WASHINGTON — President Trump condemned “racist hate” Monday morning in the wake of a pair of mass shootings, one of which appears to have been carried out by a white supremacist who may have been inspired by Trump’s own racist rhetoric.
“The shooter in El Paso posted a manifesto online consumed by racist hate. In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated,” Trump said in an address from the White House. “Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul.”
Trump also described the El Paso shooter as a domestic terrorist.
The speech came two full days after the El Paso shooting, and more than a day after the other in Dayton, Ohio. The pair of massacres left at least 29 people dead and many injured.
Trump blamed mental health issues and “gruesome and grisly video games” for the regular occurrence of mass shootings in the U.S., though there’s no solid evidence that video games inspire violence.
In a press conference Monday morning, Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said it was "fundamentally problematic" that Betts carried an assault-style weapon. But Biehl did not bring up any concerns surrounding mental illness, nor video games.
He also called for some limited gun control measures, including “red flag laws” that would allow people to petition the court to keep mentally ill relatives or friends from acquiring guns. Many states do have such laws, but not Ohio and Texas.
“The choice is ours and ours alone. It is not up to mentally ill monsters; it is up to us that we are able to pass great legislation. After all of these years, we will ensure that those who were attacked will not have died in vain,” Trump said, before misidentifying one of the cities where a mass shooting occurred this weekend.
“May God bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo,” Trump said.
The alleged El Paso shooter appears to have adopted some of Trump’s anti-immigrant language in his own manifesto, describing an “invasion” of Hispanics, though he made a point to say he’d held those views since before Trump’s comments. Democrats have drawn a connection between Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and the El Paso shooting.
Trump has regularly discussed an “invasion” of Hispanics from the southern border, often using racist rhetoric. In just the last few weeks, he called on four nonwhite congresswomen to “go back” to their countries of origin, even though three of them were born in the U.S., and he slammed Baltimore as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” as he attacked Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who is black.
Trump’s extended remarks also followed a pair of tweets Monday morning where he suggested pairing legislation for “strong background checks” with immigration reform, two of the most charged issues in politics. House Democrats passed legislation months ago that would require background checks on private gun sales by unlicensed dealers, closing the so-called “gun show loophole.” Senate Republicans have refused to act on the bill.
This isn’t the first time Trump has suggested an openness to gun control legislation — but in the past he hasn’t shown a willingness to stick with it. In early 2018, he proposed increasing the minimum age required to buy assault weapons in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, but he backed off after meeting with National Rifle Association leaders.
He did push through a ban on bump stocks, which modify semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons, after that slaughter. But he also signed legislation that made it easier for mentally ill people to buy guns.
Editor's note 8/5 12:07 p.m. ET: This story was updated with information from a police press conference in Dayton, Ohio.
Cover: President Donald Trump speaks about the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)