Trump Denounces Hatred, White Supremacy After Texas, Ohio Massacres

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
President Donald Trump speaks about the shootings in El Paso and Dayton as Vice President Mike Pence looks on in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, Monday. (Reuters/Leah Millis)

President Donald Trump on Monday called for urgent action to prevent gun violence and said all Americans must “condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy” after mass shootings in Texas and Ohio killed 29 people and wounded dozens.

“These sinister ideologies must be defeated,” Trump said in remarks at the White House. “Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart and devours the soul.”

On Saturday, a gunman killed 20 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, in what authorities said appeared to be a racially motivated hate crime. Just 13 hours later, another gunman in downtown Dayton, Ohio, killed nine people.

Trump said mental health laws should be reformed to better identify mentally disturbed individuals and he called for capital punishment for those who commit mass murder and hate crimes.

He said he had directed the Justice Department to work with local authorities and social media companies to detect mass shooters before they strike. He said the Internet, social media and violent video games had helped radicalize people.

Earlier on Monday, Trump had urged lawmakers in a tweet to put strong checks in place on potential gun buyers, suggesting action could be tied with immigration reform. In his remarks at the White House, however, he did not mention immigration.

In a tweet Monday morning, Trump appealed to both political parties and said the victims should not “die in vain.”

“Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform. We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!” he wrote.

The House of Representatives has passed a bill calling for universal background checks for gun buyers, and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on Sunday called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reconvene the chamber in an emergency session to pass the legislation.

Trump also could invoke his power under the Constitution to call back Congress.

Representatives for McConnell, who broke his shoulder in a fall over the weekend, did not respond for a request for comment.

Representatives for the gun industry’s lobbying group, the National Rifle Association, also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The shootings reverberated across a country that has long seen gun violence. Recent mass shootings by lone-wolf attackers have increased concerns in recent years amid attacks that become known by the cities and towns where they occurred from Sandy Hook in Connecticut and Columbine, Colorado, to Orlando, Florida, and Las Vegas.

A self-professed neo-Nazi in 2017 attacked demonstrators protesting against white supremacists, killing one woman and injuring others in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Such attacks have spread elsewhere, with a gunman attacking people at two mosques in New Zealand in March.