Trump condemns white supremacy but doesn’t propose gun laws after shootings

click to enlarge President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting of the National Space Council in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, June 18, 2018. - TOM BRENNER/THE NEW YORK TIMES
Tom Brenner/The New York Times
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting of the National Space Council in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, June 18, 2018.
By Michael Crowley, Eileen Sullivan and Sheryl Gay Stolberg
New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump forcefully condemned white supremacy Monday in the wake of twin mass shootings over the weekend, citing the threat of “racist hate” and calling for national unity in devising a response.

“In one voice our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” Trump said.

But Trump stopped well short of supporting the kind of broad gun control measures that activists and Democrats have sought for years, instead calling for stronger action to address mental illness, violence in the media and in video games, as well as “the perils of the internet and social media.”

Speaking at the White House, Trump took no questions and did not repeat his call on Twitter earlier in the morning for Republicans and Democrats to work together to strengthen background checks for prospective gun buyers, but his proposal to link new gun control measures with immigration restrictions is likely to leave Democrats sternly opposed.

Trump’s Twitter comments came as the country mourns mass shootings in Texas and Ohio that together killed 29 people.

“Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform,” he wrote in a pair of Twitter posts.

It was not immediately clear what gun control proposals Trump was referring to. The House passed back-to-back bills on firearms soon after Democrats took control, voting in February to require background checks for all gun purchasers, including those at gun shows and on the internet, and to extend waiting periods for would-be gun purchasers flagged by the existing instant-check system.

But Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the majority leader, has given no indication that the measures would be taken up in the Republican-controlled Senate. On Monday, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the minority leader, urged Trump to demand that McConnell put the universal background check measure up for a vote in the Senate.

Over the weekend, members of both parties retreated to their familiar stances. Republicans issued statements praising law enforcement and raising concerns about mental health issues, and Democrats called for the Senate to return to pass the House bills. Lawmakers in both parties have left Washington for their August recess and do not plan to return to the Capitol until September.

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