President Trump paid tribute to “the best of humanity” — the police officers, first responders and medical pros who sprang into action amid the chaos of the Las Vegas mass shooting — but wouldn’t discuss any new gun controls that Washington leaders could develop to prevent a similar tragedy.
“Well, we’re not going to talk about that today,” said Trump after meeting with wounded patients at University Medical Center in Las Vegas. “We won’t talk about that.”
The White House has been careful to avoid any talk of gun control or other legislation, including a ban introduced by Democrats yesterday on the sale of bump-stock devices like those attached to the Las Vegas shooter’s guns, which can cheaply and significantly increase the rate of fire of semi-automatic weapons.
Instead, the president called the gunman, Stephen Paddock, “a very sick man” and “a very demented person.”
Just a day after praising hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico and flinging rolls of paper towels into a crowd, Trump again played “consoler-in-chief,” flying to Vegas, where he toured the hospital as well as the police department’s command center.
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Trump told reporters he extended an open invitation to survivors while touring the hospital to visit the White House.
“I said, if you’re ever in Washington, come on over to the Oval Office,” Trump said. “And they’re all saying, ‘We want to do it. How do we do it?’ And believe me, I’ll be there for them. But the message that I have is, we have a great country and we are there for you. And they’re there for us.”
Trump also praised the doctors and nurses at University Medical Center who treated 100 patients and admitted 50 in the tense hours just after the country music festival rampage.
“It makes you very proud to be an American when you see the job that they’ve done,” said Trump of the hospital staff. “And people that would not be around today are up there and they’ll be leaving the hospital in a week or two weeks.”
He then met with police officers, firefighters and dispatchers who immediately reacted when the first gunshots rang out from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel.
“In the depths of horror we will always find hope in the men and women who risked their lives for ours,” Trump said. “The mass murder that took place on Sunday night fills America’s heart with grief. America is truly a nation in mourning.”
He repeatedly dubbed the first responders “heroes,” noting the police officers who instinctively ran toward danger, making themselves targets as civilians fled.
But the president also acknowledged the magnitude of the loss of life and the shock of an evening of music and celebration ending in panic and carnage.
“Many families tonight will go to bed in a world that is suddenly empty,” he said.
“The people they so dearly love were torn away from them forever. Our souls are stricken with grief for every American who lost a husband or a wife, a mother or a father, a son or a daughter,” he said. “We know that your sorrow feels endless. We stand together to help you carry your pain. You’re not alone. We will never leave your side.”
The White House has not ruled out the possibility Trump might return to Las Vegas for a vigil or memorial service.
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