During his speech to CPAC on Friday, President Trump made a case that armed teachers would be more effective at preventing schools than armed guards — an argument that’s not supported by evidence or common sense — and then claimed that an armed teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week could have stopped Nikolas Cruz from killing 17 people with an AR-15.
“These teachers love their students, and these teachers are talented with weaponry and with guns,” Trump said, not talking about any teachers in particular. “And I’d rather have somebody who loves their students and wants to protect their students than somebody that doesn’t know anybody and doesn’t know the students and frankly, for whatever reason, decided not to go in even though they heard lots of shots being fired inside.”
Trump’s remark about a person who “decided not to go in” was addressed at a sheriff’s deputy who was stationed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas school when Cruz went on his rampage but failed to respond to the shooting. While this seems like an obvious indictment of Trump’s idea that militarizing schools is the best way to prevent mass shootings, the president instead interpreted the guard’s failure as evidence that the best solution is to arm teachers instead.
“So this crazy man who walked in wouldn’t even know who it is who has [a gun]. That’s good,” Trump said, alluding to Cruz. “That’s not bad, that’s good.”
“And the teacher would’ve shot the hell out of him before he even knew what happened,” Trump added, as the CPAC audience erupted in cheers.
Trump’s argument assumes that teachers would end up being better marksman than cops, who generally shoot accurately less than 30 percent of the time. It assumes that a teacher armed with a handgun would’ve been able to take out a gunman using a much more powerful AR-15. And it assumes that the benefits of introducing guns into public schools would outweigh the negatives, like accidents and endangerment of students of color.
In general, studies have shown that the “good guy with a gun” myth is just that: a myth. A comprehensive study by the Violence Policy Center found guns “are rarely used to kill criminals or stop crimes.” In 2012, “for every justifiable homicide in the United States involving a gun, guns were used in 32 criminal homicides,” researchers concluded. Another study by the University of Pennsylvania found that someone carrying a gun is “4.46 times more likely to be shot in an assault.” And the presence of more people with guns in active shooter environments creates dangerous situations for law enforcement officers, who won’t necessarily be able to distinguish between a good samaritan and a perpetrator.
During a CNN town hall on Wednesday, survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas made clear that they think the best way to prevent future massacres is to ban assault weapons. But Trump — who spent a good chunk of Thursday parroting the NRA’s talking points — isn’t willing to consider it.
During his CPAC speech, the only gun control measure Trump said he supports is a vague measure to strengthen background checks.