President Donald Trump visited Las Vegas on Wednesday, less than 72 hours after shooter Stephen Paddock opened fire from his hotel suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay targeting thousands of people attending a nearby outdoor country music concert.
A total of 59 people, including Paddock, died in the carnage, the deadliest US shooting in modern history. During a press conference held at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the president praised the response of law enforcement, first responders, and hospital staffers immediately following Sunday night’s events.
“The officers were standing up in the line of fire to help those in danger, and to find out where those horrible shots were coming from,” Trump said. “Those whose final act was to sacrifice themselves should inspire all of us to show more love for the people who grace our lives.”
Speaking to the families of lost loved ones, the president declared: “We stand together to help carry your pain. America is truly a nation in mourning.”
For a president who has struggled at times to exude empathy during crises, his remarks at the Metro Police command seemed to resonate with those standing behind him. Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo and Undersheriff Kevin McMahill both seemed moved by Trump’s comments regarding their police force.
Trauma Center Overloaded
Trump, accompanied by the First Lady and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California), spoke on the White House lawn before his trip this morning.
“We’re going to pay our respects and to see the police who have done really a fantastic job,” he told reporters.
The president also hinted that details not currently made public would be revealed “at the appropriate time.” He concluded, “It’s a very, very sad day for me, personally.”
After landing at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, the president’s motorcade drove past Mandalay Bay en route to University Medical Center (UMC), Nevada’s only Level I trauma center, where the most critically injured were taken.
At UMC, Trump met with victims, and those who worked throughout Sunday night and well into Monday, trying to save as many lives as possible.
Gun Control Not on Agenda
Before leaving Washington Wednesday morning, officials with the Trump administration told the media that the trip to Las Vegas would not be about politics. As the gun control debate heats up in DC, Trump, when asked by a reporter if more stringent regulations are needed, responded, “We’ll talk about that on a later date.”
The National Rifle Association (NRA) endorsed Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, after he enthusiastically championed Second Amendment rights.
At issue is whether Paddock’s arsenal of semiautomatics were indeed obtained legally, and whether modifications, which allowed the guns to fire nearly automatically, reclassified the magazine-fed firearms as an illegal weapon. But he passed all FBI background checks and had no prior criminal history, meaning that more stringent regulations would most likely not have stopped him in this case.
Las Vegas casinos have been reviewing their own security protocols since the shooting.