"I don't want to have guns in classrooms, although in some cases teachers should have guns in classrooms," Trump said Sunday
He made the statement after Hillary Clinton accused him of wanting guns in classrooms
Trump had previously vowed to end gun-free zones in schools
Donald Trump on Monday clarified his position on allowing guns in schools, telling CNN in a phone interview that “school resource officers” or trained teachers should be the ones carrying guns.
He stood by his adamant criticism of gun free zones but backed away from his blanket call to eliminate all gun free zones in schools, saying they would only be eliminated “in some cases.”
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton this weekend accused Trump of wanting to “mandate that every school in America allow guns in classrooms.”
Trump responded Sunday morning on Fox News with a muddled comment that seemed to both reject and reaffirm his support for arming teachers in classrooms.
“I don’t want to have guns in classrooms, although in some cases teachers should have guns in classrooms, frankly,” he said.
Trump conceded Monday to CNN that his proposal would introduce guns into schools, but rejected Clinton’s description of his view.
“The way she said it meant like every student should be sitting there carrying guns,” Trump said. “If trained people had guns, you wouldn’t have the carnage that you’ve had.”
“The problem with gun free zones is it’s like offering up candy to bad people,” he said Monday. “They hear gun free zones and they go in there with their guns blazing.”
Trump’s refusal to reiterate his support for ending gun-free zones on day one of his presidency as he did earlier this year and his emphasis on school resource officers providing armed security suggest Trump is mollifying the hard-right policy positions that he staked out to successfully snag the Republican nomination. And his apparent waffling on whether to arm teachers once again raises questions about his consistency issues crucial to his conservative constituency.
For Republicans who continue to oppose Trump’s candidacy, the billionaire’s latest response on guns reinforces their argument for being part of the “#NeverTrump” movement.
“He’s always got a new position on everything because there’s nothing consistent in his own philosophical nature,” Republican strategist Rick Wilson said. “He says what he thinks people want to hear at the moment. He’s always playing to the crowd.”
Trump’s contradictory comments came after Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton put him on his heels with a strongly-worded rebuttal Saturday night to his address at the NRA a day earlier during which Trump stuck to the hardline positions on gun rights he adopted during the Republican primary.
Speaking at the Trayvon Martin Foundation, Clinton lambasted Trump for opposing expanded background checks and wanting to introduce guns into classrooms across the United States.
“He said that also on his first day in office he’d mandate that every school in America allow guns in classrooms…That idea isn’t just way out there, it’s dangerous,” Clinton said. “Parents, teachers and schools should have the right to keep guns out of classrooms just like Donald Trump does at many of his hotels, by the way.”
Clinton was referring to a campaign pledge Trump made during a January rally where he vowed to “get rid of gun-free zones in schools…and on military bases.”
“My first day, it gets signed, OK? My first day. There’s no more gun free zones,” Trump said at the Burlington, Vermont rally.
“You know what a gun-free zone is to a sicko? That’s bait,” Trump also said at the rally.
And three months earlier in the wake of a shooting at an Oregon community college that claimed 10 lives, Trump argued that “if you had a couple of the teachers or someone with guns in that room, you would have been a hell of a lot better off.”
Trump’s reaction to Clinton’s claim that Trump wants “guns in classrooms” was to reject it out of hand.
“Crooked Hillary said that I want guns brought into the school classroom. Wrong!” Trump tweeted late Saturday night.
Trump’s conflicting responses to Clinton’s attack underscore the deluge of criticism Trump has faced from conservatives since launching his campaign last year: that he’s not truly married to the movement’s ideology.
On a slew of issues at the heart of the conservative cause – including gun rights, abortion and taxes – Trump has neatly toed the Republican Party line despite professing views anathema to the party platform in years before he entered politics.
He previously supported abortion rights and floated the idea of a one-time massive tax hike on the wealthy.
And while he’s likened Clinton’s support of stricter gun control measures to a push to “abolish the 2nd Amendment,” Trump wrote in 2000 that he supported the assault weapons ban and favored longer waiting periods to purchase a firearm.
He even said President Barack Obama “spoke for me and every American” when Obama called for action to combat gun violence in the wake of the Newtown school shooting in 2012.
Trump has already shown signs of wavering on some of his primary positions, saying he would now like to see a higher minimum wage in the U.S. and that the richest Americans wouldn’t see the large-scale tax cuts he had promised.
And while Trump has ridiculed the mountains of scientific evidence pointing to the existence of global warming, Politico reported Monday that Trump is leaning on that same scientific evidence to build a sea wall that would protect one of his golf courses from “global warming and its effects.”
Those who are lining up behind Trump since he became the party’s presumptive nominee aren’t leaning so much on Trump’s record, but instead laying out the dangers of a Clinton administration.
In the lead-up to their endorsement, the NRA’s top officials Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox spent more time slamming Clinton than talking up Trump’s record on guns.
“If she could, Hillary would ban every gun, destroy every magazine,” LaPierre, the group’s president, said as he warned that Clinton could nominate an anti-gun Supreme Court justice who would reshape the landscape of gun rights in America.
“The 2nd Amendment is on the ballot in November,” Cox said.