Las Vegas shooting: White House says now is not time to debate gun control

Authorities have reported 58 deaths and more than 500 people injured 

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Monday 02 October 2017 21:30 BST
Donald Trump: Las Vegas massacre was an act of pure evil

The White House has said that it is “premature” to have a discussion on gun control laws in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in US history.

Officials report 58 people have died and more than 500 injured in the late Sunday evening massacre in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, emotional when she spoke of the victims, said at a news briefing that “there’s a time and place for a political debate, but now is the time to unite as a country.”

“It would be premature for us to discuss policy” when all the facts about the event are known, Ms Sanders said.

She added: “But that’s not the place that we are in at the moment.”

Donald Trump addressed the nation in the hours after the tragic event and in a break with his predecessor Barack Obama he did not call for tougher gun laws.

In fact, the President did not mention gun control or terrorism in his brief remarks but did receive some praise for what critics called his uncharacteristic restraint.

After the Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando, Florida in June 2016, Mr Trump had tweeted he was “right on radical Islamic terrorism.”

He referred to the Las Vegas mass shooting as an “act of pure evil.”

Ms Sanders also said that “laws...won't create or stop these type of [shootings] from happening” in a possible sign of what position the Trump administration will take on any future proposed legislation limiting use of firearms.

In April 2017, Mr Trump told the NRA that the group and its members “have a true friend and champion in the White House.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also dodged calls by Democratic colleagues for more restrictions on civilian firearms purchase, only saying “what is clear now is that this is a moment for national mourning and prayer."

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said he wants Congress “get off its ass and do something” about gun violence.


Mr Murphy represents Connecticut, where the heinous killing of 27 children and their teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown took place in December 2014.

Ms Sanders also took a swipe at Hillary Clinton, who took to Twitter to call Congress to “put politics aside, stand up to the [National Rifle Association]” and its powerful lobby in Congress.

She said it was easy for Ms Clinton to criticise organisations like the NRA but “the only person with blood on their hands is that of the shooter.”

“This isn't a time for us to go after individuals or organisations. I think that we can have those policy conversations, but today is not that day,” Ms Sanders said.

The alleged gunman, Stephen Paddock, opened fire on a crowd of 21,000 people attending a concert by country music star Jason Aldean at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on the Las Vegas strip.

Mr Paddock reportedly shot several hundred bullets from the window of his 32nd floor room at the adjacent Mandalay Hotel and Casino, where he was found dead with several weapons and rounds of ammunition according to police.

Police believe he shot himself just before they stormed the room.

They are searching his residence in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada, approximately 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

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