At the beginning of Wednesday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders spent a mere three seconds acknowledging the victims of America’s latest deadly school shooting — one at Marshall County High School in Kentucky that left two students dead.
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 24, 2018
But NBC’s Peter Alexander circled back to the topic during the last question Sanders fielded. Alexander asked Sanders what President Donald Trump is doing to prevent school shootings, especially considering the fact that there have already been 11 school shootings so far this year and we’re not even through with January.
“On Tuesday, there was a high school in Kentucky; Monday a school cafeteria outside Dallas; a charter school parking lot in New Orleans as well — there have been 11 shootings in schools in the first 23 days of this year,” Alexander began. “In October, after the Vegas shooting, you said it was an unspeakable tragedy from that podium. You said it was a day for consoling survivors and mourning those we have lost, but you said there’s a time and place for political debate. What has the president done in the time since October to prevent any of these shootings from taking place?”
The question is a difficult one for Sanders to handle, as Trump hasn’t done much of anything to stop school shootings. The president — whose election effort received more than $30 million from the National Rifle Association — has made clear he’s not a fan of stronger background checks, and thinks the problem of gun violence can only be solved by more guns.
So Sanders quickly tried to pivot from Alexander’s question. Instead, she attempted to give the president credit for the slight decrease in U.S. violent crime that occurred during his first months in office.
“The president believes that all Americans deserve to be safe in their schools and their communities,” she said. “We’ve had two years of increased violence prior to the president taking office. We’ve tried to crack down on crime throughout the country.”
Sanders’ response didn’t address gun violence in schools at all. When Alexander tried to follow up, Sanders grew impatient and attacked him.
“The fact that you’re basically accusing the president of being complicit in a school shooting is outrageous,” she said.
As Alexander noted, there was a good deal of hypocrisy in Sanders’ attack against him. Her objection to a reporter allegedly “accusing the president of being complicit in a school shooting” comes just days after the Trump campaign released an ad accusing Democrats that stand in Trump’s way of building a wall along the southern border of being “complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.”
Shortly after the briefing ended, President Trump responded to the latest deadly school shooting with a “thoughts and prayers” tweet.
Earlier today, I spoke with @GovMattBevin of Kentucky regarding yesterday’s shooting at Marshall County High School. My thoughts and prayers are with Bailey Holt, Preston Cope, their families, and all of the wounded victims who are in recovery. We are with you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2018