One Senator described the prospect of allowing teachers carry guns as "literally insane"
Donald Trump has suggested that arming teachers in the US with guns could help tackle violence in schools, amid increasing calls for gun controls in the wake of the Florida school shooting.
Survivors of last week's attack attended a 'listening session' at the White House yesterday, alongside survivors of other school shootings at Sandy Hook and Columbine.
Parents of some of the victims were among the others who travelled to Washington for the often emotional, raw event.
Those in attendance urged the US President to take action to prevent more violence in schools.
Nicole Hockley, the mother of a six-year-old Sandy Hook victim, said: "How many more deaths as a country can we take? How many more teenagers and six and seven-year-olds can we allow to die? Don't let that happen anymore on your watch."
Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed in last week's shooting, said the issue of gun laws was 'another battle', but called for urgent action to protect students in schools.
He called on President Trump to "fix it", stating: "It should have been one school shooting, and we should have fixed it. And I’m pissed, because my daughter, I’m not going to see again."
He added: "King David Cemetery. That’s where I go to see my kid now."
"I lost a best friend. ... I don't understand why I can can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war" Sam Zeif was on the second floor of the Parkland, Florida, school where 17 people died after a mass shooting. https://t.co/3j4r9cQ3Ko https://t.co/uTvMrOqvYC— CNN (@CNN) February 21, 2018
Responding to one of the attendee's comments, President Trump spoke about the deeply controversial prospect of arming teachers.
He said: "[Concealed carry] only works where you have people very adept at using firearms, of which you have many. It would be teachers and coaches."
He cited the case of Aaron Feis - the Stoneman Douglas coach who witnesses said was killed while he 'shielded' students from the shooter - as an example of someone who he claimed could have benefited from having a weapon.
President Trump explained: "A teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They'd go for special training, and they would be there and you'd no longer have a gun-free zone. A gun-free zone to a maniac, because they're all cowards... is 'let's go in and let's attack, because bullets aren't coming back at us'."
The National Rifle Association - which endorsed Trump ahead of the 2016 US election - has long supported concealed carry policies, but the idea has also faced fierce opposition. One Hawaii Senator described the idea as 'literally insane'.
Eliminating gun free school zones and arming teachers is literally insane and based on the NRA business model that the solution to gun violence is to sell more guns.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) February 21, 2018
President Trump also pledged he would be "very strong on background checks" and would put an "emphasis on mental health".
On Thursday morning, he took to Twitter to point out that he never said "give teachers guns" - but, in a lengthy series of tweets, he added: "History shows that a school shooting lasts, on average, 3 minutes. It takes police & first responders approximately 5 to 8 minutes to get to site of crime.
"Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive. GREAT DETERRENT!"
I never said “give teachers guns” like was stated on Fake News @CNN & @NBC. What I said was to look at the possibility of giving “concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience - only the best. 20% of teachers, a lot, would now be able to— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 22, 2018
....immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions. Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this. Far more assets at much less cost than guards. A “gun free” school is a magnet for bad people. ATTACKS WOULD END!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 22, 2018
During Wednesday evening's White House event, the US President also drew attention on social media with a list of notes he was holding during the White House event - which included a reminder to say "I hear you".
President Donald Trump holds notes during a White House listening session with students and parents affected by school shootings. (AP Photo by Carolyn Kaster) pic.twitter.com/Z0lZbSVaoF— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) February 21, 2018
The listening session came as survivors of last week’s school shooting joined a rally in the Florida capital Tallahassee, calling for tighter gun control.
Others took part in a televised 'town hall' debate organised by CNN, which was also attended by Senator Marco Rubio and local sheriff Scott Israel.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel: "We do need to have some gun control and reform. ... Anybody who says different, I don't know about other people, but Emma (Gonzalez) and I -- we're calling BS on that" https://t.co/13dzuzJYRm #StudentsStandUp https://t.co/FsdoRCoQNG— CNN (@CNN) February 22, 2018
Cameron Kasky, who survived the school shooting: “Sen. Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA?”— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 22, 2018
Rubio: “People buy into my agenda, and I do support the Second Amendment” #StudentsStandUp https://t.co/ucmVB74g1C