United States

Citing Chicago, Sanders Says It's ‘Premature' to Discuss Gun Control

In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders used Chicago as an example of why it is premature to talk about policy changes to the nation's gun laws.

“One of the things we don’t want to do is try to create laws that don’t stop these types of things from happening," she said during a Monday afternoon briefing.  “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. That certainly hasn’t helped there.”

President Donald Trump called Sunday's mass shooting at an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas "an act of pure evil" in an address to the nation Monday.

Stephen Craig Paddock opened fire from a high perch late Sunday, leaving at least 58 people dead and more than 500 wounded.

"We pray for the entire nation to find unity and peace, and we pray for the day when evil is banished and the innocent are safe from hatred and from fear," Trump said.

Asked if Trump wants to use the shooting to launch into a policy discussion about gun control, Huckabee Sanders said now is not the time to discuss policy.

"There’s a time and place for a political debate," she said. "Now is the time to unite as a country. There’s currently an open and ongoing law enforcement investigation; a motive has yet to be determined. It would be premature for us to discuss policy when we don’t fully know all the facts or what took place last night."

In Connecticut, officials who have been fighting for stricter gun control laws in the years since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School are calling for action on gun control following the shooting.

"Not again," U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy tweeted, saying his heart is with Las Vegas and he is sending prayers to the victims.

"Nowhere but America do horrific large-scale mass shootings happen with this degree of regularity," Murphy said in a statement. "Last night's massacre may go down as the deadliest in our nation's history, but already this year there have been more mass shootings than days in the year. ... It's time for Congress to get off its ass and do something."

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Authorities have not yet given a possible motive for the massacre. There is no known connection to international terrorism, FBI Special Agent in Charge Aaron Rouse said.

People at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, where roughly 22,000 people were in attendance, took cover as bullets sprayed the concert from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, according to authorities and witness accounts. One performer who was on the stage said the gunfire appeared to go on for seven to 10 minutes.

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The suspected shooter, identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, was found dead in the casino and is believed to have killed himself, Lombardo said. The shooting was believed to be a "lone wolf" attack.

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