Former United States President Donald Trump on Friday rejected calls for tougher gun control in the wake of the Texas school massacre, saying decent Americans should be allowed the firearms needed to defend themselves against “evil.”
He told members of the National Rifle Association that “the existence of evil in our world is not a reason to disarm law-abiding citizens … one of the best reasons to arm law-abiding citizens is the existence of evil.”
Trump’s comments came as he headlined an NRA event in Houston, three days after a gunfight at an elementary school in Texas revived the Tinderbox controversy over U.S. gun control.
“Various gun control policies being pushed by the left have done nothing to stop what happened. Absolutely nothing,” he said.
An 18-year-old gunman with a legally purchased AR-15-style rifle killed 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalade, Texas on Tuesday, marking the most horrific school shooting in state history.
Before calling the gun control effort “weird,” Trump read out the names of 19 children he described as “crazy” victims out of control.
“We must all come together, Republicans and Democrats – at every state and at every level of government – to finally tighten our schools and protect our children … What we need now is a top-to-bottom safety overhaul of schools across the country.” , He added.
Several speakers, including Texas Governor Greg Abbott, withdrew from the event after the assassination, but Trump confirmed Wednesday that he would not cancel his presence at the NRA’s annual “Leadership Forum.”
White House officials say President Joe Biden, who ignored the U.S. gun lobby in the wake of the shootings, is scheduled to “mourn with the community” with First Lady Jill Biden on Sunday.
The NRA is considered the most powerful gun rights organization in the country, although its influence has waned as it has been embroiled in a legal battle linked to a corruption scandal.
It rejected most of the measures to prevent mass shootings, including extended background checks on gun purchases, although it said before Trump’s speech that audience members would not be allowed to carry firearms.
Republicans in Washington have suggested tightening schools with increased security, rather than restricting gun ownership – including a single entry and post of armed guards at exit points.
They also point to the need to focus on mental health, although critics point out that other countries, including strict gun control, face similar problems and do not see regular mass shootings.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 214 mass shootings in the United States this year.
They include a racist massacre at a supermarket in a black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, just 10 days before the Texas massacre.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)