President Donald Trump on Monday condemned weekend shootings in Texas and Ohio as “barbaric” attacks and crimes “against all humanity” as he called for bipartisan cooperation to strengthen the nation’s gun laws.
Trump said he wants legislation providing “strong background checks” for gun users, but he provided scant details and has reneged on previous promises after mass shootings.
“We vow to act with urgent resolve,” Trump said Monday.
Trump spoke Monday from the White House about shootings that left 29 dead and dozens wounded. He suggested early on Twitter that a background check bill could be paired with his long-sought effort to toughen the nation’s immigration system.
But he didn’t say how or why he was connecting the issues. Both shooting suspects were U.S. citizens, and federal officials are investigating anti-immigrant bias as a potential motive for the El Paso, Texas, massacre.
“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” Trump said, adding that he had directed the FBI to examine steps to identify and address domestic terrorism. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America,” he said.
Trump has frequently sought to tie his immigration priorities — a border wall and transforming the legal immigration system to one that prioritizes merit over familial ties — to legislation around which he perceives momentum to be building.
Over the weekend, Trump tried to assure Americans he was dealing with the problem and defended his administration in light of criticism following the latest in a string of mass shootings.
“We have done much more than most administrations,” he said, without elaboration. “We have done actually a lot. But perhaps more has to be done.”
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 GOP-controlled Senate. That political dynamic seems difficult to change.
And Trump himself 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 and finally get results in quelling gun violence. But he later retreated, expressing support for modest changes to the federal background check system and for arming teachers.
Story by The Associated Press with additional information from CGTN.