Former president Barack Obama is offering words of encouragement to the Parkland shooting survivors-turned-activists.
In a tweet on Thursday, a day after thousands of students across the country walked out of class to demand safer schools, Obama expressed his support and called the students who have arrived on the streets of their community and the doorways of politicians “inspiring” and “fearless”:
Young people have helped lead all our great movements. How inspiring to see it again in so many smart, fearless students standing up for their right to be safe; marching and organizing to remake the world as it should be. We’ve been waiting for you. And we’ve got your backs.
Young people have helped lead all our great movements. How inspiring to see it again in so many smart, fearless students standing up for their right to be safe; marching and organizing to remake the world as it should be. We've been waiting for you. And we've got your backs.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 22, 2018
It’s the second time Obama has commented on the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people. The day after the massacre, Obama took to Twitter to call for “common-sense gun safety laws.”
We are grieving with Parkland. But we are not powerless. Caring for our kids is our first job. And until we can honestly say that we're doing enough to keep them safe from harm, including long overdue, common-sense gun safety laws that most Americans want, then we have to change.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 15, 2018
Obama’s Thursday tweet follows one from former first lady Michelle Obama, who said she was “in total awe of the extraordinary students in Florida.”
I’m in total awe of the extraordinary students in Florida. Like every movement for progress in our history, gun reform will take unyielding courage and endurance. But @barackobama and I believe in you, we’re proud of you, and we’re behind you every step of the way.
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) February 22, 2018
Contrast these statements with those from President Trump, who issued a barrage of tweets that called for arming some teachers with guns!
Newsweek reports that within a few hours, Obama’s tweet had received more than 537,000 likes, while the four tweets Trump posted earlier that morning got 277,000 combined. Obama, with just over 1 million followers, has roughly twice as many Twitter subscribers as Trump, but the gap in “likes” may also be explained by the shifting sands of the gun control debate.
In his first tweet on Thursday, Trump said he wanted to look at the possibility of giving “concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience,” though he said the weapons would go to “only the best” teachers, which he estimated would be 20% of them.
The president’s idea was rejected by the National Education Association, the largest teachers union. The organization’s president, Lily Eskelsen García, stated:
Bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence. We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators. Arming teachers does nothing to prevent that.
Former New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton agreed, tweeting, “Proposals to arm American teachers are the height of lunacy.”