Asked about recent school shootings, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that President Trump was continuing his efforts to combat crime but pointed to no specific actions that would have prevented violence that unfolded at high schools in Texas and Kentucky this week.
“Students fearing for their lives while they’re attempting to get an education is unacceptable,” Sanders said. “The president believes that all Americans deserve to be safe in their schools and in their communities.”
Sanders’s comments came a day after authorities said a 15-year-old student allegedly walked into the atrium of Marshall County High in Benton, Ky., and opened fire, killing two people and wounding a dozen others before being apprehended. On Monday, police said a 16-year-old boy wounded a 15-year-old girl at Italy High in a town 50 miles south of Dallas.
The victims of the Kentucky shooting were identified as 15-year-old Bailey Nicole Holt, who was pronounced dead at the school, and 15-year-old Preston Ryan Cope, who succumbed to his injuries at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
President Trump spoke Wednesday with Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Bailey Holt, Preston Cope, their families, and all of the wounded victims who are in recovery. We are with you!” the president tweeted.
Asked what the president has done recently to curb mass shootings, Sanders said Trump had “instructed his administration to make the recent crime wave a top priority,” even as experts caution that recent upticks do not point to the start of a new trend. Sanders called the recent school shootings “part of the crime wave, absolutely.”
“We’ve tried to crack down on crime throughout the country,” Sanders said. “Some of the things they’ve accomplished in that process and been focused on is they’ve charged more defendants with violent crime offenses than in any year in decades. They’ve charged the most federal firearm prosecutions in a decade and they’ve convicted 1,200 gang members and took down numerous drug trafficking organizations all in an attempt to create safer and better communities and safer schools.”
In December, on the fifth anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., Sanders was also asked what the president was doing to curb mass shootings, such as the October assault in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead. She pointed to the president’s efforts to more closely vet immigrants.
“Every single day, one of the areas that the president has been outspoken about — not necessarily to those two instances — but just more broadly speaking in terms of national security and protecting individuals certainly through border security, stronger vetting processes, and looking at whether or not there are other regulations that we could put in place that would offer protection,” Sanders said.