President Donald Trump hosted a “listening session” at the White House today to hear from those affected by the epidemic of mass shootings in schools. Video of the full session is included below.
Among those attending were students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students were killed last week. Also attending were parents who lost children in past school shootings, including Darrell Scott, father of Rachel Scott, who died at Columbine in 1999.
The President said very little during the event, speaking up only once, when a parent who lost a child suggested arming teachers. The President seemed voiced his approval of such a move, but did acknowledge there were other ideas he would consider as well.
Spilling out wrenching tales of lost lives and stolen safety, students with quavering voices and parents shaking with anger appealed to President Donald Trump on Wednesday to set politics aside and protect American school children from the scourge of gun violence. Trump listened intently as raw emotions reverberated at the White House.
Faced with the personal anguish wrought by the school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead, Trump pledged action, saying: “We don’t want others to go through the kind of pain you’ve been through.”
He was faced with grieving families looking for answers. Few had concrete suggestions, but a few spoke in favor of raising age limits for buying assault weapons.
Parkland student Samuel Zeif said he’s heard of 15-year-olds buying rifles. Cary Gruber, father of a Parkland student, implored Trump: “It’s not left and right,” adding: “if you can’t buy a beer, you shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.”
Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed in the shooting, noted previous school massacres and raged over his loss, saying the moment wasn’t about gun laws but about fixing the schools.
“It should have been one school shooting and we should have fixed it and I’m pissed. Because my daughter, I’m not going to see again,” said Pollack. “King David Cemetery, that is where I go to see my kid now.
The student body president at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Julia Cordover, tearfully told Trump that she “was lucky enough to come home from school.”
She added: “I am confident you will do the right thing.”
Not all the students impacted by the shooting came to the White House.
David Hogg, who has been one of the students actively calling for gun control was invited but declined, said his mother Rebecca Boldrick.
“His point was (Trump needs) to come to Parkland, we’re not going there,” she said.
Television personality Geraldo Rivera had dinner with Trump at his private Palm Beach club over the weekend and described Trump as “deeply affected” by his visit Friday with Parkland survivors. In an email, Rivera said he and Trump discussed the idea of raising the minimum age to purchase assault-type weapons.
Trump “suggested strongly that he was going to act to strengthen background checks,” Rivera said.
Here is the video from the White House listening session.