World news

Armed officer on school campus did nothing to stop the shooter who killed 17 people

Florida school pupils walked out on Wednesday to protest following the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a week earlier

The Florida high school where a former student shot and killed 17 people with an assault-type rifle is reopening for teachers on Friday as the community grappled with word that the armed officer on campus did nothing to stop the shooter.

That failure, plus reports of a delay in security camera footage scanned by responding police and several records indicating the 19-year-old suspect displayed behavioural troubles for years added to what the Florida House speaker described as an "abject breakdown at all levels."

The Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has reignited national debate over gun laws and school safety, including proposals by president Donald Trump and others to designate more people - including trained teachers - to carry arms on school grounds.

Gun-control advocates, meanwhile, have redoubled calls for bans or further restrictions on assault rifles.

US president Donald Trump has defied many of his supporters in gun lobbying group the National Rifle Association (NRA) by saying assault rifles should be kept out of the hands of anyone under 21.

Amid a continuing storm over gun violence in America, Mr Trump also pushed hard for arming security guards and many teachers in US schools, insisting: "There's nothing more important than protecting our children."

The US president added that he'd spoken with many members of US congress and NRA officials and said they would go along with his plans.

But there were no words of support from the NRA for his minimum-age proposal - and outright opposition from organisations of teachers and school security guards regarding the idea of arming schools to deal with intruders.

Mr Trump said of the NRA would back his call for raising the legal age of purchase for "all" guns from 18 to 21. A spokesman later said Mr Trump was speaking specifically about semi-automatic weapons.

The president's proposal came just hours after the NRA affirmed its opposition, calling such a restriction an infringement on gun owners' rights.

Mr Trump has spent the past two days listening to ideas about how to stem gun violence at schools after last week's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which sparked a wave of protests. On Wednesday, he heard from students and family members of those killed in recent shootings and on Thursday he spoke to local and state officials.

In Florida, meanwhile, funerals continued. And a sheriff's deputy who had been on duty at the school but never went inside to confront the shooter resigned after being suspended without pay.

Mr Trump has been proposing a growing list of ideas, including more stringent background checks for gun buyers, reopening some mental institutions to hold potential killers and banning "bump stock" devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to mimic machine guns.

He said many teachers have military experience and suggested they be paid bonuses for the added responsibility of carrying weapons. He also appeared open to other proposals to "harden" schools, such as fortifying walls and limiting entry points.

One idea he did not like was more "active shooter" drills, which some schools hold. He called that "a very negative thing" and said he would not want his own son participating.

In Florida, Republican senator Marco Rubio said he now is open to raising age requirements for long-gun purchases. This comes a day after he was confronted at a CNN town hall by Parkland students and parents over his pro-gun votes and support from the NRA.

Kansas senator Pat Roberts, another Republican, told reporters during a visit to the Kansas Statehouse that he supported raising age requirements, saying: "Certainly, nobody under 21 should have an AR-15", in reference to the rifle used in a number of mass killings.

NRA leaders appeared unannounced at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, blaming the FBI and local reporting failures for the Florida shooting.

"Evil walks among us and God help us if we don't harden our schools and protect our kids," said executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre.

"The whole idea from some of our opponents that armed security makes us less safe is completely ridiculous."

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access

Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: