WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump claimed Monday that he would have rushed into the Florida high school during a mass shooting earlier this month that killed 17 people and called it "disgusting" that an officer assigned to the school didn't enter the building while the attack was underway.
"I really believe I'd run in, even if I didn't have a weapon," Trump said during a White House meeting with governors from across the country, adding that he thinks the governors assembled also would have rushed into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. "You never know until you're tested," he added.
The White House meeting focused in part on the school shooting and the wider issue of gun control. Trump has been highly critical of former Broward County sheriff's deputy Scot Peterson, who remained outside the school during the Feb. 14 massacre in Parkland, Florida. Peterson resigned last week.
An attorney for Peterson on Monday denied that his client had acted unprofessionally and cowardly during the shooting, according to The Associated Press.
Joseph DiRuzzo said Peterson didn't go inside the school because it had sounded as if the shooting was happening outside the building, the AP reported.
At the Monday meeting, Trump suggested that he would act to regulate "bump stocks" even if Congress does not. The devices can be added to semiautomatic weapons to make them fire like fully automatic machine guns and were used by the gunman who killed about 60 people last year in Las Vegas. The device was not used in the Parkland shooting, where the gunman wielded a legally purchased AR-15 semiautomatic weapon.
Trump said he would "write off" bump stocks, suggesting that he would take legislative action to ban the devices. "I don't care if Congress doesn't" act, he said. "We're getting rid of it. You put it into the machine-gun category, which is what it is."
Trump said he had lunch over the weekend with leaders of the National Rifle Association, and he predicted that the powerful gun lobby will "do something" to respond to the escalating concern nationwide about guns.
"Don't worry about the NRA. They're on our side," Trump said.
Also at the governors meeting, Trump called for a revitalization of mental institutions and said he wanted to make it easier for law enforcement to take guns away from mentally ill people.
"We're going to have to start talking about mental institutions," he said. "In the old days," the president added, it was easier to commit people to mental institutions if they acted "like a boiler ready to explode."
Trump urged governors to revisit the closure of mental institutions, saying there should be a half-measure between institutionalization and leaving potentially dangerous people "in their house."
- (c) 2018, The Washington Post