Trump on Mass Shootings: ‘Mental Illness and Hatred Pulls the Trigger, Not the Gun’

President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, D.C., July 19, 2019. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

President Trump on Monday addressed the two mass shootings that shook the nation over the weekend, calling for enhanced efforts to identify individuals who pose a risk of violence before they act.

On Saturday, a 21-year-old gunman opened fire on a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 20 people and injuring 26 others. Less than 24 hours later, another young male shooter used an assault-style rifle to kill nine people, including his own sister, and injure 27 in a Dayton, Ohio entertainment district.

Shortly before his shooting, the El Paso gunman posted a manifesto online detailing his hatred of immigrants and fear of an “invasion” of Hispanics across the southern border, language that Trump’s critics pointed out recalls Trump’s own rhetoric on illegal immigration.

“Our nation is overcome with shock, horror, and sorrow,” the president said in his address, calling the El Paso shooter a “wicked man” and adding that he and First Lady Melania Trump are “praying and grieving” for the victims, survivors, and their families.

“The shooter in El Paso posted a manifesto online consumed by racist hate,” the president continued. “In one voice our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul.”

Trump called on Congress to pass “bipartisan solutions,” including “red-flag laws,” which would encourage identifying early warning signs in dangerous individuals and then taking action, such as confiscating their firearms.

“We have to do that in a bipartisan manner,” Trump said. “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”

The president said he has promised the FBI “whatever they need” to further disrupt hate crimes and domestic terrorism and has directed the Justice Department to work with state and federal agencies and social-media companies to develop tools to identify mass shooters before they act.

“We must shine light on the dark recesses of the internet and stop mass murders before they start,” he said.

He further blamed “gruesome and grisly video games,” which he said are all too easy for disturbed youths to obtain, and called for a swift death penalty for mass shooters.

“We are a loving nation,” he said. “We vow to act with urgent resolve.”

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