Aug 5, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Trump suggests tying gun background checks to immigration reform

President Trump said in a pair of Monday tweets that Republicans and Democrats should "come together and get strong background checks" after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend, suggesting the policy could be tied to immigration reform.

The big picture: The Democratic-led House passed a series of bills addressing gun reform, including the Bipartisan Background Checks Act in February. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has yet to take up those bills for debate, though it's unclear whether Trump supports the House proposal — or something else entirely.

  • Trump and congressional Democrats also share very different views on their strategies for immigration reform, making it unlikely that the two could ever be passed in tandem.

The state of play: Trump also used a morning tweet to cast blame upon the news media for creating an environment where such shootings can occur, saying it "has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years." The president's history of doubling down on controversial sentiments in both his public statements and tweets has proved problematic over the course of his presidency.

  • He has taken an incendiary tack on immigration from the very beginning of his presidential campaign, famously alleging without evidence that Mexico was sending "rapists" to the U.S. during his 2015 kickoff. He's continued that rhetoric throughout his presidency, continually stating that the U.S. is under "invasion" from migrants via Mexico.
  • His racist attacks against congresswomen of color gave House Democrats a new rationale for their impeachment push last month. And his tweet commenting on a robbery of Rep. Elijah Cummings' Baltimore home garnered pushback from former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley — a huge name in the GOP.

What Trump he's saying:

"We cannot let those killed in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, die in vain. Likewise for those so seriously wounded. We can never forget them, and those many who came before them. Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform. We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!"
"The Media has a big responsibility to life and safety in our Country. Fake News has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years. News coverage has got to start being fair, balanced and unbiased, or these terrible problems will only get worse!"

Go deeper: Mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton force America to confront its gun problem

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