Following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Trump told the nation he wants to enact red flag laws, where firearms can be taken off people deemed a risk to society.

By Ian Horswill

Posted on August 6, 2019

US President Donald Trump gave a national address after two mass shootings within 15 hours in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, left more than 30 people dead and many more seriously wounded.

“Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul,” Trump said.

Trump railed against the internet.

“The perils of the Internet and social media cannot be ignored, and they will not be ignored,” Trump said.

He even pointed the finger at violent computer games.

“The gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this, and it has to begin immediately,” the US President told the nation.

He said there had to be mental health reform and called for the death penalty for those who commit mass murder.

“Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun,” Trump said, calling the killers “mentally ill monsters”.

He then finished by naming the wrong city in Ohio where the mass shootings took place.

“May God bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo,” Trump told the nation, which heartily condemned him on social media. For the record, Joe Biden, a candidate for president in the 2020 election, said 24 hours earlier that the mass shootings took place in Houston and Michigan.

Toledo is 150 miles from Dayton where 24-year-old Connor Betts fired more than 100 rounds in around 30 seconds into a crowded outside bar, killing nine people, including his 22-year-old sister Megan.

The mass shooting inside the Walmart department store in El Paso, Mexico, was the worst in 2019 in terms of fatalities. It emerged today that 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, from Dallas, had walked around the Walmart and saw there were more than 1,000 people inside before he returned to his car to put on protective ear muffs, safety glasses and pick up a high-powered assault-style rifle.

Crusius told investigators after his arrest that he allegedly set out to kill as many Mexicans as he could. El Paso is five miles from the US/Mexico border. Two people died in hospital, bringing the death toll to 22.

Trump did not mention the two words that most people want to hear – gun control. He did not express support for gun control measures proposed in Congress. He did not mention enacting legislation that would strengthen the federal background check system for gun sales, despite citing background checks in a pair of tweets that preceded his televised address.

In fact, in Trump’s most recent speech to the National Rifle Association, he claimed that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”.

However, he did mention “red flag laws” in today’s national address:

“We must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms and that if they do those firearms can be taken through rapid due process. That is why I have called for red flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders.”

US Attorney General Bill Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee in January that advancing ERPOs was “the single most important” action Congress could take “in the gun control area”.

White House officials on Monday said Trump and Barr are “resolved” to take action after the mass shootings and circumvent the Congress. The administration is exploring solutions “that actually make an impact,” as opposed to “things that feel good,” said a Trump aide, Politico reported.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders exist in Oregon, Washington, Maryland, and Vermont; as Risk Protection Orders in Florida; as Gun Violence Restraining Orders in California; as risk warrants in Connecticut; and as Proceedings for the Seizure and Retention of a Firearm in Indiana.

A red flag law permits police or family members to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves.