El Paso attack: Republican senator says 'no simple' solution to end mass shootings

Texan John Cornyn boasts of 'perfect A+ rating' from NRA

Andrew Buncombe
El Paso
Sunday 04 August 2019 22:37 BST
Republican senator John Cornyn says 'no simple solution' to end mass shootings following El Paso attack

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Louise Thomas

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A senior Republican politician from Texas has claimed there is no simple answer to America’s mass shootings, even as Democrats and activists called for urgent action on gun control.

As the nation woke up to the second mass shooting in 24 hours, with the number of casualties in El Paso and Dayton reaching 29 people dead and at least 50 injured, senator John Cornyn visited the scene of the shooting in El Paso, where he placed a flag. “I spent some of my earlier years in El Paso when my dad was stationed at Fort Bliss,” he told reporters. “I know the city well.”

But as many of the Democratic presidential candidates joined with gun control activists in demanding tougher regulations, Mr Cornyn insisted there was no simple answer to the problem. To a question from The Independent as to why the country was unable to halt the scourge of mass shootings, he said: “The United States is not like the rest of the world. We have a bill of rights and the 2nd Amendment. The problem is not law abiding citizens, it’s people with mental health problems or some other hate that causes them to act.”

Mr Cornyn, whose website boasts of his “perfect A+ rating” from the National Rifle Association because of his defence of the right to bear arms, last year opposed moves to restrict access to the sort of semi-automatic weapons used in the weekend’s shootings, although he did support a move to improve background checks after a mass shooting at a church at Sutherland Springs in 2017 killed 26 people.

Asked why there was no ban on semi-automatic weapons, he said: ‘In congress we been trying to find the answer. Each one of these incidents has their own unique characteristics. I don’t think it’s fair to say there is one cause or one solution.”

By contrast, Democrats and many others said it was time for action. Beto O’Rourke, who is from El Paso, said it was heartbreaking to see so many people suffering.

Speaking to reporters, he called for laws that made it harder for people to get a gun who should not have one in the first place. He also called for universal background checks to end the sale of assault-style weapons.

“We also have to acknowledge the open racism and intolerance and hatred that we are seeing throughout this country, being echoed and trafficked in by the president of the United States who encourages this kind of hatred,” he said.

'This will only make it stronger': El Paso residents react to shooting

Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted: “We’re waking up to the second mass shooting in as many days. I’m heartsick for the 29 people killed this weekend in El Paso and Dayton – and all the other lives we lose every day due to senseless gun violence. We need to take urgent action to end the gun violence epidemic.”

Ohio congressman Tim Ryan issued a statement saying: “I’m calling on congress to immediately end its August recess and reconvene in Washington to take up a package of legislation meant to stop these acts of horror and other acts of gun violence that affect every single American.”

On Saturday night, Republican Texas governor Gregg Abbott, who also has an A+ rating from the NRA, claimed America’s crisis with gun violence was the result of mental health issues.

Activists said that was false, and that only 4 per cent of all violent acts were attributable to mental illness.

“There is no evidence that this shooting stemmed from mental illness, but there is evidence that this shooter was a hate filled racist. Hate is not a mental illness,” said Kris Brown, president of the Brady campaign to end gun violence. “Hate is taught and fuelled through rhetoric we witness far too often in this country, often from president Trump.”

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