- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 27, 2015

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said in the wake of Wednesday morning’s shooting deaths on live TV of a reporter and videographer in Virginia that it isn’t a gun problem but a “mental problem.”

Asked Thursday on CNN’s “New Day” if he would do something different about gun policy, Mr. Trump said: “Well, I don’t think I would, because this is really a sick person. This isn’t a gun problem; this is a mental problem.”

“Frankly, you know, a case like this, he snuck up on ‘em. Whether it was a gun or a knife or whatever it would have been, it would have been something,” Mr. Trump said. “But you know, you’re not going to get rid of all guns, so I know one thing: if you tried to do it, the bad guys would have ‘em, to use an expression, and the good folks would abide by the law. They’d be hopeless and. … it would be a hopeless situation for them, and I think it’s a big mistake.”

Vester Lee Flanagan, a former TV reporter, recorded himself fatally shooting a reporter and videographer from WDBJ-TV in Virginia Wednesday morning. He later fatally shot himself as he was being pursued by police.

“And you know, I’m a very much Second Amendment person, and I know the arguments both ways very well, but I’m very much into the Second Amendment,” Mr. Trump said. “You need protection. Now, you also have entertainment and you know all sorts of activities and all of that, but taking that out of the picture, you know … I mean, guns are used for recreational purposes. Like people play golf and like people play other things, and hunting. But beyond that, in terms of safety, you know, if you’re sitting in a cabin someplace and you’re not armed and somebody walks in with a gun, I’ll tell you what — I’d rather be in that cabin with a gun than not with a gun, that I can tell you right now.”

“So it’s a very complex situation. I’m a very strong Second Amendment person,” he said.

“In theory, if you go right now, it’s not that easy for a lot of people” to get guns, Mr. Trump said. “A lot of people have to go through [a] process, and I don’t think you should make it hard for sane people.”

He pointed out that in cities like Chicago and Baltimore — places with tough gun laws — there are a lot of shootings.

“It’s not just a question of the law[s], it’s really the people,” Mr. Trump said.

He said families are the ones who would know whether someone was unhinged but often resist reporting.

“I guarantee you there are a couple of people that knew this man that did the killing yesterday that probably said, ‘Wow, he’s really got problems. I mean, he should be institutionalized,’ ” Mr. Trump said. “This didn’t just happen. This really doesn’t just happen. If you look every time you have one of these events, whether it’s the high schools or the movie theaters, they go into the background of these people that do the shooting, and people that knew them and were close to them, you know, 95 percent of the time they say, ‘Oh, now I really can understand how that happened. He was really off the edge.’ “

“Now, you know it’s a very tough thing because you could say that and you probably say that about a lot of people, and nothing happens and they lead productive lives,” he said. “So it is a very complex situation. A very, very sad situation when you look at what happened here and you look at the two people that were shot and the third woman who I think is going to be OK, based on your reports, right?”

Mr. Trump said people should be talking about mental health instead of guns.

“It’s just too bad that we can’t figure these things out beforehand,” he said. “I mean, everybody sees the signals, but nobody thinks a thing like this could happen. It’s all over the place. They see people, and they think they’re disturbed, but what are you going to do, put ‘em in jail for the rest of [their] life or put ‘em in jail for the rest of his life because he looks a little bit off? And he turned out to be very off.”

“There was tremendous hatred. There was tremendous animosity. I guess there was lawsuits and litigation on all sorts of things with him, and he just blew up,” Mr. Trump said. “He knew he was going to blow up, too, based on his memos and his notes. He, I guess, was saying that he’s going to blow up — unfortunately nobody saw that. And even if they did, what would you do? You’d say, ‘Oh, he said he’s going to blow up.’ Probably hear that all the time, but in this case it happened.”

“Too bad that we can’t figure it out beforehand, but it’s a pretty tough thing to do,” he said.

Mr. Trump called mental illness a “massive problem” and said that people in places like New York state are released even when they should be hospitalized because there isn’t the money to take care of them.

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