President Donald Trump criticized a sheriff's deputy again Monday for failing to take action during the shooting massacre of 17 people at a Florida high school on Feb. 14.
The president suggested he personally would have taken action in a similar situation. He called the sheriff's office's conduct "disgusting" and said the deputies "weren't exactly Medal of Honor winners."
"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 told a meeting of 39 state governors at the White House.
Trump, who attended New York Military Academy as a teenager, did not get drafted into the military during the Vietnam War. He received deferments for college education and bone spurs in his feet.
An armed sheriff's deputy assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School stayed outside as the gunman rampaged through the school. The deputy, Scot Petersen, resigned. The Broward County Sheriff's office has faced backlash over what critics call an inadequate response to the shooting.
The president previously called Petersen a "coward."
Since the massacre, Trump has pushed for various actions to prevent future school shootings. On Monday, he said the United States needs to "have action" on policies related to gun control and school safety.
The president has called for improving background checks, raising the age to buy assault-style rifles to 21 and banning "bump stocks" that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire like automatic weapons. He has also repeatedly made a case to arm "gun adept" teachers at schools — a proposal rebutted by Florida top two Republicans — Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio.
Last week, Trump said the National Rifle Association and Republicans in Congress are ready to support action to at least moderately restrict access to guns. However, many House conservatives may balk at Trump's proposal to raise the buying age for rifles.
On Monday, Trump told governors not to "worry" about running afoul of the NRA, saying "they're on our side." In the process, he appeared to give some weight to a Democratic talking point — that the GOP is afraid of the interest group.
"You guys — half of you are so afraid of the NRA. There's nothing to be afraid of. And you know what if they're not with you, we have to fight them every once in a while. That's OK," he said.
While the House passed a bill aiming to fix problems with the background check system, it also passed a policy that would allow people with concealed carry permits in one state to use them nationwide. Senate Democrats are unlikely to sign on to that policy as part of legislation improving background checks.
Trump told governors that Republicans are working to "strengthen" background check legislation introduced last year by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas.