President Trump appeared to suggest that surplus military equipment in the hands of local police departments could help prevent future school shootings in a speech to mayors at the White House on Wednesday.
“We’re also getting you a lot of our excess military equipment, you know all about that,” Trump said, before attacking the former President Barack Obama. “The previous administrations — but in particular, the previous administration — they didn’t like to do that, and someday they’ll explain why. But we had a lot of excess military equipment, we’re sending it to your police as they need it, and it’s made a tremendous difference.”
“We believe every child deserves to live in safe home, attend a great school, and look forward to an amazing and very very safe future, so you’re getting a lot of equipment,” he added.
Trump’s remarks came hours after Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders got into a heated exchange with a reporter who asked her what specific policies President Trump has pursued to stop school shootings and whether the president would speak out against them following Tuesday’s deadly shooting at a Kentucky high school.
Tuesday’s shooting at Marshall County High School, which left two 15-year-old students dead and injured 18 others, marked the 11th school shooting of 2018.
Minutes after the briefing ended, Trump took to Twitter to publicly acknowledge yesterday’s shooting and offer the victims his “thoughts and prayers.”
Earlier today, I spoke with @GovMattBevin of Kentucky regarding yesterday’s shooting at Marshall County High School. My thoughts and prayers are with Bailey Holt, Preston Cope, their families, and all of the wounded victims who are in recovery. We are with you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2018
Think Progress notes:
In August, Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday announced a rollback of the Obama-era restrictions on the transfer of surplus military equipment to police departments across the country. Those restrictions were put in place in response to the militarized tactics used by police against protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, after a police officer there fatally shot Michael Brown in August 2014.
As ThinkProgress has previously detailed, from 2006 until 2014, the Pentagon’s Law Enforcement Support Office — also known at the 1033 program — supplied local law enforcement agencies with billions of dollars worth of grenade launchers, high-caliber firearms, camouflage gear, and armored personnel carriers used on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.
It’s unclear how Trump thinks armored vehicles and high-caliber guns could prevent school shootings, but in response to previous acts of mass gun violence during his tenure, Trump — whose election effort received more than $30 million from the National Rifle Association — has indicated he opposes stronger background checks, and thinks the problem of gun violence can only be solved by more guns.