Politics

Trump Urges Nation to ‘Actually Make That Difference’ in Preventing School Shootings

President pledges to work with local officials to secure kids' safety, 'tackle difficult issue of mental health' after Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre

On Thursday morning President Donald Trump pledged to work with state and local officials to “learn everything we can” about how to “secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health” in the aftermath of Wednesday’s deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Gunman and former student Nikolas Cruz, 19, is suspected of opening fire on students and teachers at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County — from which he had been expelled — killing at least 17 victims. As the country struggles to learn from the shooting, secure schools, and work toward preventing any other mass shootings, the president said it is time to “actually make that difference.”

“Later this month I will be meeting with the nation’s governors and attorneys general, where making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority,” Trump said during his remarks at the White House, in response to the shooting. “It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make that difference.”

Eyewitnesses told news outlets that Cruz was a social pariah with violent and vulgar tendencies who had been expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons.

“Our administration is working closely with local authorities to investigate the shooting and learn everything we can,” Trump said. “We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health.”

“Today we mourn for all of those who lost their lives. We comfort the grieving and the wounded, and we hurt for the entire community of Parkland, Florida, that is now in shock and pain and searching for answers,” the president said.

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Trump said the bonds of family, faith, community and country are what sustain Americans in times of tragedy. Noting that these bonds “are stronger than the forces of hatred and evil” and only grow stronger “in the hours of our greatest need,” the president urged the country to “pray for healing and for peace and let us come together as one nation to wipe away the tears and strive for a much better tomorrow.”

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“I want to speak now directly to America’s children — especially those who feel lost, alone, confused or even scared. I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be,” Trump said. “Answer hate with love. Answer cruelty with kindness. We must also work together to create a culture in our country that embraces the dignity of life, that creates deep and meaningful human connections, and that turns classmates and colleagues into friends and neighbors.”

Related: After Florida Shooting, U.S. Must ‘Make School Security a Specialty,’ Says Fuhrman

The president said he was making plans to visit Parkland, to meet with the victims’ families and spend time with local officials as he personally coordinated the federal government’s response to the shooting.

“To every parent, teacher and child who is hurting so badly, we are here for you, whatever you need, whatever we can do, to ease your pain,” Trump said. “We are all joined together as one American family, and your suffering is our burden also. No child, no teacher should ever be in danger in an American school. No parent should ever have to fear for their sons and daughters when they kiss them goodbye in the morning.”

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

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