Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made a comment about gun violence during a House hearing Thursday that led to speculation that the Trump administration might be changing its stance on gun control. Mnuchin later clarified that he was not suggesting the nation needs new gun control laws.
What did Mnuchin say?
During the hearing about the White House's budget proposal, Rep. John Lewis (R-Ga.), noting Wednesday's Florida school shooting, asked whether there is funding in the budget request to "deal with the proliferation of gun violence."
"I will say personally, I think the gun violence — it's a tragedy what we've seen yesterday, and I'd urge Congress to look at these issues," Mnuchin said, CNBC reported.
Initially, some media reported that Mnuchin was hinting at the possibility that the administration might back new gun control laws.
During the hearing, Lewis asked Mnuchin to elaborate on what the White House should do in light of the nation’s latest mass shooting, CNBC reported. Mnuchin responded that while gun policy is not one of his responsibilities, he plans to speak to Trump and other cabinet members about the issue.
Mnuchin's office later clarified the statement.
"Secretary Mnuchin was directly addressing Congressman [John] Lewis’ question about availability of funds in the budget to address the issue of gun violence. He also reflected the feelings shared by all Americans that yesterday’s school shooting was a profound tragedy,” Treasury spokesman Tony Sayegh told Politico.
Still, the comment "surprised Washington," because Mnuchin is viewed as very loyal to Trump and "disinclined to buck the administration line on any topic," Politico reported.
Will gun control be revisited?
Nikolas Cruz, 19, allegedly opened fire with an semiautomatic assault rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people. Fourteen others were wounded and five sustained life-threatening injuries, according to published reports. He escaped by blending in with the panicked crowd fleeing the school and was later arrested in nearby Coral Spring.
Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
According to reports, Cruz was expelled from the high school for disciplinary reasons. He allegedly used Uber to get to the Douglas High School campus.
Suggestions of gun control are likely to be met with opposition from many Republican lawmakers. President Donald Trump and other Republicans have not supported such measures.
In a series of interviews Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan, (R-Wis.) said Thursday that the shooting should not instantly translate into threats against citizens’ right to own guns.
“I don’t think that means you then roll that conversation into taking away citizens’ rights — taking away a law-abiding citizen’s rights. Obviously, this conversation typically goes there. Right now, I think we need to take a breath and collect the facts.”
In a public statement Thursday, Trump said: "We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health.”
Trump did not mention guns in his speech.