Trump calls for end to gun-free school zones after 'savage and barbaric' Texas shooting

28 May 2022, 08:54 | Updated: 28 May 2022, 12:11

Donald Trump called for the end to gun-free zones in schools
Donald Trump called for the end to gun-free zones in schools. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Former US president Donald Trump has called for an end to gun-free zones in schools after a shooting in Texas left 19 children and two teachers dead.

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Speaking at the annual convention of the National Rifle Association (NRA), Mr Trump said the shooting was a "savage and barbaric atrocity" but criticised the idea of introducing stricter gun laws.

"As the age-old saying goes, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," he said.

"The existence of evil is one of the very best reasons to arm law-abiding citizens."

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He said: "When Joe Biden blamed the gun lobby, he was talking about Americans like you.

"This rhetoric is highly divisive and dangerous and, most importantly, it's wrong and has no place in our politics."

He said those campaigning for stricter gun laws were placing "blame [for the shooting] onto the shoulders of millions of peaceful law-abiding citizens who belong to organisations such as our wonderful NRA".

Mr Trump told a crowd at the NRA that tighter gun laws were not the solution
Mr Trump told a crowd at the NRA that tighter gun laws were not the solution. Picture: Alamy

Teenage gunman Salvador Ramos shot and killed 19 students and teachers at Robb Elementary school in Texas on Tuesday.

Texas governor Greg Abbott on Saturday said he is "livid" and feels he has been "misled" by police, after the force admitted it was the "wrong decision" to wait nearly an hour before entering the school where the gunman was at large.

The governor previously praised law enforcement for their "amazing courage by running toward gunfire" and their "quick response".

But he said that in earlier statements he was just repeating what he had been told, and said: "The information that I was given turned out, in part, to be inaccurate."

He said the fact families may have suffered due to the police response was "inexcusable" and said exactly what happened needs to be "thoroughly, exhaustively" investigated.

Read more: Texas school pupils' harrowing 911 calls emerge as official says cops 'wrong not to go in'

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On Thursday Texas officials admitted that 18-year-old Ramos was in the school for between 40 minutes and an hour before being killed by police.

Families of the victims were restrained as they tried to enter the school, where children could be heard "begging for help".

Parents shouted "go in there! Go in there!" according to onlookers.

In a press conference, Greg Abbott said the response needs to be thoroughly investigated
In a press conference, Greg Abbott said the response needs to be thoroughly investigated. Picture: Alamy

While police gathered outside one child, 11-year-old Miah Cerrillo, who was wounded, covered herself in her friend's blood and pretended to be dead so Ramos would not shoot her.

Another made a harrowing call to emergency services, asking for police to be sent into the school.

On Friday officials admitted it was the "wrong decision" not to enter the school sooner.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said they believed they were no longer facing an active shooter and instead a "barricaded subject".

"Obviously there were children in that classroom that were at risk and it was, in fact, still an active shooter situation," he said.

"From the benefit of hindsight, of course, it was not the right decision, it was the wrong decision."

Javier Cazares, whose fourth grade daughter, Jacklyn Cazares, was killed in the attack, said that when he arrived he saw two officers outside the school and about five others escorting students out of the building.

But 15 or 20 minutes passed before the arrival of officers with shields, equipped to confront the gunman, he said.

As more parents flocked to the school, he and others pressed police to act, Mr Cazares said.

He heard about four gunshots before he and the others were ordered back to a parking lot.

"A lot of us were arguing with the police, 'You all need to go in there. You all need to do your jobs'," Mr Cazares said.

"Their response was, 'We can't do our jobs because you guys are interfering'."

Read more: Texas police face backlash for '90-minute delay' at school shooting where 19 children died

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The many chilling details of the attack were enough to leave parents struggling with dread.

Visiting a downtown memorial to those killed, Kassandra Johnson of the nearby community of Hondo said she was so worried the day after the attack that she kept her twin boys home from school.

Before she sent the eight-year-olds back, she studied the school building, figuring out which windows she would need to break to reach them.

And she drew hearts on their hands with marker, so she could identify them if the worst happened, Ms Johnson said, as she put flowers near 21 white crosses honouring the victims.

"Those kids could be my kids," she said.

The community of Uvalde is in mourning
The community of Uvalde is in mourning. Picture: Alamy

The motive for the massacre - the nation's deadliest school shooting since Newtown, Connecticut, almost a decade ago - remained under investigation.

Authorities have said gunman Salvador Ramos had no known criminal or mental health history.

The shooting - and the ease at which the teen was able to buy the semiautomatic rifle - has sparked renewed debate about gun laws in the US.

But at the annual convention of the NRA, Trump was far from the only speaker to say that stricter gun laws were not the answer.

There were protests outside the NRA convention on Friday
There were protests outside the NRA convention on Friday. Picture: Alamy

Hundreds of protesters angry about gun violence demonstrated outside, including some who held crosses with photos of the Uvalde victims.

Mr Abbott had been set to attend the attend the annual convention of the National Rifle Association on Friday, which is being held across the state in Houston.

Instead he addressed the gun-rights group's convention by recorded video and went to Uvalde.