BY AILA SLISCO ON 4/14/23 AT 8:29 PM EDT
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Trump, speaking at the NRA meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Friday, argued without evidence that Democrats, mental health issues, the transgender community and marijuana use were instead driving the rash of deadly mass shootings, while paying tribute to police and offering prayers for the families of the three children and three adults who were killed during a shooting at a Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, last month.
"Our hearts were shattered by news of the monstrous attack on a Christian elementary school in Nashville," Trump said. "We wrap those beautiful families in our love and we lift them up in our prayers. We also salute the law enforcement heroes who ran into danger and took out that killer with speed and skill that made us all very, very proud."
"Its a scandal and a tragedy that year after year, Democrats in Washington continue to hold common-sense school safety measures hostage to their radical gun control agenda, which in virtually all cases would do nothing to prevent attacks by demented and disturbed individuals," he added.
Former President Donald Trump on Friday speaks to the crowd at the 2023 National Rifle Association forum in Indianapolis, Indiana. Trump didn't blame guns for the spike in deadly mass shootings in America. Instead, without evidence, the indicted former president blamed Democrats, mental health issues, the transgender community and marijuana use.
The former president claimed that school shootings had never been talked about "until around the year 2000." He said that firearms were not to blame for gun violence, arguing that the problem was instead "social" and "spiritual."
"Our country has been chock-full of guns for centuries, and there was no talk of massacres of schoolchildren until around the year 2000," Trump said. "That's when it really started, they started talking about it. This is not a gun problem. This is a mental health problem. This is a social problem. This is a cultural problem. This is a spiritual problem."
While the number of U.S. school shootings has been increasing in recent years, they are not a new phenomena, with the first recorded incident occurring before the founding of the country, in 1764. The bulk of the deadliest school shootings, however, have occurred in recent decades.
Trump promised that he would roll back existing gun laws if elected to a nonconsecutive second term in the White House, while working to arm teachers and install armed security guards "at the entrance of every school in America."
"I will ask Congress to repeal totally ineffective legislation that makes it harder to protect our schools and easier for criminals to face absolutely no opposition when they go in," he said. "For about $12 billion, we could fund armed security guards at the entrance to every school in America and also arm every willing teacher."
The former president went on to baselessly suggest that transgender people were to blame for mass shootings, saying he would "quickly" order the Food and Drug Administration to "convene an independent outside panel to investigate whether transgender hormone treatments and ideology increased the risk of extreme depression, aggression and even violence."
"I think most of us already know the answer, don't we?" Trump added.
There is no evidence that transgender hormone treatments are responsible for mass shootings. Transgender people make up a very small percentage of the U.S. population and have committed a tiny fraction of mass shootings, the bulk of which are committed by cisgender men.
Geoff Wetrosky, national campaign director for the Human Rights Campaign, denounced Trump's comments in a statement emailed to Newsweek, saying that the former president had "pandered to the gun lobby and again focused his ire on an already marginalized population in a desperate attempt to rile up his base.
"Anti-equality extremist politicians, led by Trump, continue to go out of their way to attack transgender Americans rather than address the real issues impacting all of us— notably the scourge of gun violence, the leading killer of children and teens in America," Wetrosky added.
The former president also suggested without evidence that "common psychiatric drugs" and "genetically engineered" marijuana could be the root cause of the shootings. He promised that he would not rest until he gets "to the bottom of all of the sickness that we're seeing in our country."
"We have to look at whether common psychiatric drugs, as well as genetically engineered cannabis and other narcotics, are causing psychotic breaks," Trump said. "We're having problems that we've never seen before, and people sort of think they understand why."
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As of Friday, there have been 155 mass shootings in the U.S. this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. More than 12,000 people have reportedly died in 2023 due to gun violence from all causes.
Trump, who faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in New York, multiple civil lawsuits and investigations that could bring more criminal charges, is the leading Republican candidate in the 2024 presidential election.
The ex-president continues to falsely claim that the 2020 presidential election was "stolen" from him due to massive fraud, despite receiving 7 million less popular votes than President Joe Biden and suffering a decisive 306-232 defeat in the Electoral College.