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Donald Trump's Las Vegas Shooting Speech Offers God And Platitudes - But Doesn't Call Out Guns

'Disgrace.'

02/10/2017 17:52 BST | Updated 02/10/2017 17:52 BST

Donald Trump has condemned the Las Vegas mass-shooting as an “act of pure evil” and said he is “praying” for “peace”, “unity” and “healing”.

But the President did not make any mention of guns, or the laws that allow Americans easy access to them, or the motives of the killer.

At least 58 people were killed and hundreds more injured when Stephen Paddock, 64, leaned out of a window on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and opened fire with an automatic weapon on the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on Sunday night. 

Speaking at the White House on Monday, Trump uncharacteristically talked at length about God and religion, saying “scripture teaches us the Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”.

The President is a Presbyterian Christian and has referenced the Bible at a number of rallies to appeal to his Evangelical base, although a number of previous gaffes suggest his adherence to religion is not particularly strict or knowledgeable.

He added: “In times such as these I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness. The answers do not come easy.

“But we can take solace knowing even the darkest space can be lightened by a single light and even in the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope.

“Melania and I are praying for every American who has been hurt, wounded or lost the ones they love so dearly in this terrible, terrible attack.”

The President made only one mention of the shooter when recapping the night’s events and did not comment on his motives, something he has repeatedly done after Islamic terror attacks, sometimes even before officials have confirmed events.

He decried the explosion at Parsons Green Tube station last month as the work of a “loser terrorist” and used the attack to promote his own travel ban on Muslim-majority countries.

At other times, the president has been conspicuously silent in the face of atrocity. He condemned “many sides” in the Charlottesville, Virginia, white supremacist rally in August that killed a counter-protester. Two days later, he denounced racism.

At no point did Trump mention gun control, an ever-present debate in America that evokes an outpouring of emotion on both sides in the wake of the latest mass-shooting, in the country of which there have been over 270 already in 2017, killing more than 450 people.

In February the President signed a measure that rolled back gun regulation introduced by President Obama that aimed to keep guns out of the hands of severely mentally ill people.

In stark contrast, President Obama made a number of passionate addresses to the nation in the wake of shootings, such as the Sandy Hook massacre to call for increased gun control, but was thwarted by Republicans and the powerful US gun lobby.

 

My fellow Americans, 

We are joined together today is sadness, shock and grief.

Last night a gunman opened fire on a large crowd at a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada killing more than 50 people and wounding hundreds more.

It was an act of pure evil.

The FBI and the department of Homeland Security are working closely with local authorities to assist with the investigation and they will provide updates as to the investigation and how it develops.

I want to thank the Las Vegas Police Department and all the first responders for their courageous efforts in helping to save the lives of so many.

The speed with which they reacted is miraculous and prevented further loss of life. To have found the shooter so quickly after the first shots were fired is something for which we will always be thankful and grateful. 

It shows what true professionalism is all about.

Hundreds of our fellow citizens are now mourning the loss of a loved one, a parent, a child, a brother or sister.

We cannot fathom their pain, we can not fathom their loss. To the families of the victims - we a re praying for you and we are here for you.

We ask God to help see you through this very dark period. 

Scripture teaches us the Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

We seek comfort in those words because we know God lives in the hearts of those who grieve. 

To the wounded who are now recovering in hospitals, we are praying for your full and speedy recovery and pledge to you our support from this day forward.

In memory of our fallen I have directed that our great flag be flown at half-staff.

I will be visiting Las Vegas on Wednesday to meet with law enforcement, first responders and the families of the victims. 

In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one and it always has. 

We call upon the bonds that unite us, our faith, our family and our shared values. We call upon the bonds of citizenship, ties of community and the comfort of our common humanity.

Our unity cannot be shattered by evil, our bonds cannot be broken by violence and though we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today and always will, forever.

In times such as these I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness. The answers do not come easy.

But we can take solace knowing even the darkest space can be lightened by a single light and even in the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope.

Melania and I are praying for every American who has been hurt, wounded or lost the ones they love so dearly in this terrible, terrible attack.

We pray for the entire country to find unity and peace and we pray for the day when evil is banished and the innocent are safe from hatred and from fear. 

May God bless the souls of the lives that are lost.

May God give us the grace of healing and may God provide the grieving families with strength to carry on.

Thank you and God bless America.