WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, addressing the nation after the deadly shooting rampage at a Florida high school, spoke directly to the nation’s children Thursday, encouraging them to feel protected and “never alone.”
In a six-minute speech at the White House, Trump promised to work with governors and law enforcement officials to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health.” He did not mention the issue of gun control amid renewed calls from Democratic lawmakers for stricter gun regulations.
“I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be,” Trump told American schoolchildren. “You have people who care about you, who love you and who will do anything at all to protect you.”
The speech came as the country grappled with its latest mass shooting. Seventeen students and school personnel were killed Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, after a 19-year-old gunman opened fire on his former schoolmates.
Trump described the suburban neighborhood, about an hour north of Miami, as a “great and safe community,” where the local high school “filled with innocent children, and caring teachers became the scene of terrible violence, hatred and evil.”
He continued, “Our entire nation with one heavy heart is praying for the victims and their families.”
He said he planned to visit Parkland in the near future.
Trump, who last year repealed an Obama-era regulation aimed at making it more difficult for people with mental health issues to purchase guns, focused his remarks on addressing mental health issues.
Trump said he planned to meet with governors and state attorneys general later this month about “making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority.”
Law enforcement officials have said the alleged shooter, Nikolas Cruz, who was expelled from Douglas High School last year, legally obtained a semi-automatic assault rifle about a year ago.
Earlier Thursday, Trump weighed in on the tragedy via Twitter, saying there were signs Cruz was “mentally disturbed.”
“Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!” Trump tweeted.
The president also signed a proclamation Thursday morning, ordering all U.S. flags at federal buildings and properties to be flown at half-staff until Monday evening.