The Trump administration has proposed “rigorous” firearms training for teachers, partly funded by federal grants.
In an announcement on Monday (Australian time), Mr Trump indicated he would back a bill to bolster criminal checks on gun buyers, but he appeared to back away from the idea of increasing the minimum age to buy certain firearms – a policy he earlier said he would support.
The US President first floated the idea of arming teachers as part of a package of measures discussed three weeks ago to stem gun violence in schools, after a gunman killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida, on February 14.
Administration officials described the package as “pragmatic”, with the more contentious proposals – such as raising the minimum age for buying guns to 21 from 18, or requiring background checks for guns bought at gun shows or on the internet – to be examined by a commission headed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
“Today we are announcing meaningful actions, steps that can be taken right away to help protect students,” Ms DeVos said.
“Far too often the focus has been only on the most contentious fights – the things that have divided people and sent them into their entrenched corners.”
Mr Trump’s announcement of the bill and commission comes a day after he addressed a rally in Pennsylvania and slammed the existence of blue-ribbon committees saying, “We can’t just keep setting up blue-ribbon committees” which did nothing but “talk, talk, talk”.
The President, who championed gun rights during his 2016 campaign, argued in the wake of the Florida shooting that armed teachers would deter school shootings and better protect students in the event of an attack – an idea that was immediately attacked from many quarters.
Under the plan, the administration would work with states to implement “rigorous” firearms training for “specially qualified” school personnel.
CNN reported that the Trump administration would also support the “transition of military veterans and retired law enforcement into new careers in education”.
“Federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, also will partner with states and local governments to support a public awareness campaign modelled on the department’s “see something, say something” anti-terrorism campaign to encourage the awareness and reporting of suspicious activity,” CNN reported.
The Florida shooting reignited the national debate over gun control, with students who survived the attack attracting a groundswell of public support and pressuring politicians to crack down on guns.
After marches and rallies, the students also plan to march on Washington on March 24 to further press their claims.
The administration is still planning to implement a ban on bump fire stocks – devices that allow semiautomatic weapons to fire at a more rapid rate – as has been promised by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The Justice Department has submitted a proposed regulation to the Office of Management and Budget for review to prohibit their sale by classifying them as machine guns under federal law.