President Trump says he’ll be visiting Parkland during his three-day holiday in Florida with Melania.
The president and first lady are departing Washington this afternoon for Palm Beach on a previously scheduled weekend getaway.
In a tweet this morning, the president said he would also be stopping through the Florida community that was rocked this week by a high school shooting.
‘I will be leaving for Florida today to meet with some of the bravest people on earth – but people whose lives have been totally shattered. Am also working with Congress on many fronts,’ he said.
President Donald Trump addressed the nation in the wake of Wednesday’s gun massacre at a Florida school but made no mention of guns or gun control
White House officials had not confirmed a side trip to Parkland, which is just 40 miles south of Palm Beach, as of Friday afternoon.
‘The details of a trip have not been set just yet,’ deputy press secretary Raj Shah told Fox News.
Officials were working to set up meetings between Trump and first responders to the Wednesday tragedy as well as families of the victims.
Trump in a Thursday address pinned the blame for the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the ‘the difficult issue of mental health.’
He said he issue would be a priority during a summit later this month with governor’s and attorney generals as he pressed for a culture in the country where classmates and colleagues are regarded as friends and neighbors.
‘It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference,’ he said. ‘We must actually make that difference.’
The president made no mention of gun control, or of the AR-15 rifle that Nikolas Cruz used to mow down dozens of students and teachers, including at least 17 who lost their lives.
And he did not call on Congress to take new actions to address gun violence in any way.
‘President Trump, you say what can you do? You can stop the guns from getting into these children’s hands,’ heartbroken mom Lori Alhadeff said Thursday in an emotional interview with HLN. ‘What can you do? You can do a lot! This is not fair to our families and our children [to] go to school and have to get killed!’
Sarah Chadwick, a student at the school, also demanded action from the president in response to a Wednesday tweet that had offered his ‘prayers and condolences to the families of the victims.’
‘I don’t want your condolences you f***ing price of s***, my friends and teachers were shot. Multiple of my fellow classmates are dead. Do something instead of sending prayers. Prayers won’t fix this. But Gun control will prevent it from happening again,’ she said.
Cruz bought the firearm legally at a gun shop in February 2017. And despite Trump’s claim that he is working with Congress on ‘many fronts,’ the White House had not made a public push for mental health or firearms legislation as of Friday.
Its televised briefings nixed for days after the shooting, and reporters were chastised for bringing up the massacre during a Thursday call on immigration.
Trump, in his only public appearance since the shooting, said the entire nation is grieving for the Parkland, Florida community that is ‘now in shock and pain and searching for answers.’
Trump spoke for 6-1/2 minutes and blamed ‘the difficult issue of mental health’ for a series of mass shootings
This video screen grab image shows shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz on February 15 at Broward County Jail in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The heavily armed teenager who gunned down students and adults at a Florida high school was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder
Medical personnel tended to a victim following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018
This shocking picture was posted on Cruz’s Instagram account, showing a collection of at least seven different firearms
Cruz’s other social media postings include these photos of a bullet-riddled homemade target and a box of rifle ammunition
‘I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you,’ he said, quoting God himself in the 2nd book of Kings from the Hebrew Bible.
The president is scheduled to spend Saturday and Sunday at Mar-a-Lago, his private resort club that sits just 40 miles away from Parkland, in Palm Beach.
He ignored questions from an agitated pool of reporters, including one who yelled, ‘Mr. President, why does this keep happening in America? Will you do something about guns?’
Lawmakers and activists erupted on Twitter when they realized that Trump hadn’t used the words ‘gun,’ ‘rifle,’ weapon’ or ‘firearm’ in his speech.
Democratic state Rep. Bob Lion of Connecticut, which saw the horrendous school shooting in the town of Newtown more than five years ago, tweeted: ‘Trump’s comments on Parkland made NO mention of guns.’
‘Donald Trump didn’t have a single word for the 96 Americans killed by guns every day. 30,000-40,000 dead every year,’ wrote U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, a Virginia Democrat.
‘No plan. No strategy. Not even a mention. Just the same thing we know to expect in response to gun violence: silence.’
Democratic lawmakers like Connecticut’s Bob Lion and U.S. Rep. Don Beyer were outraged that Trump didn’t talk about guns in his speech
Progressive activists like columnist Nicholas Kristof and immigration lawyer Gail Seeram suggested Trump is passing up an opportunity to talk about guns because the NRA contributes heavily to Republicans
Gail Seeram, an immigration attorney, tweeted that ‘children must be 21 for legal access to alcohol – why are guns sold to 18 year old[s]?’
