President Donald Trump said he believes he would have intervened in the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, almost two weeks ago.
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Trump called the behavior of the officer who stayed outside and did not go into the school during the shooting "disgusting" and said he would have gone into the school even if he didn't have a gun.
"You know I really believe, you don't know until you're tested, but I really believe I'd run in there even if I didn't have a weapon and I think most of the people in this room would've done that too," he said.
His comments during a White House meeting with governors from around the country on Monday came on the heels of criticism that law enforcement missed warning signs that the former student suspected in the shooting could be dangerous.
The FBI admitted that it did not follow up on a tip that suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz could be dangerous. Trump also criticized the school security officer who the Broward County Sheriff said did not go into the school to stop the shooter. That officer has now resigned.
A lawyer hired to represent that school resource officer, Scot Peterson, defended Peterson's actions in a statement Monday.
"The allegations that Mr. Peterson was a coward and that his performance, under the circumstances, failed to meet the standards of police officers are patently untrue," Peterson's lawyer Joseph DiRuzzo said in a statement.
During a wide-ranging meeting in which the nation's governors also discussed gun policy reform and school safety, Trump said he will ban bump stocks himself if Congress doesn't take action.
"By the way, bump stocks, we're writing that out. I'm writing that out myself. I don't care if Congress does it or not, I'm writing it out myself. You put it into the machine gun category, which is what it is. It becomes essentially a machine gun and nobody's going to be able, it's going to be very hard to get them, so we're writing out bump stocks," he said.
Trump signed a memorandum last week directing the Justice Department to draft a regulation to ban bump stocks and other devices that can be used to transform a rifle into a machine gun shortly after a shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and injured 14 others earlier this month. Authorities do not believe that gunman used a bump stock.
However, the gunman in the Las Vegas shooting in October was found to have used bump stocks to increase the number of bullets he was able to fire.
Machine guns and accessories like mufflers and silencers are regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. That law, which was updated in 1968, defines machine guns as any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot more than one shot without reloading and any part or combination of parts intended "for use in converting a weapon into a machine gun."
But it’s unclear if the Justice Department or Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has the authority to ban these devices.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said after Trump announced the directive that the ATF told Congress there would have to be a legislative solution.
Feinstein introduced a bill to ban bump stocks after the Las Vegas shooting but it did not move forward in Congress.
The president repeated a comment he made last week that he wants to talk about reopening mental health institutions. He said that "in the old days" it was easier to commit people who acted like "a boiler ready to explode." He also said law enforcement should be able to take someone's guns if they have a mental health issue.
Trump said last week he wants to reopen mental health institutions as part of the solution to prevent future mass shootings, saying the shooter from Parkland was a "sicko" and needed help in a meeting with state and local officials.
Current federal regulations say that anyone who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution or found not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity cannot legally possess a firearm. Neither of these were the case with the Parkland shooter.
He also said that the National Rifle Association "is on our side" in taking action to prevent future mass shootings but that they might have to go up against them. The NRA has strongly opposed proposals to raise the age to legally buy an assault rifle from 18 to 21 that the president has supported.
The president is scheduled to go to Capitol Hill this week and meet with Republican members of Congress, where they are expected to likely discuss what, if any, legislation to reform gun laws he would support.
Several governors at the meeting also weighed in on solutions the president has brought up in the two weeks since the shooting.
Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott said the state is going to budget $500 million to have a law enforcement presence at every school in the state and that there will be mental health counselors in every school. He also said the state will support allowing family members, law enforcement officer or mental health professionals to petition a court for restraining orders to take guns away from people who are struggling with mental illness or make violent threats.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said similar programs for protective orders in his state have been very effective and that the president should consider it on a national level.
Inslee also criticized the president's support for the idea of arming some "gun adept" teachers as a deterrent for possible school shooters. Inslee said teachers don't want to carry guns and that lawmakers should listen to educators on this issue.
"I just suggest we need a little less tweeting here a little more listening and let's just take that off the table and move forward," Inslee told the president.
Trump's comments today echoed statements he made last week when he said he wants to reopen mental health institutions as part of the solution to prevent future mass shootings, saying the shooter from Parkland was a "sicko" and needed help.