PresidentDonald Trumpresponded to the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history by saying the attack was a result of “a mental health problem” and not due to lax gun control laws.
During a news conference Monday in Tokyo, Trump said it was “a little bit soon” to get into a discussion about gun control.
“This isn’t a guns situation,” Trump said, noting thata person in the crowd with a gun shot at the attacker and caused him to flee. “This is a mental health problem at the highest level. It’s a very, very sad event.”
The president woke on Monday morning in Japan to the news that a lone gunman had opened fire on churchgoers at a small Baptist church in rural Texas and killed at least 26 people and injured another 20. The dead and woundedrange in agefrom 5 to 72 years old.
While answering questions in Tokyo, the president referred to the gunman, who multiple reports identified as 26-year-oldDevin Patrick Kelley, as a “very deranged individual.”
BREAKING: Trump calls Texas church shooting a 'mental health problem at the highest level,' says gunman 'deranged'— The Associated Press (@AP) November 6, 2017
Trump on Texas shooting and gun control: "I think mental health is your problem here."— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 6, 2017
Trump on Texas shooting and gun control: "It's a little bit soon to go into it." (He said this after Vegas shooting too)— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 6, 2017
.@POTUS, at joint news conference, brings up the Texas church shooting. Asks: who would ever think a thing like that could happen?— Hallie Jackson (@HallieJackson) November 6, 2017
NEW / POTUS on TX shooting: “this isn’t a guns situation. We could go into it” but it’s a little soon, he says. Focuses on mental health.— Hallie Jackson (@HallieJackson) November 6, 2017
The accused gunman was a former member of the U.S. Air Force from 2010 until his discharge in 2014. He was court-martialed in 2012 for assault on his spouse and their child, according to a USAF spokesperson.
Earlier on Monday, Trump tweeted his prayers to the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas, before giving an official statement on the shooting at a meeting with U.S. and Japanese business leaders in Tokyo.
May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI & law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 5, 2017
Last March, Trump signed a law reversing an Obama-era rule thatmade it harder for individuals with mental illnesses to access guns. The signing took place with no cameras present and was applauded by the National Rifle Association.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.