Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview on Thursday morning that school shootings such as those that occurred in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday could be prevented by allowing local law enforcement to intervene with troubled individuals.
“All of law enforcement is deeply concerned about this trend of violence in schools and other, similar places,” he said, noting that he had discussed the issue with an organization of local law enforcement officials Thursday morning.
“I was with the Major County Sheriffs’ Association this morning, and they all said, and believe, that there are signals and signs before these shootings that, if recognized, could lead to intervention, and could stop these events from occurring.”
Attorney General Sessions spoke with Breitbart News just minutes after President Donald Trump had addressed the nation.
In a televised speech, President Trump said that his administration was working with local law enforcement to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health,” which officials believe was a factor in Wednesday’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 18 were killed and more than a dozen were wounded.
The suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, had been expelled from the school and had received some treatment for mental health issues in the past.
Trump also tweeted early Thursday about Cruz’s mental health issues.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2018
Sessions added that the Department of Justice could also help by prosecuting laws already on the books to prevent gun crime.
“I believe very strongly in enforcing gun laws. I believe there’s no value in having them on the books if they’re not prosecuted,” he said.
He noted that federal gun prosecutions had increased 23% on his watch. “We’ll step that up even more,” he said.
Rather than new gun legislation, Sessions suggested that new executive policies focused on mental health problems could make a difference.
“We think that would include working with the mental health community, and the education community, and the homeland security community,” he said.
The attorney general also praised the role of local law enforcement in reacting to active shooter situations. “Let me just emphasize, it’s not federal officials that get there in five minutes.
“They rush to danger to protect students, not knowing what they would face when they get there. So although we and the federal government feel a great responsibility, and feel we can provide real leadership in this area, and real assistance, make no mistake … they are the people that we’ve got to help and empower.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.