GOP presidential candidate Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE said on Thursday that America’s problem with gun violence stems from mental illness rather than the availability of firearms.
“Mental illness is a massive problem,” Trump told host Chris Cuomo on CNN’s “New Day” one day after a gunman killed a reporter and videographer on live TV in southwest Virginia.
“This isn’t a gun problem, it’s a mental health problem,” he said. “You’re not going to get rid of all guns.
“It’s becoming a very dangerous situation,” Trump added. “It’s a very sad commentary on life, frankly.”
Trump’s remarks follow the on-air shooting of WDBJ7 report Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, on Wednesday morning.
Vester Lee Flanagan, 41, a former colleague, shot and killed both television journalists before later fatally shooting himself.
Trump argued on Thursday that Flanagan’s actions are likely the result of severe and untreated mental illness.
“There was tremendous hatred, tremendous animosity,” he said of the shooter. “This gentleman was a disaster to the public.
“People see the signals, but figure it will never happen,” Trump added. “In the old days, we had mental institutions for people like this.”
Trump then charged that, despite his disgust with incidents like Wednesday’s shooting, he still supports gun rights for everything from recreation to safety.
“I am very much a Second Amendment person,” the outspoken billionaire told Cuomo. “You need protection. It’s a very complex situation.
“It’s horrible,” he added of the shooting. “I thought about canceling this call.”
Flanagan, who was fired from WDBJ7 over his office behavior, cited in a manifesto racist comments as justification for his actions.
Vicki Gardner, a third victim during the incident, is in stable condition following surgery after being shot by Flanagan in the back during the assault.
--This report was updated at 7:56 a.m.