The mayor of Dayton, Ohio, the scene of a recent mass shooting, added her voice Wednesday to those calling for “common sense gun legislation” to curb gun violence, as President Donald Trump visited the city.
“Mr President, the city of Dayton and people of Dayton really are looking forward to some action,” Nan Whaley said, echoing other Democrats who say the time for passing stricter laws on things such as background checks prior to purchase is long overdue.
She said she told him her community needs some action on gun legislation and he told her, “We are going to do something.”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said, “We’re exploring all options on many many fronts,” when asked by reporters on Air Force One about what gun safety changes Trump supports.
Trump spent time with victims still in hospital while in Dayton for a trip that also was met with protests and criticism of his anti-immigrant rhetoric, which some see as language parallel to that of white supremacists.
The weekend shootings killed 31 people – nine in Dayton and 22 in El Paso, Texas, Trump’s second destination on Wednesday. Both shootings were perpetrated by men in their early 20s.
Whaley said it was best that Trump did not go to the district in the city centre where the shooting took place. Noting the “anger and agitation in our community,” she said Trump’s speech “can be very divisive.”
In Washington a veteran African-American House Democrat who 10 days ago was the target of Trump tweets calling his majority-black district as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” called for an end to racially charged language.
US Representative Elijah Cummings said the United States as a country “must say enough is enough.”
Without naming Trump, he said there must be an end to “invoking fear using racial language and encouraging reprehensible behaviour.”
Cummings also said he agreed that Congress should return from recess and take up gun control legislation.
“I think that we have a responsibility to do whatever is necessary to save lives,” Cummings said, speaking at the National Press Club, adding that some of his own constituents have told him, “Please help us save our country.”
Cumming said people fear going out to the cinema, going shopping and other things that are part of their daily lives.
Before departing on the trip, Trump sharply pushed back against his critics, saying he thinks his rhetoric brings people together.
“Our country is doing incredibly well. China is not doing well if you look at the trade situation,” the president said, pivoting to his preferred topic of the economy.
Trump has come under fire for focusing almost exclusively on mental health issues and blaming video games and social media for gun violence, amid the growing pressure for tougher rules on procuring weapons and limiting assault rifles.
There is a “political appetite” for tougher background checks, Trump said, though he did not specify what this meant beyond issues of mental health.
The El Paso shooter is believed to have published an anti-migrant, white supremacist screed prior to his attack, and he remains in custody. Eight Mexicans died in the attack, which is seen as having targeted people of Hispanic background at a supermarket.
The Dayton shooter was killed at the scene by law enforcement and his motive remains unclear, though authorities say he was interested in violent ideologies.