Donald Trump’s cue cards were accurate: he hears you, mass shooting survivors—but his actions prove he wasn’t listening one bit. In the midst of impassioned pleas to implement stricter gun control laws from the survivors and families of mass school shootings, Trump interjected by emphasizing his desire to boost security by training and arming the teachers and administrators responsible for educating America’s youth.
“A gun-free zone to a maniac—because they are all cowards—a gun-free zone is ‘let’s go in and let’s attack because bullets aren’t coming back at us,'” Trump told the crowd gathered for the White House’s 90-minute listening session about gun control on Wednesday. “If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly.”
“I really believe that, if these cowards knew the school was well guarded by professionals with great training, I don’t think they’d go into the school to start off with,” he added.
However, Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son Daniel was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, rebuffed Trump’s suggestion, arguing that his wife, Jackie, who’s a teacher, “will tell you that school teachers have more than enough responsibility than to have the awesome responsibility of lethal force to take a life.”
“Nobody wants to see a shootout in a school,” Barden said, adding that, if a “deranged sociopath” wants to commit an attack, after which many attackers then commit suicide anyway, “he’s not going to care if there’s somebody there with a gun.”
Despite the fact that the U.S. pays teachers very little to educate generation after generation, leaders now want these under-appreciated professionals to risk their lives each day. While it’s likely in their nature to do so without thought, asking them to wield the very weapon which threatens their students puts an undue burden on those who already carry more than their weight in responsibility. The government has the capacity to regulate the dissemination of deadly weapons, except leaders continue to pass the task onto others to absolve themselves of any guilt as they quietly cash those checks the NRA keeps sending.
Require more people to own or operate guns, while pretending such measures are designed to protect the people? Sounds like a win-win for the cowardly GOP.
Others have also noted that, while access to such weapons would come under the guise of safety, in the hands of the wrong teacher, they could represent a clear and present danger to unarmed troublemakers who merely require intervention and discipline. After all, there are likely many instances where a teacher could become unhinged and threaten students’ safety just as easily as a mentally disturbed kid.
Countless second amendment supporters have tried to discredit the students who are adamantly fighting for gun reform as they grieve for friends and faculty. With the old youth excuse in mind, detractors claim these kids can’t be taken seriously because they’re too young to understand what they’re saying. But, if they’re old enough to purchase an AR-15—the exact weapon that took the lives of 17 people during the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School—aren’t they old enough to speak out against gun violence, too? It’d seem the only thing they’re too young for is to be treated with respect.
Let’s face it—if Trump needs the phrase “I hear you” written on his notecards, he clearly never planned to listen to these distraught individuals in the first place. You see, hearing someone and listening to someone are entirely different, yet both are intricately linked. While you might hear what someone says, their remarks often go in one ear and out the other, as they say. Listening, however, requires active participation. It requires each party to consider one another’s perspective and understand the merits of each view, even if you ultimately disagree.
Trump’s response to this overwhelming call for reform, however, was not only ignorant; it was tone-deaf. He wants to combat the problem by throwing more guns into the mix, which runs counter to everything those directly impacted by gun violence stand for at this moment in history. Halfhearted measures won’t be able to muffle their cries, though.
The Parkland students have spoken, but they won’t go quiet until the U.S. government truly listens to what they have to say, for they are the speakers for the dead and they won’t rest until the victims can rest in peace.
(This post originally appeared on Storia.)