In a rambling speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Friday, President Trump continued to push his campaign to arm teachers in the wake of the Florida school shooting, saying that teachers are the best defense because they love their students.
"The teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened," he said.
Trump estimated that 10%–20% of teachers or other school staff — such as coaches or the principal — are military, law-enforcement trained, or "gun-adept people" and should carry concealed weapons to stop school massacres.
"These teachers love their students. And these teachers are talented with weaponry and with guns. And they feel safe," said Trump.
The Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland by a former student left 17 people dead and 14 people injured.
On Thursday, Broward Country Sheriff Scott Israel announced that the school had an armed school resource deputy on campus, but he failed to act. The deputy, Scot Peterson, heard the shots but remained outside the building for four minutes and did not attempt to stop the shooter.
"He never went in," said Israel.
Peterson stepped down from his position with the Broward County Sheriff's Office, after being suspended without pay.
Earlier Friday, Trump called Peterson a "coward" and during his CPAC speech he attributed that cowardice to a lack of love for the students.
"I'd rather have somebody that loves their students and wants to protect their students than somebody standing outside that doesn't know anybody and doesn't know the students, and frankly, for whatever reason, decided not to go in, even though he heard lots of shots being fired inside," Trump said.
Trump repeated multiple times the notion that teachers' love for their students would make them better suited to protect them.
"They love those students, folks. Remember that. They love their students. And I'm telling you that would work because we need offensive capability,'" said Trump.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott slammed Trump's proposal during a press conference Friday, where he announced some measures to toughen the state's gun laws, including stronger background checks, a ban on bump stocks, and raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21.
"I disagree with arming teachers. My focus is on bringing in law enforcement. Need to have individuals that are well trained," said Scott.
Trump also noted that he thinks public opinion is changing against his plan to arm teachers — although Thursday, teachers began tweeting using the #ArmMeWith hashtag to highlight all of the the things their classrooms need other than weapons.
"And I know it is a little controversial to say, but I have to say since I started this two days ago, a lot of people that were totally opposed to it and now agreeing. They love their students. They don't want their students to be killed or to be hurt. So we have to do something that works," said Trump.
Trump told the crowd that Democrats will remove recent tax cuts on business and the Second Amendment — although no Democratic presidential nominee has called for revoking the Second Amendment.
He asked the CPAC crowd to cheer which one they'd rather have. The crowd roared loudest for the Second Amendment.
Trump reiterated his plan to arm school staff in a press conference with the Australian Prime Minister on Friday afternoon, comparing teachers with weapons to armed air marshals.
"You can look at what's happened with airplanes — where we put marshals on planes with guns, where pilots, in many cases have guns. Nothing has happened in a long period of time. When it used to almost, it was getting to the point of almost being routine. When you have somebody with a gun staring you down, it's going to be a lot different for them to walk into those schools," said Trump.
Trump also again said the behavior of the sheriff's deputy who was at the school and armed when the shooting happened, but failed to go after the shooter, could be explained because he "doesn't love the children" like their own teachers.
"If they know bad things will happen to them once they get into that school by people who love the children — a security guard doesn't know the children, doesn't love the children. This man standing outside of the school the other day doesn't love the children, probably doesn't know the children. The teachers love their children."
Scot Peterson's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this post.