Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students listen to sheriff Scott Israel speak before a CNN town hall meeting at the BB&T Center, in Sunrise, Florida, US February 21, 2018..
(photo credit: REUTERS/MICHAEL LAUGHLIN/POOL)
“The president’s statement is wrong – arming teachers with firearms will not prevent massacres, adding weapons will not protect [people] from weapons,” Igal Hebron, the father of a survivor of a mass shooting at a Florida high school, told Army Radio on Thursday, rejecting US President Donald Trump’s suggestion to arm teachers.
Eden Hebron, a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was in class when Nikolas Cruz shot and killed “one of her best friends,” according to her father.
The attack in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and educators were killed, and 14 wounded, on February 14, was the second-deadliest shooting at a US public school.
Trump says arming teachers could prevent school massacres, February 22, 2018 (Reuters)
On Wednesday, Trump held an emotional, hour-long meeting with students who survived the shooting and a parent whose child did not. He said arming teachers and other school staff could help prevent mass shootings, voicing support for an idea backed by the powerful National Rifle Association gun lobby.
The president, who was endorsed by the NRA during the 2016 campaign, said he would move quickly to tighten background checks
for gun buyers and would consider raising the age for buying certain types of guns.
“If you had a teacher... who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly,” Trump said at the listening session.
Hebron, however, said he supports the calls for stricter gun reform in the US.
“The question is... whether this period will continue, whether the big push for background checks will continue, because not everyone should be allowed to enter a gun store and purchase an automatic weapon,” he said. “There could be situations far more dangerous with mistakes [by armed teachers]. Even in situations like [the Parkland shooting]... in my opinion it would be a grave mistake [to give teachers guns],” he said. “We need to reduce the number of weapons in the US, in my opinion.”
Hebron said there is a chance the response to the shooting will move forward the discussion on gun laws in the US.
“You know, we nearly forgot what happened in Las Vegas only a few months ago, since we live in Florida and it happened in Las Vegas,” he remarked. “But there are many who say since this was such an unheard of situation there is a good chance things can be moved along. We saw today on CNN [a town hall meeting on gun violence] and we just returned from a large rally of thousands of people in South Florida.”
The town hall meeting televised on CNN Wednesday evening featured US Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson and Rep. Ted Deutch, all from Florida, where they answered questions from survivors of the shooting. The meeting also featured National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
Hebron also said he “definitely” recommends that his daughter join the protests calling for gun reform. “The truth is, all the trauma experts recommend these children share their stories and continue to tell them,” he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.