Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney wouldn’t say whether President Donald Trump would support stricter gun legislation following the deadly mass shooting at a municipal center in Virginia on Friday, noting that “laws are not going to fix everything.”
At least 12 people were killed when a gunman opened fire in the Virginia Beach building, making it the deadliest mass shooting of 2019 thus far.
The attack was one of the hundreds of mass shootings that have taken place on American soil since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
But Mulvaney on Sunday suggested it’s too soon to talk politics in the wake of the Virginia Beach shooting and warned that passing stricter gun laws is “never going to make everything perfectly safe.”
“Does [President Donald Trump] believe there’s a role for the federal government here to prevent these mass shootings?” NBC’s Chuck Todd asked Mulvaney during Sunday’s episode of “Meet the Press.”
“We have too many of these shootings, and every time, the first thing we talk about is politics,” Mulvaney answered. “The mourning ... period hasn’t even stopped yet, let alone the healing process. So let’s not get too deep into politics too soon.”
Mulvaney said Trump has already signed gun reform legislation that bans bump stocks ― gun modifiers that make semi-automatic rifles fire faster ― and strengthens the federal background check registry. (Experts have pointed out significant flaws in the latter legislation and Trump has vowed to veto a bill passed in the House last month that would further bolster the registry.)
Todd noted that the Virginia gunman used a firearm equipped with a suppressor that muffles the sound of gunfire, known as a “silencer,” during the attack Friday. Gun control advocates say silencers can help shooters evade detection, allowing them to inflict more carnage.
“That seems like a legitimate concern,” Todd said.
Mulvaney said “there are things that the government can do” but that “we’re never going to protect everybody against everybody who is deranged.”
“You’re never going to make everything perfectly safe, but we’re doing a lot better on enforcement,” he added.
It wasn’t immediately clear what “enforcement” Mulvaney was specifically referring to. The White House did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Asked if Trump believes it should be harder to get a gun, Mulvaney said the president believes “very firmly” in the Second Amendment, which protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms.
“Clearly, people like this are exceptions,” Mulvaney said, referring to the Virginia Beach gunman. “This is not the rule ― 99.9% of people in this, in this country who own a gun are law-abiding gun owners.”
“Laws are not going to fix everything,” he added.
Over 1,700 people were killed or injured in mass shootings in the U.S. last year, according to Gun Violence Archive data. The U.S. was one of six countries that accounted for more than half of worldwide gun deaths in 2016. (The five others are Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Guatemala.)
Yet it continues to be relatively easy for Americans to have access to guns, including AR-15-style rifles, military-style weapons frequently used in mass shootings.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last month said she’s baffled by America’s failure to pass stricter gun laws, despite the wave of mass shootings that have taken place across the country over the last few decades.
Ardern’s country banned military-style weapons in April, less than a month after a gunman opened fire at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, killing 51 people and injuring dozens of others.
“Australia experienced a massacre and changed their laws,” Ardern told CNN. “New Zealand had its experience and changed its laws. To be honest with you, I do not understand the United States.”