The vice mayor of Broward County, Florida added his voice to the growing criticism of President Donald Trump ahead of the president's planned visit to the area on Friday, accusing Trump of "hypocrisy."
Trump is expected to visit the town of Parkland, where 17 people were killed and 14 were injured in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday.
"Him coming here, to me, is absurd," Vice Mayor Mark Bogen told CNN. "Him coming here is absolutely absurd, and he's a hypocrite."
The Vice Mayor of Broward County says Trump's upcoming visit is "absolutely absurd" https://t.co/pObIzn4SKy— Meg Wagner (@megwagner) February 16, 2018
While numerous students, parents, and town officials have directly called for stricter gun laws to combat mass shootings—as the nation counted its 8th school shooting that resulted in injury or death in the first six weeks of 2018—Trump has been silent on gun control this week, instead incorrectly suggesting that community members had done an insufficient job of reporting Cruz's mental health issues and offering "prayers and condolences."
Bogen pointed out that focusing on the shooter's mental health does little to absolve the president of his responsibility.
"How can you come here and talk about how horrible it is, when you support these laws?" Bogen said. "One year ago this month the president reversed a rule banning mentally ill people from purchasing a gun. So President Trump now, based on his actions, allows mentally ill people to purchase guns when over a year ago they couldn't...It's hypocrisy."
Trump's recently released budget proposal would also cut spending for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration by $665 million, and for the National Institute of Mental Health by about $500 million.
Bogen's words followed demonstrations in the area, including one attended by dozens of students at South Broward High School in Hollywood, Florida, about 30 miles south of Parkland.
Protesters denounced Trump as well as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who said Thursday that enacting stricter gun control, like placing a ban on the AR-15—the assault weapon used in the shooting as well as those at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012; in Sutherland Springs, Texas last November; at Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016, and several other recent attacks—would not rid the country of mass shootings.
"If someone has decided, 'I'm going to commit this crime,' they will find a way to get the gun to do it," said Rubio, who has received more than $3 million in donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA), on the Senate floor Thursday.
In nearby Doral, where Rubio has an office, one protest group took inspiration from the film "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," emblazoning three trucks with signs with a message for the senator:
"Slaughtered in school."
"And still no gun control?"
"How come, Marco Rubio?"