First lady Melania Trump spoke out Monday about the student movement for action on guns in the wake of the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead and launched a national conversation on gun violence.
“In my year as first lady, I have also learned that it is often times after a tragedy that you see strength and resilience of the human spirit,” she said in brief remarks in the Blue Room of the White House, speaking to the spouses of the nation’s governors.
She continued, “I have been heartened to see children across this country using their voices to speak out and try to create change. They are our future and they deserve a voice.”
Many of the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and students around the country have channeled their grief into fighting the gun lobby, making impassioned pleas on television, meeting with lawmakers and preparing for a nationwide protest on March 24 dubbed “March for our Lives.”
President Donald Trump has called for specific action following the shooting, including comprehensive background checks, raising the purchasing age for some guns to 21 and ending the sale of bump-fire stocks, devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire at a faster pace. During a listening session at the White House last week, the President also floated the idea of arming qualified school staff, a controversial idea that has been met with mixed reviews.
Last week, 14-year-old Parkland shooting survivor Lauren Hogg tweeted a direct plea to the first lady.
“Hey @FLOTUS you say that your mission as First Lady is to stop cyber bullying. Well then, don’t you think it would have been smart to have a convo with your step-son @DonaldJTrumpJr before he liked a post about a false conspiracy theory which in turn put a target on my back,” Hogg tweeted.
The President’s eldest son liked a tweet promoting a false conspiracy theory that claimed Hogg’s older brother, David, had been coached by his father — a former FBI agent — to speak out against President Trump.
The first lady, who will formally announce her platform in the coming months, also briefly spoke Monday about issues affecting children such as cyberbullying and the opioid epidemic, which is expected to be central to her platform.
“It is important that as adults, we take the lead and the responsibility in helping our children manage the many issues they are facing today,” Trump said. “This means encouraging positive habits with social media and technology, even limiting time online and understanding the content they are exposed to on a daily basis.”
Asked by CNN last year if the first lady feels the need to reconcile criticism of her husband’s Twitter behavior with what she’s trying to accomplish, East Wing communications director Stephanie Grisham said flatly, “no.”
“Mrs. Trump is independent and acts independently from her husband,” Grisham told CNN at the time. “She does what she feels is right and knows that she has a real opportunity through her role as first lady to have a positive impact on the lives of children.”
On Monday, Trump called on the governors’ spouses to promote kindness.
“I am asking you all to join me today and commit to promoting values such as encouragement, kindness, compassion, and respect in our children,” she told the spouses, adding, “With those values as a solid foundation, our kids will be better equipped to deal with many of the evils in our world today, such as drug abuse and addiction and negative social media interactions.”