- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Rejecting a reporter’s suggestion for “extreme vetting” of gun buyers in the U.S., President Trump said Tuesday that the gunman who killed 26 people in a Texas church would have slain “hundreds more” if a heroic resident hadn’t returned fire and wounded the murderer.

At a news conference in South Korea, Mr. Trump was asked by NBC News reporter Ali Vitali if he would “consider extreme vetting for people trying to buy a gun.”

Mr. Trump at first appeared put off by the question, telling the reporter, “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 the president then said that with tougher gun laws, “there would have been no difference” in preventing the shooter, Devin Kelley, from carrying out his rampage in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday.

And Mr. Trump said the carnage would have been far worse without the armed response by Stephen Willeford, a Sutherland Springs resident who grabbed his own gun when he heard Kelley shooting up the church. Mr. Willeford wounded Kelley twice and, with another man, chased him in a truck before Kelley committed suicide.

With more restrictive gun laws, Mr. Trump said, “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. And I can only say this: If he [Mr. Willeford] didn’t have a gun, instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead.”

SEE ALSO: Stephen Willeford: ‘No hero’ after wounding, pursuing Texas church gunman

“Just remember, if this man didn’t have a gun or rifle, you’d be talking about a much worse situation in the great state of Texas,” Mr. Trump said. “So that’s the way I feel about it. [More gun laws are] not going to help.”

The president also pointed to Chicago as an example of why stricter gun laws don’t work.

“You look at the city with the strongest gun laws in our nation, is Chicago, and Chicago is a disaster,” he said.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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