The back-and-forth between Gov. Jay Inslee and President Donald Trump occurred at a White House meeting in which the president took questions from governors in town for a National Governors Association meeting.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee engaged in a televised clash Monday with President Donald Trump over the idea of arming some schoolteachers, telling the president to try “less tweeting” and “more listening.”
The face-off, which drew national media attention, took place at a White House meeting in which Trump took questions from governors in town for a National Governors Association meeting.
Recognized by Trump, Inslee stood and promoted Washington’s extreme-risk protection order law as a national model. He then launched into a criticism of Trump’s endorsement of encouraging schoolteachers to carry guns as a response to the recent massacre at a Florida high school.
“I know you have suggested arming our teachers, and I just … ” began Inslee.
Trump stopped him: “No no, no no, not your teachers — arming a small portion that are very gun adept, that truly know how to handle it,” he said, adding that “gun-free zones” are an “invitation for very sick people” to harm kids. Trump said if teachers carry guns “you are not gonna have any problems any more because they’re never going to the school. You’re never gonna have a problem.”
Inslee responded that as a grandfather and governor, “I have listened to the people who would be affected by that. I have listened to the biology teachers and they don’t want to do that at any percentage. I have listened to the first-grade teachers that don’t want to be pistol-packing first-grade teachers. I have listened to law enforcement who have said they don’t want to have to train teachers as law-enforcement agencies, which takes about six months.”
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He concluded: “I just suggest we need a little less tweeting here and a little more listening. And let’s just take that off the table and move forward.”
Trump responded that “a lot of states” allow arming of teachers now, and called on a friendlier politician, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who boasted that some schools in his state allow teachers or other school personnel to carry guns, and advertise that fact with signs on campuses.
The exchange captured national buzz Monday on social media and in outlets including MSNBC, CNN, The Hill and The Washington Post.
Capitalizing on the attention, Inslee swiftly pushed out a campaign appeal. “I told the president about the people I’ve been talking to. I told him I hope he’d start listening to them, too. But in the meantime, I’m going to confront him with everything I’ve got,” he wrote in the Monday afternoon campaign-email blast.
Inslee, now in his second term as governor, has been mentioned as a potential Democratic 2020 presidential candidate, though he has downplayed the speculation.
Washington state law does not prohibit teachers or school staff from carrying guns. “It’s up to each district,” said Nathan Olson, a spokesman for the state Office of Superintendent for Public Instruction, in an email.
At least one school district in Washington does allow employees to carry weapons on school grounds. The rural Toppenish School District implemented that policy in 2014 and has more than a dozen administrators carrying concealed handguns when on campus, according to KIRO 7 News.
The nearby Kiona-Benton school district adopted a similar policy a year later, according to the Yakima Herald-Republic.