Tougher vetting for individuals who purchase firearms would not have stopped the gunman in last weekend’s mass shooting in Texas, President Donald Trump said Tuesday, tamping down renewed calls for gun control.
At a press conference Tuesday in South Korea, Trump was asked if he would consider seeking “extreme vetting” for gun purchasers similar to what he has advocated for individuals entering the U.S. from other countries. Trump said such screenings would not have stopped Sunday’s gunman, who killed 26 people inside a Texas church, and could potentially have stopped another gun owner from confronting the shooter.
“If you did what you’re suggesting, there would have been no difference three days ago, and you might not have had that very brave person who happened to have a gun or a rifle in his truck go out and shoot him, and hit him and neutralize him,” Trump said. “And I can only say this: If he didn’t have a [gun], instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead. So that’s the way I feel about it. Not going to help.”
The shooter, Devin Patrick Kelley, had a military-style rifle as well as two handguns, all of which were purchased by him. A previous court martial conviction for domestic violence while in the Air Force should have kept him from being able to legally buy such weapons, but Kelley’s criminal record with the military was never entered into the correct federal database.
Trump appeared to bristle at even the mention of gun control, suggesting to the inquiring reporter that such a question could be considered inappropriate just days after the shooting. The president also seemed to take exception that such a question would come during a bilateral press conference in South Korea.
“Well, you’re bringing up a situation that probably shouldn’t be discussed too much right now. We could let a little time go by, but it’s OK,” Trump said. “If you feel that that’s an appropriate question, even though we’re in the heart of South Korea, I will certainly answer your question.”