Avoiding the tough issues raised by Sunday night’s massacre in Las Vegas, the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, President Donald Trump on Wednesday continued his focus on the community’s first responders, praising them for their bravery and professionalism.
“On behalf of the grateful nation, we thank each and everyone of you in law enforcement,” he said after meeting with first responders in Las Vegas.
Trump praised medical professionals and members of law enforcement for responding to the “horror,” but never addressed the questions Sunday night’s massacre raised about gun control and mass violence in the United States.
Instead, he focused his remarks on heroism and hope in the wake of the killings.
“We struggle for the words to explain to our children how such evil can exist, how there can be such cruelty and suffering,” Trump said. “But we cannot be defined by the evil that threatens us or the violence that incites such terror. We are defined by our love, and courage, in the darkest moments what shines most brightly is the goodness that thrives in the hearts of our people.”
He said “words cannot describe the bravery that the whole world witnessed on Sunday night” and said “a grateful nation” thanks first responders for their actions.
“In the months ahead, we will all have to wrestle with the horror of what has unfolded this week. But we will struggle through it together,” he said. “We will endure the pain together. And we will overcome together as Americans.”
Trump’s remarks were a continuation of his remarks during a visit to the University Medical Center earlier in the day, where he called the medical response “an incredible tribute to professionalism.”
“The doctors, the nurses, all of the people at the hospital have done a job that’s indescribable,” he said during a visit to the University Medical Center in Las Vegas. “What they have done is incredible. And you never want to see it again. That I can tell you.”
The President said he and first lady Melania Trump “met patients that were absolutely terribly wounded,” whom Trump also praised for their “bravery.”
“Some were very, very badly wounded. And they were badly wounded because they refused to leave,” he said. “They wanted to help others because they saw people going down all over. And it’s an incredible thing to see.”
Trump lauded “the professionalism of the doctors and the medical staffs at this hospital and at other hospitals.”
“I have to tell you, it makes you very proud to be an American, when you see the job that they’ve done,” he said. “So I just want to congratulate everybody. It’s incredible. Incredible what you’ve done. We met quite a few people and believe me, they are very lucky to be here.”
Asked what message he had for survivors of the massacre, Trump said, “The only message I can say is that we’re with you 100 percent.”
“In fact, I invited a lot of them over to the White House,” he said. “And believe me, I’ll be there for them. The message that I have is we have a great country and we are there for you. And they’re there for us.”
“Do you think we have a gun violence problem?” a reporter called to Trump.
“We’re not going to talk about that today,” Trump replied. “We won’t talk about that.”
In a meeting with law enforcement officials shortly afterward, Trump again lauded their “professionalism” and said he was a “big fan.”
“I was a fan before this. You know that. Everyone in this room knows that. A big fan before this. And I guess if you can be more of a fan, I guess I’m even more of a fan now,” he said. “But you showed the world, and the world is watching. And you showed what professionalism is all about.”
This post has been updated.