Changing U.S. gun laws or restricting access to firearms in the wake of a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school won't make a difference, and the existence of evil in the world ''is one of the very best reasons to arm law-abiding citizens,'' former President Donald Trump said Friday in a speech at the National Rifle Association's annual convention in Houston, just days after a gunman killed 21 people, including 19 children, at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Trump instead called for a ''drastic'' change to America's approach to mental health and a ''top-to-bottom security overhaul at schools across the country.''
He also slammed Democrats for what he called ''their weak-on-crime policies'' and singled out ''defund the police'' rhetoric.
''As law-and-order conservatives, we have no higher goal than to reduce violent crimes by the greatest degree possible,'' Trump said.
''There is no mystery as to what is required. Over the past two years, our nation has paid a horrifically bloody price for the Democrats' defund-the-police rhetoric and their weak-on- crime policies. In every city where the left attacked the police, slashing funding, or hired radical prosecutors, violent crime has skyrocketed. Last year, 12 major cities hit all-time highs in record homicides, and this year is looking far, far worse.''
The same Democrats ''who stoked riots over a single police-involved killing two years ago are numb to the mounting death toll of their own radical policies,'' he added.
''If America had a proper approach to policing, prosecuting and jailing, we could cut violent crime in our major cities by much more than half and it would take place immediately.''
Trump, who has not announced a 2024 presidential run, said he would crack down on violent crime ''like never before'' if he does get elected again.
''The easiest, simplest, most straightforward thing we can do to save thousands of American lives from violence is to hire more police, arrest more violent criminals, give them speedy trials and get them into jail,'' he said.
''And we have seen now what the Democrats do when they are left to run the city. So now, it has to be done right.''
Democrats in Congress have renewed calls for stricter gun control after the shooting, but Trump and many Republicans have pushed back.
''Every time a disturbed or demented person commits such a hideous crime, there's always a grotesque effort by some in our society to use the suffering of others to advance their own extreme political agenda,'' Trump said.
''Clearly, we need to make it far easier to confine the violent and mentally deranged into mental institutions,'' he added.
He also stressed the importance of added security measures at schools and said teachers must be ''able to handle'' an armed-attacker scenario.
''Congress should vote immediately to take back every penny of unused COVID relief money,'' he said. ''Take it back from the states and use that money to quickly establish impenetrable security at every school all across our land.''
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