News World Las Vegas shooting: Donald Trump calls it a ‘miracle’
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Las Vegas shooting: Donald Trump calls it a ‘miracle’

Las Vegas shooting Trump Puerto Rico visit
President Trump and his wife Melania before flying to Puerto Rico to see hurricane damage Photo: Getty
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In his first unscripted comments since the worst mass shooting in modern US history, President Donald Trump has described the events in Las Vegas that saw more than 550 people killed or wounded by a lone gunman as “in many ways, a miracle”.

And in a brief exchange with reporters as he and his wife Melania prepared to fly to Puerto Rico to survey hurricane damage, Mr Trump appeared to lay most of the blame at the feet of the Las Vegas shooter rather than the weapons he used.

“What happened is, in many ways, a miracle,” Mr Trump said as he departed for Puerto Rico on Tuesday morning, local time.

“The police department, they’ve done such an incredible job. And we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes on. But I do have to say, how quickly the police department was able to get in was really very much of a miracle. They’ve done an amazing job.”

His ‘miracle’ comments came as the death toll stood at 59, with another 520 wounded.

Asked whether the shooting could have been prevented, Mr Trump said the gunman, Stephen Paddock, 64, was “a sick man, a demented man”.

“Lot of problems, I guess, and we’re looking into him very, very seriously, but we’re dealing with a very, very sick individual.”

This appeared to set up the usual defence adopted by the National Rifle Association that guns don’t kill, people do.

Mr Trump’s bizarre assessment came as investigators said Paddock had 23 firearms in the Mandalay Bay hotel room he fired from into the concertgoers below.

Police also recovered some 19 guns, thousands of rounds of ammunition and explosives from the wealthy retired accountant’s home in Mesquite, Nevada.

las vegas shooting
The Las Vegas shooting is America’s worst ever gun massacre. Photo: Getty

Despite the incredible accumulation of firearms, it wasn’t clear when the Trump administration would start talking about gun laws.

Trump press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, led a curious chorus of silence when she stonewalled a White House press briefing wanting answers on future policy.

“I think that there will be certainly time for that policy discussion to take place, but that’s not the place that we’re in at this moment,” Sanders said.

Bizarre as it was, there was a certain predictability about Sanders’ position. After all, her boss and so many of his Republican cronies are in the pocket of the NRA.

Better for them to talk about the issue when no-one cares about it. Say, next week, when the heat from this latest atrocity will have cooled. That’s how quickly many Americans now move on from these appalling events.

Indeed, Mr Trump appeared to move on in record time, tweeting in the early hours of Tuesday morning before flying to Puerto Rico: “I am so proud of our great Country. God bless America.” (He’s due to visit Las Vegas tomorrow.)

It was a curious position to take 24 hours after one of the country’s darkest days, when there was very little for Americans to actually be proud of.

More than one Twitter responder – and there were almost 100,000 of them within three hours of the post – imagined the rest of the world shaking their heads in disbelief at the sentiment.

Just as curious as Mr Trump’s and Mrs Sanders’ responses was the editorial line taken by the newspaper that serves Las Vegas, scene of the killings.

“There will be plenty of opportunity for the finger-pointing and political posturing that inevitably follow these disturbing incidents,” wrote the right-leaning Las Vegas Review Journal. “But now is not the time.”

Like Trump, the Review Journal appeared to adopt the NRA line, concluding with: “Let us hope that, if any good is to emerge from the anguish and despair, this tragedy will somehow further the effort to better identify the monsters among us”.

It’s a measure of how tortured the debate – or lack of it – has become in the US that those making the most sense in the immediate aftermath were comedians.

“‘This is not the time to be talking about guns’,” The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah told his Monday night audience. “Sometimes I wish I had used this logic as a kid when I’d done something wrong.”

He went on: “You know, my mom wanted to ground me. I should have just said, ‘Is this the time, Mom, that we politicize what is happening right now?

“This is not the time to talk about my lack of discipline. This is a time for us to unite as a family, to focus on the fact that I’m stuck in the kitchen window trying to sneak back in.”

An emotional TV host Jimmy Kimmel made a tearful plea for policy change after Las Vegas.

“There are a lot of things we can do about it. But we don’t, which is interesting. Because when someone with a beard attacks us, we tap phones, we invoke travel bans, we build walls, we take every possible precaution to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“But when an American buys a gun and kills other Americans, then there’s nothing we can do about that.”

Bruce Guthrie is the co-founder and editorial director of The New Daily. He will be writing from America regularly over the next eight weeks.

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