August 05, 2019

Trump blames glorification of violence but not guns after mass shootings
President identifies video games, the internet and mental illness but makes no mention of new restrictions on gunsDonald Trump has blamed “the glorification of violence” in a speech that identified video games, the internet and mental illness – but not guns – as the cause of the slaughter that left at least 31 dead and 53 injured in less than 24 hours over the weekend.In his first public remarks on the pair of shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Trump also condemned white supremacy as authorities said they were investigating an anti-Hispanic, anti-immigrant manifesto allegedly tied to the El Paso suspect.“The shooter in El Paso posted a manifesto online consumed by racist hate,” Trump said. “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.”“These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America.”Noticeably absent from the president’s remarks was any mention of new restrictions on guns, despite the fact that just hours earlier Trump had urged the US Congress in a tweet to pass some form of background checks.Congress has proven unable to pass substantial gun violence legislation this session, despite the frequency of mass shootings, in large part because of resistance from Republicans, particularly in the Republican-controlled Senate. That political dynamic shows no signs of changing.Shortly after Trump spoke, authorities said another person had died from injuries sustained during the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso on Saturday, raising the death toll in that attack to 22. El Paso police tweeted that the latest victim died early Monday morning at a hospital. No other details were immediately provided.Speaking from the White House, Trump called for “real bipartisan solutions” but pointedly attempted to steer the dialogue away from firearms.“Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun,” Trump said, while calling for reforms that “better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence”.He said authorities should “make sure those people, not only get treatment, but when necessary, involuntary confinement”, but did not elaborate.The president also said he was directing the justice department to draw up a proposal that would swiftly deliver the death penalty to those who commit hate crimes and mass murders, so that capital punishment could be rendered “quickly, decisively and without years of needless delay”.Trump further revived the widely debunked theory that video games were a factor in mass shootings, condemning “the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.”“It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence,” he said. “We must stop or substantially reduce this, and it has to begin immediately.”The president’s comments came hours after he suggested lawmakers in Washington link background checks legislation to “desperately needed immigration reform”, drawing criticism for invoking immigration policy after one of the shootings targeted the predominantly Latino community of El Paso.“Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform,” Trump tweeted. “We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!”Trump also took aim at the media in his tweets, claiming “fake news” had played a role in the current climate.“The Media has a big responsibility to life and safety in our Country,” Trump wrote. “Fake News has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years.”“News coverage has got to start being fair, balanced and unbiased, or these terrible problems will only get worse!”Top Democrats swiftly condemned Trump’s initial response to the shootings, with some drawing comparisons to Nazi Germany.> Wow. On @Morning_Joe, @RepJerryNadler says Trump's response to mass shootings in El Paso & Dayton "reminds me of the 1930s in Germany." > > "What's connection between background checks & immigration reform? That we have to keep guns out of the hands out of the invading hordes?" pic.twitter.com/CkmZ8CTryd> > — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 5, 2019“What’s [the] connection between background checks & immigration reform? That we have to keep guns out of the hands out of the invading hordes?” the House judiciary committee chairman, Jerry Nadler, said in an interview with MSNBC.“That’s disgusting. It reminds me of the 1930s in Germany.”The 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, a native of El Paso, also likened Trump’s comments to Nazi Germany: “The only modern western democracy that I can think of that said anything close to this is the Third Reich, Nazi Germany.”> Only a racist, driven by fear, could witness what took place this weekend—and instead of standing up to hatred, side with a mass murderer's call to make our country more white. We are so much better than this president. https://t.co/SYMT77fbOf> > — Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) August 5, 2019Another Democratic 2020 presidential candidate, Julián Castro, said: “Donald Trump is unfit to lead our nation. His words could not be more hollow. He says “we must condemn racism, bigotry and white nationalism”– but often serves as their national spokesperson. In this national emergency, our president is morally bankrupt. We deserve better.”Twenty-one people were killed and another 26 injured in El Paso, which sits along the southern border and is heavily populated by immigrants. Authorities said at least six of the deceased were Mexican nationals.The details of the El Paso shooting, at a popular shopping center on Saturday morning, were still being learned when another massacre unfolded overnight.In a matter of 32 seconds, a gunman in Dayton, Ohio, killed nine and wounded at least 27 more on a busy street in the early hours of Sunday. The suspect, whose victims included his own sister, was killed by police when they arrived at the scene.The events kicked off an all-too-familiar debate over gun violence in America, which claims roughly 100 lives each day.Trump has reneged on previous pledges to strengthen gun laws. After other mass shootings he called for strengthening the federal background check system, and in 2018 he signed legislation to increase federal agency data sharing into the system. But he has resisted Democratic calls to toughen other gun control laws.In February, the House approved bipartisan legislation to require federal background checks for all gun sales and transfers and approved legislation to allow a review period of up to 10 days for background checks on firearms purchases. The White House threatened a presidential veto if those measures passed Congress.At a February meeting with survivors and family members of the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting in which 17 people died, Trump promised to be “very strong on background checks”.Trump claimed he would stand up to the gun lobby, but he later retreated, expressing support for modest changes to the federal background check system and for arming teachers.On Monday, Trump’s speech drew on ideas that Republicans in Congress can embrace without confronting the gun lobby or restricting access to weapons.Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader and a Trump ally, has raised concerns about violence in video games, while another Trump confidant, Senator Lindsey Graham, tweeted his support over the weekend for his own red flag mental health bill.Associated Press contributed to this report
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