Donald Trump To CNN: 'This Isn't A Gun Problem, It's A Mental Problem'

Speaking to CNN’s Chris Cuomo, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump said Thursday he is opposed to tightening gun laws in the U.S. but is in favor of addressing mental health to prevent shootings, one day after a man shot two journalists on live television.

"This isn't a gun problem, this is a mental problem," Trump told CNN's Chris Cuomo.  "It's not a question of the laws, it's really the people."

Calling the gunman a "very sick man," Trump said mental illness is "a massive problem" in the U.S. He suggested more resources should be devoted to addressing mental health -- hoping to prevent shootings like the one in Virginia, which he called "really, very sad."

Trump did not offer specific solutions to addressing the mental health problem, but said there are '"so many things that can be done" and repeatedly said the Virginia shooter, who killed himself Wednesday after killing two others, should have been "institutionalized."

Here is the entire transcript of the interview, courtesy of CNN:

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR:  We have a brand new poll that shows the new familiar: Donald Trump holding on to the Republican lead.  His closest opponent double digits behind him.

On the phone is Donald Trump.  Mr. Trump, can you hear us?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via telephone):  Good morning, Chris. 

CUOMO: Thank you for joining us. 

A very heavy day down here in Roanoke.  Have you seen this video?  What was your reaction to what happened here? 

TRUMP:  Well, it’s horrible.  I’ve been watching you -- actually I watched you last night, you’re working hard.  In fact, I was going to call and maybe cancel this call because I see how horrible that is, that whole situation.  And you know you want to get back to that, I imagine.  But really very sad, a very sad commentary on life, frankly. 

CUOMO:  I think it's maybe more important to have you today than ever because leadership isn't just about the trail, as you know; it's about moments like this.  The Consoler in Chief is one of the jobs of the president.  What would you say to the people down here about how to make sense of this and how to make it better? 

TRUMP:  Well, they are amazing people.  I know the area and the people are amazing.  And the reaction of the colleagues and the station has been really incredible.  And it's very inspiring to watch.

This was a very sick man and it's just too bad that we can't figure these things out beforehand.  I mean, everybody sees the signals but nobody thinks a thing like this could happen.  It's all over the place.  They see people and they think they’re disturbed but what are you going to do, put them in jail for the rest of their life?  You know, put him in jail for the rest of his life because he looks a little bit off? 

 

 

And he turned out to be very off.  There was tremendous hatred; there was tremendous animosity.  I guess there were lawsuits and litigation on all sorts of things with him.  And he just blew up.  He knew he was going to blow up, too, based on his -- based on his memos and his notes.  He I guess was saying that he's going to blow up.  Unfortunately, nobody saw that. 

And even if they did, what would you do?  You would say, oh, he's going to blow up.  You probably hear that all the time, but in this case it happened.  Too bad that we can't figure it out beforehand but it's a pretty tough thing to do. 

CUOMO:  And that's where you come in and others like you who want to be president.  The questions are familiar as to why the issues wind up getting us stuck -- what do we do about mental illness?  What do we do about guns?  What are your positions? 

TRUMP:  Well, mental illness is just a massive problem.  And, as you know, because of the cutbacks -- and you can say it in New York State, you know very well in New York State and in so many other places, they’ve released a lot of the people that are pretty ill that should be hospitalized because they don't have the money to take care of them.  And so they walk the streets and they run the streets and sometimes they’re in the workplace.

You know, in the old days they had mental institutions for people like this, because he was really definitely borderline and would have been and should have been institutionalized at some point.  Somebody should have seen that.  I mean, the people closest to him should have seen it.

But so many people are being released now because they don't have any money so they’re walking the streets and of all our cities and all of our places.  And it's becoming a very dangerous situation.  And it's another problem.  It's one of many problems.  Our country has so many problems, Chris, as you know; you cover it every day.  But it’s one of many problems that we have. 

CUOMO:  Solutions winds up becoming the call from people who are so sick and tired of what they see.  Do you think it is time to do something else about guns?  Nobody likes to talk about it.  People say that this is an inappropriate time, and then those who experience say it’s the most appropriate time.  Would you do something different with gun policy

TRUMP:  Well, I don’t think I would, but this is a really sick person.  This isn’t a gun problem; this is a mental problem.  And you have cases where like -- had the veterans had, the guys that were shot recently, had they had weapons, they might have been able to save themselves.  They would have been able to, they were all heroes, they were all tremendous military men.  And they had absolutely no defense. 

And frankly, you know, a case like this, he snuck up on them, whether it was a gun or a knife or whatever it would have been, it would have been something.  But you're not going to get rid of all guns.  So I know one thing, if you try to do it, the bad guys would have them, to use an expression.  And the good folks would abide by the law; they’d be hopeless, and it just would be a hopeless situation for them.  And I think it’s a big mistake.

