Washington, Feb 22 (IANS) US President Donald Trump met survivors and families of the victims that were killed in the Florida school shooting and suggested that teachers and staff members should be provided with arms to avert such massacres, the media reported.
Trump's comment came during a White House "listening session" on Wednesday which was attended by families and students including six survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a 19-year-old man Nikolas Cruz armed with an assault rifle killed 17 people on February 14, reports CNN.
The event brought Trump face-to-face with students and parents who have demanded action on gun violence.
"If you had a teacher who was adept with the firearm, they could end the attack very quickly," he said, stating that schools could arm up to 20 per ent of their teachers to stop "maniacs" who may try and attack them.
"This would be obviously only for people who were very adept at handling a gun, and it would be, it's called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They'd go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone," 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'."
Acknowledging that the idea was controversial, Trump said that his administration would give it serious study.
The President also called for more mental institutions and hospitals in addition to the idea of arming teachers.
Trump's idea of arming teachers and school staff was met with support from many of the attendees, CNN reported.
Fred Abt, father of Parkland shooting survivor Carson Abt, said he had discussed with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that rather than waiting for first responders to arrive, it would be more efficient to have firearms locked on school campuses.
"One possible solution, which may not be very popular, would be to have people in the school, teachers, administrators who have volunteered to have a firearm safely locked in the classroom who are given training throughout the year," he said.
"There are plenty of teachers who are already licensed to carry firearms, have them raise their hands to volunteer for the training, and when something like this starts, the first responders are already on campus.
Andrew Pollack, a father of one of the 17 victims who died in the Florida shooting, said he was speaking because his daughter couldn't.
"We as a country failed our children... This shouldn't happen."
The President, flanked by the students, went around the room and shook hands before commencing the session.
Trump also later tweeted he would "always remember" the event, adding "we must keep our children safe".
"I will always remember the time I spent today with courageous students, teachers and families," he tweeted, along with a link to the full event.
"So much love in the midst of so much pain. We must not let them down. We must keep our children safe!!"