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Former President Donald Trump said the Texas school shooting shows a need for more school security — including putting armed teachers in classrooms.
Trump addressed the National Rifle Association convention Friday in Houston held three days after a gunman slaughtered 19 children and two teachers in a Lone Star State elementary school.
Following the GOP party line in the aftermath of Tuesday’s slaughter in Uvalde, Trump called for drastic “change to mental health” and called for schools to be made “harder,” which he said, includes putting armed guards in learning institutions.
“What we need now is a top to bottom security overhaul at schools all across our country,” Trump said. “Every building should have a single point of entry.”
Calling for bipartisan efforts to “harden our schools and protect our children,” the 45th president called for anyone entering a school to be “checked, scanned, screened and fully approved.”
Trump also called for teachers to be trained to pack heat in classrooms.
“Let them conceal carry,” he said.
Playing to a very friendly crowd, Trump told NRA members that gun-control advocates may talk about banning firearms like AR-15 rifles, but that ultimately, “they want total gun confiscation.”
According to Trump, if the U.S. has money to aid Ukraine in its war against Russia, the nation has the resources to fortify schools. That comment drew especially enthusiastic applause from the Houston crowd.
He also said roadway signs designating areas around schools as gun-free zones invite danger.
“They [shooters] look at that sign and say ‘That’s where I’m going,’” Trump said. “If somebody goes into that building all of those innocent people will be taken out, will be killed, will be tortured — bad things will happen.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who spoke before Trump Friday, conceded that Texas has had more than its share of massacres. But like other speakers, he denied that easy access to guns played any role in the tragedy.
“It’s an evil that has happened too many damn times,” Cruz said. “It’s never been about guns.... acts of evil are on the rise and we have to ask why.”
He too attacked liberal Democrats for a stealth agenda to take away guns from law-abiding citizens.
“Their real goal is disarming America,” he added
Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) delivered a message to the convention via videotape. He paid tribute to the victims in Uvalde, but said gun control wouldn’t have prevented the slaughter.
“There are thousands of laws to restrict gun ownership,” Abbott said. “They have not stopped madmen from carrying out violent acts.”
Some scheduled speakers and performers backed out of the event, including several Texas lawmakers and “American Pie” singer Don McLean.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Friday morning that he had decided not to speak at an event breakfast after “prayerful consideration and discussion with NRA officials.”
The NRA said that people attending the gun show would “reflect on” the Uvalde school shooting.
The in-person meeting is the first for the troubled organization since 2019, following a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic.
The organization has been trying to regroup following a period of serious legal and financial turmoil that included a failed bankruptcy effort, a class-action lawsuit and a fraud investigation by New York’s attorney general.
While President Biden and Democrats in Congress have renewed calls for stricter gun laws in the wake of the Uvalde shooting, NRA board members and others attending the conference dismissed talk of banning or limiting access to firearms.
Inside the convention hall, thousands of people walked around, stopping at booths that featured displays of handguns, rifles, AR-style firearms, knives, clothing and gun racks. Outside, police set up metal barriers at a large park where hundreds of protesters and counter-protesters gathered in front of the downtown convention center.