And I'm a very much Second Amendment person, Chris, and I know the arguments both ways very well, but I'm very much into the Second Amendment.  You need protection. 

Now, you also have entertainment and you have all sorts of activities and all of that, but taking that out of the picture, you know, most -- guns are used for recreational purposes, like people play golf and like people play other things, and hunting, but beyond that, in terms of safety, if you're sitting there in the cabin some place and you’re not armed and somebody walks in with a gun, I tell you what, I would rather be in that cabin with a gun than not with a gun, that I can tell you right now.

So it’s a very complex situation.  I’m a -- I'm a very strong Second Amendment person. 

CUOMO:  And I guess what we're struggling with is what that means when you say you're a Second Amendment -- you’re strong on that.  Do you think  it should it be easier for people to get guns?  I mean, it sounds counterintuitive to so many people, but is that what you're suggesting?  Is that the answer?

TRUMP:  Well, I think right now it’s not -- in theory if you go right now, it’s not that easy for a lot of people.  A lot of people have to go through the process.  You know, I don’t think you should make it hard for sane people. 

But if you look at Chicago where they have a tremendous gun problems, they have the gangs, many of them illegal immigrants by the way, just to get onto another subject.  But in Chicago, you have a tremendous amount of shootings.  In Baltimore, you have a tremendous amount of shootings.  Tough, tough gun laws.  In Chicago, they say they have the toughest gun law in the United States, and yet you have people being killed all the time in certain areas of Chicago.  I mean, certain areas of Chicago are phenomenal places, but in certain areas of Chicago you have people killed all the time with guns.  And they have, by far, the toughest gun laws in the country.  So it's not just a question of the laws; it's really the people. 

CUOMO:  So if you are going to deal with the people, that takes us back to the issue of mental health and what we do about it and how we empower families, like you were mentioning earlier, who know that they have someone in their lives with a problem and can't do anything about it.  You have Representative Tim Murphy who has a bill that he says would address that.  It's having a hard time getting traction in Congress.  Is that something that you would take on and push for change so we don’t keep repeating a cycle with the same questions and no answers?

TRUMP:  Well, I do like that, if it’s talking about mental health, because -- and I don't know the specific bill, but Tim is a good man.  And you know, he’s -- I have seen him numerous times talking about the this. 

The mental health aspect of it, and the one that really mental health are the families, because they’re going to understand the mental health of a person.  And those are the ones.

Now, if they’re having a really, really hard time with somebody in the family, and if they think he’s just about over the edge, a lot of times they’re going to report him either because they always to bring them back.  You know, they want to -- they think there’s hope.  So it’s very hard for a family, but at least -- they’re the ones that would know.  I guarantee there were a couple people that knew this man that did the killing yesterday that probably said, wow, he's really got problems.  I mean, he should be institutionalized. 

Because this doesn't just happen.  This really doesn't just happen.  If you look, every time you have one of these events, whether it's the high schools or the movie theaters, they go into the background of these people that do the shooting and people that do them and were close to them, you know, 95 percent of the time they say, oh now, I really can understand how that happened.  He was really off the edge.

Now, you know, it’s a very tough thing, because you can say that, and you probably say that about a lot of people when nothing happens and they lead productive lives.  So it is a very complex situation, a very, very sad situation when you look at what happened here and you look at the two people that were shot at, and the third woman who I think is going to be OK based on your reports, right? 

CUOMO:  Yes, that's what we hear, is that Vicki Gardner is going to make it.  She was lucky in this situation where everybody was obviously unlucky. 

A lot of these problems are complex and that's the demand for leadership and solutions.  Is changing how we deal with mental health something you commit to taking on in a different way, in a way that points us towards a better set of laws and guidelines than we have right now?  Would that be a priority for you, sir?

TRUMP:  Well, I think that’s something that you really should -- and that’s what they should be focusing on instead of guns.  They should be talking about mental health, because there are so many things that could be done.

And really detection, you have to be able to see.  And you’re going to have to -- you know very well, you’re in New York and you look at what’s happening and so many of the hospitals have been closed up.  And this is not New York; this is all over the country.  In many places.  Some places, they have not done that.  But in many places, they’ve closed up hospitals -- mental hospitals. 

And people would literally be in these hospitals and get care in one form or another and at least the public was safe.  And now what they did is, in order to save costs, they closed many of these mental hospitals and you have people on the streets, like this gentleman, that are a disaster.  A disaster to the public.  And as long as you have that, you're always going to have these problems. 

