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Trump proposes mental asylums, but silent on gun laws

Speaking to a crowd of supporters estimated at around 12,000 in Manchester, New Hampshire, Trump did not once mention his efforts to push for background checks on would-be gun purchasers.

FILE: US President Donald Trump participates in a Cabinet meeting at the White House on 16 July 2019 in Washington, DC. Picture: AFP.

MANCHESTER - More mental hospitals are needed to take potential mass killers off the streets, President Donald Trump said Thursday in response to recent mass shootings, while staying quiet on a pledge to toughen gun laws.

Speaking to a crowd of supporters estimated at around 12,000 in Manchester, New Hampshire, Trump did not once mention his efforts to push for background checks on would-be gun purchasers.

Instead, he focused on the theory that the endless spate of mass killings carried out by men with easily obtained semi-automatic rifles is mostly down to lack of mental facilities.

Trump said he was giving "major consideration to building new facilities for those in need" and "taking mentally deranged and dangerous people off the streets."

"We don't have those institutions anymore," he said.

Trump has consistently put an accent on mental health problems, rather than the ubiquitous firearms sold everywhere from shopping malls to gun fairs.

But after the deaths of 31 people in massacres in Texas and Ohio, within hours of each other earlier this month, Trump did come out strongly for increased background checks to verify the records of the person buying a gun.

Even this measure is vehemently opposed by hardline gun rights defenders who say the constitutionally protected right to owning weapons is under threat.

On Thursday, Trump did not once mention his attempts to get his Republican party to come on board for more checks.

Instead, he told the cheering crowd "we can't make it harder for... law-abiding citizens to protect themselves."

He also stated his loyalty to the constitutional guarantee and "the right to keep and bear arms."

Jeffrey Swanson, a professor in psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine, earlier told AFP the overwhelming majority of the 10 million Americans with serious mental illnesses do not engage in violent behaviour, and most mass shooters do not have "serious identifiable mental illnesses" such as schizophrenia.

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