White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed as “premature” suggestions that the mass shooting in Las Vegas Sunday night ought to provide an opportunity to explore legislation to prevent future mass shootings.
At least 58 people died when a man shot out of his 32nd floor hotel window at a massive outdoor concert Sunday night, according to police. The alleged shooter, Stephen Craig Paddock, killed himself, police said.
“Has this particular massacre made the President think anything more about pursuing tighter gun laws such as background checks to prevent a massacre like this from happening again?” Reuters’ Jeff Mason asked Sanders at a press briefing Monday.
Sanders said that “there’s a time and place for a political debate, but now is the time to unite as a country.”
“There’s currently an open and ongoing law enforcement investigation,” she said. “A motive is yet to be determined, and it would be premature for us to discuss policy when we don’t fully know all of the facts or what took place last night.”
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny asked if there should be a policy discussion — rather than a political one — in which President Trump could “bring something new to the gun debate that has been, I guess, locked in typical politics for so many years?”
Sanders said she thought “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. But certainly, I think that there’s a time for that to happen.”
Later, NBC News’ Hallie Jackson reminded Sanders that when Omar Mateen killed 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando in 2016, Trump advocated the very next day for his proposed ban on all Muslims entering the United States.
Sanders said she agreed with Sen. Chris Murphy’s (D-CT) statement that Congress should “get off its ass and do something.” But, she said, “I’m not sure that it’s specific to that” and declined to give any details of legislation Trump would support.
“We haven’t had the moment to have a deep dive on the policy part of that,” she said.
Asked separately about gun control, Sanders brought up violent crime in Chicago, a frequent talking point for the administration for a variety of issues. Trump has infamously threatened to send in federal agents to subdue the city.
“They have the strictest gun laws in the country, that certainly hasn’t helped there,” she said, adding: “I think we need to look at things that actually have that real impact.”