Seoul/Washington: President Donald Trump on Tuesday said "extreme vetting" for gun ownership in the US would not have averted the Texas church massacre and asserted that there would have been "hundreds more dead" in the incident if gun laws were stricter.
A court-martialled former US Air Force airman armed with a powerful assault rifle opened fire on worshippers at a Sunday service at a rural church in Sutherland Springs, Texas on Sunday, killing at least 26 people and injuring 20 others, once again triggering a heated national debate on the need for stricter gun control laws.
Trump's latest comments came during a joint press conference in Seoul alongside South Korean President Moon Jae-in when a reporter asked the US president if he would consider "extreme vetting" not only for people entering the US but as well as "for people trying to buy a gun."
Trump appeared annoyed at the question and wondered if it was an appropriate question while he was on a visit to South Korea.
But he went on to say that extreme vetting would have made no difference in Sunday's mass shooting, and would have prevented the "brave person who happened to have a gun in his truck and shoot him, and hit him and neutralise him."
Trump was referring to Stephen Willeford, a plumber, who managed to shoot the gunman Devin Kelley before jumping in another man's vehicle to chase him down.
"I can only say this, if he didn't have a gun, instead of having 26 dead you would've hundreds more dead," the US president added.
Trump on Monday said the mass shooting at the church was the result of a "mental health problems at the highest level" and called the killer a "very deranged individual."
About 40 percent of Americans say they own a gun or live in a household with one, according to a 2017 survey, and the rate of murder or manslaughter by firearm in the US is the highest in the developed world.
There were more than 11,000 deaths as a result of murder or manslaughter involving a firearm in 2016.
Since the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in June 2016, there have been 555 mass shootings as the FBI defines them: four or more people shot at once. Approximately 689 people have been killed, and nearly 2,700 wounded, CBS News reported.
The National Rifle Association (NRA), one of the most powerful special interest lobby groups in the US, is opposed to all forms of gun control and argues that more guns make the country safer.
Updated Date: Nov 07, 2017 19:52 PM