WH Can’t Name ‘Any One Thing That You Could Do’ To Prevent Gun Massacres

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders listens to a reporter's question during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/AP

On the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and just two months after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, the White House refused to acknowledge that regulating access to guns would have prevented the massacres.

“What has President Trump done to try to protect the American people against a similar type of massacre?” CBS News’ Margaret Brennan asked Sanders, after referring to the two mass shootings.

Sanders said the administration’s goal of severely limiting immigration — even though the Sandy Hook and Las Vegas shooters were both born in the United States — would help “protect our citizens every single day.”

“One of the areas that the President has been outspoken about, not necessarily to those two instances but more broadly speaking in terms of national security and protecting individuals, certainly through border security, stronger vetting processes, and looking at whether or not there are other regulations that we can put in place that would offer protection,” she said.

“These were domestic shooters,” Brennan corrected her.

“Right, and I said I’m speaking more broadly in terms of national security as a whole,” Sanders said.

Sanders added, referring to the shootings: “Whether or not there is a regulation that could be put in place or not that could have prevented those things, frankly, I’m not aware of what that would be.”

Brennan pressed: Has the President highlighted any priorities to prevent further tragedies like these shooting massacres?

“I don’t think there is any one thing that you could do that could have prevented either one of those instances, horrible, horrible tragedies,” Sanders said.  

“But your prescription was given very quickly just the other day for this failed terrorist attack,” Brennan pushed back, referring to a poorly made pipe bomb detonated in a subway station in New York City on Monday. Hours later, the White House called for immigration restrictions, citing the bombing, and the following day the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Francis Cissna, laid out the same plan in a White House briefing.

“I mean, this is the worst shooting on U.S. soil on President Trump’s watch,” Brennan said.

“I understand that, and that’s why I think you have to take these matters obviously very seriously,” Sanders replied. “But if you could name a single thing that would have prevented both of these I would love to hear it because I don’t know what that would look like.”

“In terms of New York we know for a fact this individual came through chain migration system, this is something the president has been outspokenly against and something he wants to stop,” Sanders said. “So that’s a fact that we do know.”

Brennan tried one last time: “An assault weapons ban, any kind of regulation, any kind of mental health concern? The President specifically mentioned that as a possibility?”

Sanders dodged yet again.

“I know that they are looking at some of the mental health issues, it’s something the President has raised before. But in terms of a specific policy that we are moving forward with that would have prevented that, I’m not aware what that would be.”

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