Protesters chant for action on guns as Trump visits Dayton
Demonstrators chant as they protest the arrival of
President Donald Trump outside Miami Valley Hospital
after a mass shooting that occurred in the Oregon
District early Sunday morning, Wednesday, Aug. 7,
2019, in Dayton.
DAYTON, Ohio — Protesters
greeted President Donald Trump's arrival in Dayton
Wednesday, blaming his incendiary rhetoric for inflaming
political and racial tensions in the country and
demanding action on gun control as he visited survivors
of last weekend's mass shootings and saluted first
The president and first lady Melania Trump began their
visit at the hospital where many of the victims of
Sunday's attack were treated. Reporters traveling with
the president were kept out of view, but White House
Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted that the
couple had "been stopping between rooms to thank the
hardworking medical staff. Very powerful moments for
Outside Miami Valley Hospital, at least 200 protesters
gathered, hoping to send a message to the president by
calling for action. Some said Trump was not welcome in
their city. There were Trump supporters, as well.
Emotions are still raw in the aftermath of the early
Sunday morning shooting rampage that left 10 dead,
including the gunman, in the city's popular Oregon
entertainment district. Critics contend Trump's own
words have contributed to a combustible climate that has
spawned violence in cities including El Paso, Texas,
where another shooter killed 22 people over the weekend.
Trump rejected that assertion as he left the White
House, strongly criticizing those who say he bears some
responsibility for the nation's divisions.
"My critics are political people," Trump said, noting
the apparent political leanings of the shooter in the
Dayton killings and suggesting the man was supportive of
"Had nothing to do with President Trump," Trump said.
"So these are people that are looking for political
He also defended his rhetoric on issues including
immigration, claiming instead that he "brings people
together. Our country is doing incredibly well."
Some 85% of U.S. adults believe the tone and nature of
political debate has become more negative, with a
majority saying Trump has changed things for the worse,
according to recent Pew Research Center polling.
And more than three quarters, 78%, say that elected
officials who use heated or aggressive language to talk
about certain people or groups make violence against
those people more likely."
President Donald Trump is greeted by Dayton Mayor
Nan Whaley and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, after
arriving at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to meet
with people affected by the mass shooting in Dayton,
Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019, in Wright-Patterson Air
Force Base, Ohio.
In Dayton, raw anger and
pain were on display as protesters chanted "Ban those
guns" and "Do something!" during Trump's visit. This
White House typically goes out of its way to shield
protesters from Trump's view.
Holding a sign that said "Not Welcome Here," Lynnell
Graham said she thinks Trump's response to the shootings
has been insincere.
"To me he comes off as fake," she said.
Dorothee Bouquet, stood in the bright sun with her
5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, tucked in a
stroller. She told them they were going to a protest "to
tell grownups to make better rules."
But in El Paso, where more protests were expected, Raul
Melendez, whose father-in-law, David Johnson, was killed
in Saturday's shooting, said the most appropriate thing
Trump could do was to meet with relatives of the
"It shows that he actually cares, if he talks to
individual families," said Melendez, who credits Johnson
with helping his 9-year-old daughter survive the attack
by pushing her under a counter. Melendez, an Army
veteran and the son of Mexican immigrants, said he holds
only the shooter responsible for the attack.
"That person had the intent to hurt people, he already
had it," he said. "No one's words would have triggered
Local Democratic lawmakers who'd expressed concern about
the visit said Trump had nonetheless hit the right notes
"He was comforting, he did the right things, and Melania
did the right things. It's his job to comfort people,"
said Sen. Sharrod Brown, who nonetheless said he was
"very concerned about a president that divides in his
rhetoric and plays to race in his rhetoric."
"I think the victims and the first responders were
grateful that the president of the United States came to
Dayton," added Mayor Nan Whaley, who said she felt it
was probably good Trump did not visit the site of the
"A lot of the time his talk can be very divisive, and
that's the last thing we need in Dayton," she said.
Visits to the cities of mass shootings have become a
regular pilgrimage for recent presidents including
Trump. Yet he has not excelled at projecting empathy in
public, often mixing what can sound like perfunctory
expressions of grief with awkward offhand remarks. While
he has offered hugs to tornado victims and spent time at
the bedsides of shooting victims, he has yet to project
the kind of emotion and vulnerability of his recent
Barack Obama grew visibly shaken as he addressed the
nation in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school
massacre and teared up while delivering a 2016 speech on
new gun control efforts. George W. Bush helped bring the
country together following the Sept. 11 attacks, notably
standing atop the smoking rubble of the World Trade
Center, his arm draped over the shoulder of a
firefighter, as he shouted through a bullhorn.
