The Florida promising teenager accused of carrying out the deadliest mass shooting at a high school in the United States history will appear in court on Tuesday. A long-simmering national debate still rages on between proponents of gun rights and advocates of firearms controls.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, is expected to be in a Broward County criminal court for a hearing on obtaining evidence from him, almost two weeks after 17 people were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, an affluent suburb of Fort Lauderdale.
The 14 students and three adult educators killed were shot with a semiautomatic AR-15-style assault weapon, which authorities say was purchased legally last year by the accused gunman, Cruz, when he was 18 years old.
The shooting has rattled long-drawn political lines on gun rights in the United States, where Republican officials have often opposed efforts by gun control advocates to tighten gun ownership laws, partly out of concern about retribution by the powerful National Rifle Association.
President Trump, a Republican who supported gun rights during and since his 2016 presidential campaign, has been under pressure to show he is responding without alienating Republicans who oppose firearms restrictions.
On Monday, he met with 35 governors, urging them to disregard pressure from the NRA as they seek to address firearms safety and school security.
Trump has embraced the call to safeguard schools by arming teachers, but he also has voiced support for strengthening background checks for prospective gun buyers – a proposal the NRA has traditionally resisted.
Trump notably made no mention of another idea he had praised last week – raising the legal minimum age for buying an assault rifle to 21 – an idea that NRA has opposed.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, told Trump that teachers in his state do not want to carry weapons.
“I have listened to the first-grade teachers who don’t want to be pistol-packing first-grade teachers,” Inslee said. “Let’s just take that off the table and move forward.”
But Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, said more than 100 school districts in his state have trained teachers and other staff to carry a weapon and respond to attacks.
“Some school districts, they promote it,” Abbott said. “They will have signs out front, a warning sign, ‘Be aware there are armed personnel on campus.’”
Florida Governor Rick Scott told the governors meeting that his state plans to invest $500 million to have a significant law enforcement presence in every public school in Florida.