President Trump traveled to Las Vegas Wednesday to meet with victims, families and first responders still reeling from the worst mass shooting in modern American history, while still refusing to talk about the broader issue of gun violence.
“America is truly a nation in mourning,” Trump said in an address to police officers.
“We cannot be defined by the evil that threatens us or the violence that incites such terror.”
Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrived in the shaken Sin City three days after a sniper in a high-rise hotel room shot nearly 600 people at a country music festival, killing 58.
The President met privately with wounded victims at the city’s University Medical Center and later said he had offered them a standing invitation to come to the White House.
Trump also praised the work of police officers and emergency room doctors, whom he has previously credited for “miracle” work of preventing even more deaths.
“What I saw today is just an incredible tribute to professionalism,” Trump told reporters at the hospital.
“What they have done is incredible. And you never want to see it again, that I can tell you … It’s an incredible thing to see. There’s tremendous bravery.”
One reporter asked if Trump intended to say anything about America’s gun violence problems.
“We’re not gonna talk about that today,” he calmly replied.
“We’re not gonna talk about that.”
In the three days since the massacre — which is the deadliest domestic attack since 9/11 — Trump has repeatedly dodged opportunities to discuss gun violence, insisting it is too soon for any policy discussion. He only offered a cryptic remark to White House reporters that he would be “talking about gun laws as time goes by.”
Mass shooting at Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas
He has also said little about the gunman, Stephen Paddock, despite Trump’s tendency in the past to rush to judgment about the motives of mass shooters before authorities have weighed in.
The White House is already prepared to tone down any talk of gun control, which Democrats in Congress have been pushing since the slaughter on Sunday.
A list of White House talking points about the shooting, which was leaked to media Tuesday, showed that Trump’s administration is instructing officials to deflect from talk of new gun laws.
“When it comes to gun control, let’s be clear: new laws won’t stop a madman committed to harming innocent people,” one of the talking points said.
“They will curtail the freedoms of law-abiding citizens.”
During his Vegas visit, Trump’s motorcade drove by the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino, where Paddock stockpiled more than 20 firearms and mowed down his victims from a 32nd-floor room. The motorcade also passed Trump’s namesake high-rise hotel in the city, which has gold-infused windows and bears his last name in giant golden letters.
Trump arrived in the city one day after making his first visit to Puerto Rico to survey the deadly damage from Hurricane Maria, where he appeared to struggle with comforting citizens in agony.
During the trip, Trump said Puerto Rico had pushed the federal government’s budget “out of whack” and that the Maria death toll of 16 was low compared to the “real catastrophe” of Hurricane Katrina in New Orelans.