Barron Trump's school joins call for President Trump to enact gun control measures

Barron Trump looking at his father, US President Donald Trump, during the 70th National Thanksgiving turkey pardoning ceremony at the White House in Washington, US, on Nov 21, 2017.
Barron Trump looking at his father, US President Donald Trump, during the 70th National Thanksgiving turkey pardoning ceremony at the White House in Washington, US, on Nov 21, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) - The leaders of more than 125 private independent schools in the Washington, D.C. area are calling on President Donald Trump and Congress to enact vigorous gun-control measures.

They are also warning that arming teachers - an idea the President supports - is "dangerous and antithetical to our profession as educators".

Participating in the plea is the Maryland school attended by Mr Trump's son Barron.

The school leaders took out a full-page advertisement in Sunday's (March 18) editions of The Washington Post that refers to the Feb 14 shooting deaths of 17 people at a Florida high school.

The assault, allegedly carried out by a 19-year-old former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, has sparked national protests by young people and unprecedented action by the Florida legislature to restrict some gun sales.

The Florida lawmakers also funded a programme to arm teachers, an idea that has been widely rejected by educators and by Florida's Republican governor - but is supported by Mr Trump.

The newspaper ad lists the names of the schools in the Washington region, as well as the names of their leaders, under a message that says in part: "For years now, citizens of the United States have endured mass shootings in public venues, neighbourhoods and communities, houses of worship, colleges and universities, and our schools. Children, our most vulnerable citizens and our hope for the future, are dying from gun violence, again and again.

"Statistics from countries around the globe show that it is possible to minimise gun deaths through common-sense legislation. Here in the United States, we see that easy access to weapons, particularly those of military-style design, results in significantly higher levels of gun violence.

"We urge our President, our Congress, and our state leaders to enact specific, vigorous measures to reduce gun violence in our society, particularly in our schools. We need a robust system of registration and background checks, with a particular eye towards weapons capable of rapidly firing a vast number of deadly shots. We need stronger mental health services and more effective communication among agencies responsible for the well-being of children, adults and families.

"What we do not need is to arm our teachers with guns, which is dangerous and antithetical to our profession as educators."

The ad also was placed in other newspapers.

St Andrew's, the school that Barron is attending, did not respond to question from The Washington Post about why it participated in the advertisement.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment about the advertisement.

Independent schools are non-profit private schools run by independent boards that are not operated by the government or a religious organisation or church.

Mr Trump and his wife Melania enrolled their son Barron in St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland, last fall.

The school, where tuition is about US$40,000 (S$52,580) a year, is known for its pioneering use of brain-based research to help students of all abilities to succeed and for providing extra support for students who need it.

Class sizes are usually 11 to 13 students, and the school says that every graduate attends college, including Ivy League schools, small liberal arts colleges, state schools and schools of art, engineering and design.

The school's website says it offers "an inclusive environment that embodies the faith and perspective of the Episcopal Church". It also says it "seeks a broadly diverse community to promote educational excellence" and that its programmes "are designed to serve students of varied interests and abilities capable of achievement in a challenging academic environment".