Democratic presidential candidates and members of Congress from both sides delivered condolences for the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio and called for different levels of gun control.
Republicans preferred “red-flag” legislation that would allow law enforcement to restrict the purchase or access to firearms for those deemed to be a threat to others, rather than the kinds of checks offered by Democrats or bans on assault-style weapons.
Two mass shootings in 24 hours left at least nine people dead in Dayton, 20 dead in El Paso, and dozens more injured. Authorities said the shooting at an El Paso Walmart was being investigated as a hate crime.
Appearing on television and posting on social media, Democratic presidential candidates were unified in denouncing the attacks, and some linked the attack in El Paso to President Donald Trump’s rhetoric.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that “we cannot allow another family or another community to suffer the pain and anguish of gun violence.”
“We have a responsibility to the people we serve to act, she continued. “The Republican Senate must stop their outrageous obstruction and join the House to put an end to the horror and bloodshed that gun violence inflicts every day in America.”
Democrats point finger at Trump
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said on Twitter that “Trump is giving license to this kind of violence” with his inflammatory rhetoric about racial minorities.
Former HUD Secretary Julián Casto also called out Trump, saying on ABC’s “This Week,” that Trump has “a role to play in either fanning the flames of division or trying to bring Americans…together.” He added in a later appearance on NBC News’ “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd” that there was “a toxic brew” of white nationalism in the United States that the government had to identify and act on.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said that “we need to call out the president himself for advocating racism and white supremacy,” drawing a direct link between the El Paso shooting and Trump’s rhetoric.
White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney spent Sunday morning defending Trump against the notion that the president’s words are in any way responsible for the mass shootings.
Mulvaney said that Trump is “saddened” and “angry” and said the country should instead focus on stopping these shootings.
“I blame the people who pulled the trigger,” Mulvaney told Meet the Press host Chuck Todd. “Goodness gracious, is somebody really blaming the president?”
Members of Congress start talking legalization
Republicans also denounced the attacks. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., drew on his experience as an Afghanistan war veteran fighting “radical Islamic terrorism” to say that a similar kind of extremism in America – white supremacist terrorism – needed to be “named, targeted, and defeated.”
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, said that he wanted Trump to call Congress into session to “pass the background check bill and ban assault weapons.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., called on Congress to pass “common sense gun safety legislation” and said, “to reject this dangerous and growing culture of bigotry espoused by Trump and his allies.”
Sanders later added that he wanted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to bring the Senate back into session to pass a gun control bill that had already passed the House. The bill, H.R. 8, would create stricter background check requirements for person-to-person gun transfers.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called on Congress to pass a “red flag” law. He added, though, that such laws “may not have mattered here.”