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WASHINGTON —Spilling out wrenching tales of lost lives and stolen security, students and parents appealed to President Donald Trump on Wednesday to set politics aside and protect America’s school children from the scourge of gun violence. Trump listened intently to the raw emotion and pledged action, including the possibility of arming teachers.

“I turned 18 the day after” the shooting, said a tearful Samuel Zeif, a student at the Florida high school where a former student’s assault left 17 dead last week. “Woke up to the news that my best friend was gone. And I don’t understand why I can still go in a store and buy ...an AR. How is it that easy to buy this type of weapon? How do we not stop this after Columbine? After Sandy Hook?”

Trump promised to be

“very strong on background checks.” And he suggested he supported allowing some teachers and other school employees to carry concealed weapons to be ready for

intruders. But largely he listened, holding handwritten notes bearing his message to the families. “I hear you” was written in black marker.

Resolve: The president had invited the teen survivors of school violence and parents of murdered children in a show of his resolve against gun violence in the wake of last week’s shootings in Parkland, Florida, and in past years at schools in Connecticut and Colorado.

Trump invited his guests to suggest solutions and solicited feedback. He did not fully endorse any specific policy solution but pledged to take action and expressed interest in differing approaches.

Besides considering concealed carrying of weapons by trained school employees, he said he planned to go “very strongly into age, age of purchase.” And he said he was committed to improving background checks and working on mental health.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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