In a speech from the White House Diplomatic Room, U.S. President Donald Trump called out “white supremacy” in the wake of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.
“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America,” he said.
The president also urged for “bipartisan solutions” to mass shootings in the country. He also called on the U.S. Department of Justice to propose legislation for mass murderers to face the death penalty “quickly” and “decisively.”
Trump also deflected towards mental illness and video games during his White House address. While the president called for laws to ensure those “judged a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms”, he added, “mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”
While the president tried to create a link towards violent video games and mass shootings, studies have suggested this is not the case. Douglas Gentile, a professor of psychology at Iowa State University has said with respect to video games, “What we’re getting is just a very one-sided and very limited look into only one of the risk factors for aggression.”
The president also asked for social media companies to develop tools to “stop mass murders before they start”. He stated that the internet—which was critical in shaping his unconventional path to the presidency—has provided “a dangerous avenue to radicalize disturbed minds.”
Democratic Nominees Call on Trump to Address Real Issues
Senator Bernie Sanders called out the president, saying that mere “words are cheap,” and asked him to act upon what he said by ending his own bigoted rhetoric. Sanders also tweeted that “video games are not to blame” and the president’s deflection shows he has decided to side with the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Senator Cory Booker called Trump “weak and wrong. “White supremacy is not a mental illness, and guns are a tool that white supremacists use to fulfill their hate,” he added.
Former Vice President Joe Biden also took an aim at Trump’s address stating the country won’t be united until the president is “no longer in the White House.”
The Democratic candidates are pressing Trump to enact stiffer gun control measures and abandon his divisive rhetoric. But with elections a little over a year away, the president cannot afford to alienate his most loyal base: pro-gun evangelical Christian conservatives.
Rahima Sohail is a contributor to Globely News, writing on U.S. politics and the geopolitics of Asia. She was previously a sub-editor and producer at The Express Tribune, a Pakistani English-language daily. She spends most of her time reading and ranting about politics and football.