Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., joined President Donald Trump in a bicameral meeting at the White House on Wednesday to discuss school safety, saying future school shootings can be stopped by deadly force.
Daines, who released a video of the meeting in a press release, told the president that action is needed now.
“The first four words you said to me, Mr. President, stuck with me, saying ‘We need to act,’ “ Daines told Trump. “The only worse thing than doing nothing is doing something that doesn’t achieve the intended results.”
Daines said Congress defined mass shootings after the Newtown massacre as an event where three or more people lose their life. He said 14 such events have occurred since the murder of 13 people at Columbine High School in 1998, though national statistics put the number of events much higher.
Before arriving at the meeting, Daines said he took some quiet time to review statistics compiled by his staff, including where recent mass shootings occurred, how many died, the age of the shooter, and how the shooter obtained his weapon, if under the age of 21.
“Was there offensive firepower on the inside of those facilities so when the gunman comes in we have defensive capability?” Trump interrupted. “One other thing, if he knew there was offensive power inside of the 14 events, probably none of them would have happened.”
Daines said he agreed, in that a “message of deterrence is very important” when stopping “these homicidal, suicidal killers.”
“We need to secure our schools because parents want action now,” Daines said. “These shooters are typically males, they’re white and they’re suicidal, and they’re cowards. And cowards can be stopped with deadly force.”
Daines added that America should secure its schools, though doing so should be left up to states and local school boards and not the federal government.
“Last week in Montana, I was just north of a school the day after they stopped and arrested an 18-year-old in Darby because he put on SnapChat that he was going to shoot up a school,” Daines said. “The sheriff, Steve Holton of Ravalli County, arrested that young man and most likely prevented another mass shooting. That’s what we need.”
Earlier this week, Sen. Jon Tester also addressed the issue in an interview with Montana media. Like Daines, he didn’t propose any gun legislation, though he did welcome a debate in Congress and said schools should be permitted to defend their classrooms, if they choose to do so.
“If a local school board, with the support of the local community, thinks they need to have someone with a gun in the school, whether it’s a teacher or somebody else, they need to make that decision,” Tester said. “As a former teacher, I’m not certain giving teachers guns is the right action. But if the school board feels they have the right people to do that on their staff, I’d certainly defer to them.”
This article originally appeared on Missoula Current, an independent online newspaper, of which Martin Kidston is the founding editor.