Guns

Trump says he cares about stopping gun violence, but offers few specifics

President Trump again hammered illegal immigrants as violent during his State of the Union address.
President Trump again hammered illegal immigrants as violent during his State of the Union address. Getty Images

President Donald Trump said his silence on school safety and anti-gun violence policies during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address doesn’t mean he isn’t working on the issue.

He didn’t, however, offer specifics Wednesday during an Oval Office interview with regional reporters, including one from McClatchy.

“My message is that we have, you know, we’ve done a report with the school… the report was very, very strong… a lot of very good conclusions and things to do, and we did it specifically with the school… and it was well received,” Trump said. “We are working and we’re working based on the report that we finished about three weeks ago.”

The president was referring to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission’s report which was released in December, a document that was drafted by state and local officials along with the parents of victims.

“I could’ve put it in, I would’ve put it in, I’ve been very involved in it,” Trump said when asked why the Parkland shooting and potential solutions to prevent future mass shootings did not get a mention in the speech.

The one year anniversary of the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history is next week, and Trump spent a large portion of 2018 talking about possible remedies that do not include gun control, including arming teachers with firearms.

The president said Wednesday he wasn’t aware that three Parkland parents, Manny Oliver, Andrew Pollack and Frank Guttenberg, were in the House chamber Tuesday night for his speech, and appeared upset he was not informed of their attendance.

Pollack was invited by Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott, Oliver was invited by Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch and Guttenberg was invited by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“First of all, I didn’t know they were there. I wish they would’ve told me they were there, though, because it’s a great group of people,” Trump said. “I wish I knew they were here. I would’ve had them back with me, I would’ve had them backstage.”

His remarks came as House Democrats on Capitol Hill were holding the first official congressional hearing on gun violence in eight years. Deutch, Guttenberg and Oliver participated in the House Judiciary Committee hearing along with activists from the March For Our Lives and other gun control groups.

“After February 14th, the Florida Legislature passed bills to increase the minimum age for rifle purchases to 21 and passed Extreme Risk Protection Orders,” Deutch said. “State and local governments all around the country have taken action. Finally, finally, the House of Representatives is about to act. We’re going to pass background checks because it’s supported by over 90% of the American people and it can help save a life.”

At one point during the hearing, Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz was talking about the importance of building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border and was interrupted by an irate Oliver, who was sitting in the audience. Oliver interrupted Gaetz again, setting off a parliamentary squabble after Gaetz asked Oliver to be removed from the hearing.

While the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives will try to pass gun-control laws over the next two years, such efforts are likely to face resistance from the Republican-controlled Senate and the president.

However, there are other areas like expanded red-flag laws and funding for increased school security that could get support from both parties in the federal government.

“It’s an incredible tragedy, and these are things that can be stopped,” Trump said Wednesday of school shootings.

Alex Daugherty is the Washington correspondent for the Miami Herald, covering South Florida from the nation’s capital. Previously, he worked as the Washington correspondent for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and for the Herald covering politics in Miami.

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