Trump, too, has been able to summon soothing words. But
then he often quickly lapses into divisive tweets and
statements — just recently painting immigrants as
"invaders," suggesting four Democratic congresswoman of
color should "go back" to their home countries even
though they're U.S. citizens and deriding majority-black
Baltimore as a rat-infested hell-hole.
Even on the eve of his trip, Trump was lashing out at a
potential 2020 rival, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who had
tweeted that Trump "helped create the hatred that made
Saturday's tragedy possible" and "should not come to El
O'Rourke "should respect the victims & law enforcement -
& be quiet!" Trump snapped back on Twitter.
Trump said before leaving Washington that Congress was
making progress on possible new gun legislation. He said
he has had "plenty of talks" with lawmakers in recent
days and that there is a "great appetite to do something
with regard to making sure that mentally unstable,
seriously ill people aren't carrying guns." He argued
there is no such appetite for banning assault-style
rifles and large-capacity ammunition magazines.
But passage of a pending background check bill in the
Senate remains unlikely. Support for a bipartisan
measure reached a high-point with a 2013 vote after the
Sandy Hook shooting but it fell short of the 60 votes
needed to advance.
This White House also has invited internet and
technology companies to a roundtable discussion on
online extremism Friday. Trump is not expected to
Mass shootings so far this year
almost reach 2018 levels
SEATTLE — Just seven months into 2019,
the U.S. has experienced almost as many mass killings as
occurred in all of 2018.
Back-to-back mass shootings in Texas and Ohio brought
the total number of mass killings so far this year to
23, leaving 131 people dead. There were 25 mass killings
in 2018, claiming 140 lives, according to a database
compiled by The Associated Press, Northeastern
University and USA Today.
The database tracks every mass killing dating back to
2006, and the El Paso and Dayton massacres had traits
that were similar to many earlier incidents. That
includes shooting a family member while carrying out a
mass killing, which happened in Dayton; the young age of
the perpetrators; and the tendency of the shooters to
commit suicide or get killed by police.
Here are some takeaways:
The last three years have seen several fluctuations in
mass killing numbers. In 2017, 225 people died in 32
mass killings, driven by the massacre in Las Vegas. In
2018, the year was marked by a surge in mass killings in
public places, including schools in Texas and Florida.
A typical year has roughly 29 mass killings.
Mass killings — defined as killings involving four or
more fatalities, not including the killer — have
occurred in 16 states this year. California has
experienced four of them.
FAMILY MEMBERS KILLED
The majority of mass killings involve domestic violence,
and eight of 74 public mass shootings since 2006
involved the killing of a blood relative, the data
shows. The shooter's parent, sibling, cousin, nephew or
niece was shot first and then the perpetrator sought out
others to kill.
"They'll take it out on family and then society,
figuring they already committed a murder," said David
Chipman, a former agent with the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who now works as a
policy adviser at Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun
Violence. "Domestic violence is the most risky call for
service that police go on."
Before 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 26 children and
staff at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, he
had fatally shot his mother in their Newtown,
Jaylen Fryberg, 15, sent text messages to lure two
cousins and several friends to the cafeteria at
Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville,
Washington, in 2014. He then shot the four students
before turning the gun on himself.
And last month, police say a man in Southern California
began his rampage by killing and injuring family members
before shooting strangers. In the end, he is accused of
killing four people.
The AP/USA Today/Northeastern database shows that many
mass shootings are committed by a certain demographic:
young, white men.
Most mass shootings in the U.S. are carried out by men,
with white men making up nearly 50 percent of the
shooters, the database shows.
The median age of a public mass shooter is 28;
significantly lower than the median age of a person who
commits a mass shooting of their family, according to
Since 2006, 12 mass shootings have been committed by
gunmen 21 or younger. That includes the 21-year-old
suspected gunman in El Paso.
ARRESTED OR KILLED
More than half of public mass shooters either kill
themselves on the scene or are shot by police.
Lanza and Fryberg killed themselves, as did Stephen
Paddock, the man who killed 58 people and wounded 422
attending a country music festival in Las Vegas in 2017.
