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

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Nick Allen in Wash­ing­ton

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

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