Trump suggests school shooting suspect was “mentally disturbed”

President Donald Trump says it appears the suspect in Florida’s deadly school shooting was “mentally disturbed” and that neighbors knew the shooter was “a big problem.” Mr. Trump tweeted Thursday about the shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school. Authorities say Nikolas Cruz, a former student, opened fire on Wednesday with an AR-15 rifle, killing 17 people. The 19-year-old was charged Thursday morning.

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

While the president does not explicitly mention policy, CBS News’ Jeff Pegues points out that Mr. Trump made it a priority in the early days of his administration to reverse an Obama-era rule that was part of the implementation of a 2008 law that Congress passed in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting. The rule would have allowed the Social Security Administration to provide information to the gun background check system of people who have so severe a mental disability that they can’t perform any kind of work and can’t manage their own benefits.

It’s unclear if such a law would have deterred Cruz to purchase a gun, but efforts to limit access to weapons by people with a mental health disability have been previously proposed after mass shootings.

Wednesday’s rampage marked the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago.

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