Trump Tweets Support For Strong Background Checks — With Strings Attached
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
President Trump plans to address the nation today after a weekend of deadly gun violence. Nine people were killed when a man opened fire in Dayton, Ohio. That came just hours after 20 people were massacred at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. The El Paso shooting is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism. Police believe the suspect is the author of a hate-filled, anti-immigrant manifesto posted online detailing his reasons for carrying out the attack. President Trump addressed the violence as he traveled back to the White House from New Jersey yesterday. Here's what he said.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: These are two incredible places. We love the people. Hate has no place in our country.
MARTIN: NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith joins us now. Tam, it happens any time there's a mass shooting. There are renewed calls for gun-control legislation. We are in an exceptional moment because of the duration between these two attacks happening so closely together. What's the president saying about people who are saying - who are calling for stricter gun laws now?
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Well, so the president is going to make a statement later. And we'll hear more from him then. But what we have now is that he is tweeting. And what he tweeted is that he believes that he wants Republicans and Democrats - he says Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks. Then he adds that perhaps this could be married with immigration legislation, which is sort of an odd thing to combine because gun legislation has been basically impossible to get through the Congress in recent years.
MARTIN: As has immigration reform.
KEITH: As has immigration reform. So combine two things that are almost politically impossible at this point. And it doesn't necessarily lead to any more actually happening. You know, after the Parkland shooting, President Trump came out and appeared to support universal background checks and other changes to gun laws. And very quickly, the White House walked all of that back, though ultimately, the administration did move to ban bump stocks, which were something that were used in the Las Vegas shooting. But in terms of legislation, it just hasn't happened.
MARTIN: What about from members of Congress?
KEITH: Yeah, so Democrats are calling for the - Mitch McConnell to bring the Senate back out of recess to work on gun-control legislation. There have been a handful of Republicans who have talked about broader background checks. Democrats support that widely. It's already passed the House - background-check legislation this year. And Senator Lindsey Graham, who's an ally of the president, is calling for red flag laws or extreme protective orders. And the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, has now endorsed that, as well.
MARTIN: So, Tam, as it pertains to the El Paso shooting, critics are drawing a connection between what the shooter said in this so-called manifesto that he was trying to put off - a, quote, "invasion" from immigrants from the southern border. They're drawing a connection between that and rhetoric that the president has used in the past, right?
KEITH: That's right. And just so you can hear it, the president has frequently called it an invasion.
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TRUMP: When you see these caravans starting out with 20,000 people, that's an invasion.
KEITH: He said - that was at a rally in Florida earlier this year. He said, people criticize me for calling it an invasion, but it's an invasion. And then he went on and said this.
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TRUMP: But how do you stop these people?
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Shoot them.
TRUMP: You can't. There's...
KEITH: What you can't hear there is someone shouted out, shoot them. And the president kind of laughed it off. And this is something that he's now taking a lot of heat for.
MARTIN: We'll see what the president has to say later this morning. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith, thank you.
KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.