President Trump calls for death penalty for mass murderers

Trump delivered remarks at the White House on Monday after a weekend of gun violence


By Kristin LaFratta
MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump condemned white supremacy and called on the Department of Justice to make a number of changes following two mass shootings in the United States this weekend, though none included amending the country’s gun laws.

Trump delivered remarks at the White House on Monday after a weekend of gun violence that left 31 dead in both El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. He sharply condemned the acts of the two shooters as “barbaric" and spoke out against the racist beliefs that investigators believe fueled the El Paso shooter.

President Donald Trump speaks about the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks about the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

In response to the shootings, the president said he would direct the Justice Department to propose legislation to ensure mass murderers who commit hate crimes face the death penalty. Trump also said he would direct authorities and social media companies to monitor potential shooters for warning signs.

Connor Betts, 24, was identified in news reports as the gunman who left nine dead and 27 injured in a popular nightlife district in Dayton, Ohio, and Patrick Crusius, 21, was identified in news reports as the gunman who left 21 dead and dozens wounded in an El Paso, Texas Walmart.

When addressing the country Monday morning, Trump pointed to the 2,300-word anti-immigrant manifesto reportedly penned by Crusius and posted online as “sinister ideologies" that "must be defeated.”

“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” Trump said Monday. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America.”

The president called for a number of reforms in wake of the shooting, including capital punishment for those who commit mass murders and hate crimes and social media monitoring.

Trump announced that he is directing the Justice Department to propose legislation to ensure “those who commit hate crimes and mass murders," such as the suspected El Paso gunman, face the death penalty. The president said the legislation would ensure “this capital punishment be delivered quickly, decisively, and without years of needless delay.”

Trump also said he is directing the Justice Department to work with social media companies and local, state and federal authorities to detect mass shooters. He blamed dark corners of the Internet and video games for allowing “troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence.”

“We must shine light on the dark recesses of the Internet and stop mass murders before they start,” Trump said. “First, we must do a better job at identifying and acting on early warning signs.”

The president pointed to red flags that were ignored when it came to Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz, who was 19 when he killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018. “Nobody did anything, why not?” Trump asked Monday.

His criticisms of social media and the Internet followed new reports that the El Paso shooter’s hate-filled screed was posted to 8chan, an online message board operated by a San Francisco company. The New York Times reported that at least three mass shootings this year were announced on 8chan in advance, including killings at a mosque in New Zealand, and a synagogue in Poway, California.

Shortly before his broadcasted address at the White House, Trump took to Twitter to suggest that Congress work together to strengthen background checks, perhaps “marrying” such measures with immigration laws.

While speaking at the White House, Trump did not explicitly call for stronger background checks or any actual change to gun laws, but instead spoke of reforming mental health laws to ensure disturbed individuals have no access to firearms.

He voiced support for red flag legislation, also known as extreme risk protection orders that allow law enforcement to seize firearms from a potentially violent or disturbed person through rapid due process. Trump also said the country must reform its mental health laws, and called for Republicans and Democrats to come together in a “bipartisan fashion” to address these problems.

"Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun,” Trump said.

©2019 MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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