Trump Wants to Prevent Another Parkland, Says Father of School Shooting Victim After Meeting President

President Donald Trump wants to prevent another school shooting like Parkland, according to a father who lost his 14-year-old daughter in the massacre two years ago.

Tony Montalto, the president of Stand With Parkland, a group founded by some of the families of the victims, met with the president at the White House on Monday to celebrate the launch of a school safety initiative the group worked on.

Montalto told Newsweek that the rollout of the federal school safety clearinghouse website SchoolSafety.Gov was set for Monday, but the meeting with the president wasn't scheduled until Sunday night. Montalto added that he along with Stand With Parkland's board members and beta testers attended.

During the meeting, Montalto said that Trump told him that he wants to help ensure a school shooting like the one at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018 never happens again.

"[Trump] said he wants to help prevent another Parkland," Montalto told Newsweek. "He understands that there's multiple steps in doing that."

Montalto added that Stand With Parkland has discussed several ways to prevent school shootings with the Trump administration. The White House has been contacted for comment.

"Our group looks at school safety in a unique and all-encompassing way," he said. "We look at securing the campus, better mental health screening and support programs and finally responsible firearm ownership if you choose to own one. All of those three pillars failed us that horrible day nearly two years ago."

He added: "We've had discussions with the administration on all three pillars of Stand With Parkland's mission which of course includes the responsible firearms ownership provision."

Tony Montalto
Tony Montalto, whose daughter Gina killed during the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, addresses a briefing at the U.S. Secret Service's headquarters November 7, 2019 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Montalto added that during the meeting, the group mentioned two bills with bipartisan support that are making their way to Congress.

The first is the Luke and Alex School Safety Act, named for 15-year-old Luke Hoyer and 14-year-old Alex Schachter, who were among the 17 killed in the shooting, which would put the school safety clearinghouse into law, Montalto said. "This Act will put the existence of the clearinghouse into law and allow it to continue past this administration," he said.

The other is the Eagles Act, which would provide additional funding to the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center. The National Threat Assessment Center "provides the building blocks for behavioural threat assessment," Montalto said.

"These threat assessment tools are used to protect everyone that they're charged with, from our leaders to our infrastructure to our workplace."

He added: "The eagle is also the mascot of Marjory Stoneman High School and as a group of families who lost someone there, we can think of no better tribute to our loved ones than to have a law passed that would help prevent these things in the future."

Montalto also said that his group has a "non-partisan view" and is willing to work with anyone who shares their goal, insisting that finding compromise and pragmatic solutions is the way forward.

"Stand With Parkland has a non-partisan view, we work with anyone who shares our goal of making America's schools safer. We work with Democrats, Republicans, Independents, anybody with that goal," he said.

"Because the partisan politics don't get things accomplished. It's bringing people to the middle to find compromise and pragmatic solutions that's going to move the ball forward. Neither extreme is going to get what they want out of this. It's gotta be the compromise in the middle that moves the ball forward so that we can all be safer."

Montalto also addressed comments from another Parkland father, Fred Guttenberg, who previously told Newsweek that the Trump administration has taken "no meaningful action on gun violence." Guttenberg also said he believes the Administration uses language that "enhances the potential risk of violence."

"He made a choice to leave [Stand With Parkland] and he has decided to pursue a further course and we hope he is successful in that," Montalto said.

"But our group is focused on bringing people to the middle, finding the agreements we can capture today and then moving on to further discussions. We'd rather get something done today."

Montalto added: "Monday was the day to put politics and personal feelings aside and for all Americans to come together and support our nation's schools, students and staff members as this school safety clearinghouse is released.

"This is a big positive step. It may not be what some people want but it's a positive step for our nation," he added.

"Millions of students and staff members will benefit from the power of the federal government coming together to produce this one-stop shop for schools. Anytime you can get the office of the president to focus on the nation's students and teachers, that's a big day."

But Montalto said "more needs to be done" to make the country's schools safer and prevent shootings, including "red flag" laws that identify potentially dangerous individuals.

Stoneman Douglas memorial
Flowers, candles and mementos sit outside one of the makeshift memorials at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 27, 2018. Rhona Wise/AFP via Getty Images

"On the firearms front, you should have background checks. We need to enhance the system that's in place now," he said. Those "deemed by the court to be a threat to themselves or others need to allow law enforcement to remove their weapons and get them the help they need," he said.

"We need to secure our schools and not make them soft targets. We can't make them prisons either. They need to be inviting and welcoming but you do need some point of access control so we know who's on the campus. We need better mental health screenings and programs, there's numerous things. We need to look at suicide prevention."

Montalto added that Stand With Parkland is working with the U.S. Secret Service as the agency rolls out its latest School Safety report.

"They do a day of training on how to do a behavioural threat assessment," he said.

"These assessments are the keys to identifying students that need help. And once the students are identified, we need the follow up case management to get the help they need. You want to stop the next school shooting? Let's prevent it."

Speaking as he prepares to mark the two-year anniversary of the shooting on Friday, Montalto said: "I personally miss my daughter Gina very much, my family, all the families are grieving and miss their loved ones. Many of us have chosen to use the voice we've been given to try and make things better and that includes Mr Guttenberg. He's trying to make some changes he believes in just as we are.

"We started this with a tagline initially that said "this time must be different" as we all came together. The start of the school safety clearinghouse, the multiple law changes that have gone on in states around the nation, even the things that have already passed our federal government, the Fix NICS Act, the STOP Act which passed within two months of the murder of our children and spouses have helped to begin a process of making our nations schools safer for students and staff members.

"More needs to be done and that's why we need all Americans to come together and focus on the issue of school safety."