U.S. President Donald Trump made a trip to Las Vegas on Wednesday, October 4th to meet with victims of the mass shooting that took place at a country music festival three days prior. Trump also met with first responders, doctors and nurses who helped to take in the casualties during the visit. In a public address, Trump expressed his inspirational feedback: “We cannot be defined by the evil that threatens us or the violence that incites such terror. In the depths of horror, we will always find hope in the men and women who risk their lives for ours.”
His visit’s first stop was at the University Medical Center, where he also made sure to inform reporters that he had invited some of the victims to visit the White House at a later date. “And believe me, I’ll be there for them,” he added while pointing this out. From there, he visited the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, where he had a conversation with Sheriff Joseph Lombardo before making his scripted public address. During his talks with the police department, he praised their response time, calling himself “a big fan” and calling the department an example of professionalism that they should be proud of.
While Trump was publicly effusive in the general sense towards the efforts of those who have helped the community recover, the bigger headlines came when Trump refused to respond to questions about the national gun control issue, which has become a hot button issue in the wake of several mass shootings making the news domestically and abroad. Specifically, to one reporter who asked if the United States has a “gun violence problem”, Trump simply responded, “We’re not going to talk about that today. We won’t talk about that.”
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., a bill was introduced to put a ban on the equipment that 64-year-old Stephen Paddock used to fire more quickly. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders followed a similar line of deflection to President Trump, saying that this was not the time for a “political debate” and that a rise in the push for stricter gun control was “premature”. Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, whose constituency includes the site of the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary School attack in 2012, responded, “If not now, when?”
Paddock was revealed as the man on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino who killed 58 and injured hundreds attending the adjacent music festival. At the time of Trump’s visit, Las Vegas law enforcement had not come to a definitive conclusion on what Paddock’s motives were for the attack. During Trump’s stay at the hospital, the President was overheard calling Paddock “a very sick man” and “a very demented person.”