Trump condemns 'racism, bigotry and white supremacy' in speech after mass shootings kill 31

Key Points
  • President Trump condemns "racism, bigotry and white supremacy" in the wake of two mass shootings over the weekend that left at least 31 dead and dozens injured.
  • He backed so-called red-flag laws that enable guns to be removed from high-risk individuals, called for mass shooters to be given the death penalty and vowed to address radicalization through the internet and social media.
  • Trump did not mention background checks, which he had proposed earlier in the day on Twitter, in his roughly 10-minute remarks.
President Trump addresses back-to-back mass shootings in Texas and Ohio
President Trump addresses back-to-back mass shootings in Texas and Ohio

President Donald Trump on Monday condemned "racism, bigotry and white supremacy" in the wake of two weekend mass shootings that killed 31 people and wounded dozens.

In remarks from the White House, the president provided a list of policies intended to address mass shootings. Earlier on Twitter, he suggested that lawmakers pass legislation tying immigration reform to background checks for gun purchases.

In his later comments, he backed "red flag" laws that allow guns to be removed from individuals deemed high risk, called for mass shooters to be given the death penalty and vowed to address radicalization through the internet and social media.

But Trump did not mention his prior call for background checks — an overwhelmingly popular gun control measure that has already passed the Democrat-controlled House — in his roughly 10-minute remarks.

The National Rifle Association, which also was not mentioned in the speech, has come out in favor of red flag laws under certain conditions.

Americans are "sickened by this monstrous evil, the cruelty, the hatred, the malice, the bloodshed and the terror," Trump said.

"Hate has no place in America, … hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart and devours the soul," Trump said.

A gunman in El Paso, Texas, killed 22 and wounded dozens more after he opened fire in a Walmart on Saturday morning. Police apprehended the suspect, a 21-year-old white male named Patrick Wood Crusius, who reportedly posted a white supremacist screed on anonymous online messaging forum 8chan minutes before the massacre.

Trump mentioned that essay, describing it as being "consumed by racist hate."

Less than a day later, another gunman in Dayton, Ohio, began shooting in an entertainment district, leaving nine dead and wounding at least 27. The shooter, identified as a 24-year-old white male named Connor Betts, was wearing body armor and carrying extra magazines with him. Police in the area reportedly responded less than a minute after the gunman began shooting and killed Betts.

The El Paso shooter's case is reportedly being investigated as domestic terrorism; the Dayton's shooter's motive is unknown and under investigation, law enforcement officials said Monday.

Trump called on Congress to seek "real, bipartisan solutions" to mass shootings. But the president, who has called himself "the biggest fan of the Second Amendment," also signaled that he might oppose sweeping gun control measures that Democrats have put forward.

"Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger," Trump said in his speech, "not the gun."

He also suggested, without providing evidence, that violent video games may be contributing to the problem. "We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace," he said.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., made the same point in a Fox News interview over the weekend.

Trump said he was directing the Department of Justice to partner with state and local agencies, as well as social media companies, to "develop tools" to find potential mass shooters online before they strike.

"The internet has provided a dangerous avenue to radicalize disturbed minds," Trump said.

"We have to find the courage to answer hatred with unity, devotion and love."

But Trump's speech was criticized by some Democrats just minutes after it was finished.

"The president is weak. And wrong," tweeted Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., who is running for president. "White supremacy is not a mental illness, and guns are a tool that white supremacists use to fulfill their hate."

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, another 2020 Democratic candidate, also knocked Trump's focus on mental health instead of gun control.

Klobuchar TWEET

Numerous Democrats, including many of those vying to challenge Trump in 2020, have explicitly said that Trump's rhetoric has contributed to a rise in white nationalism and racism in the U.S.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primary season, called for universal background checks and a ban on so-called assault weapons.