As the nation reels from the impact of not one but two weekend mass shootings within a 24-hour period that left more than 30 people dead, there are the inevitable questions about causes, about what can be done to prevent future occurrences of violent mass attacks on innocent citizens.
President Donald Trump on Monday condemned the weekend shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, as “barbaric” attacks and crimes “against all humanity” while calling for bipartisan cooperation to strengthen the nation’s gun laws.
“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” Trump said. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America.”
In the El Paso attack, investigators are focusing on whether it was a hate crime after a racist, anti-immigrant screed that was posted online shortly before the shooting. Detectives are working to determine if it was written by the man who was arrested in the wake of the attack at the Walmart store.
Some of the language in the so-called manifesto mirrors comments made by Trump at campaign rallies, and several Democratic presidential hopefuls pointed to the president’s comments about race and immigration as a factor in the growth of a white supremacist culture in this country.
Trump was widely — and we think correctly — criticized for offering a false equivalency when discussing racial violence, most notably when he said there were “very fine people on both sides” after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in the death of an anti-racism demonstrator.
The Associated Press reported that the number of hate groups has surged to record highs under Trump’s presidency, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Not unexpectedly, Democratic presidential candidates jumped at the opportunity to blame both the president and Congress.
“He is encouraging this. He doesn’t just tolerate it, he encourages it. He is an open, avowed racist and is encouraging more racism in this country,” Beto O’Rourke, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate said as he returned to his hometown of El Paso in the wake of the shooting there Saturday.
Another candidate, Pete Buttigieg, said Trump is “condoning and encouraging white nationalism. It is very clear that this kind of hate is being legitimized from on high.”
Congress, currently in the midst of a month-long summer recess, has been unable to reach any agreement on meaningful and workable gun control legislation and has also — and certainly not unreasonably — come under fire.
In February, the House approved bipartisan legislation to require federal background checks for all gun sales and transfers and approved legislation to allow a review period of up to 10 days for background checks on firearms purchases. The White House, which has been strongly supported by the National Rifle Association, threatened a presidential veto if those measures passed Congress. The GOP-controlled Senate has not debated the proposal.
Like other congressional Democrats, Rep. Cindy Axne, who represents our district, called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call the Senate back in session “to finally put in place common sense, bipartisan laws to stop these horrific and senseless acts of terror.”
Unfortunately, we have heard little or nothing from Iowa’s two Republican senators and the remainder of our congressional delegation.
It’s time for our president to show some real leadership and our congressional representatives to return to Washington and initiate a debate focused on addressing the senseless carnage that has become all too prevalent in this country.