Speaking at a Monday press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Donald Trump argued that the Texas shooting that left at least 26 dead “isn't a guns situation.”
“I think that mental health is your problem here,” the president said. "Based on preliminary reports, a very deranged individual, a lot of problems over a long period of time. We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries.
“But this isn't a guns situation — I mean we could go into it, but it's a little bit soon to go into it,” Trump said. “But fortunately, somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction.”
While local authorities have confirmed that the shooter exchanged fire with armed civilians, they currently believe that the shooter died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after fleeing the scene.
A preliminary timeline of the events that unfolded Sunday, compiled by CNN based on information from local authorities, also indicates that the exchange of fire took place after the shooter was already leaving the church.
Trump's response of shutting down any potential gun control debate before it even starts echoes the White House response to the Las Vegas shooting, when White House press secretary Sarah Sanders quickly rejected the notion of discussing potential new gun laws.
At the first press briefing following that shooting, Sanders flatly shut down a question about whether the president would consider new restrictions on gun ownership:
“Look, this is an unspeakable tragedy. Today is a day for consoling the survivors and mourning those we lost. Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with all of those individuals. There's a time and place for a political debate, but now is the time to unite as a country.”
Sanders went on to say she believed that there would be a time for that discussion, but it's presently unclear whether that discussion ever did happen. Despite some initial bipartisan support for certain new gun regulations following the Las Vegas shooting, those efforts appear to have since stalled.