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To address mass shootings, then-candidate Trump suggested "institutions" for "sickos"

Candidate Trump on mass shootings
Candidate Trump on mass shootings 01:03

In remarks Thursday addressing the deadly Florida school shooting, President Trump said he was working with "state and local leaders" to "tackle the difficult issue of mental health." In a January 2016 interview with "Face the Nation," then-candidate Trump offered one possible solution on the topic.

Asked about moves to close the so-called gun show loophole, Mr. Trump said "right now, they have plenty of rules and regulations. And they should be looking at mental health. I mean, we should build like institutions for people that are sickos. We have sickos all over the place. And that's the problem."

Mental health has been a common focus in Mr. Trump's responses to mass shootings. Following a mass shooting at a Texas church, the president said it was a "mental health problem at the highest level." After a mass shooting at a Las Vegas concert, Mr. Trump called the shooter a "very sick" and "demented person" with a "lot of problems."

Thursday morning, Mr. Trump tweeted there were "many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed."

19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student, was charged for the Florida school attack. Students who knew him described a volatile teenager and strange behavior. Authorities said Cruz had been previously treated by a mental health clinic.

Some health policy experts have spoken out against blaming the mental health system for massacres, saying access to weapons -- not lack of treatment -- can play a larger role.

"These mass shootings are, more often than not, just like any other violent crimes," Dr. Joshua D. Lee, an associate professor in medicine and psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center, told CBS News in 2016. "There tends to be quite a bit of forethought and planning that would seem to demonstrate that it's not a mental health system or treatment system or screening problem so much as it is an ability to stockpile incredible amounts of firepower."

However in the suspected Florida shooter's case, authorities say red flags may have been missed. A Mississippi man tells CBS News he flagged for the FBI a comment, allegedly posted online by Cruz, saying "I'm going to be a professional school shooter."

House Speaker Paul Ryan echoed the president's concern about mental illness in his weekly press conference Thursday.

"One thing we know is if there are early indications for mental illness, I think we probably have to do a better job of making sure people don't slip through the cracks," Ryan said.

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