Trump’s Parkland Anniversary Statement Barely Mentions Gun Violence
One year after a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, President Donald Trump's Parkland statement called on Americans to help make their schools more secure and communities safer. As The Washington Post noted, however, Trump's message fails to substantially address gun control.
In his Thursday statement, Trump noted that his administration has "made tremendous strides" in "preventing violence in our schools." He cited survivors of gun violence, as well as family members of those killed by gun violence, as being instrumental in the implementation of various violence-prevention initiatives.
Trump also mentioned that he had signed the STOP School Violence Act and the Fix NICS Act into law not long after the Parkland shooting. According to Time, the STOP School Violence Act provided funding for the Justice Department to improve school security mechanisms; train students, teachers, and law enforcement officials to prevent violence; and set up anonymous reporting systems for possible threats to schools.
The Fix NICS Act, meanwhile, required federal agencies to report criminal convictions to the attorney general so that those convictions could be taken into consideration during background checks for gun purchases.
The most explicit comment Trump made about gun control in his statement was about banning bump stocks, which his administration officially did back in December. He also only mentioned gun violence once toward the end of his statement, noting that he and the first lady are "praying for the continued healing of those in the Parkland community and all communities where lives have been lost to gun violence." However, The Washington Post noted that Trump tweaked the quote to say "school violence" instead of "gun violence" when he tweeted about it:
Newsweek reported that Trump's response to the Parkland shooting presented a stark contrast to former President Barack Obama's statement on the shooting's anniversary. While Trump's statement appeared to celebrate the steps his administration has taken, Obama applauded the students of Parkland for "helping pass meaningful new gun violence laws in states across the country." You can read Trump's full statement below:
One year ago today, a horrific act of violence took the lives of 14 students and 3 educators in Parkland, Florida. On this somber anniversary, we honor their memory and recommit to ensuring the safety of all Americans, especially our Nation’s children.
The day after the tragedy in Parkland, I told the Nation that school safety would be a top priority for my Administration. We took immediate action, committing ourselves to a sacred vow to do everything in our power to ensure that evil does not stalk our children on the playgrounds or in the hallways of our Nation’s schools. Within days, I convened a listening session at the White House, during which young men and women, joined by family and friends, recounted stories of survival and heroic acts of bravery and remembered those lost to senseless violence.
We learned a lot that afternoon, exchanging many strong ideas on preventing violence in our schools. These important suggestions resulted in the creation of the Federal Commission on School Safety to consider recommendations spanning a broad range of topics important to protecting our students and securing our schools. Carson Abt, a survivor and now a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, suggested that we need to ensure that all schools have the resources necessary to institute active shooter protocols and drills. Julia Cordover, another Parkland survivor, asked that my Administration take action to ban bump stocks. Alaya Barnett, a student at Friendship Technology Preparatory Academy in Washington, D.C., suggested improvements to counseling services for victims of bullying. And Sandy Hook mom, Nicole Hockley, urged enactment of the STOP School Violence Act, which authorizes $1 billion over the next ten years to prevention programs and reporting systems nationwide.
We have made tremendous strides. One month after that important meeting, I signed the STOP School Violence Act and Fix NICS Act into law. The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services began the process of expanding health and other services to low-income public elementary and secondary schools. The Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation also convened a School Safety Summit that discussed how to better identify troubled students, conduct threat assessments, and institute anonymous reporting systems. Additionally, my Administration has completed a regulatory process, which it had started in October of 2017, to ban bump stocks.
On December 18, 2018, the Federal Commission on School Safety released a compelling 180-page report directly addressing many of the ideas exchanged last February at the White House and in listening sessions, panel discussions, and field visits held all across the country. The report offered nearly 100 diverse and evidence-based policy recommendations, ranging from use of Extreme Risk Protection Orders to improved mental health and counseling services in our schools. To protect against acts of violence on school grounds, the Commission also recommended a structure of interagency and intergovernmental collaboration, strengthening the working relationship between educational personnel, law enforcement, and State and local leadership.
Melania and I join all Americans in praying for the continued healing of those in the Parkland community and all communities where lives have been lost to gun violence. We reaffirm the bonds of faith, family, community, and country that unite us as one Nation. Today, as we hold in our hearts each of those lost a year ago in Parkland, let us declare together, as Americans, that we will not rest until our schools are secure and our communities are safe.
Just before the Parkland's shooting's one-year anniversary, journalists from McClatchy and The Trace teamed up to publish the "Since Parkland" project. This project aimed to "document the gun-related death of every youth under 18 years old in the US" in the year since the Parkland shooting, CNN reported. The project found that nearly 1,200 young people under 18 have been killed by gun violence in the past year, and student journalists across the country then wrote portraits of these gun violence victims.