In his fourth address to the nation following a mass shooting, President Donald Trump failed to mention the word “gun” once. The president instead chose to talk about mental health issues in broad, general terms, without offering any specific policies.
“We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health,” said Trump. “Later this month I will be meeting with the nation’s governors and attorney generals [sic], where making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority.”
He added, “It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make that difference.”
Trump frames #ParklandSchoolShooting as a mental health issue, says "it is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference, we must actually make that difference."
Of course he doesn't specify a single specific thing he wants to do. pic.twitter.com/iOktneFQN0
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 15, 2018
At the end of Trump’s speech, a reporter shouted, “Why does this keep happening in America? Will you do something about guns?” Trump ignored the question.
Trump’s failure to address gun control should come as no surprise. During his second month in office, the president signed a bill revoking an Obama-era regulation that made it difficult for individuals with mental health problems to purchase guns. Trump’s own proposed budget would cut millions of dollars to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the system gun dealers use to verify whether someone is banned from buying a gun before selling it to them.
Just last week, in an address to congressional Republicans, Trump proudly claimed his administration has “done an awfully good job of protecting our Second Amendment.”
By contrast, at the state level, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) specifically addressed his intent to tackle gun policy, despite his history of fighting gun control legislation.
“Next week in Tallahassee, I’m going sit down with state leaders, we’re going have a real conference about two things,” Scott said. “How do we make sure, when a parent is ready to send their child to school in Florida, that parent knows that child is going to be safe? Number two, how do we make sure that individuals with mental illness do not touch a gun?”
Suspected Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz was able to legally purchase his AR-15 assault rifle in Florida, despite a long history of mental health warnings. He was also flagged by the FBI after posting comments on a YouTube video in which he said his goal was to become the next school shooter.
Broward County Mayor Beam Furr told reporters this week that Cruz had received treatment for mental health issues at a clinic previously, but noted that he had not undergone any such treatment in over a year.
After the shooting in Parkland, Florida, survivors immediately called on lawmakers to take action on gun violence. Watch students speak out in the video above.