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Trump says extreme vetting for Texas shooter would have made 'no difference'

November 07, 2017 - 3:48 am

(NEW YORK) -- President Trump said Tuesday that new gun laws would have made "no difference" in preventing the massacre at a church service in Sutherland Springs, Texas, that left 26 people dead.

Trump was asked during a press conference in South Korea about his recent comments calling for "extreme vetting" immediately following the New York City terror attack, and whether he would favor similar scrutiny for those looking to purchase firearms.

"If you did what you're suggesting, there would have been no difference three days ago," Trump said, before turning to praise the actions of a bystander who engaged the shooter following his rampage. "You might not have had that very brave person who happened to have a gun or a rifle in his truck, go out and shoot him and hit him and neutralize him."

The president added, "I can only say this. If [the neighbor] didn't have a gun, instead of 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead. So that's the way I feel about it, not going to help."

Authorities said Monday morning that the shooting at First Baptist Church was neither racially nor religiously motivated, instead pointing to a "domestic situation" with the suspect's family.

The president was briefed on developments in the shooting while in Japan, and said soon after that it should be credited to a "mental health problem" and not U.S. gun laws.

He and the White House urged restraint in jumping to conclusions similar to the reaction following the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October. The White House later said the president would be willing to work with Congress on potentially regulating the "bump stock" device used by the shooter to increase his rate of fire, though those efforts have seemed to fade in recent weeks.

The president's response to the Texas mass shooting has been compared with his reaction to the terror attack in New York City just last Tuesday, where he waited only hours before stating he had directed the Department of Homeland Security to institute strict vetting procedures and called for Congress to change immigration policy.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the tweets were not "factual" and "tended to point fingers and politicize the situation," though the White House disputed he was taking advantage of the tragedy for political gain.

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