News World Trump needs reminder to show empathy to shooting survivors

Trump needs reminder to show empathy to shooting survivors

donald trump note
The President appeared to need prepping for the emotional White House meeting. Photo: Getty
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US President Donald Trump has been caught using a cheat sheet on how to appear empathetic during a meeting with survivors of the deadly Florida school shooting.

On Thursday, Mr Trump sat in the middle of a semi-circle in the White House State Dining Room, listening intently as survivors and parents wept and delivered emotions appeals pleading for change.

The meeting included six students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, where 17 students and staff were killed on February 14 by a gunman with an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle.

trump notes florida survivors
Mr Trump reached for the notes during the listening session. Photo: Getty

His attentiveness could have been aided by handwritten notes, captured by photographers, reminding him to say things like: “I hear you” and “What can we do to help you feel safe?”.

That last point did not appear to help Mr Trump arrive at a consensus with the survivors. Arming teachers with guns was one of his preferred options, whereas many of the parents and teachers pushed for gun control.

There was widespread backlash to the notes in media commentary and on social media, with many asking why Mr Trump needed advice on how to listen and show empathy.

What did the students say?

Donald Trump listening session
Samuel Zeif, a senior at Stoneman Douglas, breaks down as he delivers his message to Donald Trump. Photo: AAP

“I don’t understand why I can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war, an AR,” said Samuel Zeif, 18, sobbing after he described texting his family members during the Florida shooting.

“Let’s never let this happen again please, please.

“I lost a best friend who’s practically a brother. And I’m here to use my voice because I know he can’t.

“And I know he’s with me, cheering me on to be strong but it’s hard.”

Parkland student Justin Gruber said: “Nineteen years ago, the first school shooting Columbine, at Columbine High School happened. I was born into a world where I never got to experience safety and peace.

“There needs to be significant change in this country because this has to never happen again and people should be able to feel that when they go to school they can be safe.”

What did parents have to say?

Andrew Pollack
Andrew Pollack’s daughter Meadow Pollack was shot to death last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Photo: AAP

“It doesn’t make sense. Fix it. It should have been one school shooting and we should have fixed it,” shouted Andrew Pollack, who lost a child in the Parkland shooting.

“And I’m pissed because my daughter I’m not going to see again.

“She’s in North Lauderdale … King David cemetery, that’s where I go to see my kid now. And it stops. We all work together.”

How did Donald Trump respond?

The President’s most controversial idea was to arm teachers with guns.

“If you had a teacher … who was adept at firearms, it could very well end the attack very quickly,” said Mr Trump, who acknowledged the idea would be controversial.

“They’d go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone.”

But he also appeared sympathetic to some new gun controls.

“We’re going to do something about this horrible situation that’s going on. We’re all going to figure it out together,” he said.

“We’re going to be very strong on background checks, we’re doing very strong background checks, very strong emphasis on the mental health.

“It’s not going to be talk like it has been in the past.”

-With ABC

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