Earlier today the President, while meeting with the survivors and surviving family members of school shootings, suggested that the solution was to arm the teachers.
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that having more people armed at schools could prevent future mass shootings.
“I think it could very well solve your problem,” he said.
After hearing the devastating stories from parents and young people affected by gun massacres at schools, Trump pointed to the example of Stoneman Douglas football coach Aaron Feis, who was reportedly killed by the alleged gunman last week after Feis threw himself in front of students to protect them from the gunfire.
“If the coach had a firearm in his locker when he ran at this guy — that coach was very brave, saved a lot of lives I suspect — but if he had a firearm, he wouldn’t have had to run, he would have shot and that would have been the end of it,” Trump said.
“Gun-free zone, to a maniac — because they’re all cowards — a gun-free zone is ‘Let’s go in and let’s attack, because bullets aren’t coming back at us,” Trump said, wondering aloud about arming “20 percent of your teaching force.”
“You can’t have 100 security guards in Stoneman Douglas, that’s a big school,” he said. “It’s a massive school with a lot of acreage to cover, a lot of floor area, so that would be certainly a situation that is being discussed a lot by a lot of people.”
“You’d have a lot of people that’d be armed, that’d be ready, they are professionals, they may be Marines that left the Marines, left the Army, left the Air Force, and they are very adept at doing that. You’d have a lot of them and they would be spread evenly through the school.”
The President said he believed “that if these cowards knew that the school was well-guarded from the standpoint of having pretty much professionals with great training, I think they wouldn’t go into the school to start off with.”
“I think it could very well solve your problem,” he said.
“So we’ll be doing the background checks, we’ll be doing a lot of different things, but we’ll certainly be looking at ideas like that.”
Given how the President positioned himself during his campaign regarding guns and the 2nd Amendment, that he received the earliest endorsement and largest amount of monetary support from the NRA, and his previous statements about armed self defense, this is not particularly surprising. Especially because it is an article of faith amongst the 2nd Amendment absolutist community that arming teachers in specific, and doing away with gun free zones, such as schools, in general, would significantly decrease violence and crime in the US.
Someone even took this picture from Israel and turned it into a factually inaccurate meme to support this argument.
The “RIP Children of Newtown” on the bottom is a nice touch. You can’t find bespoke smarm like that just anywhere.
There’s one problem with holding Israel out as an example of how to protect American students and schools: school teachers ARE NOT armed in Israeli schools! Except, perhaps, in some of the West Bank* settlements. And the picture in this meme isn’t of an Israeli school or an Israeli school teacher. Rather it is of a group of Israelis students on a field trip in Acre (aka Akko), Israel. And the woman fiddling with her purse strap with the rifle slung over her back is a paid security guard, not a teacher. They are required for all field trips and school outings in Israel.
Here are the details about the picture:
There is a picture going around the Internet that I have seen about a dozen times today that claims that Israeli teachers are packing heat. Well, are they? The answer is “NO.” There may be some exceptions in dangerous areas like the West Bank (where five percent of Israelis live), but in general, Israeli teachers are not walking around like it’s the Wild Wild West, strapped with a six shooter. No, our teachers are not focused on shooting, but educating. That doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t protect young students.
In the picture, the students are on an outing. While it appears that the teacher is holding a rifle, I have never seen such a thing in ten years of living here. Rest assured however, they are under armed protection. In most cases it is an armed guard or a soldier that will accompany a class, not the teacher. And my guess is that the woman with the gun is a security guard, not a teacher.
Secondly, they are not armed in the classroom. Is that really the image you want to imprint on the minds of six-year-olds? (That would be Hamas) On the other hand. I have never seen a school in Israel that was not fenced in. You must go through a locked gate that is guarded by an armed shomer, a security guard. He or she, on the other hand, is not concerned with educating, but protecting. He or she will ask you why you are there? “What is your child’s name?” “Show me your I.D. card.” And he or she would not let you bring a weapon inside.
These types of massacres don’t seem to happen here for other reasons as well. Despite the stereotype of Israel being a violent nation, it is a million times (slight exaggeration) easier to get a weapon in the US than it is in Israel. Gun Control laws are very strict here.
Israel’s approach to school security is not what the armed intelligentsia thinks it is (emphasis mine).
As we travelled the streets of Tel-Aviv, my mind turned to stories I’d heard of how there are soldiers securing every school and school bus in Israel. I quickly learned after observing a school from the street and making inquiries of our police escort that this was not the case. It is correct that they do indeed have armed security in every school and that an officer is very visible. All the security officers working in the schools are under the guidance of the Israel police, and the standards are high. Unannounced drills are frequent to test operational readiness.
Regarding school buses, there is no such thing in Israel. Any child not walking or being taken to school rides on public transportation. Now, very often there is an armed IDF soldier on the bus, yet this is happenstance and not by design. When there is a heavily attended school field trip, contracted IDF soldiers, police or armed security officers provide the escort for the group.
