After Shootings, Focus Turns To Trump Administration's Gun Policies

Aug 4, 2019
Originally published on August 4, 2019 6:36 pm
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FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Thank you.

: We heard from President Trump not long ago, and he had this to say.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: These are two incredible places. We love the people. Hate has no place in our country.

: One of the things that stands - one of the reasons why that stands out is that many people are pointing the finger at President Trump's rhetoric. What has he said until now?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, he has said a lot. There's no question that the president has used inflammatory language about immigrants and people of color. I mean, we got to be clear. The shooter is the person with the ultimate responsibility. But there are legitimate questions about whether this president is fanning those flames with his language. He's characterized immigrants at the border as an invasion. He's also, you know, and a lot of people, not only Democrats, are saying that he could do more to call out white nationalists. Obviously, the most famous example being Charlottesville, where he said there were good people on both sides of that deadly clash.

: So how is the White House responding to this charge that his rhetoric has contributed to shootings like the ones that we just saw?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was on shows this morning defending the administration, defending the White House, saying Democrats like Swalwell, who we just heard, are trying to score political points on the tragedy, saying that about some of the other Democratic candidates who are still in the presidential race. Mulvaney himself is calling the shooter a sick person and says drawing anything other than that is wrong or fair - trying to blame the president is unfair.

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MICK MULVANEY: This was a sick person. The person in Dayton was a sick person. No politician is to blame for that. The people responsible here are the people who pulled the trigger. We need to figure out how to create less of those kinds of people as a society and not trying to figure out who gets blamed going into the next election.

ORDOÑEZ: And Trump himself, you know, at a rally in Charlotte last year, he said the White House didn't blame Bernie Sanders when one of his supporters went out and shot a Republican lawmaker during a baseball practice. They're saying they want the same type of response.

: And where does the White House stand in terms of policy solutions?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, the president today said that the White House is talking to people. He said he talked to the attorney general, Bill Barr, and that they are looking at doing more, but he was not specific. He said they want to make a statement tomorrow at 10 a.m. about doing something. Again, he was not specific, did not give any details other than to say he - this is an issue about mental illness, which is something he's talked about before. The White House is also pointing out work they have done before about bump stocks bans and stronger background checks.

But the White House probably needs to take on the NRA. This is an issue. The NRA is a big supporter of Trump, and Trump has been a big supporter of the NRA. He once flirted with going against them after the Parkland shooting, but he kind of backed off. Another issue is that, you know, he has - he is likely going to have to take a more direct push on white nationalism because until now, he has downplayed that threat. Even in March, when reporters asked him directly whether he saw white nationalism as a rising threat, he answered, I don't really, I think it's a small group of people that have a very serious problem. So there'll be more and more questions about that to him.

: We're going to talk more about the issue of white nationalism in just a few minutes. That's NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez. Franco, thank you so much for talking with us.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.