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Moms Demand Action meet with Tim Kaine after Florida shooting

Posted at 3:03 PM, Feb 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-26 15:03:08-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Monday morning, concerned parents asked Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine to strengthen gun laws, in an effort to prevent the next school shooting.

The round table discussion took place with the Richmond chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, in the Shenandoah Room of the Suntrust Building on East Main Street.

The group is a nonpartisan grassroots movement of mothers from across the country demanding action to address gun violence.

The discussion comes as students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, push for gun control measures after a gunman killed 17 students and teachers in their school.

"I've been despairing about what's going to happen. What will happen to make us come to our senses?" Senator Kaine said to the group. "What's going to happen to get Congress to actually vote the way people want us to?"

"Are the legislators finally ready to take some action...and finally ready to pass sensible gun legislation in our country?" asked Sarah Harper, president of the Richmond chapter of the group.

Kaine argued that at the root of why Congress has been hesitant about tightening gun laws is because lawmakers fear the National Rifle Association. In private discussions, the democrat said his colleagues in the Senate admit they're afraid the NRA will organize against them during election campaigns.

"Are your children more important or is the political contribution more important?" Kaine asked.

A former Richmond teacher stated she was concerned with the idea of arming teachers inside the classroom.

"I strongly agree with you," Kaine replied.

In a statement, Phillip Van Cleave, president of Virginia Citizens Defense League, wrote in part:

The concept is simple - legally armed citizens in the school serve as a deterrent to an attack, as the attacker has no idea who is armed.  It could be a teacher, the janitor at the end of the hall, the principal, or a visiting parent.

Cost to the school: $0, as the concealed handgun permit holder has already paid for his training and has his own concealable handgun.

The students don't know which adults in the school are armed...Gun control doesn't work, either.

President Donald Trump doubled down on his support for the controversial idea of arming school teachers as a protective and preventive measure against school shootings, indicating that aspects of such a proposal could be "up to states."

"Armed Educators (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them," Trump tweeted Saturday. "Very smart people. Must be firearms adept & have annual training. Should get yearly bonus. Shootings will not happen again - a big & very inexpensive deterrent. Up to States."

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment on Trump's tweet.

When asked on Thursday about the cost of such a plan, White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah told reporters, "I think that if we find the policy solutions that make the most sense that we can get buy in for, we'll figure out the rest of the pieces that you outlined."

The President held a listening session earlier this week with victims and activists from several school shootings and has stated that he wants to end the sale of bump fire stocks, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire bullets at a rapid rate.

Trump also said this week that he is pushing comprehensive background checks to emphasize mental health.

The CNN Wire contributed to this report.