Aug 4, 2019

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. 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

Go deeper

After Texas shootings, 2020 Democrats push for gun control measures

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke speaks during the 2020 Public Service Forum hosted in Las Vegas. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidates joined fellow 2020 hopeful Beto O’Rourke in speaking of the need for gun control on Saturday following a second mass shooting in Texas in August.

"Don’t know what the motivation is, do not yet know the firearms that were used or how they acquired them, but we do know this is f**ked up. We do know that this has to stop in this country. There is no reason that we have to accept this as our fortune, as our future, as our fate, and yet functionally right now we have. ... To have a Congress that will not ... even pass universal background checks or close those loopholes that allow people to buy a firearm when they should not be able to."
— Former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke at an event in Fairfax Station, Virginia
Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 1, 2019

Beto O'Rourke halts campaign to return home to El Paso after shooting

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke became emotional as he told a news conference he's paused campaigning to return to his hometown of El Paso, Texas, following a shooting there, which killed at least 20 Walmart shoppers.

Details: "I’m incredibly saddened and it is very hard to think about this," the former Texas congressman said during a campaign stop in Nevada. "I’m going back there right now to be with my family and to be with my hometown." He later said there'd been a rise in hate crimes during President Trump's administration. He noted Trump has called Mexicans rapists and criminals.

Go deeper:

This article has been updated with O'Rourke's comments on Trump.

Keep ReadingArrowUpdated Aug 4, 2019

2020 Democrats: Trump is a white supremacist

Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Beto O'Rourke. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A group of 2020 Democrats have called President Trump a "white supremacist," an extraordinary charge at an extraordinary moment in American politics.

Why it matters ... This is a big shift from calling the president a white nationalist. Check out Merriam-Webster's definition of white supremacist: "a person who believes that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races."

Go deeperArrowUpdated Aug 8, 2019