WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump struck a solemn tone Thursday after the deadly school shooting in Florida, describing a “scene of terrible violence, hatred and evil” and promising to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health,” but avoiding any mention of guns.
Taking up the now-familiar ritual of public consolation after terrible violence, Trump spoke from the White House Diplomatic Room. In a slow, deliberate style, he sought to reassure a troubled nation as well as students’ families and shooting survivors in Florida.
“We are all joined together as one American family, and your suffering is our burden also,” Trump said. “No child, no teacher, should ever be in danger in an American school.”
The president’s address came a day after a former student opened fire at the Parkland, Florida, high school with an AR-15 rifle, killing 17 people and injuring 14 more. It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago.
At the Capitol, the usual divisions over gun laws were evident.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said in a statement that it is time for action. “Congress has a moral responsibility to take common-sense action to prevent the daily tragedy of gun violence in communities across America,” she said. “Enough is enough.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, did not mention guns as he said the Senate would observe a moment of silence at noon. “To say that such brutal, pointless violence is unconscionable is an understatement,” he said.
Before he was a candidate, Trump at one point favored some stricter gun restrictions. However, early in his administration, he told the National Rifle Association he was their “friend and champion.” He signed a resolution passed by the GOP-led Congress blocking an Obama-era rule designed to keep guns out of the hands of certain mentally disabled people.
Trump, who owns a private club in Palm Beach, Florida about 40 miles from Parkland, said Thursday he was making plans to visit the grieving community. He praised teachers and first responders and also offered a direct message to children.
“I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be,” Trump said. “You have people who care about you who love you and who will do anything at all to protect you. If you need help, turn to a…