Donald Trump has walked back his hard line on guns in schools as expressed at last week's NRA conference, which came amid a string of accidental shootings in recent weeks.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who was recently endorsed by the NRA, told CNN on Monday that "school resource officers" or trained teachers should be allowed to carry guns on school grounds. Trump previously argued against gun-free zones in schools and on military bases.
On average, 567 people are accidentally killed by guns each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since Trump first took a stand against gun-free zones on Oct. 28, when he called them “a catastrophe” and a “feeding frenzy for sick people” during the third prime-time GOP presidential debate, there have been at least 32 school shootings. Six were unintentional, and four of them occurred this month alone, according to data collected by the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, a New York–based nonprofit that advocates for gun control.
The most recent one was at a graduation ceremony at Augusta High School in Kansas on May 15. Police said a man who had a concealed carry permit accidentally shot his foot when he went to adjust a small gun tucked in his sock. The bullet ricocheted off the ground and struck another person, who was rushed to the hospital in serious condition. The man was treated at a local hospital and released, according to ABC News affiliate KAKE in Wichita, Kansas.
Two days earlier, a 16-year-old student at Southside High School in Greenville County, South Carolina, inadvertently shot himself with a gun he took to school. The teen was taken to a local hospital for nonthreatening injuries. Police said a 17-year-old student at the school was also in possession of a pistol but did not discharge it. Both students are facing charges, ABC News affiliate WLOS in Asheville, North Carolina, reported.
"It's really scary to just think that your relative or child or anybody you know is inside the school and is in danger," Angela Little, whose niece witnessed the shooting, told WLOS.
On Sunday, during a call-in interview with Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” the billionaire businessman said he didn't want to "have guns in classrooms."
“Although, in some cases, teachers should have guns in classrooms. Things that are going on in our schools are unbelievable. You look at some of our schools — unbelievable what’s going on. But I’m not advocating guns in classrooms," he added.
“But remember, in some cases – and a lot of people have made this case – teachers should be able to have guns,” Trump continued. “Trained teachers should be able to have guns in classrooms.”
Speaking at the NRA's annual convention in Kentucky on Friday, Trump vowed to eliminate gun-free zones in the country, including at some schools and military bases where guns may not be lawfully carried by most individuals. He also slammed Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton for her stance on guns.
“We’re getting rid of gun-free zones, I can tell you,” he said. “Crooked Hillary Clinton is the most anti-gun, anti–Second Amendment candidate ever to run for office. And as I said before, she wants to abolish the Second Amendment. She wants to take your guns away. She wants to abolish it.”
Clinton was quick to fire back, accusing Trump of pandering to the gun lobby and calling for “dangerous” gun policies. He immediately took to Twitter to respond to the her remarks.
Crooked Hillary said that I want guns brought into the school classroom. Wrong!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 22, 2016
But the real estate mogul was singing a different tune in January, when he said gun-free zones were simply “bait” for shooters.
"I will get rid of gun-free zones in schools and — you have to — on military bases,” Trump said at a campaign event in Burlington, Vermont. "My first day, it gets signed, OK? My first day. There's no more gun-free zones.”