Andrew Pollack, the father of a student killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., praised President Trump at the opening night of the Republican National Convention, saying “he took action” after the massacre in 2018.
Pollack’s daughter, Meadow, was one of the 17 people killed in the shooting.
“She was just months away from graduating and beginning a new life,” Pollack said. “We were so proud of the woman she had become. But in the hallway on the third floor, the gunman saw Meadow and shot her four times. After she was shot and on the floor, she crawled over to another student, a freshman girl, to protect her. She draped her body over her. And then the gunman — the animal — shot Meadow five more times.”
In the aftermath of the tragedy, a number of the survivors turned their attention to opposing the National Rifle Association, advocating for stronger gun-safety legislation and holding the high-profile March for Our Lives. Pollack pushed for changes at the school level, lobbying for legislation in the Florida Statehouse that allowed school employees to go through firearm training.
“At the White House, my family and I told him about Meadow,” Pollack said Monday night. “I told him what we knew. I told him that his administration needed to take a closer look at what went wrong and why. And I got to see who he really is. He’s a good man and a great listener. And he cuts through the BS.
“Then, the president did what he said he said he would do: He took action. He formed a School Safety Commission that issued dozens of recommendations to make schools safer. But I’ll bet you never heard about that. Instead, the media turned my daughter’s murder into a coordinated attack on President Trump, Republicans and the Second Amendment.”
Pollack praised Trump for rolling back an Obama-era order that called for “restorative justice” in schools across the country. The policy essentially asked school administrators to exhaust all possible avenues of discipline before turning students over the police, after studies found racial bias in school policing. Federal officials said they would not intervene in school discipline unless it violated federal discrimination laws.
“We don’t care about gun control right now. That’s a big issue in the country, and you are not going to get everyone together on it,” Pollack said on Fox News 11 days after the shooting. “But we are going to get everyone together on fixing our schools.”
A number of mass shootings have occurred during his tenure, but Trump has not passed any major gun legislation. He has occasionally expressed support for stronger background checks on firearm purchases and he has also been an outspoken advocate for arming teachers, a measure opposed by teachers’ unions.
Concluding his remarks, Pollack said of Trump: “I truly believe the safety of your kids depends on whether this man is re-elected. I hope you’ll join me in helping to make that happen.”
In one of his first acts as president, Trump signed a bill revoking an Obama-era rule that had made it more difficult for mentally ill Americans to buy guns. In the aftermath of an October 2017 shooting in Las Vegas that claimed 58 lives, Trump said, “We’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes on.” While he banned bump-stocks — an accessory that allowed firearms to mimic the firing rating of an automatic weapon — by executive action, there was no push by the administration for more comprehensive gun-safety legislation.
After the February 2018 shooting in Parkland, Fla., Trump raised a number of potential legislative ideas, including taking guns from Americans before they committed crimes, and raising the age limit on buying assault rifles. Ultimately, no major gun legislation was passed.
The Democrat-controlled House passed two bills in 2019 that would expand background checks, but the White House announced that had either of them made it through the Senate, Trump would have vetoed them. Following shootings later that year in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, that killed 31 people, Trump again said that “Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks.” Two weeks later, he walked that back, saying, “We have very, very strong background checks right now.”
“I’ve said it a hundred times: It’s not the gun that pulls the trigger, it is the person that pulls the trigger,” Trump said, adding that in an attempt to address mental health, his administration would be “looking at mental institutions.”
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