U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter in the wake of a deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school on Wednesday that left 17 students dead — and made no mention of growing calls for reform to gun control laws. Instead, he suggested neighbours and classmates should have reported the suspect to police sooner.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
In a press conference held from the White House on Thursday, Trump offered condolences for the families of the 17 people killed in the shooting but said nothing about what would be done to concretely address the epidemic of school and mass shootings in the country.
“Your suffering is our burden also. No child, no teacher, should ever be in danger in an American school. No parent should ever have to fear for their sons and daughters when they kiss them goodbye in the morning,” he said, before quoting from the Bible and encouraging those affected by the tragedy to turn to community and faith leaders.
“I want to speak now to American’s children, including those who feel lost, alone, confused or even scared. I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be. You have people who care about you, who love you and who will do anything at all to protect you.”
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However, he made no mention of gun reform and instead said his administration would “tackle the difficult issue of mental health.”
According to comments made by Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel to American media, the alleged shooter had an online presence with what he described as “very, very disturbing” content.
Multiple reports — including one from the New York Times — state Cruz had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and that some students who had known him described Cruz as a “troubled kid” who bragged about killing animals. They said he showed off his guns and that his mother had in the past tried calling police to have them intervene in his behaviour.
The shooting marked the 18th school shooting of the year and is one of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern American history.
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Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy gave a powerful speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate while police were hunting for the shooter, saying that those who refuse to act to implement reforms to gun control laws are responsible for such tragedies.
“This epidemic of mass slaughter. This scourge of school shooting after school shooting. It only happens here, not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction,” he said.
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“We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else.”
His voice was part of a chorus of calls that only seem to grow angrier at the lack of action by American leaders in trying to prevent such atrocities from happening again.
Among those was Gabrielle Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who survived being shot in the head in 2011 while holding a constituency meeting in Tuscon, Ariz.
Since the shooting, she has become an advocate for gun reform.
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Massachusetts congressman Seth Moulton, as well as numerous other politicians, also lent their voices to the call for reforms, saying the time has come to act.
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