And honestly, you'll probably -- it's life, it's the world, and I'm sure this has been happening for thousands of years.  You have sick people, hard to detect.  Sometimes you can detect them, Chris, and you don’t do anything about it.  You’ve seen people and so have I that I say, boy, those people are really unhinged -- but it’s not like you call the police and say I just saw somebody who I really think is unhinged.   But I’ve seen plenty of people that look pretty sick, frankly, and nobody  -- nothing is said over the years, nothing has happened with any of those people.  Meaning they didn’t do anything really bad, so it's a very hard thing to determine. 

CUOMO:  We look forward to seeing what you can come up with as proposals that would make this situation better.  Your opportunity to do that would be, as president, in its most full exercise. 

We have polls here who suggest that you have a better shot than anybody in the GOP right now to be the nominee.  What do you take from the newest polls? 

TRUMP:  Well, I'm honored by it.  You're the first one to have told me that.  I see that we’ve gone up.  I’m going today to South Carolina where we have phenomenal people.  And I just left New Hampshire and Iowa.  I was at the state fair and beyond.  We had an amazing evening there, too.  And it's been incredible, what is going on.  The Alabama was -- I think we had 31,000 people in Alabama on a beautiful but hot evening.  And it was -- the crowd was incredible, the energy.

These are people that, you know, it's very simple, they say what do they all like, what do the people like? Because I get the standing ovations, you've seen it. I mean, they just want to make America great again, which is our theme.  I mean, that's what I want to do.  I want to make America great again.  And they see these incompetent politicians, they see people that have no clue other than getting elected.  And all they care about is getting elected. They don't want to make the right decision, they just want to make a decision that's not going to hurt them in their upcoming elections.  And they are really leading our country down the tubes.

So I see the response I get when I go and I'm so looking forward to South Carolina today. But I see the response go to Tennessee very soon where a big autoplant was taken right out of Tennessee that's going to be moving to Mexico.  A plant that was supposed to be built in Tennessee is going to now be built in Mexico, which is just outrageous. 

So I see the response that I get, Chris, you know, I am honored by the polls but I'm not that surprised to see it.  I also see my competition. You know, I see people like Jeb Bush, who is a nice man, but he's not bringing you to the promised land.  I see others and I respect everybody that's running. You know, takes courage to run. It really does take a lot of courage. Even if you're a politician it takes courage to run. But I would say that -- We will get them there. 

CUOMO: You're emphasizing the positive, that's an important thing to do when you're campaigning and you have to deal with the potential negatives. In the poll you have some numbers that are going to be of concern to you. You have six in ten women say that they don't believe you represent them on their issues.  You have 64 percent in that poll that are not sure if you could handle a crisis. You are also at the top of the list of who Republicans say they would not vote for. How do you take those negatives? 

TRUMP: Well, I understand the last one the best because, you know, a little bit severe on the other candidates and if somebody likes another candidate, they may not like what I'm saying about that candidate, so I sort of understand that.  The women I think I'll do great with because I cherish women.  My daughter Ivanka and my wife, they say, you know, you should really talk more about the women's issues because frankly, you know, Bush came out against funding women's health issues and I was incensed when I saw that. I thought it was ridiculous. I will be the best thing that ever happened to women. I cherish women and I think that Ivanka will speak to it and Melania will speak to it and other people will speak to it that know me. So I think that's going to be a very strong point. 

I actually think that when it comes down to even the Hispanics, I'm going to create jobs and take jobs away from China and other people that our eating our lunch and stealing our jobs and stealing everything that we have. Just taking our money. And then you see on top of it, they implode and we go down with them. You know, that's always a possibility and we have to -- I'm a big free trader but we need smart people. I have Carl Icahn lined up.  I have the smartest guys lined up so we can change these trade deals that are one-way streets. The poverty for our country.

So we have a lot of things planned.  One of the things I have to do -- we have to make our country rich again so we can make it great again.  Because look, we have to rebuild the infrastructure.  China has been building roads and tunnels and bridges and airports and so has everyone else that deals with us.  And we are dying and I see your brother is working on La Guardia Airport, that's great, but now it is like a third world airport.  And Kennedy and LAX and Newark and all of these airports are like third world airports. You go to Dubai and you go to these other places and China, but you go to these other places, you see airports the likes of which you have never seen.

CUOMO: Well, let's combine the issue of immigration and the issue of cherishing women.  They seem to take the embodiment in two journalists right now, one woman you don't seem to cherish is Megyn Kelly and you had the situation with Jorge Ramos. When you saw them on the show together the other night, did you think to yourself, why did I create these situations again? Why did I bring up the Megyn Kelly thing and go after her again? Why did I go after Jorge Ramos?  Why did you do those thing?

