President Donald Trump turned the tables on an NBC reporter who asked a “gotcha” question about gun control during a news conference in South Korea Tuesday, telling her that if an armed citizen hadn’t intervened in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the carnage could have been worse.
Reporter Ali Vitali sprang the question during a joint press conference alongside South Korean President Moon Jae-in. It was an awkward shift in the conversation.
“You talked about wanting to put extreme vetting on people trying to come to the United States,” Vitali said, “but I wonder if you would consider extreme vetting for people trying to buy a gun.”
The president quickly fired back, “Well, you’re bringing up a situation that probably shouldn’t be discussed too much right now. We could let a little time go by. But it’s okay if you feel that’s an appropriate question even though we’re in the heart of South Korea. I will certainly answer your question.”
“If you did what you’re suggesting,” Trump responded, “there would have been no difference three days ago and you might not have had that very brave person who happened to have a gun or a rifle in his truck go out and shoot him and hit him and neutralize him.”
Long story short, Trump didn’t think gun control is the answer.
Almost naturally for Trump, however, he let rhetoric get the better of him by adding, “And I can only say this. If he didn’t have a gun, instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead, so that’s the way I feel about it.”
It is the “hundreds more dead” remark that the press seems to be zeroing in on, while ignoring the obvious. An armed citizen, using a much-demonized AR15 rifle, shot the Texas church killer twice, once in the torso and once in the leg. The shooter dropped his own rifle and fled the town, only to swerve off the highway minutes later with the armed citizen, Stephen Willeford, a former NRA-certified firearms instructor, and motorist Johnnie Langendorff, in hot, high-speed pursuit, notifying law enforcement every step of the way.
Vitali’s question suggests she has not tried to purchase a firearm lately, because the National Instant Check System (NICS) background check does what it says, when the data is there. In the case of the Texas church shooter, the Air Force acknowledged Monday that killer Devin Patrick Kelley’s criminal files had not been turned over to the NICS system following his conviction and confinement for assault/domestic violence while he was in the service.
The government failed, not the system.
Other mass shooters, in Colorado, Florida, the D.C. Navy Yard, Santa Barbara and Las Vegas, all passed background checks.
In USA Today, Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, has authored an Op-Ed article related to the Texas controversy and gun control that includes a poll. It might be worth reading.