Trump calls Vegas carnage ‘pure evil’, says ‘our bonds cannot be shattered by violence’
US President orders the national flag to fly at half mast but stays mum on gun reforms.world Updated: Oct 02, 2017 22:58 IST
US President Donald Trump called the carnage in Las Vegas an “act of pure evil” and said he had ordered the national flag to fly at half-mast in the memory of the victims — with at least 58 dead and more than 500 injured, this was the deadliest mass shooting in American history.
“Last night, a gunman opened fire on a large crowd at a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada,” Trump said in nationally televised remarks from the White House. “He brutally murdered more than 50 people, and wounded hundreds more. It was an act of pure evil.”
In a tone noted for being measured and being “pitch-perfect”, he called for unity and said, “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.”
However Trump, who is a supporter of the right to carry arms and is opposed to any dilution to the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, steered clear of questions regarding gun law reforms.
The White House had earlier said that Trump had been briefed about the shooting and that the situation was being monitored closely. Trump had also conveyed his condolences to the victims via Twitter: “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!”
In January, Trump had come to power after winning a bitterly fought election with Hillary Clinton. During his campaign, he had expressed strong support for gun-rights and had warned the country that those rights were in danger of being withdrawn if his Democratic rival were to win.
Clinton, meanwhile, had long supported reforms of gun-rights to prevent weapons — especially military-style assault rifles — from falling into wrong hands.
On Monday, she tweeted: “The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get,” referring to the National Rifle Association, which leads the powerful gun lobby.
“Our grief isn’t enough. We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again,” she added.
Former vice president Joe Biden also called for reforms, tweeting: “How long do we let gun violence tear families apart? Enough. Congress & the WH (White House) should act now to save lives. There’s no excuse for inaction.”
Democratic senator Chris Murphy said in a statement, “This must stop. It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic.” Murphy is from Connecticut, where 27 kids and adults were shot dead down by a lone gunman at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2002.