TRUMP: First of all, I didn't go after Jorge Ramos.  I was at a news conference and he stands up and starts screaming like a madman.  When they show the whole clip, everybody understands. In fact, I've gotten a lot of credit from a lot of the people in your industry.  He was very rude, very loud and obnoxious and he was standing up and I had picked a man from CBS -- a top anchor at CBS -- to give a question and this guy stands up and starts screaming. He wasn't asking a question, he's giving the speech. That was not a question he was asking. And I did not want to recognize him because it would have been -- the news conference was packed, as was the speech packed.  It was packed.  The crowd was amazing the other night.  And, you know, frankly --

CUOMO: It was a big crowd.

TRUMP: I don't think -- I know I did the right thing.  He was rude and obnoxious and if I didn't take control of it, he would have literally been there for -- you wouldn't have even had a news conference. And I did take control.  Unlike Bernie Sanders, who lost his microphone with two women they got up and just  took his microphone away from him like he was a baby.  I won't let that happen.  That's not what it's about. As far as Megyn Kelly, I have nothing against her.  She's fine as far as I'm concerned. I don't care. 

CUOMO: But you obviously do care, Mr. Trump, you go out of your way to tweet about her. 

TRUMP: Chris, I think she asked me an unfair question at the debate.  But the bottom line, if you look at "Drudge" and if you look at "Time" magazine and if you look at the different people that polled the debate, everybody said I won the debate.  So maybe they weren't as bad as I thought.  But the fact is I had very, very, I think, unfair questions and other people had very easy questions. 

But I guess I must have done something right because everybody said I won the debate and I guess that's maybe judging by your poll numbers, I couldn't have done too badly. So -- you know. So I have nothing against her.

CUOMO: But it raises the question of why make it an issue?

TRUMP: -- I have nothing against Jorge Ramos, by the way. I think he'd be a nice guy. By the time our dialogue ended with Jorge Ramos, it was actually quite pleasant, if you noticed.  It really got quite pleasant, which was amazing.  You didn't say I let him back in the room and we actually, for five minutes, we went back and forth, but I thought it was actually quite pleasant. 

CUOMO: You absolutely did. You did go through it.  But these situations are being highlighted about how you deal with people who come at you and whether or not that's the right mode for somebody who wants to be the president, especially with Megyn Kelly because a lot of people say she was doing her job, including her boss.  And it makes us wonder, would you have dealt with it the same way if that question had come from Wallace or Behar?  Do you think it was something personal to Megyn Kelly? 

TRUMP: Well, I did do it the same thing with Wallace. The fact I said the same thing -- I said blood pouring out of his eyes, you know --

CUOMO: You haven't called him out that way. 

TRUMP: Chris, he came at me pretty hard with another question, which was -- I was very actually happy with the question because I think I cleared it up because people like to have it -- but he came at me also with a very hard question and a very nasty question and I let it be known that was a nasty question also.  But people don't find that as exciting when I'm attacking Chris Wallace, who I did attack somewhat, as opposed to Megyn Kelly.

I have nothing against Megyn Kelly. As far as I'm concerned, it's fine. And she will do her thing and I wish her a lot of luck.  I have absolutely nothing against her.  I just thought that the question was unfair.  And frankly, I think somehow it turned out to my advantage.  Fortunately, I mentioned the name Rosie O'Donnell and it sort of blew the question up in Megyn's face and that was good and that was the loudest applause and laughter of the evening. And it sort of got things off.

But you have to understand,  I just got up there, we were not even warm yet, literally just standing, and between that and Bret Baier's rather tough question also, I was really being -- in my opinion -- I was being highlighted.  Now it's not just me, it's everybody that said that. Even the press said that.  And most of the press said that.  But I'm -- look, I have other things.  I have jobs in my mind, I have making our country great on my mind. That's what I want to do. I want to make it great again.  I have lots of other things on my mind. 

(CROSSTALK)


CUOMO: That's the point, Mr. Trump, is that you have so many big issues.

TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE) question about Megyn Kelly or about Jorge or whatever. You know, they're not very important questions, I think.

CUOMO:  I understand that and that's why I draw attention to the fact that you kept that alive, because you do have a lot of important things to talk about.  That's why we have you on NEW DAY. There are a lot of big problems and we're looking forward to your solutions.  We appreciate you coming on NEW DAY to discuss it.  And we look forward to it again because how we fix these problems is the only thing that matters in this election.  So thank you for joining us, as always. 

TRUMP: Thank you very much.  Great honor, Chris, thank you. 

CUOMO: All right.  Thank you, Mr. Trump.