Trump says West Texas shooting 'hasn't changed anything' in ongoing gun talks

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE said Sunday that he is still talking to Congress about measures to stem gun violence but that Saturday’s shooting in West Texas that left seven people dead “hasn’t changed anything.”

Trump also asserted that stricter background checks wouldn’t have stopped mass shootings over the past several years.

“We're looking at the same things,” Trump told reporters at the White House after returning from a weekend at Camp David. “It really hasn't changed anything." 

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“A lot of people are talking about it, and that’s irrespective of what happened yesterday in Texas,” Trump said of possible gun reform measures. 

Trump noted that he is talking to lawmakers and mentioned background checks but claimed “they would not have stopped any” of the mass shootings over the past several years. He also repeated that he believes gun violence is a mental health issue. 

“We're looking at a lot of different things. We're looking at a lot of different bills, ideas, concepts. It's been going on for a long while,” Trump told reporters.

“Background checks — I will say that for the most part, sadly, if you look at the last four or five, going back even five or six or seven years — for the most part, as strong as you make your background checks, they would not have stopped any of it. So it's a big problem. It's a mental problem. It's a big problem,” Trump said.

Authorities said the gunman, who has yet to be identified, was shot and killed after going on a shooting spree Saturday afternoon that killed seven people and left more than 20 wounded. The shooter began the rampage during a traffic stop and continued through the city of Odessa, Texas, shooting people from his vehicle. 

Trump called the shooter a “very sick person” and praised Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and state law enforcement for their response to the shooting.

"It's tragic. But they did an incredible job under the circumstances. Another very sick person. So I just want to thank everybody involved. And always, you say, as bad as it was, it could have been worse. But it was certainly bad. A very, very sad situation," Trump told reporters.

Trump has seemed to vacillate on his support for background checks in the wake of two separate mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, within a 24-hour period in August that left more than 30 dead.

After those shootings, Trump signaled he would support stricter background checks, only to later assert that the United States already has “very strong background checks” and repeat a common National Rifle Association (NRA) talking point by warning of a “slippery slope” of enacting gun reform legislation.

“I have an appetite for background checks,” Trump told reporters on Aug. 21. “We have a lot of background checks right now.” 

Trump has said it is important for lawmakers to fix the “weak” areas in the current system and has emphasized that he believes gun violence is a mental health issue. 

Trump has denied reports that he spoke to NRA chief Wayne LaPierre last month and told him that universal background checks were off the table, saying instead they discussed closing “loopholes” in the current system in a way that preserves people’s Second Amendment rights.

Trump returned from Camp David on Saturday to participate in a briefing about Hurricane Dorian at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington.