Trump ‘all in favour’ of tighter checks on guns
Days after 31 killed in mass shootings, president tells of growing support for scrutinising weapon sales
Donald Trump said he was “all in favour” of tighter background checks on gun buyers as he visited towns hit by two mass shootings. The president also defended his own rhetoric, after opponents accused him of stoking discord. He said one of the gunmen had been a “fan” of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, his Democrat rivals. He was met by about 200 protesters chanting “do something” at a hospital in Dayton, the Ohio town where nine people were killed on Sunday.
DONALD TRUMP indicated yesterday that he would pursue tighter background checks on gun buyers as he visited towns hit by two mass shootings that shook the US.
The president also defended his own rhetoric, and said one of the gunmen had been a “fan” of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, his Left-wing Democrat opponents.
On Saturday, Patrick Crusius, 21, killed 22 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, on the border with Mexico.
Police said he was driven by hatred for Hispanic people.
Some 13 hours later, in Dayton, Ohio, Connor Betts, 24, killed nine people, including his younger sister, before he was shot dead by police.
About 200 protesters chanting “Do something” and holding a “baby Trump” blimp balloon, greeted Mr Trump as he arrived at the Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton.
Inside, the president and Melania Trump, the first lady, met injured people and their families, and thanked medical staff. Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, said they had gone from room to room, and there had been “very powerful moments”.
Mr Trump told those in the hospital: “You had God watching. I want you to know we’re with you all the way.”
As he sought to act as “consoler-inchief ” in a time of national tragedy, opponents accused Mr Trump of having stoked discord. But Mr Trump rejected suggestions that his rhetoric had helped fuel division. He said the Ohio gunman was “nothing to do with Trump” and had been a supporter of Mr Sanders and Mrs Warren.
Mr Trump added: “My critics are political people, they’re trying to make points. In many cases, they’re running for president. I think my rhetoric brings people together.”
He said there was currently “no political appetite” to ban assault weapons, as many Democrats have called for.
But he was “all in favour” of increased background checks to stop guns falling into the hands of mentally ill people and those filled with “rage”.
The House of Representatives passed legislation in February that would require federal background checks for all firearms sales and transfers, including those sold online or at gun shows.
Another bill would allow for an expanded 10-day review for gun purchases. Both bills have languished in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Mr Trump said he had held extensive talks with congressional leaders in recent days. “There is a great appetite… for background checks,” he added.
“You have to have a political appetite within Congress. I think there’s a great appetite for doing something to make sure mentally ill people aren’t carrying guns. I’m looking to do background checks.”
The president added: “I think we can bring up background checks like we never have before. I think Republicans and Democrats are getting close to doing something.”
The White House said Mr Trump wanted to “have a conversation” about ways to head off future mass shootings.
He was due to travel on to El Paso, the Texas border city where some local Democratic politicians said he was not welcome.
Beto O’rourke, the Democratic presidential candidate, who is from El Paso, said: “This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso. We do not need more division. We need to heal.”
Mr Trump responded on Twitter, telling Mr O’rourke that he should “respect the victims & law enforcement – & be quiet!”
Joe Biden, the former vice-president and front-runner for the Democrat presidential nomination in 2020, also criticised Mr Trump, saying he lacked “the moral authority to lead” and had “aligned himself with the darkest forces in our nation”.
Protesters chanted ‘Do something’ and held a ‘baby Trump’ blimp balloon as the president visited Miami Valley Hospital, left, to meet survivors of the mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio