In the wake of two horrifying mass shootings this past weekend President Trump has publicly and unequivocally condemned “White Supremacy.”
Responding to reports that the shooter in El Paso wrote a racist manifesto, the President said during an address on Monday, “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” Trump said, standing beside Vice President Pence. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hatred has no place in America.”
The President also called for reforms at the intersection of mental health and gun laws — including so-called “red flag laws” to take guns from those deemed a public risk.
“Our nation is overcome with shock, horror and sorrow,” Trump said, in solemn remarks from the White House. “We are outraged and sickened by this monstrous evil.”
However, despite tweeting earlier Monday morning about the possibility of linking background check legislation to immigration reform, the president did not call for any explicit changes to gun laws beyond the “red flag laws.”
But he did earnestly say he is open and ready to listen to ideas “that will actually work.”
It’s a Mental Health Problem
Realizing that these mass shootings are a mental health issue, more than a gun issue, Trump has called for reforms to mental health laws “to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence,” adding that we must “make sure those people not only get treatment but when necessary, involuntary confinement.”
“Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun,” Trump said, going on to call for red-flag laws to allow the seizure of firearms from those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety.
The president also called for “cultural” changes, citing violent video games. Further, Trump said he has directed the Justice Department to propose legislation ensuring that those who commit hate crimes and mass murders “face the death penalty and that this capital punishment be delivered quickly, decisively, and without years of needless delay.”
As he continued his address, Trump also called for policing the “dark recesses of the Internet” in a bid to catch mass murderers before they act.
“We must do a better job at identifying and acting on early warning signs,” Trump said. “I am directing the Department of Justice to work in partnership with local, state, and federal agencies and social media companies to develop tools to identify mass shooters before they strike.”
The President added, “We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace…It is too easy for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this and it has to begin immediately.”
The Dems Strike Back
Despite his swift and decisive action, it did not take the 2020 Democratic hopefuls long to strike back at the President. Within minutes of him completing his address the top tier Democratic candidates said the President had not gone far enough.
“The president is weak. And wrong. White supremacy is not a mental illness, and guns are a tool that white supremacists use to fulfill their hate,” Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., tweeted.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., another 2020 White House hopeful, asked that Trump “please stop the racist anti-immigrant rhetoric. Stop the hatred in this country which is creating the kind of violence we see.”
Trump on Monday touted his administration’s record on gun measures, noting that last year he ordered a ban on bump stocks and “all devices” that otherwise turn legal weapons into “illegal machine guns.”
The front page of the New York Post, a paper generally supportive of the President, points to an editorial that begs Trump to ban semi-automatic assault rifles, like those used in the weekend attacks.
“Come up with answers. Now. Beginning with the return of an assault weapons ban,” the editorial board wrote. “This ban would only be part of the response: Keep improving background checks, find wiser approaches to mental health, get every state to pass a red-flag law (do a federal one, too, even if issuing these restraining orders is mainly the job of state courts).”