Trump Urges Drastic Change to Mental Health System, School Security Overhaul
By Solange Reyner | Friday, 27 May 2022 06:20 PM
Former President Donald Trump on Friday at the National Rifle Association's annual convention in Houston called for a ''drastic'' change in the nation's approach to mental health issues and a ''top-to-bottom security overhaul at schools across the country'' while dismissing calls to disarm gun owners, just three days after a gunman killed 21 people, including 19 children, at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, just a four-hour drive from the NRA event.
''We need to drastically change our approach to mental health,'' Trump told the crowd.
''There are always so many warning signs; almost all of these disfigured minds share the same profile. When people see something, whether on social media or in school, they need to say something.
''Teachers, parents, school officials and community members need to be recognizing and addressing these alarm bells promptly very, very aggressively and our school discipline systems, instead of making excuses and continually turning a blind eye, need to confront bad behavior head on and quickly and clearly we need to make it far easier to confine the violent and mentally deranged into mental institutions.''
Trump also called for common ground among lawmakers and slammed the ''familiar parade of cynical politicians seeking to exploit the tears of sobbing families to increase their own power and take away our constitutional rights.''
''Even more repulsive is their rush to shift blame away from the villains who commit acts of mass violence and to place that blame onto the shoulders of millions of peaceful law-abiding citizens who belong to organizations such as our wonderful NRA,'' he said.
''When Joe Biden blamed the gun lobby, he was talking about Americans like you. And, along with countless other Democrats this week, he was shamefully suggesting that Republicans are somehow OK with letting school shootings happening. They're not OK with it.
''This rhetoric is highly divisive and dangerous and, most importantly, it's wrong and has no place in our politics.''
The killings in Uvalde have renewed demands by Democrats for federal gun control legislation. Some Republicans have said they are open to bipartisan legislation —specifically, ''red flag'' gun laws, which would allow law enforcement officials to confiscate guns from people a court deems dangerous.
At least 19 states already have such laws.
GOP senators who have signaled being open to the idea include Susan Collins of Maine, whose state has a red-flag law, John Cornyn of Texas, Mike Braun of Indiana and Rick Scott of Florida.
But Trump on Friday said various gun control policies being pushed by the left ''would have done nothing to prevent the horror that took place — absolutely nothing.''
Instead, the former president said Republicans and Democrats must unite ''to finally harden our schools and protect our children,'' including a ''top-to-bottom security overhaul at all schools across our country.''
''Every building should have a single point of entry. There should be strong exterior fencing, metal detectors and the use of new technology to make sure that no unauthorized individual can ever enter a school with a weapon,'' Trump said.
''No one should ever be able to get anywhere near a classroom until they have been checked, scanned, screened and fully approved. Every school should have a police officer or armed resource officer on duty at all times.''
Trump started his speech asking for a moment of silence for the 21 victims. He also read the names of the deceased and called the gunman, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, a ''monster'' full of pure evil who would be ''eternally damned to burn in the fires of hell as we mourn for so many beautiful victims.''
Law enforcement response to the Uvalde shooting has come under scrutiny following reports that the gunman spent more than an hour inside the school before a tactical unit killed him despite officers' earlier arrival.
Eighty minutes passed between when officers were first called to Robb Elementary School at 11:30 a.m. to when a tactical team entered locked classrooms and killed Ramos at 12:50 p.m.
The 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado, changed how law enforcement officers respond to an active shooter — police are trained to confront the shooter immediately — but the incident commander in Uvalde believed the situation had moved from being an active-shooter scenario to one where the gunman had barricaded himself inside the school, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told journalists on Friday.
Trump was one of several Republican leaders lined up to speak at the event. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who had been scheduled to attend, canceled an in-person appearance in the wake of the shooting and instead gave recorded remarks in which he argued against the need to restrict access to guns.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick also pulled out of the conference.
"After prayerful consideration and discussion with NRA officials, I have decided not to speak at the NRA breakfast this morning," he said in a statement. ''While a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and an NRA member, I would not want my appearance today to bring any additional pain or grief to the families and all those suffering in Uvalde.''