronted by Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed. Again, click on the photo to play:
The N.R.A. showed up in the form of spokesperson Dana Loesch, and the event was actually the first time that organization publicly commented on the Florida massacre. No surprises to her responses.
Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott did not show up.
Don’t Be Cruel…
Many in the media made a lot out of the fact that Trump had a little cheat sheet with him, written in handwriting not his own, reminding the President to say “I hear you”. Others questioned the authenticity of this paper. We did catch Trump picking it up from the floor next to him and putting it in his pocket at one point near the close of the meeting:
An alert Washington Post photographer got a close-up shot while Trump was holding the paper in his hands:
The only reason we’re bringing this up is we don’t think it’s a bad thing. As we’ve mentioned before, Trump’s perceived cruelty is the one thing that’s really hurting him with Trump supporters we know. (The Post calls it his “empathy deficit”). So it’s not a bad thing for him to remind himself to do every once in a while…
When It Comes Down To Actually Getting Something Passed By Congress, Something Seemingly As Simple As Stricter Background Checks May Be Tough
Trump has thrown his weight behind legislation proposed after the mass shooting that killed 26 people in Texas to improve background checks by beefing up centralized databases.
Would it surprise you to learn that legislation has already passed in the House? Last year. One problem though: right now it’s coupled in the same bill with legislation that would vastly broaden the ability of people to carry concealed firearms across state lines. Which is why it hasn’t passed in the Senate.
One of the bill’s main sponsors, Republican John Cornyn of Texas says he wants to decouple it, and pass only the background check portion. But some House Republicans say they won’t go for that. Leave it in, and it will never get the 60 votes it needs in the Senate. (Trump can go on a Twitter rant about how Democrats don’t want stricter background checks, but that might be about it).
Many members of Congress, who are off this week, have expressed their intention of passing something substantial quickly, preferably next week. This bill seemed like the easiest one to get done. We’ll see.
Trump Blames Attorney General Sessions For Not Investigating Obama For Not Investigating Russia
Not much more needs to be said about this. Except that just a couple of weeks ago, Trump wouldn’t even admit Russia was the culprit. Now not only were they, but Obama was complicit, and so is his own Attorney General. Everyone but him…
Intrigue At The VA
Politico suggests a purge could be coming at the top levels of the Veterans Administration. VA Chief David Shulkin telling them he has an OK from the White House to get rid of staffers he determines may be working to undermine him. Last week, Shulkin was slammed for doctoring expense reports which resulted in taxpayers footing the bill for his wife’s plane ticket to Europe. He’s paid that money back, and says he’s square with the White House (after all Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and EPA head Scott Pruitt have done similar stuff and they’re still in good standing).
And the VA is apparently divided between people loyal to its administrator (who include Trump for the time being at least) and those linked to the Koch brothers, who would prefer instead of fixing the VA system and facilities, the U.S. transitioned to a plan where Veterans would receive their medical care from outside doctors (which of course would cut costs and benefits in the long run).
Republicans Including Trump Are Screaming About New Voting Districts In Pennsylvania
They’ve already gone to Supreme Court Justice Alito to get him to reverse the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s redistricting, after it decided the state’s electoral map was unfairly gerrymandered and Republican “solutions” were unacceptable. Alito’s already turned down an earlier request by Republicans to block the redistricting in the first place. (They’re not going to Alito because they think they have a friendly ear in one of the most Conservative Justices on the high court, they’re going to him because he’s the Justice in charge of these types of challenges for that area of the country).
Meanwhile Republican Senator Pat Toomey says Pennsylvania’s legislature should “have a conversation” about whether the State Supreme Court’s liberal members should be impeached, calling the redistricting a “blatant…partisan power grab”.
Trump chiming in:
Who knew Republicans were such delicate snowflakes…?
Once again, here are the old and new maps side by side. You decide which one looks fairer to you. (Here’s a hint: as Philly.com reports, the new map does a much better job at keeping county lines intact).
As we keep mentioning, even though there are hundreds of thousands more registered Democrats than Republicans in Pennsylvania, under the old map, Republicans hold 13 of the state’s 18 House seats.