President Donald Trump has pledged to turn grief over the Florida school shooting into “action” to make sure it never happens again.
Speaking during a meeting with state governors from across the country, Mr Trump said that he would be willing to stand up to the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) over issues like tougher background checks.
As teachers from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school returned to campus for the first time since 17 people were murdered on Valentine’s Day, he said there is “no bigger fan of the Second Amendment than me” but he wanted to be sure that a “sicko” could not get hold of a gun.
The President also said he would personally ban the use of bump stocks, which are accessories that allow a rifle to mimic a machine gun and were used in the Las Vegas concert massacre, even if Congress failed to act.
And he floated the idea of re-opening mental institutions, suggesting it might help get those who posed a danger to others but who had not yet committed a crime “off the streets”.
Mr Trump again pushed the idea of arming “well qualified” school personnel to reduce the chances of classrooms being seen as soft targets, although he was challenged by a Democratic governor who cited widespread concern from teachers and asked him to do “a little less tweeting, a little more listening”.
The President also criticised some of the officers who reportedly did not enter the school while the shooting was happening.
He said: “They really weren’t exactly medal of honour winners.
“You don’t know until you are tested but I think I really believe I’d run in there, even if I didn’t have a weapon, and I think most of the people in this room would have done that too.”
The President’s comments come amid unusual momentum on the issue of gun control.
Major companies are cutting ties with the NRA, and a new poll suggests increasing public support for stricter gun laws.
But it is still a hugely complex problem, the solution to which continues to evade America’s politicians.
Gun ownership is seen by many in the US as a sacred right and a crucial part of their heritage.
Those who support gun freedom worry that moves to restrict access to firearms are unconstitutional and represent a threat to both liberty and identity.