Father of slain journalist: Trump focus on mental health a ‘red herring’

The father of a journalist who was shot and killed during a live broadcast in 2015 called out President TrumpDonald John TrumpCensus Bureau spends millions on ad campaign to mitigate fears on excluded citizenship question Bloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders Democratic senator meets with Iranian foreign minister MORE on Friday for his focus on mental health instead of gun control after the deadly high school shooting in Florida.

Andy Parker, whose television reporter daughter Alison was killed in 2015, has become a gun control advocate since his daughter's death. 

In an interview on CNN's "New Day" Parker said Trump's focus on the mental health of the 19-year-old accused shooter who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was a "red herring."

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"It is a red herring because we're not the only country that has people that are mentally ill," Parker said. "No other civilized country in the world has the same problem we do. We have mentally ill people that can get access to weapons of war like an AR-15 and you can't just say 'well it's a mental health problem.'"

"It's ironic that the first thing Trump did when he took office was make it easier for people with mental illness to obtain weapons," he continued, referring to Trump's decision to sign a bill in early 2017 that overturned an Obama-era regulation restricting certain people from buying guns.

"He's talking out of both sides of his mouth," Parker added.

Trump on Thursday morning suggested that mental illness was a factor in the shooting, which 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz has confessed to carrying out.

“So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior,” he wrote. "Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!” 

The Wednesday attack was the latest instance of a deadly mass shooting this year, and has reignited debate over gun control. 

Many Democrats, as well as the families and friends of victims in the attack, have called for Congress to enact stricter gun laws and background checks following the shooting. But some Republicans have said its too soon to talk about legislation.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) warned earlier this week against making assumptions about a cause for the shooting.

"I think it's important to know all of that before you jump to conclusions that there was some law that we could have passed that would have prevented it. And there may be, but shouldn't we at least know the facts?" Rubio said on Fox News.