So did the man who killed 33 at Virginia Tech in 2007;
the former municipal worker who murdered 12 in Virginia
Beach this year; and the mentally ill man who gunned
down four at an IHop restaurant in Nevada in 2011. The
Pulse nightclub shooter was killed by police in Orlando.
The man who opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in
July also committed suicide.
"They obviously went through the thought process of 'I
may end up dead,'" said Frank Farley, a Temple
University psychology professor and former president of
the American Psychological Association. "And did it
James Holmes, who killed 12 and wounded 70 in a movie
theater in Aurora, Colorado, was sentenced in 2015 to
life in prison. Dylann Roof, a white supremacist who
fatally shot nine people attending the Emanuel African
Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015, was sentenced to
Prosecutors are also seeking the death penalty for
Patrick Wood Crusius, the man accused of fatally
shooting 22 people at an El Paso Walmart.
Bipartisan 'red flag' gun laws
plan has support in Congress
WASHINGTON — Despite frequent mass
shootings, Congress has proved to be unable to pass
substantial gun violence legislation, largely because of
resistance from Republicans.
But a bipartisan proposal by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.,
and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is gaining momentum
following weekend mass shootings in Texas and Ohio that
left 31 people dead. The emerging plan would create a
federal grant program to encourage states to adopt "red
flag" laws to take guns away from people believed to be
dangers to themselves or others.
A similar bill never came up for a vote in the
GOP-controlled Senate last year, but both parties
express hope that this year will be different. President
Donald Trump has signaled support for the plan.
"We must make sure that those judged to pose a grave
risk to public safety do not have access to firearms and
that if they do those firearms can be taken through
rapid due process," Trump said in a White House speech
Many mass shootings "involved individuals who showed
signs of violent behavior that are either ignored or not
followed up on," said Graham, chairman of the powerful
Senate Judiciary Committee. "State red flag laws will
provide the tools for law enforcement to do something
about many of these situations before it's too late."
In an interview Tuesday, Blumenthal said there's "a
growing wave of support on both sides of the aisle" for
the red-flag plan — more momentum in fact "than any
other gun violence plan" being debated in Congress,
including a proposal Blumenthal supports to require
universal background checks for gun purchases.
A closer look at red flag laws, which have been adopted
by at least 17 states and the District of Columbia,
including a law set to take effect Aug. 24 in New York.
Most of the laws have been approved since the February
2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High
School in Parkland, Florida.
HOW DOES A RED FLAG LAW WORK?
In general, red flag or "extreme risk protection order"
laws allow courts to issue temporary orders barring
someone from possessing guns based on some showing of
imminent danger or a risk of misuse.
State laws vary, but most stipulate that only specific
people — usually family or household members — may
petition a court for an extreme risk protection order.
In some cases, a preliminary order may be granted
without prior notice to the person who is the subject of
Such an order typically is brief, ranging from a few
days to about three weeks. Once the person who is
alleged to pose a risk of gun violence has been given an
opportunity to respond, a more permanent order may be
granted, typically for up to a year.
Importantly to Graham and other supporters, before an
order can be entered, some factual showing must be made
that the subject of the order poses a risk of using a
firearm to harm themselves or others.
WHAT IS THE FEDERAL PROPOSAL?
Graham and Blumenthal are still developing the plan, but
a similar bill proposed last year by Florida Sens. Marco
Rubio and Bill Nelson essentially would pay states to
implement red flag law programs. A bid last year by
Graham and Blumenthal to let federal courts keep guns
away from people who show warning signs of violence
failed to generate political support.
Blumenthal called the failed effort to create a federal
program a learning experience and said the new proposal
would set a national standard that states must meet in
order to be eligible for federal grants. He compared it
to federal highway laws where grants are dependent on
states setting speed limits or drunk-driving standards.
"If you have speed limits, you get the money," he said,
adding that the red flag law would operate on the same
HOW MUCH WOULD IT COST?
Costs are still being worked out, but whatever the
amount, "it's a small fraction of the losses — both
monetary and in the loss of life — as a result of gun
violence," Blumenthal said.
WHO SUPPORTS THE PLAN?
Nearly all Senate Democrats support red flag laws, along
with a growing number of Republicans, including
Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey, Indiana's Mike Braun and
Iowa's Chuck Grassley, a former Judiciary chairman.
South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the second-ranking Senate
Republican, told the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls that
he's "confident Congress will be able to find common
ground on the so-called 'red flag' issue."
