A day after at least seven people were killed and dozens more injured in a shooting in the Texas cities of Midland and Odessa, the president said many in Congress were seeking to to something to stop such incidents.
Yet he insisted the universal background checks being demanded by gun safety activists and many Democrats would not have prevented any of the mass shootings dating back as far as seven years.
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“For the most part, sadly, if you look at the last four or five, even going back further five, six, seven years … as strong as you make your background checks, they would not have stopped any of it,” Mr Trump told reporters as he returned to the White House from Camp David to monitor the response to Hurricane Dorian,
“It’s a big problem. It’s a mental problem, it’s a big problem.”
On Saturday, seven people were killed – among them 29-year-old postal worker Mary Granados – after lone white male opened fire in West Texas and embarked in a shooting rampage than ended with him being cornered by police in the parking lot of a cinema complex in Odessa. The dead ranged in age from 15 to 57, while among the injured was a 17-month-old toddler.
The gunman, who was shot and killed by officers, is believed to have been working alone, police said on Sunday. The FBI said there was no apparent link to domestic or international terrorism. He was using an AR-style weapon, police said.
In the aftermath of the shooting, many of the leading Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination repeated their calls for universal background checks, as they did after incidents last month in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
Beto O’Rourke, who was outspoken after last month’s shooting in his home town of El Paso, told CNN the situation in regard to gun violence in the country was “f***ed up”.
“We’re averaging about 300 mass shooting a year. No other country comes close,” he told CNN.
“So yes, this is f***ed up. If we don’t call it out for what it is, if we’re not able to speak clearly, if we’re not able to act decisively, then we will continue to have this kind of bloodshed in America, and I cannot accept that.”
Activists said Republicans in the senate were preventing the adoption of commons-sense gun control measures.
Kris Brown, president of the Brady campaign, said: “Yet again, our communities suffer a mass shooting while senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and senator John Cornyn continue their congressional breaks. Today, it’s in Odessa, Texas. Yesterday it was in Alabama. Before that, it was Dayton, El Paso, Brooklyn, Gilroy and San Fernando Valley. That’s just in the past month alone.”
Following the shooting in Texas, where three police officers were among those injured, Matt Schaefer, a Republican member of the Texas state legislature, sparked controversy when he tweeted he would not let such “evil acts” stop the “God-given rights of Texans”.
“I say NO to ‘red flag’ pre-crime laws,” he said. “NO to universal background checks. NO to bans on AR-15s, or high capacity magazines. NO to mandatory gun buybacks.”
The rampage between the cities of Midland and Odessa started on Saturday afternoon when state troopers pulled over a car on Interstate 20 and the lone occupant fired at their patrol vehicle with a rifle, wounding one of the troopers.
After fleeing the scene, the suspect hijacked a postal van and opened fire on police officers, motorists and shoppers on a busy Labour Day holiday weekend before being shot dead outside the Cinergy cinema complex.
Odessa police chief Michael Gerke said at a news conference on Sunday he would not name the shooter in order not to add to his notoriety, though he it would be provided to the media. “My heart aches for all the victims,” he said.
Shannon Watts, the founder of Founder of Moms Demand Action, a gun regulation group, told The Independent that gun violence was a complex problem.
“No single law will prevent every shooting, but the senate can act NOW on legislation that will reduce gun violence and will save lives,” she said. “Background checks do save lives – the data shows that in the 21 states that have closed this loophole.”