Washington, United States | AFP | President Donald Trump and America’s powerful gun lobby on Thursday cast citizens with weapons as a solution to shootings, as it emerged an armed deputy was on campus during a deadly Florida rampage but failed to act.
National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre hit back at what he called “the shameful politicization of tragedy” and repeated the organization’s position that “to stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun,” while Trump made a controversial call to arm teachers.
The Broward County sheriff said Thursday that an armed deputy was in fact present during the Valentine’s Day rampage that left 17 dead in a Florida high school, but did not act to stop it.
In his first public comments since the shooting, LaPierre reiterated long-standing accusations that gun control advocates were seeking to roll back the constitutional right to bear arms.
“It’s a classic strategy right out of the playbook of a poisonous movement,” he told an annual conservative conference outside Washington, hitting out at what he called “socialists” on the political left, and at the “so-called national news media.”
“For them, it’s not a safety issue, it’s a political issue,” he charged. “They hate the NRA. They hate the Second Amendment. They hate individual freedom.”
Sheriff Scott Israel later announced that Scott Peterson, an armed school resource deputy, was at the high school but took up a position outside and “never went in” during the shooting.
He should have “went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer,” Israel said.
Peterson resigned after being suspended without pay.
Two other deputies were placed on restricted duty during an investigation to determine if “they could have done more or should have done more” ahead of the shooting, Israel said.
– Teachers warn of ‘arms race’ in schools –
The NRA’s cause received a significant boost when Trump — in his second meeting at the White House on school safety in as many days — floated a plan to respond to the Parkland carnage by putting more guns in schools.
He declared “gun free” schools a “magnet” for mass shooters and proposed bonuses for teachers who are willing to carry concealed firearms.