Facing criticism, Trump turns to Abbott to tout Texas school marshals

Feb 26, 2018
  • By Maria Recio
  • American-Statesman special correspondent
Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a White House meeting with the nation’s governors on Monday. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Gov. Greg Abbott tried to bail out President Donald Trump Monday at a meeting of governors at the White House with his support of arming teachers by citing Texas’ school marshal program. But it was Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s comment — “do a little less tweeting” — that went viral.

Trump’s session with about 40 of the nation’s governors was televised live and dominated by the response to the killings of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

“We continue to mourn the loss of so many precious young lives,” Trump said. “These are incredible people. I visited a lot of them. But we’ll turn our grief into action. We have to have action.” Trump has discussed raising the minimum age to purchase semiautomatic weapons, tightening the background check program and arming teachers to prevent future tragedies.

RELATED: Texas teachers, officers buck Trump’s idea to arm teachers with guns

Inslee, a Democrat and former member of Congress, zeroed in on Trump’s idea to have some teachers trained and in possession of firearms.

“I have listened to the people who would be affected by that,” Inslee said. “I have listened to the biology teachers and they don’t want to do that,” said Inslee.

“I have listened to the first grade teachers that don’t want to be pistol-packing first grade teachers,” he said. “I just suggest a little less tweeting here, a little more listening, and let’s just take that off the table and move forward.” Inslee’s remarks lit up social media and cable programs.

Trump, apparently poised for criticism of the idea, said, “we have a number of states right now that do that and I think with that in mind I will call on Greg Abbott.”

Abbott said, “Texas authorized schools to adopt policies to implement a school marshal program where individuals would be trained to have a weapon, to be able to use that weapon and we now have well over 100 school districts in the state of Texas where teachers or other people who work in the school do carry a weapon and are trained to be able to respond to an attack that occurs. It is not always a schoolteacher, it could be a coach, it could be an administrator. It could be anybody who works in that school.”

“It is a well thought out program with a lot of training in advance and at least some school districts promote it,” Abbott said. “They will have signs out front, a warning sign, be aware there are armed personnel on campus, warning anybody coming in there that they — if they attempt to cause any harm they will be in trouble.”

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Lone Star Politics page brings Capitol news to your Facebook feed

Trump complimented Abbott on the program, and said that if an armed intruder “comes into that school, they can expect major trouble. Major trouble. The bullets will be going toward him, also and I think that’s great. Nobody’s going into those schools. That’s a big difference. That was really well said, thank you very much.”

Trump looked to the Texas program as a rejoinder to critics of his idea who have pointed out that armed deputies and an armed school guard failed to enter the Parkland high school building where the shootings occurred and engage the shooter.

Abbott is in Washington as the nation’s governors convene for an annual mid-winter meeting and conferred with the secretaries of Health and Human Services about health care costs and Interior about infrastructure and housing and urban development, as well as officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about the response to Hurricane Harvey.

Abbott will meet Tuesday with the Texas congressional delegation.