, Brooke Singman
, fox news
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President Trump called Monday for reforms at the intersection of mental health and gun laws — including so-called “red flag laws” to take guns from those deemed a public risk — in the wake of back-to-back mass shootings over the weekend that left at least 29 people dead.
In unequivocal terms, the president also condemned white supremacy, responding to reports that the shooter in El Paso wrote a racist manifesto.
“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” Trump said, in solemn remarks from the White House, standing beside Vice President Pence. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hatred has no place in America.”
The president notably did not call for explicit changes to gun laws beyond red flag laws, despite tweeting earlier Monday morning about the possibility of linking background check legislation to immigration reform. However, he said he is open and ready to listen to ideas “that will actually work.”
The president also called for “cultural” changes, citing violent video games. Further, Trump said he has directed the Justice Department to propose legislation ensuring that those commit hate crimes and mass murders “face the death penalty and that this capital punishment be delivered quickly, decisively, and without years of needless delay.”
On Saturday, a gunman killed 20 people and injured 26 others after he opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
In Dayton, Ohio, 24-year-old Connor Betts opened fire outside a bar around 1 a.m. Sunday, killing his adult sister and eight others. Police say he was fatally shot by officers within 30 seconds, and was wearing a mask, bulletproof vest and earplugs and had at least 100 rounds. He injured more than two dozen people, leaving one in critical condition, police said Sunday.
Police have not determined a motive for the attack as of Sunday evening, but it was reported that Betts, while in high school, was suspended for compiling a “hit list” of those he wanted to kill, and a “rape list” of girls he wanted to sexually assault.
Trump called the shooting in El Paso “tragic” and an “act of cowardice.”
“I know that I stand with everyone in this Country to condemn today’s hateful act. There are no reasons or excuses that will ever justify killing innocent people,” he tweeted.
On Sunday, the president said that “hate has no place in our country,” and once again condemned the attacks. He vowed to “take care” of the problem, and pointed to mental illness, calling the shooters “really very seriously mentally ill.”
The president also said that the problem of shootings has been going on “for years and years” and “we have to get it stopped.”
The attacks, however, have revived the national debate over how to tackle gun violence, with many Democrats demanding the Senate return from recess to address the issue. A number of Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates have also accused the president of fueling racial tensions with his rhetoric.
After the El Paso shooter was linked to anti-Mexican statements, presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg told “Fox News Sunday” this is “white nationalist terrorism.”
“We need to acknowledge that this is a problem.” Buttigieg said, claiming white nationalism has been “condoned at the highest levels” in Washington.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., another 2020 White House hopeful, asked that Trump “please stop the racist anti-immigrant rhetoric. Stop the hatred in this country which is creating the kind of violence we see.”
Sanders, along with other Democratic presidential candidates like Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., also demanded that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., recall Congress from its August recess to vote on initiatives to curb gun violence.
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