WASHINGTON (JTA) — Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was among the 17 people slain by a gunman last week at a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, told US President Donald Trump the school shooting should be the last.
“My daughter is in King David cemetery,” Pollack said at the White House ‘listening session’ convened by Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. “Never, ever will I see my kid, it’s an eternity.”
Pollack, surrounded by his three sons, vowed to work with Trump to stop school shootings. “How many schools, how many children have to get shot? It stops here, with this administration and me.”
Meadow Pollack was 18, and a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz opened fire last week on his former classmates.
The White House event gathered victims of a number of school shootings over the last 20 years, and Trump canvassed those present for ideas on how to stop school shootings.
Pollack called for increased security at schools, noting that the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks triggered immediate enhanced protections for airliners, while a succession for school shootings have left schools vulnerable. He advised against litigating gun laws, for now, saying the issue was too divisive.
“It’s not about gun laws right now — that’s another fight, another battle,” Pollack said.
Others did counsel changes in gun laws, most forcefully, Sam Zeif, a Jewish senior at the school whose text exchanges with his younger brother while both were under siege went viral.
“These are not weapons of defense, these are weapons of war,” said Zeif, 18, who wept intermittently during the session. I still can’t fathom that I myself am able to purchase one.”
Scariest part of it all was knowing my little brother was right above me and not knowing if I would ever see him again. I’ve never really treated him the way he deserved. Not anymore. Seeing his face outside of school was the most relief I had ever felt. My prayers to all. pic.twitter.com/Iq8CHVNXd0
— Uncle Sam Zeif #Douglasstrong (@SzZeif) February 15, 2018
Trump wondered aloud whether arming teachers was a solution — many of those present disagreed in a show of hands — and vowed to enhance background checks for gun purchasers.
“We are going to go very strongly into age of purchase and we’re also going to go very strongly into mental health,” Trump said.
Israel came up several times during the exchange as an example in controlling guns and enhancing security. Cary Gruber, the father of Justin Gruber, one of the Douglas school survivors, noted the tough restrictions on gun ownership in Israel. Darrell Scott, whose daughter, Rachel, was slain during the 1999 school shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, said an example American schools should emulate is having a single secured entrance.
“In Israel, they have one entry point and it’s very well guarded,” Scott said, noting that he speaks frequently at schools and easily enters and exits. “We have really soft entry points into schools.”