The Latest: Trump blames armed officer at FL high school

Andrew Harnik
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, to travel to Oxon Hill, Md. to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The Latest on President Donald Trump and gun laws (all times local):

9:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump says the armed officer who didn’t stop the gunman who carried out last week’s Florida massacre was either a “coward” or “didn’t react properly under pressure.”

Trump was departing the White House for the Conservative Political Action Conference when he said: “When it came time to get in there and do something” Florida deputy Scot Peterson “didn’t have the courage or something happened.”

Trump added, “he certainly did a poor job, there’s no question about that.”

Officials announced Thursday that Peterson never went inside to engage the gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School while the shooting that killed 17 was underway.

Trump is calling the episode “a real shot to the police department” and says this “could have been prevented.”


9:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump says the National Rifle Association “wants to do the right thing” in response to last week’s Florida school shooting.

Trump is calling for raising the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles in the wake of the mass killing — a move opposed by the NRA. But Trump says he’s been speaking with the group, “and they do want to do the right thing.”

Speaking before Marine One departs the White House for his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump said again that some teachers and employees should be armed and trained to respond to school shootings.

“Gun free is an invitation for these crazy people to just come in and shoot,” Trump says. “You have to have a certain degree of offensive power within the school.”


9:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump is planning to address gun violence in schools, border security and the debate over the national anthem in his speech later today at the Conservative Political Action Committee.

The president plans to tell the conservative activists that “we all PROUDLY STAND” for the National Anthem, referencing his role in the debate over whether the NFL should let players kneel during the national anthem.

Trump will point to the need for “commonsense measures” on school safety and guns that will “protect the rights of law-abiding Americans while helping to keep guns out of the hands of those who pose a danger to themselves and to others.”

He’s also expected to call upon Congress to build his long-promised wall along the U.S. and Mexican border “to stop dangerous drugs and criminals.”


12:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump says the nation should keep assault rifles out of the hands of anyone under 21. That position defies his loyal supporters in the National Rifle Association at a time of heated debate over gun violence.

He also is pushing hard for arming security guards and many teachers in U.S. schools.

Trump says that he’s spoken with many members of Congress and NRA officials and insists they would go along with his plans in the wake of last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.

But there were no words of support from the NRA for his minimum-age proposal — and outright opposition from organizations of teachers and school security guards for the idea of arming schools to deal with intruders.

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