‘Trump blames school safety & mental health for #FloridaSchoolShooting but no mention of SENSIBLE GUN CONTROL & money to Republicans by NRA to avoid sensible gun control,’ she added.
The liberal New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof complained that Trump sometimes ‘mentions the gunning down of Congressional baseball players. But no mention of tackling gun safety systematically.’
At the grassroots level, a Brooklynite who tweets under the handle ‘Pass Me a Pickle’ vented her spleen at the National Rifle Association.
‘Trump says making children safer will be his administration’s top priority. He didn’t mention guns at all in this speech. Which means he’s full of crap,’ she wrote.
‘Because we all know where his allegiance lies. #GunReformNow #NRAKills.’
Instead of calling for a national conversation about how to reconcile gun rights with public safety, Trump addressed the nation’s children ‘who feel alone, lost, confused or even scared.’
‘I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be. You have people who care about you, who love you, and will do anything at all to protect you.’
‘If you need help,’ he said, ‘turn to a teacher, a family member, a local police office or a faith leader.’
‘Answer hatred with love. Answer cruelty with kindness.’
The president tweeted his condolences – and this plea for people to tell law enforcement when they see dangerous behavior that might signal a future attack
Florida Gov. Rick Scott did mention firearms in his remarks at a press conference Thursday, saying alongside law enforcement leaders that it was time ‘to have a real conversation about how do we make sure parents who know their children are safe, and that individuals with mental illness don’t touch guns.’
‘We need to have a real conversation so we have public safety in this state,’ he said.
America’s long-running debate about firearm ownership, which is legally permitted on a scale seen nowhere else in the world, may have taken a turn this week, at least with respect to the kind of weapon the murderous Cruz used on Wednesday.
His gun of choice, the AR-15, has been used in some of the nation’s worst mass-shootings.
Killers wielding AR-15 and AR-15 style weapons committed mass murder in Las Vegas, Nevada; Newtown, Connecticut; Aurora, Colorado; Orlando, Florida; San Bernardino, California; and Sutherland Springs, Texas.
On Thursday Piers Morgan a DailyMail.com editor-at-large, tweeted his anger at ‘gun nuts’ from the National Rifle Association for protecting ownership of the semi-automatic rifles whose visual style resembles military assault weapons.
Politicians and celebrities were quick to express outrage over the fact that another AR-15 was used in a mass shooting
And Democratic politicians were quick to find fault.
‘My bill to ban assault weapons is ready for a vote. How long will we accept weapons of war being used to slaughter our children?’ asked California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Trump earlier tweeted his condolences, his pledge to assist Florida Gov. Rick Scott, and his frustration with ‘neighbors and classmates’ of Cruz who failed to alert authorities about the 19-year-old’s erratic and foreboding behavior.
‘No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school,’ the president wrote barely more than an hour after the massacre.
In a more pointed message 15 hours later, Trump tweeted that there were ‘[s]o many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior.’
‘Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!’
Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledged on Thursday to do more to help American communities to prevent gun violence.
The president’s Mar-a-Lago resort club is just 40 miles away from the scene of the massacre, and he’s expected to be there all weekend, so he announced Thursday that he will visit the town of Parkland, Florida
‘It cannot be denied that something dangerous and unhealthy is happening, and we are once again, watching the images of our children – terrified – streaming from their school with their hands above their heads,’ Sessions told the Major County Sheriffs Association.
‘When parents, once again, go to sleep in fear that their kids will not be safe when they leave for their school bus in the morning. We must confront this problem,’ he declared.
He also told the sheriffs to encourage their communities to be on the lookout for tell-tale signs of future school shootings.
‘It is too often the case that the perpetrators of these terrible attacks had given of signals in advance. You are experienced professionals. You and I know that we cannot arrest everybody that somebody thinks is dangerous. But I think we can and must do better,’ he said.
‘We owe it to every one of those kids crying outside their school yesterday and all those who never made it out. Our hearts are hurting today.’
Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledged on Thursday to do more to help American communities to prevent gun violence
South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, who is not running for re-election, told a Fox news Channel audience Thursday morning that ‘I don’t know anyone who would not pass a bill today that would prevent the next mass shooting.’
But first ‘you have to find out how he accessed the gun.’
‘You got to find out whether there was a data point at some point in his background where someone could have reported it. Whether or not he accessed the gun legally or illegally,’ Gowdy cautioned.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees Americans the ‘right to bear arms,’ but courts have ruled that governments can restrict that right when genuine and emergent public safety concerns can be shown to take priority.
WORST SCHOOL SHOOTINGS IN THE LAST 20 YEARS
The bloodshed in Florida was the latest outbreak of gun violence that has become a regular occurrence at U.S. schools and colleges. Below are some of the worst U.S. school shootings in the last 20 years.