The Israel schools have assessed the threats and acted accordingly to address them. They have heavy fencing around them to prevent suicide bombers from entering their grounds and buildings, and fences are erected high enough so that anyone trying to lob some explosive device over the top would have a hard time accomplishing the act.
The Israeli “SRO” does not handle law enforcement functions as do many of us within our country. Their function is solely a preventive counter-terror measure to deter, engage if necessary and neutralize a threat.
By all accounts that I received, issues with Israeli school children committing acts that are considered crimes are very rare. Even when this does occur, these events are handled by the school’s headmaster. This is a considerable difference between our style and theirs because as much as we don’t enjoy saying it, American kids can and do commit criminal acts on campus that are sometimes horrendous. This is an unfortunate fact that we face daily as campus police or armed security in our schools. This is life in the United States.
Israel’s example has very little to tell anyone in the US about the 2nd Amendment or how we should understand the enumerated rights within it in a 21st Century context, much less the original late 18th Century one. In order to own a firearm in Israel one must be licensed and there is a strict limit on the amount of ammunition one can own. Quite simply, there is no enumerated right to a firearm, let alone to keep and bear arms in the Israeli Basic Laws (the Israeli constitution). This isn’t a knock on Israel, they just have a different approach so comparisons aren’t going to be particularly helpful.
In fact the Israeli firearm ownership reality is very different from that in the US.
Two types of people have guns in Israel: Soldiers and those with licenses. Mentally unstable people don’t have guns—and thus, don’t shoot people. And it is not as easy to steal a gun as it is in the US. When you are drafted you go through mental tests to see if there are any red flags. If so, you will be discharged or placed in an area where you would never see a rifle.
Only those with the rank of Captain or Lieutenant Colonel for at least two years can qualify to own a gun after the army. And those who do have guns are taught to guard them carefully. For soldiers who take their weapons home, it must be on their persons at all times or under lock and key.
Losing a weapon will get you a jail sentence, as my wife’s childhood friend, Moti, found out two decades ago. He left his gun in his car because he was just running into a mini-mart. He came back and the gun was gone. He spent six months in jail and God only knows where that gun ended up.
Hunting is not popular in Israel, so it would be rare to see someone with five or six hunting rifles and therefore, neither would their son, who spends ten hours a day playing mortal combat, have access to them.
Assault rifles are banned in Israel, except in areas where there is a security risk such as the West Bank.
Glynn County School District Chief of Police Rod Ellis provides support for this recounting of the facts about Israel and firearms.
There are a lot of ideas in the United States of what Israel is like. For example, I’d always heard that Israel is an armed society, and virtually everyone routinely carries a weapon. I learned quickly from one of our guides that although the private ownership of firearms in Israel is not forbidden, those not employed in public safety, security or in the military must show a legitimate need to possess a firearm and must have a permit. Examples include being a civilian, yet being a target of a specific credible threat, such as a retired member of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) or police officer, or a person serving as a reservist. With 20% of Israel’s budget going to defense and security, and 80% of the nation’s defense force being reservists, one can comfortably calculate that a significant portion of the public owns a firearm but don’t routinely carry one.
As I wrote way back in 2015, there is almost nothing any other society can teach the US about the 2nd Amendment, what it means, or how we should do about it. Not 1930s and 1940s Germany, not Israel in 2018. And not any other state and society in between. While Mexico and Guatemala also include a right to keep and bear arms in their constitutions, both of these states interpret and apply this enumerated right very differently than in the US. As a result the US is really the only state with an enumerated right pertaining to keeping and bearing arms in the national foundational law that also officially interprets that right broadly. In this the US is quite unique, exceptional if you will, in that it is the exception, and as such it is very, very difficult to draw effective comparisons from how any other state and society approaches these issues. There are, however, plenty of contrasts that could be made.
Finally, the President’s instructions to the DOJ to develop a regulation that bans bump stocks is most likely dead on arrival. The reason for this is that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) has repeatedly stated that they do not believe they have the authority under existing laws pertaining to firearms to impose such a restriction.
The head of the federal agency tasked with regulating firearms said Wednesday it does not have direct authority to regulate or ban bump stocks ― devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to function like machine guns ― but is looking into whether can reclassify them as firearms to regulate them under existing law.
The review is likely to take months, however, and it’s unclear whether the agency can impose restrictions on firearm accessories without aid from Congress.
“If that wasn’t a possibility, in the end, we wouldn’t initiate the process,” ATF Acting Director Thomas Brandon told lawmakers at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday.
But Brandon conceded it was equally possible for the agency to complete its monthslong review, which includes a 30-day public comment period, and come to the conclusion that it cannot regulate the devices without an update in federal law. The admission prompted one Republican senator to suggest a legislative solution instead.
* Tour groups that go to the West Bank are required to have an armed security guard with them, as well as a properly trained and certified medic. Often they are the same person.
Upadated at 8:35 PM EST:
There is a President Trump tweet for everything!