As he did following last month’s Las Vegas massacre of 58 people, Trump pushed back against the question, calling it a “situation that probably shouldn’t be discussed too much” and noted that he was “in the heart of South Korea”.
Trump added that if “Good Samaritan” Stephen Willeford had not had a gun, “instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead”.
Authorities say Devin Kelley fired at least 450 rounds of ammunition at worshippers in Sunday’s attack at the First Baptist church in Sutherland Springs. The dead ranged in age from 18 months to 77 years old.
Air force investigators did not enter the record of Kelley’s conviction for brutal domestic abuse into the national background check system that gun sellers use to check whether potential purchasers are allowed to buy a gun, at least according to “initial information”, an air force spokeswoman, Ann Stefanek, said in a statement on Monday evening.
Republican senator John McCain said the Senate armed services committee would investigate “this failure”.
“It’s critical that each of the military services take the steps necessary to ensure that similar mistakes have not occurred and will not occur in the future,” the Arizona senator said.
Trump’s more muted response to gun violence contrasts with his swift call for legislative and military action following the 31 October truck attack in New York City. Within hours of a rental truck ramming through a crowded bicycle path and into a school bus, Trump called for Congress to “immediately” repeal the diversity visa lottery program that suspect Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbekistan citizen, used to enter the country in 2010, and argued for more “extreme vetting” of newcomers to the US.
After the Las Vegas shooting, Trump and aides said it was inappropriate to consider a policy response while people were still grieving. Despite days later suggesting openness to outlawing the bump stock device that allowed Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock to fire at near-automatic rates, the Trump administration has shown no signs of urgency and no legislation has been passed.
Trump, who supported gun control before reversing his position to enter the Republican presidential primary, courted the NRA’s endorsement in 2016, and earlier this year became the first president in three decades to speak at the gun group’s annual convention.
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