The White House press secretary got emotional when a child asked what the Trump administration was doing to combat school shootings on Wednesday. Video of Sarah Sanders reacting to the gun violence question appears to show her holding back tears. Her response drew on her own experience as a parent; however, she did not give the young boy a clear answer about what gun control policies the administration was considering.
“I think that as a kid and certainly as a parent, there is nothing that could be more terrifying for a kid to go to school and not feel safe. I’m sorry you feel that way,” Sanders replied to the boy, who told her about a recent lockdown drill at his school.
The boy explained to Sanders that his and his friends' mental health had been affected by their worries about being shot at school. Sanders assured the boy that the administration takes the issue seriously. She added that a new school safety commission created by the White House in March will meet this week to discuss "the best ways forward and how we can do every single thing within our power to protect kids in our schools and to make them feel safe and make their parents feel good about dropping them off."
The goal of the Federal Commission on School Safety, led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, is to address school safety and what the administration calls a culture of violence. It will study and make recommendations on age restrictions for certain firearm purchases, entertainment rating systems and youth consumption of violent entertainment, and the effects of of press coverage following mass shootings, according to a White House fact sheet. The commission is also expected to look into repealing the Obama administration’s “Rethink School Discipline” policies, which discouraged schools from reporting students who misbehave to law enforcement.
"Every child deserves to grow up in a safe community surrounded by a loving family and to have a future filled with opportunity and with hope," Trump said when announcing the new commission.
Trump also formally put his support behind a bipartisan bill aimed at improving the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The “Fix NICS” bill, introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), has stalled in the Senate since then.
Sanders announced on Wednesday that Trump will meet with the families of students killed in the Santa Fe, Texas school shooting during a trip to Texas this week. Ten people were fatally shot and thirteen others wounded when a student opened fire at the high school earlier this month. Trump is traveling to Houston and Dallas to attend political fundraisers, but will stop by Santa Fe to "personally offer his condolences and support," according to Sanders.
If he meets with Santa Fe High School junior Megan McGuire, he may not receive a warm welcome. The survivor warned lawmakers that their careers won't last much longer if they don't take more action to stop school shootings. "My thought is that if you do not do something, you do not have a prayer of being elected," she said, according to ABC News. "My generation will see to that."
When asked about school shootings in the past, Sanders has both maintained that Trump wants American schools to be safe and defended the president against accusations that his administration hasn’t done enough to achieve that goal.
“The president believes that all Americans deserve to be safe in their schools and their communities,” Sanders said in a January press briefing. “We’ve had two years of increased violence prior to the president taking office. We’ve tried to crack down on crime throughout the country.”
She added: “The fact that you’re basically accusing the president of being complicit in a school shooting is outrageous.”