El Paso shooting: Trump demands immigration reform in wake of domestic terror attack – while admitting better gun controls needed

President suggests adopting ‘strong background checks’ on gun purchases paired with ‘desperately needed’ immigration reform

Samuel Osborne,Alessio Perrone
Monday 05 August 2019 11:57
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Donald Trump says 'hate has no place in our country' after two mass shootings

Donald Trump has called on US politicians to “get strong background checks” for gun purchases, but said the bill must be tied to “immigration reform” following two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

The US president tweeted that Democrats and Republicans “must come together” to work on a bill after the attacks in El Paso and Dayton over the weekend, which killed 29 people in total.

But he demanded “marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform”. He didn’t say how the bills would be paired.

He added: “We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!”

Mr Trump tweeted: “We cannot let those killed in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, die in vain. Likewise for those so seriously wounded.

“We can never forget them, and those many who came before them.”

Twenty people were killed and some 26 were injured after a gunman opened fire at a shopping complex in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday morning. Authorities arrested suspect Patrick Crusius, 21, and said they were treating the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism.

Some 13 hours later, on 1am local time on Sunday, nine people died in a shooting near a bar in Dayton, Ohio. Officials said on Sunday the shooting rampage was likely indiscriminate since it happened over a period of just one minute.

Shortly before the El Paso attack, a far-right manifesto appeared online calling the Walmart attack “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas” and expresses support for the gunman who killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, earlier this year.

El Paso has a large migrant population, and the manifesto suggested it had been intentionally chosen for that reason. Police believe the manifesto to be the work of shooting suspect Patrick Crusius.

Democrats linked Trump’s language and rhetoric with the shooting.

“You reap what you sow, and he is sowing seeds of hate in this country. This harvest of hate violence we’re seeing right now lies at his feet,” senator Cory Booker of New Jersey told NBC. “He is responsible.”

In recent weeks, the president has issued racist tweets about four women of colour who are all Democrat Congresswomen. In rallies, he has spoken of an “invasion" at the southern border.

In July, he failed to stop supporters chanting to “send back" congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a US citizen.

Beto O’Rourke, who is from El Paso and is a former Democratic representative from Texas, said: “He is encouraging this. He doesn’t just tolerate it; he encourages it. Folks are responding to this. It doesn’t just offend us, it encourages the kind of violence that we’re seeing, including in my home town of El Paso yesterday.”

O’Rourke was later filmed saying: “He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I mean members of the press – what the f***.”

Trump later also blamed the media for “the anger and rage” in the US, tweeting that “news coverage has got to start being fair, balanced and unbiased, or these terrible problems will only get worse.”

The Democrat-led House has passed a gun control bill that requires federal background checks for all gun sales and transfers, but the bill has stalled in the Senate, where Republicans have the majority.The White House threatened a presidential veto if those measures passed Congress.

Republican Senator Pat Toomey, from Pennsylvania, also tweeted on Sunday that the US should “do more” to keep guns out of the hands of killers and “expand background checks to all commercial firearm sales”.

At a February meeting with survivors and family members of the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting in which 17 people died, Trump also promised to be “very strong on background checks”.

He is scheduled to deliver a statement at the White House later this morning.

Additional reporting by AP

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