WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Thursday that he would visit Parkland, Florida, after America's latest deadly mass shooting left 17 dead at a high school there.
"Our entire nation, with one heavy heart, is praying for the victims and their families," he said from the White House Diplomatic Room.
"No child, no teacher should ever be in danger in an American school," Trump said. "No parent should ever have to fear for their sons and daughters when they kiss them good-bye in the morning."
Trump also said he planned to visit Parkland to help coordinate the federal response, and would work to help the nation tackle "the difficult issue of mental health."
But Trump's 2019 budget proposes a substantial 22.5 percent cut to Medicaid, which funded 25 percent of all mental health spending in 2014, according to the Kaiser Foundation.
Though Trump has been an outspoken advocate for the Second Amendment throughout his time in politics, he has taken little legislative action on the issue as president. The only gun-related bill he signed in 2017 was to undo an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun.
The president made no reference to the issue of gun control during his roughly seven-minute remarks, a stark contrast from the news conference that Florida state and local officials held immediately preceding his remarks, where officials urged policy action on the issue.
It's "not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference — we must actually make that difference," Trump said Thursday. But it was unclear what sort of measures he was referring to. Trump ignored a shouted question from reporters following his remarks about whether he would consider taking action to change gun policy.
Speaking directly to America's youth at one point, Trump said: "You are never alone and never will be. You have people who care about you, who love you, and who will do anything at all to protect you."
The president added that the nation "must work together to create a culture in our country that embraces the dignity of life" and "turns classmates and colleagues into friends and neighbors."
Earlier Thursday morning, Trump said on Twitter there had been "so many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed," and that others must "always report such instances" of "bad and erratic behavior" to authorities.
It's not the first time the president has made a case for mental health treatment and awareness in the aftermath of a deadly shooting. He's also long been clear that he is skeptical of legislative solutions to address gun violence.
Last November, after a gunman opened fire and killed 26 people at a Texas church during Sunday services, Trump said the situation suggested "a mental health problem at the highest level." When asked about gun control by NBC News during an overseas news conference soon after that incident, Trump said it wasn't the right place or time to address the issue, adding that he believed such measures would have made "no difference" in that particular case.
During Trump's presidency, he has spoken in the aftermath of several shootings that have rocked the United States — including one at a congressional baseball team practice that badly wounded House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, and after America's deadliest mass shooting, which took place in October at a country music concert in Las Vegas.
Three of the 10 deadliest shootings in the United States have come in the last five months: Sutherland Springs, Texas; Las Vegas; and Parkland, Florida. The five worst have all occurred since 2007, with three of those in 2016 and 2017.