President Donald Trump told reporters that it was not the time to discuss stricter gun laws following the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. The national debate over existing gun laws was renewed following a rampage in Las Vegas that killed nearly 60 people.
On Oct. 3, Trump returned from a tour of storm-ravaged Puerto Rico. During his flight back from the U.S. territory, the president was asked by reporters whether or not there would ever be a congressional debate over gun control.
"Perhaps that will come," Trump responded, according to Reuters. "Not for now."
On Oct. 1, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Nevada killed at least 59 people and injured over 500 others during a concert on the Las Vegas strip. The suspect reportedly committed suicide as law enforcement breached his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Investigators found 23 firearms in Paddock's hotel room and 19 guns in his home, MarketWatch reports.
Paddock had modified at least one of his semi-automatic firearms to operate as an automatic weapon. He had used a bump stock, a device that is currently legal to purchase.
On Oct. 2, the Senate Minority Leader, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, called for legislative action for stricter gun laws, Bloomberg reports.
"How did this monster acquire the arsenal he used to rain down death on a crowd of innocents?" Schumer said on the Senate floor. "We'll have to reckon with the fact that this man was able to assemble an arsenal of military-grade weapons."
The Trump administration has dismissed calls for tougher gun laws following the Las Vegas massacre from Democratic lawmakers and gun control advocates. On Oct. 2, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders asserted that it was inappropriate to discuss gun laws following the mass shooting.
"There's a time and a place for a political debate, but now is the time to unite as a country. ... I think there will be certainly time for that political discussion to take place," Sanders said during a press conference, according to The Hill. "But that's not the place that we are in at the moment."
Shannon Watts, the founder of the gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action, blasted Trump's assertion that it was too soon to have a debate about gun control, citing his previous reactions to religiously-motivated mass killings.
"I don't remember not having the facts being a barrier for talking about terrorism, or other crises we've experiences as a nation since Trump was elected," Watts told Politico. "The goal is to not talk about this."
On Oct. 3, former White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon asserted that Trump would never support any measures that resembled gun control because it would alienate the National Rifle Association (NRA), which is vocally opposed to any firearm regulation.
"Impossible: will be the the end of everything," Bannon told Axios, adding that the president's base supporters cared about gun issues more than any other agenda item.
During the 2016 presidential race, the NRA donated $30 million to the Trump campaign and roughly $20 million to GOP lawmakers' congressional campaigns.
On Oct. 4, Trump traveled to Las Vegas to meet with the surviving victims of Paddock's mass shooting.
Sources: Axios, Bloomberg, The Hill, MarketWatch, Politico, Reuters / Feature Image: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr / Embedded Images: U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Flickr, Jim Mattis/Flickr