White House dodges gun control questions after Las Vegas shooting

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeatedly evaded questions from reporters on Monday about potential gun control debates in the wake of the shooting in Las Vegas, saying it wasn’t the “time or place” to begin discussing policy.

Sanders, whose voice broke when discussing the shooting–which resulted in the deaths of 59 people and injured 527 people–said despite calls from Democrats to begin discussing gun control reform in the aftermath of the latest mass shooting in the United States, it was inappropriate to begin those discussions now.

“It would be premature for us to discuss policy when we don’t fully know all the facts or what took place last night,” Sanders said.

On Monday, the hashtag #GunControlNow spiked in the United States, with Democrats such as Hillary Clinton, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) calling for action to be taken. Murphy took it a step further, reportedly saying it was time for Congress “to get off its ass and do something.”

Sanders was pressed by several reporters at Monday’s White House press briefing about President Donald Trump, his past views on gun control, and how he might react in light of the attack, where authorities say Stephen Paddock opened fire on concertgoers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. The attack is the most deadly mass shooting in modern American history.

“I think that is something we can talk about in the coming days and see what that looks like moving forward,” Sanders said. “I think one of the things that we don’t want to do is to try and create laws that won’t stop these kinds of things from happening.”

Sanders seemed to suggest that gun control laws don’t have an effect on reducing violence, and she brought up one of Trump’s most-referred to topics: Chicago.

“I think if you look to Chicago–where you had over 4,000 victims of gun-related crimes last year–they have the strictest gun laws in the country,” Sanders said. “That certainly hasn’t helped there. So I think we have to, when that time comes for those conversations to take place, then I think we need to look at things that may actually have that real impact.”

As she continued to deflect, one reporter asked why the Trump administration is not reacting in the same way it did in the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shooting, where 49 people were killed as a gunman opened fire in a popular club. At that time, Trump used the shooting as a way to justify his travel ban.

Sanders replied matter-of-factly:

“There’s a difference between being a candidate and being the president,” she said, before quickly moving onto the next question.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect the latest death toll in the Las Vegas shooting.

Andrew Wyrich

Andrew Wyrich

Andrew Wyrich is a politics staff writer for the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the internet. Andrew has written for USA Today, NorthJersey.com, and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Society of the Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).