BENTON, Kentucky, Jan. 23, 2018 – Gabe Parker, 15, kills two fellow students, both also 15, at Marshall County High School in western Kentucky with a pistol and wounds 14 others. Four other high schoolers suffered non-gunshot wounds in the ensuing panic.
AZTEC, New Mexico, Dec. 7, 2017 – William Atchison, a 21-year-old man, disguised as a student enters the local high school, kills two students and then shoots himself to death.
SAN BERNARDINO, California, April 10, 2017 – Cedric Anderson dies of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after killing his estranged wife at North Park Elementary School where she worked. An 8-year-old student is also shot to death.
ROSEBURG, Oregon, Oct. 1, 2015 – Chris Harper-Mercer, 26, opens fire on the campus of Umpqua Community College, killing nine people before he is shot dead by police.
MARYSVILLE, Washington, Oct. 24, 2014 – Freshman student Jaylen Fryberg, 15, at Marysville-Pilchuck High School fatally wounds four students in the cafeteria before killing himself.
SANTA MONICA, California, June 7, 2013 – A onetime digital media student, John Zawahri, 23, fatally shoots his father and brother, sets their house on fire, and then kills three people at Santa Monica College. The gunman kills himself.
NEWTOWN, Connecticut, Dec. 14, 2012 – Adam Lanza, 20, fatally shoots his mother, then kills 20 children and six adults before killing himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It was the deadliest mass shooting at either a high school or grade school in US history and prompted renewed debate about gun control in the United States.
OAKLAND, California, April 2, 2012 – One L Goh, a former nursing student, kills seven people and wounds three at Oikos University, a Korean Christian college.
CHARDON, Ohio, Feb. 27, 2012 – Seventeen-year-old student Thomas ‘T.J’ Lane at Chardon High School kills three students and wounds three in school cafeteria. He received three life sentences on March 19, 2013. In 2014, Lane, along with two other inmates, escaped from Allen Correctional Institution in Lima, Ohio, but he was recaptured the following day.
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama, Feb. 12, 2010 – Amy Bishop, a biology professor at the University of Alabama at Huntsville opens fire during a staff meeting, killing three faculty members and wounding three.
DEKALB, Illinois, Feb. 14, 2008 – Steve Kazmierczak, a former graduate student, kills five students and wounds 16 at Northern Illinois University before taking his own life.
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana, Feb. 8, 2008 – Nursing student Latina Williams at Louisiana Technical College kills two classmates and herself in a classroom.
BLACKSBURG, Virginia, April 16, 2007 – Gunman Seung-Hui Cho slaughters 32 people and kills himself at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, popularly known as Virginia Tech. At the time it was the deadliest shooting carried out by a single gunman in US history.
NICKEL MINES, Pennsylvania, Oct. 2, 2006 – Gunman Charles Carl Roberts IV took hostages and shot eight out of 10 girls, killing five in a one-room Amish schoolhouse, before killing himself.
SHEPHERDSTOWN, West Virginia, Sept. 2, 2006 – 49-year-old Douglas Pennington shoots himself and his two sons Logan, 26, and Benjamin, 24, to death during a visit to the campus of Shepherd University.
RED LAKE INDIAN RESERVATION, Minnesota, March 21, 2005 – A 16-year-old high school student Jeffrey Weise, kills seven people including his grandfather, a tribal police officer, and wounds several others in a shooting rampage after killing two people off-campus. He then kills himself.
COLD SPRING, Minnesota, Sept. 24, 2003 – Fifteen-year-old student John Jason McLaughlin, fatally shoots a freshman and a senior at Rocori High School.
TUCSON, Arizona, Oct. 29, 2002 – Failing student Robert S Flores Jr, 41, shoots and kills three professors and then himself at the University of Arizona School of Nursing.
GRUNDY, Virginia, Jan. 16, 2002 – Nigerian immigrant Peter Odighizuwa, a recently dismissed graduate student aged 41, kills a dean, a professor and a student at the Appalachian School of Law and wounds three others.
SANTEE, California, March 5, 2001 – Charles Andrew Williams, a student at Santana High School kills two students, wounds 13. He is currently serving life in prison.
LITTLETON, Colorado, April 20, 1999 – Two teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold rampage through Columbine High School, fatally shooting 12 students and a teacher and wounding more than 20 others before killing themselves. The personal journals of the duo document that they wanted their actions to rival that of the Oklahoma City bombing.
JONESBORO, Arkansas, March 24, 1998 – Two boys Mitchell Johnson, 13, and Andrew Golden, 11, fire on their middle school from woods, killing four girls and a teacher and wounding 11 others.