Teachers return to scene of mass shooting as Donald Trump firms stance

U.S. President Donald Trump. Picture: Getty
U.S. President Donald Trump. Picture: Getty
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As teachers yesterday returned to a high school where a gunman killed 17 people, Florida’s governor proposed banning the sale of firearms to anyone under 21.

Governor Rick Scott announced the proposal as part of a three-point plan to prevent gun violence.

He also called for a trained law enforcement officer in every school in Florida by the time the 2018 school year starts. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland had one armed resource officer, who never entered the school during the 14 February shooting.

That failure, plus reports of a delay in security camera footage scanned by responding police and several records indicating the 19-year-old suspect displayed behavioural troubles for years, added to what the Florida House speaker described as an “abject breakdown at all levels”.

The Valentine’s Day shooting has reignited national debate over gun laws and school safety, including proposals by president Donald Trump and others to designate more people, such as trained teachers, to carry arms on school grounds. Gun-control advocates have redoubled calls for bans or further restrictions on assault rifles.

Teachers have started returning to the school to collect belongings from classrooms off-limits since the massacre.

The school plans an orientation tomorrow for teachers and students. Classes will be restarted on Wednesday.

“Our new normal has yet to be defined, but we want to get back to it,” geography teacher Ernest Rospierski said.

His classroom is on the third floor of the three-storey building that was attacked. Officials have said that building will be torn down. History teacher Ivy Schamis was teaching a Holocaust class when the gunman fired into her classroom. She is planning to return on Monday to collect items from the room, including a big yellow banner that reads “Never Again” in reference to the Holocaust.

The school resource officer took up a position viewing the western entrance of that building for more than four minutes after the shooting started, but “he never went in”, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said. The shooting lasted about six minutes.

The officer, Scot Peterson, was suspended without pay and placed under investigation before resigning.

Mr Trump weighed in yesterday, saying Peterson was either a “coward” or “didn’t react properly under pressure”. “He was not a credit to law enforcement,” Mr Trump said.

The president again pressed for the arming of many teachers and school security guards.

Basking in the glow of a cheering crowd, Trump offered a greatest-hits recap of his campaign themes during wide-ranging remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference.

He urged activists to heed his recent calls to address gun 
violence.

Long supported by the National Rifle Association, Mr Trump has sought to maintain his backing among gun rights activists even as he has called for strengthening background checks and raising the minimum age for buying semi-automatic rifles.