Two mass shootings within 24 hours put the nation’s focus back onto gun control and, given the alleged anti-immigrant views of a shooter in Texas, elevate the issue of the dangers of hate speech.
Gun control has been a mostly peripheral theme on the Democrats’ 2020 campaign trail until now. Some have written it off as a lost cause after years of violent incidents with little policy response from lawmakers or others. It’s set to dominate Sunday morning talk shows, for starters.
“It’s past time we take action and end our gun violence epidemic,” Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden said on Twitter after the first shooting.
Police on Saturday arrested a 21-year-old Texas man suspected opening fire with an assault rifle at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, killing at least 20 people. The suspect allegedly drove hundreds of miles from his near home near Dallas to carry out the attack in the heavily Hispanic city on the U.S.-Mexican border.
Authorities are investigating a possible link to an anti-immigrant document that surfaced online shortly after the killings, with anger directed against immigrants and specifically against Mexicans. Given that, the carnage gave a renewed impetus to critics of President Donald Trump’s harsh rhetoric on immigration. Three Mexicans were killed in El Paso shooting, Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador said in a Twitter video.
Less than 24 hours after the El Paso shooting, a gunman in body armor killed at least nine people and injured dozens of others in a popular nightlife district of Dayton, Ohio, police there said.
In a series of tweets, Trump called the El Paso killings “an act of cowardice,” saying there are “no reasons or excuses that will ever justify killing innocent people.” He was being briefed Sunday morning on the Dayton incident, the White House said.