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, told reporters Tuesday he is
open to the proposal, noting that the alleged shooter in
Dayton, Ohio, kept a "hit list" of people he wanted to
target in high school. "Clearly people knew something
was wrong with this guy, and yet nobody went to the
proper authorities or the proper authorities didn't
respond," Portman said.
A red flag law may "bridge this issue of the guns and
the mental health issue, where you identify somebody who
has a mental health history that might not be formally
diagnosed, but that people know about," he said.
WHERE IS SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL?
The Kentucky Republican, who has adopted the nickname
the "Grim Reaper" to celebrate his success at blocking
Democratic bills, is widely considered the single
biggest roadblock to changes in gun laws or any
significant legislation in Congress. McConnell has not
publicly indicated a position on red flag laws but said
in a statement Monday that "Senate Republicans are
prepared to do our part" to address gun violence. He
said he has spoken with Graham and other committee
chairs and asked them to consider "potential solutions
to help protect our communities without infringing on
Americans' constitutional rights."
Congress passed a modest measure last year to shore up
the federal background checks system and approved a
grant program to prevent school violence — signs that
action on gun violence is possible, McConnell said.
WHAT ABOUT THE NRA?
A National Rifle Association spokeswoman declined to
comment. In a statement, the group said it welcomes
Trump's call "to address the root causes of the horrific
acts of violence that have occurred in our country. It
has been the NRA's long-standing position that those who
have been adjudicated as a danger to themselves or
others should not have access to firearms and should be
admitted for treatment."
push for buybacks, new restrictions in gun plans
LAS VEGAS — Democratic
presidential candidates are releasing new gun control
plans and embracing proposals to buy back
military-style weapons and ammunition after three
high-profile mass shootings killed 33 people last
Most of the Democrats
running in the packed primary have routinely called
for requiring background checks on all firearm
purchases and banning bump stock devices that mimic
In the wake of
shootings in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas, and
Dayton, Ohio, candidates are releasing more detailed
plans and embracing federal gun buybacks, where the
government compensates people for turning over
weapons. Local governments across the U.S. have run
such initiatives to get people to voluntarily give up
A look at some of the
plans from Democratic candidates to combat mass
shootings and toughen gun control laws:
ASSAULT WEAPONS AND GUN
Almost all the
candidates say they want to reinstate the 1994 ban on
assault weapons, which prohibited the sale of new
weapons. Some have gone further, proposing ways to
reduce the number of military-style weapons owned
privately. The most popular is a federal buyback
Former Texas Rep. Beto
O'Rourke said this week, after the shooting in his
hometown, that he would be open to a mandatory buyback
of guns, though he didn't specify which kinds of
weapons. That's something only California Rep. Eric
Swalwell had embraced before he dropped out of the
presidential race last month.
Former Vice President
Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders say they'd
push for a voluntary weapon buyback program, in
addition to reinstating the prohibition on
South Bend, Indiana,
Mayor Pete Buttigieg stopped short this week of
endorsing such a plan. First he wants to ban the sale
of new assault weapons, Buttigieg said, "then we
can figure out other mechanisms to reduce the number
that are circulating out there."
Secretary Julian Castro has said he supports a federal
ban on assault weapons. He said during a CNN town hall
in April that he supports "things like gun
buybacks" but did not elaborate on whether he was
calling for a federal buyback.
Elizabeth Warren, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee,
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, New Jersey Sen. Cory
Booker, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Montana
Gov. Steve Bullock, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, New
York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and California Sen.
Kamala Harris are among those who have said they
support banning assault weapons. Harris has also said
she would use executive action to ban the import of
AR-15-style assault weapons to the U.S.
WHITE NATIONALISM AND
Inslee put forward a
plan Tuesday that would direct federal law enforcement
agencies to develop a strategy for confronting white
nationalism, along with tracking white nationalists
and releasing an annual report on domestic terrorism.
His plan also called
for barring anyone with a misdemeanor conviction for a
hate crime from buying a gun.
Buttigieg's plan, also
released Tuesday, proposed a $1 billion effort to
combat radicalization and domestic terrorism. The
mayor also proposed pushing the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention to study links between white
supremacists and gun violence.
