'He's Inciting Racism and Violence in This Country': How the 2020 Candidates Have Responded to the Recent Mass Shootings

Photo credit: MARK RALSTON - Getty Images
Photo credit: MARK RALSTON - Getty Images


Two mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, occurred back-to-back this past weekend, rocking the country and bringing gun control back to the forefront of national conversation.

The El Paso shooter, who killed at least 20 people, is reported to have written a document filled with "white supremacist language" and targeting Hispanic people and immigrants, according to CNN. The Dayton shooter, who killed at least 9 people, has been reported to have a had a history of targeting his female classmates and once created a "rape list" of women at his school.

Ahead, a look at how all the 2020 candidates have responded to the recent attacks, including President Trump's recent address to the nation.

President Trump

Right after the shooting in El Paso, Trump called the reports “very bad” and later said he and the First Lady were “praying for all those impacted by this unspeakable act of evil,” referring to both the El Paso and Dayton shootings.

Trump then tweeted about the need for stronger background checks, suggesting that lawmakers marry gun reform legislation with immigration reform.

He also linked "Fake News" to the "anger and rage that has built up over many years," seemingly blaming the media for these violent attacks.

Then on Monday morning, Trump delivered a national address about the shootings and incorrectly said that one of the shootings took place in Toledo, Ohio, instead of Dayton, Ohio. During the address he also said he supports "red flag" laws, which, according to Time, "allow authorities to confiscate guns from people deemed dangerous." Trump added that he believes, "Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun."

Joe Biden

Biden tweeted a thread, writing that he was “heartbroken to hear the news from El Paso” and that “our thoughts are with those impacted by yet another senseless act of gun violence in America.”

In his thread, he called out the NRA and gun manufacturers as well as Trump: “We can’t fix a problem if we refuse to name it: white nationalism. An ideology emboldened by a President who stokes the flames of hatred and coddles white supremacists with messages of support.” He also called for the Senate to pass the House’s universal background check bill.

It was also reported that during a fundraiser on Sunday, Biden at first mistakenly referred to mass shootings in Houston and Michigan, instead of in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. He later corrected himself.

Beto O'Rourke

O’Rourke, a native of El Paso, Texas, called the city one of the “strongest places in the world.” He also tweeted out a link to a fund for the victims of the El Paso shooting.

In an interview with CNN, he called Trump a racist and said, “He stokes racism in this country, and it does not just offend our sensibilities, it fundamentally changes the character of this country, and it leads to violence.”

O’Rourke also had an extremely candid response when asked whether there was anything Trump could do to make this better, saying: “What do you think? You know the shit he’s been saying. He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I don’t know, like, members of the press, what the fuck? … It’s these questions that you know the answers to. I mean, connect the dots about what he’s been doing in this country. He’s not tolerating racism, he’s promoting racism. He’s not tolerating violence, he’s inciting racism and violence in this country… I don’t know what kind of question that is.”

Kamala Harris

Harris called gun violence a national emergency and labeled these recent mass shootings as domestic terrorism. On MSNBC, she said Trump has given white nationalism power and embraced it, and on CNN, Harris laid out her plan to instate national background checks and put a ban on the importation of assault weapons into the United States.

She also encouraged her followers to contribute to organizations working to end gun violence:

Bernie Sanders

During a recent event, Sanders spoke about the shootings, saying, “I think all over the world, people are looking at the United States and wondering, ‘What is going on? What is the mental health situation in America where time after time after time we’re seeing indescribable horrors?’”

He also tweeted that "we must seriously address the scourge of violent bigotry and domestic terrorism" and "treat this violent racism like the security threat that it is."

Sanders asked for the Senate, of which he is a member, to pass a gun safety bill, and he asked his followers to make a donation to Giffords, an organization working to change gun laws in the U.S.

Sanders also released a longer statement on the recent shootings and the need for common sense gun reform on Medium. Read it here.

Elizabeth Warren

Warren, another member of the Senate, tweeted that we must treat gun violence in America “like the public health crisis that it is” and called on the Senate to come back from recess to vote on legislation addressing gun reform.

After speaking about domestic terrorism and Trump’s support of white nationalism on NBC, she was asked whether she believes Trump is a white nationalist. Warren responded, “He certainly has done everything that the white nationalists have wanted him to do.”

