During Monday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made clear the Trump administration is not interested in any immediate conversations on gun violence prevention legislation in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting that killed at least 58 and injured more than 500.
“There’s a time and place for a political debate but now is the time to unite as a country,” Sanders said. Because an investigation is underway and a motive has not yet been determined, it would be “premature to discuss policy when we don’t know all the facts of what took place last night.” She likewise deemed it “premature” to call the shooting “domestic terrorism.”
“I think that there will be certainly time for that policy discussion to take place, but that’s not the place that we’re in at this moment.” Monday marked the 275th day of 2017, and the Las Vegas shooting marked the 273rd shooting in 2017.
Responding to a separate question, however, Sanders was prepared to throw gun violence prevention measures under the bus. “If you look to Chicago, where you had over 4,000 victims of gun-related crimes — they have the strictest gun laws in the country,” she remarked. “That certainly hasn’t helped there, so when that time comes for those conversations to take place, I think we need to look at things that may actually have that real impact.”
Later in the briefing, when prompted by a question about how quickly then-candidate Trump used the Orlando shooting at the gay nightclub Pulse to promote his proposed Muslim ban, Sanders simply said, “There’s a difference between being a candidate and being the President.”
Multiple questions addressed various gun violence prevention measures, but Sanders avoided taking a position on any of them. When asked point blank what Trump’s position on gun control was, she seemed to suggest he doesn’t support any at all. “The president has been clear,” she said. “He’s a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and I don’t have anything further at this point.”
The press briefing ended relatively quickly so that the President and Vice President could lead a moment of silence on the White House’s South Lawn. Earlier in the day, Trump called the shooting “an act of pure evil.”