WASHINGTON — Donald Trump said Thursday he is opposed to tightening gun laws in the U.S. but is in favor of addressing mental health to prevent shootings, one day after a man shot two journalists on live television.
“This isn’t a gun problem, this is a mental problem,” Trump said. “It’s not a question of the laws, it’s really the people.”
Calling the gunman a “very sick man,” Trump said mental illness is “a massive problem” in the U.S. He suggested more resources should be devoted to addressing mental health — hoping to prevent shootings like the one in Virginia, which he called “really, very sad.”
Trump did not offer specific solutions to addressing the mental health problem, but said there are ‘”so many things that can be done” and repeatedly said the Virginia shooter, who killed himself Wednesday after killing two others, should have been “institutionalized.”
“In the old days they had mental institutions for people like this because he was really, definitely borderline and definitely would have been and should have been institutionalized,” Trump said. “At some point somebody should have seen that, I mean the people close to him should have seen it.”
“What we know is that the number of people who die from gun-related incidents around this country dwarfs any deaths that happen through terrorism,” Obama said as his spokesman Josh Earnest earlier in the day reaffirmed Obama’s plea for “common sense” gun legislation.
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton also made a similar case.Clinton spoke at length about the need for greater gun control, as well as universal background checks, while talking to reporters in Ankeny, Iowa.
“We have got to do something about gun violence in America. And I will take it on,” Clinton said. “It’s a very political, difficult issue in America. But I believe we are smart enough, we are compassionate enough, to figure out how to balance the legitimate Second Amendment rights with preventive measures and control measures so that whatever motivated this murderer who eventually took his own life, we will not see more deaths, needless, senseless deaths.”
Clinton also called for universal background checks on guns.
But Trump insisted that changes in the nation’s gun laws were not the solution needed, saying he is “a very strong Second Amendment person.”
And he insisted it should not be more difficult for “sane people” to get guns, pointing to Chicago’s tough gun laws failing to prevent the scourge of gun violence in that city.
Again, Trump pivoted to mental health.
“I guarantee you there are a couple of people that knew this man that did the killing yesterday that probably said, ‘Wow he’s really got problems I mean he really should be institutionalized,'” Trump said.
Trump also praised the reaction of the journalists’ colleagues, who continued to broadcast live throughout the day on Wednesday.
“The reaction of the colleagues and the station has been really incredible and it’s really inspiring to watch,” Trump said. “It’s too bad that we can’t figure it out beforehand, but it’s a pretty tough thing to do.”