President Donald Trump on Monday advocated for more institutions to deal with mental health, adding that there is “no halfway” between jail and those who need help on the streets.
“We have to confront the issue and we have to discuss mental health and we have to do something about it,” the president said. “You know, in the old days we had mental institutions. We had a lot of them. And you could nab somebody like this, because they … knew something was off. You had to know that. People were calling all over the place.”
Trump’s comments came during a White House meeting with 39 of the nation’s governors on gun safety, which was prompted by the Feb. 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 were killed.
Following the Parkland shooting, the president noted that the suspect, Nikolas Cruz, was “mentally disturbed,” and he urged Americans to report such individuals. During his remarks on Monday, Trump noted that there were “39 red flags” with Cruz but that law enforcement didn’t do anything.
Trump said people used to be able to be taken to mental institutions to get help.
“He’s off the streets. You can’t arrest him, I guess, because he hasn’t done anything, but you know he’s like a boiler ready to explode, right?” the president said. “You can’t put him in jail, I guess, because he hasn’t done anything. But in the old days, you would put him into a mental institution.”
Trump also said that governments began closing institutions because of costs, and that such decisions were made by some of the governors in that room.
“We’re going to have to start talking about mental institutions, because a lot of folks in this room closed their mental institutions also,” he said. “We have no halfway. We have nothing between a prison and leaving him at his house, which we can’t do anymore. So I think you folks have to start thinking about that.”