US should fund safe schools before Ukraine: Trump
The US should prioritise funding for school security over aid to Ukraine, former President Donald Trump has said days after 19 Texas pupils were killed, reports BBC.
If the US can send billions to Ukraine, "we should be able to do whatever it takes to keep our children safe at home", he said at a pro-gun conference.
The meeting of the National Rifle Association (NRA), the largest US gun group, is taking place in Houston.
It comes three days after a mass shooting by a teenager in Uvalde.
"We spent trillions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and got nothing for it," Mr Trump continued in Friday's speech, drawing loud applause.
"Before we nation-build the rest of the world, we should be building safe schools for our own children in our own nation."
Earlier this month, the US Congress overwhelmingly voted to send nearly $40bn (£31bn) in military aid to Ukraine. In total, US lawmakers have sent about $54bn to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February.
Mr Trump rejected calls for tightened gun controls, saying decent Americans should be allowed firearms to defend themselves against "evil".
He instead proposed a "top-to-bottom overhaul" of school safety, with fortified single points of entry including metal detectors and at least one armed police officer on every campus. He accused Democrats of stonewalling such security measures.
The former Republican president began his speech by reading out the names of the Uvalde shooting victims, with each marked by a bell toll.
The annual conference of the NRA, which boasts of five million members, is taking place 280 miles (450 km) from Uvalde, the scene of the worst school shooting in the US in a decade.
Ahead of the event, several conservative speakers and musical performers announced they were backing out - including Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Senator John Cornyn and the manufacturer of the rifle used in the Uvalde attack.
Mr Trump also called in his speech for the US to "drastically change our approach to mental health".
He made a similar call during his presidency, even while critics at the time accused him of trying to defund medical programmes that included mental healthcare.
Before Mr Trump spoke, Texas Senator Ted Cruz blamed mass shootings mainly on absent fathers, declining church attendance, social media and video games.
Outside the venue, hundreds of protesters gathered to oppose the NRA. They held signs saying "NRA kill kids", "protect children not guns" and held crosses and photos of shooting victims.