We edited Trump’s condolence speech on America’s latest school shooting

A man placed in handcuffs is led by police near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
A man placed in handcuffs is led by police near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Image: via REUTERS
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The day after Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 in a Florida high school shooting, injuring many more, Donald Trump delivered an address to the nation. In line with his remarks following last year’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, the president didn’t much mention gun violence or gun control—in fact, he didn’t use the word “gun” at all. Trump blamed the tragedy on mental health, although he himself signed last year’s bill to relax vetting of mentally unstable gun purchasers.

Trump’s speech also lacked an essential ingredient: facts. There was no mention of the United States’ extraordinarily high number of gun-related deaths compared to other nations, nor any statistics on the epidemic of US school shootings. He failed to note that researchers have found no connection between mental illness and gun violence.

Below, we’ve edited Trump’s speech, incorporating data and evidence on gun violence and public safety, to more effectively address the problem of mass shootings in the United States.

HelloMy fellow Americans. Today I speak to a nation in grief.

Yesterday, a school filled with innocent children and caring teachers became the scene of terrible violence yet another mass shooting, hatred, and evil. At 2:30 yesterday afternoon, police responded to reports of gunfire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a great and safe community. There, a shooter, who’s now in custody, opened fire on defenseless students and teachers. He murdered 17 people and badly wounded at least 14 others.

Our entire nation with one heavy heart is praying mourning for the victims and their families. To every parent, teacher, and child who is hurting so badly: We are here for you. Whatever you need, whatever we can do to ease your pain, we are all joined together as one American family, and your suffering is our burden also. No child, no teacher should ever be in danger in an American school. No parent should ever have to fear for their sons and daughters when they kiss them goodbye in the morning.

This was the 30th mass shooting in only 45 days of 2018. It is the 360th mass shooting since I became president. All political parties must come together to ensure it is the last.

Each person who was stolen from us yesterday had a whole life ahead of them, a life filled with wondrous beauty and unlimited potential and promise. Each one of them had dreams to pursue, love to give, and talents to share with the word. And each one had a family to whom they meant everything in the world. Today, we mourn for all of those who lost their lives. We comfort the grieving and the wounded, and we hurt for the entire community of Florida who is now in shock and pain and searching for answers.

We will give them the answers they deserve. We will take full responsibility 1 for lax background checks, and for weak gun control laws. Time and again, innocent deaths have shown us that the epidemic of gun violence 2 in America is unacceptable.

We beg your forgiveness for the American government’s delayed action on this.

To law enforcement, first responders, and teachers who responded so bravely in the face of danger: We thank you for your courage.

Soon after the shooting, I spoke with governor Scott to convey our deepest sympathies to the people of Florida and our determination to assist in any way that we can. I also spoke with Florida attorney general Pam Bondi and Broward county sheriff Scott Israel. I’m making plans to visitI will be in Parkland as soon as possible to meet with families and local officials, and to continue coordinating the federal response. The First Lady and I will also be attending the memorial service for the victims.

In these moments of heartache and darkness, we hold on to God’s word in scripture. “I have heard your prayer, and seen your tears, I will heal you.” We trust in that promise, and we hold fast to our fellow Americans in their time of sorrow.cannot rely on thoughts and prayers. We need to act. We need to take responsibility for the crimes that are committed in this country, and to write laws that keep children and civilians safe.

I will sign an executive order to ban semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. I will push Congress to allow a waiting period of at least one month for strict background checks before gun purchase authorization.

Three decades ago, our friend and ally Australia 3 abandoned the idea of “self-defense” as a legally sufficient motivation to apply for gun ownership. Its example shows us that, with such measures in place, safety can prevail.

I want to speak now directly to America’s children. Especially those who feel lost, alone, confused, or even scared: I am sorry that my administration—and every administration preceding it—have failed to protect you from gun violence.

I want you to know that you are neverno longer alone, and you never will be again. You have people who care about you, who love you, and who will do anything at all to protect you. That includes the federal government.

My administration will investigate and pass laws that have been proven to prevent gun violence in countries around the world.If you need help, turn to a teacher, a family member, a local police officer, or a faith leader. We will answer hate with lovereason, answer cruelty with kindnesslegal solutions that work.

We must also work together to create a culture in our country that embraces the dignity of life that creates deep and meaningful human connections. And that turns classmates and colleagues into friends and neighbors.

Our administration is working closely with local authorities to investigate the shooting and learn everything we can. We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental healthgun control 4.

Later this month I will be meeting with the nation’s governors and attorney generals, where making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority. It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference, we must actually make that difference: Evidence from most other countries in the world  shows 5 that the best way to do that is to make it harder to buy guns in the first place.

In times of tragedy, the bonds that sustain us are those of family, faith, community, and country. These bonds are stronger than the forces of hatred and evil, and these bonds grow even stronger in the hours of our greatest need. And so always, but especially today, let us hold our loved ones close, let us pray for healing and for peace, and let us come together as one nation to wipe away the tears, and strive for to pass the laws that ensure safer schools and streets for all. Thank you, and god bless you all. Thank you very much.

The president’s unedited address is here.

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