Kirsten Gillibrand

Gillibrand called gun violence in America a “national emergency” and wrote we must “get serious about curbing the heinous threat of white nationalist terrorism.” As a member of the Senate, she asked for the group to hold an emergency vote on universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, and on anti-gun trafficking laws.

Cory Booker

Booker tweeted that "we need to end this national nightmare" and that he was praying "for our country to find the moral courage to take action to end this carnage."

On MSNBC, Booker called Trump responsible for fueling white supremacy and inciting gun violence, saying that Trump has been sowing hatred in our country.

He also called for Mitch McConnell to bring the Senate (of which he is a member) back from recess in order to vote on gun reform legislation.

Pete Buttigieg

It was reported that Buttigieg asked his supporters to call their senators to ask for action on gun legislation as well as donate to Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a grassroots organization.

Buttigieg also spoke out on CNN and Fox News, where he said, “We cannot allow the Second Amendment to be a death sentence for thousands of Americans a year. Nor can we say there’s nothing to be done when we live in the only country where this is routine.”

During an event at the University of Nevada, Buttigieg said, "America is under attack from homegrown white nationalist terrorism." And while on MSNBC, Buttigieg asked viewers: “Will the President of the United States leave his golf resort, go back to Washington, address the nation, condemn in no uncertain terms white nationalism as an evil ideology that is inspiring some people to commit murder, and call for the Senate to convene tomorrow to enact at least the most basic gun safety reforms that most Americans want?”

Julián Castro

After the shootings, Castro tweeted out his support for gun reform and wrote, “When Donald Trump fans the flames of hate and division, there are real consequences.”

While speaking on ABC, Castro also said, “We need leadership at every level, starting with the president, that will be big enough to try and bring people of different backgrounds together because we know that this shooter and his bigotry does not reflect the vast majority of Americans of any background.”

And during an appearance on Meet the Press, Castro also said that President Trump doesn’t have “any credibility” after the shootings.

Bill de Blasio

De Blasio tweeted his support for “stronger, smarter” gun law and urged the Senate to pass the universal background check bill.

Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar, who's a member of the Senate, urged the group to pass common sense gun safety legislation and asked politicians to stand up to the NRA. She also tweeted about her experience after Parkland, when she went to the White House and "sat across the table from President Trump to make the case for strong gun laws." She says Trump said he wanted universal background checks nine times but then folded after meeting with the NRA the following day.

Michael Bennet

On Twitter, Bennet called for action around our "horrible epidemic of gun violence" and wrote, "We have to forcefully denounce violent acts of domestic terrorism and white supremacy. We need a President who will stand up to hate, instead of stoking division."

Steve Bullock

Bullock also called for action and labeled the El Paso shooting “an act of domestic terrorism." He tweeted, “The complexity of the problems underlying this gun violence epidemic cannot serve as the excuse for inaction.”

John Delaney

Delaney tweeted the details of his gun safety plan and then explained that he believes we need to require liability insurance to own or purchase a firearm. He wrote, “It would probably cost an average hunter $5 a year, but if you have a history of hate crimes it would be cost prohibitive. Commonsense.”

Tulsi Gabbard

After the news of the second shooting in Dayton, Gabbard tweeted, “These lives lost are an immediate and tragic consequence of racism and bigotry being used to divide us. Enough. We are one nation. We must stand together and end this madness."

John Hickenlooper

In a statement, Hickenlooper said, “We must put the full weight of the presidency behind passing gun safety laws immediately,” and called for universal background checks and licensing and limiting high-capacity magazines.

Jay Inslee

Inslee urged his followers to support groups like the Alliance for Gun Responsibility and Moms Demand Action. He also made his own video for Twitter, where he condemned Trump, saying, “We have to stop the white nationalism coming out of the White House.”

Tim Ryan

When asked about Trump's tweet that suggested connecting gun measures to immigration reform, Ryan called the idea “a joke.”

He also pushed for the Senate to pass common sense gun reform, telling MSNBC, “Republicans need to, quite frankly, get their shit together and stop pandering to the NRA because people are getting killed."

Marianne Williamson

Williamson tweeted that we must outlaw “all assault style weapons for civilian use” and outlaw “the manufacture and sale of the bullets that they carry.” She then said, “At a certain point it isn’t about what happened; it’s about who we choose to be regarding what happened."

Andrew Yang

In a series of tweets about the shootings, Yang called for common sense gun laws, a clear federal domestic terrorism statute, a national mental health initiative, and a look at how the internet aids in spreading hateful, toxic. messages.

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