President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Fox News blamed mental health issues for the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Seventeen people were killed and 14 others were injured in the 200th school shooting since Sandy Hook in 2012. The 19-year-old shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz reportedly used a semi-automatic AR-15 assault weapon. The age limit to buy an AR-15 in Florida is 18, notes The Associated Press.
Trump did not make any statements in person on Feb. 14, but blamed the Parkland shooting on mental health issues on Twitter on Feb. 15 while his budget calls for cutting health care:
So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2018
In a televised statement on Feb. 15, Trump again stressed mental health, but did not mention guns:
We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health. 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. It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make that difference.
A reporter asked Trump, “Why does this keep happening in America? Will you do something about guns?” but Trump refused to answer.
Trump received $31,194,646 from the NRA during the 2016 election, noted The Hill in October 2017.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions also focused on mental illness, not guns, during his speech to the sheriffs’ convention in Washington D.C. Sessions insisted that current gun laws are strong enough even though there have been 18 school shootings in 2018 so far (video below):
I think effective enforcement of our gun laws, focusing on criminals and dangerous people, mentally ill people that have been — where we have the legal ability to do so — can reduce violence in our communities and improve public safety. It is not good if we got gun laws that say criminals can’t carry guns and they never get enforced. So we intend to enforce our laws.
Sessions failed to note that Cruz did not have a criminal record.
Sessions also claimed that cracking down on gangs could prevent school shootings, even though Cruz was not a gang member:
When parents once again go to sleep fearful that their kids will not be safe, even when they go to school — parents have told me in gang-infested neighborhoods that children can no longer stand at the bus stop by themselves, they take turns, parents do, of being out there every morning and afternoon. So we’ve gotta confront the problem. There’s not doubt about it.
Over on “Fox & Friends,” the hosts and their guest Tammy Bruce blamed mental health issues, prescription drugs, virtual reality, and the “human condition” for the Parkland shooting, but not guns , notes Media Matters (video below).