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DONALD TRUMP listened attentively to survivors and relatives of the Florida school shooting on Wednesday before suggesting that arming teachers rather than controlling gun sales is the way ahead.
The US president also pledged to introduce mental health and age checks for gun buyers.
While angry students staged walkouts across the country to protest against gun violence, Mr Trump backed the idea of giving weapons training to teachers and other staff in an attempt to prevent school shootings.
He said the proposal could “solve the problem” by making potential attackers think twice.
"This would only be, obviously, for people who are very adept at handling a gun,” Mr Trump explained.
He had ordered a ban on bump stock gun modifications the previous day to prevent semi-automatic weapons operating like machine guns.
Mr Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence had sat ashen-faced as grief-stricken parents and students described their anger after the February 14 slaughter at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Student Julia Cordover fought back tears as she told Mr Trump that she hoped “no person in this world will ever have to go through” a similar mass shooting again.
Classmate Samuel Zeif described how he turned 18 the day after the shooting and “woke up to the news that my best friend was gone and I don’t understand why I can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war.”
The National Rifle Association, which bankrolls many US politicians, said efforts to raise the age requirement for rifle and shotgun purchases would deprive young people of their right to self-protection.
Andrew Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter Meadow was killed, told Mr Trump: “I’m here because my daughter has no voice.
“She was murdered last week and she was taken from us, shot nine times on the third floor. We as a country failed our children. This shouldn't happen.”
Thousands of student protesters from at least a dozen South Florida schools gathered at the Statehouse in Tallahassee calling for changes to gun laws, a ban on assault-type weapons and improved care for the mentally ill.
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