With two high profile mass shooting tragedies over the weekend, one in Texas and one in Ohio, the topic of gun control and gun rights has once again become a hot-button flashpoint of the 2020 presidential campaign. The 2020 Democratic contenders were quick on the campaign trail to condemn, most specifically, the act of violence in Texas and lay the incident at the feet of President Trump in relation to his rhetoric on illegal immigration and the border migrant crisis. The shooter at an El Paso Walmart released an online manifesto which referenced an influx of immigrants over the southern border as being the tipping point for his decision to begin a murderous rampage against an “invasion,” among other complaints. The shooter (who shall remain nameless here) also berated both major political parties “selling out” and succumbing to corporate interests of cheap labor rather than enforcing tighter immigration laws while also loosely referencing degradation of the environment.
Democrats blame lax gun laws, NRA, and Trump’s rhetoric as primary factors
Former Vice President Joe Biden told reporters, “Enough is enough.”
“This is a sickness,” Biden said. “This is beyond anything that we should be tolerating.” He added: “We can beat the NRA. We can beat the gun manufacturers.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders opened a town hall meeting with a moment of silence and by calling for universal background checks for firearms purchases and more restrictions on assault weapons.
“Assault weapons are designed for one reason. They are military weapons. And I don’t have to explain that to the people in Las Vegas who experienced the worst gun tragedy in the history of this country,” Sanders said. He urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call senators back to Washington, saying the Senate should “have a special session to address gun violence in America and let us finally have the courage to take on the NRA.”
California Sen. Kamala Harris promised to use an executive action within her first 100 days of taking office to impose gun control. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said, “This has got to be a movement, politics or not, we’ve got to make ending this nightmare a movement before it happens to yet another community or another person dies.”
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted: “Far too many communities have suffered through tragedies like this already. We must act now to end our country’s gun violence epidemic.
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg told CNN’s Jake Tapper that “at best (Trump is) condoning and encouraging white nationalists.”
The mayor said Trump “made his career, politically, on demonizing Mexicans and now we’re seeing reports that the shooter yesterday had his goal as killing as many Mexicans as possible.”
“It is very clear that this kind of hate is being legitimized from on high,” Buttigieg added. “And if that were not true, the President would be acting and speaking very, very differently than what he’s doing right now.”
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker told Tapper that “because this was a white supremacist manifesto,” he wanted “to say with more moral clarity that Donald Trump is responsible for this.”
Trump, Booker said, “is responsible because he is stoking fears and hatred and bigotry,” is “failing to condemn white supremacy and see it as it is,” and “has failed to do anything significant to stop the mass availability of weapons to people who intend to do harm.”
Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, when asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper whether he believed Trump was a white nationalist, responded, “Yes. I do.”
The El Paso, Texas, Democrat also referenced Trump’s record of insulting Mexicans as “rapists” and describing asylum seeking migrants as an “infestation.”
“The things that he has said both as a candidate and then as the President of the United States, this cannot be open for debate,” he said.
Trump blames media and mental health as the main causes
President Donald Trump laid blame on the news media and called for the passage of immigration reform coupled with “stronger” background checks for firearms purchases, a move which puzzled many political analysts since the two issues are not explicitly linked together. He also pointed to mental health as an ongoing issue related to gun violence and mass shootings.
….this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform. We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2019
The Media has a big responsibility to life and safety in our Country. Fake News has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years. News coverage has got to start being fair, balanced and unbiased, or these terrible problems will only get worse!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2019
Speaking on Meet the Press Sunday morning, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney rejected criticism from the Democratic candidates:
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, in an interview on “Meet The Press,” rejected the idea that Trump’s rhetoric has in any way contributed to white nationalist violence.
“I blame the people who pulled the trigger,” Mulvaney said.
We will continue to push updates as the story develops.