Aug 4, 2019 - Politics & Policy

El Paso shooting: 2020 hopefuls back gun control, blame NRA and Trump

 Democratic presidential candidates Southbend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke.

Democratic presidential candidates Southbend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates called for tighter gun control Saturday after a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, blaming the National Rifle Association and President Trump following the latest massacre to rock the U.S.

Details: Some blamed Trump for a rise in white supremacist-related incidents and hate crimes, pointing to the president's singling out people of color in Twitter attacks in recent weeks, and for his administration's strict immigration policies.

Context: Police arrested a 21-year-old white man following Saturday morning's shooting in El Paso, per AP. Hate crime is among the motives police are investigating.

What they're saying

  • Former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke said after returning to his hometown of El Paso of Trump, "He is a racist and he stokes racism in this country ... it fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence."
"We've had a rise in hate crimes — every single 1 of the last 3 years — during an administration where you have a president who's called Mexicans rapists and criminals."
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden told the Public Service Forum, hosted by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in Las Vegas, "This is beyond anything that we should be tolerating. ... We can beat the NRA. We can beat the gun manufacturers."
  • Southbend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg told the forum, "America is under attack from homegrown white nationalist terrorism."
"White nationalism is evil, and it is inspiring people to commit murder, and it is being condoned at the highest levels of the American government ... The president of the United States is condoning white nationalism. ... We are the only country in the world with more guns than people. It has not made us safer. We can respect the Second Amendment and not allow it to be a death sentence for thousands of Americans."
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted Americans must reject the "dangerous and growing culture of bigotry espoused by Trump and his allies." Instead of "wasting money putting children in cages" the U.S. needed to "address the scourge of violent bigotry and domestic terrorism," Sanders said.
"After every tragedy the Senate, intimidated by the NRA’s power, does nothing. This must change. We need a president and congress that listen to Americans, not the ideology of a right-wing extremist organization. We must pass common sense gun safety legislation. ...
"We must treat this violent racism like the security threat that it is. That means investing in law enforcement resources to combat the growing population of white nationalists who are engaging in violence."

Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) tweeted that Trump must "have the courage to act" on gun violence. (Harris has pledged previously that if elected, she would use executive action within her first 100 days of office to impose gun control.)

"We shouldn't have to live in fear of mass shootings. Congress must have the courage to pass reasonable gun safety laws. If they won't act, I will."

Sen. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) tweeted, "Far too many communities have suffered through tragedies like this already. We must act now to end our country's gun violence epidemic."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) told the AFSCME forum, "The NRA have long dominated American politics to the point where they have stopped sensible legislation that would have prevented deaths and prevented killings. They have done it time and time again."

The other side

  • When asked earlier this month if he's concerned that many people saw his tweets as racist, Trump replied: "It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me."

Go deeper: In photos: Shooting sparks chaos at El Paso Walmart and shopping mall

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