While they haven't
released specific plans to address white nationalism,
Harris, Sanders, Biden and Warren have called for
using more national resources to combat it and
Booker, Buttigieg and
Inslee have all released plans calling for a
nationwide requirement that every gun owner be trained
and have a license. Booker also proposed a rule
limiting gun buyers to one purchase a month, a
proposal aimed at curbing traffickers making bulk
purchases in states with weaker gun laws. He also
proposed requiring gun owners to report lost and
In his gun control
plan, Booker said he will push to require new handguns
to stamp identifying information on bullet casings
when a shot is fired. Proponents say the technology
allows the casings to be linked to the gun that fired
them, making it easier to solve gun crimes.
Biden has endorsed the
idea of requiring fingerprint-identification
technology that only allows a gun to be fired when
held by the authorized owner.
Most of the Democratic
candidates have called for a ban on high-capacity
magazines, which allow shooters to fire more bullets
without reloading. Almost all of them have also called
for a ban on bump stocks, the devices used by the
gunman in the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas that
allow semi-automatic weapons to fire like machine
guns. The Trump administration issued a rule banning
the attachments in December 2018, but Democratic
candidates have called for that to be made more
permanent by Congress.
Most of the candidates
support "red flag" laws allowing a judge to
order guns to be taken from someone deemed to be
threat, and there's broad agreement about requiring
background checks on all gun purchases. That includes
closing loopholes that allow someone to purchase guns
before their background check is completed or allow
private purchases and transfers without a background
Warren is expected to
release a detailed gun control proposal Saturday, but
she has already said she supports universal background
checks and a ban on assault weapons.
seeks to link Dayton shooter to liberal politics
President Donald Trump linked the suspected gunman
in the Dayton mass shooting to liberal candidates
and organizations Wednesday, even as he pushed
back against critics who tied the El Paso attack
to his own comments on immigration.
Posts from a
Twitter account that appeared to belong to Connor
Betts, the 24-year-old Dayton shooter, endorsed
communism, bemoaned Trump's election and supported
Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is running
for president. Betts killed nine people including
his sister Sunday before officers fatally shot
"If you look
at Dayton, that was a person that supported, I
guess you would say, Bernie Sanders, I understood;
antifa, I understood; Elizabeth Warren, I
understood," Trump said.
Antifa is a
reference to anti-fascist protesters. The assault
in a nightlife district "had nothing to do
with President Trump."
Trump and White
House officials stressed repeatedly that they have
avoided blaming liberals for the Dayton shooting,
but they noted again and again that the shooter
was an apparent supporter.
suspects "are sick people. These are people
that are really mentally ill, mentally
disturbed," Trump told reporters shortly
before departing for Dayton to meet with first
responders and victims.
any connection between the gunman's motives and
liberal politics. They said Trump was seeking to
distract Americans from criticism that the
president's own rhetoric on immigration
contributed to the mass shooting in El Paso that
left 22 dead and many others wounded.
the suspected gunman in that shooting, 21-year-old
Patrick Crusius, posted an anti-immigrant screed
online shortly before the attack. In the
2,300-word post, Crusius said he worried that a
"Hispanic invasion of Texas" was
furthering the elimination of the white race.
a responsibility to speak out and to not incite
violence," Warren campaign spokeswoman
Kristen Orthman said
in a statement. "But let's be clear - there
is a direct line between the president's rhetoric
and the stated motivations of the El Paso
reporters that his opponents are trying to score
political points by linking his comments about
immigrants to the El Paso shooting. But he sought
to do the same with the Dayton shooter.
"I think my
rhetoric brings people together," he said
when asked about the impact of his comments.
were still trying to determine a motive for the
Dayton shooting, Betts' apparent Twitter feed
offered a window into his psyche and politics.
Betts' name did not
appear on the Twitter account called "iamthespookster,"
but it did include several selfies of him —
sitting at his kitchen table, drinking a beer,
driving home after voting — that resemble other
known photos of him, right down to a distinctive
tattoo on his left bicep.
Press and organizations including the
Anti-Defamation League took screenshots of some of
the feed before it was taken down by Twitter.
Other parts could be retrieved on internet archive
Dayton police have
not said how Betts' online comments may factor
into the investigation. They have said they are
looking into Betts' apparent fascination with
guns, violence and mass shootings.
he had social media," Dayton police
spokeswoman Cara Zinski-Neace said. She would not
account, which dated to 2013, had a little over
500 followers but had issued nearly 10,000 tweets.
And it was highly active up until the hours before
the early Sunday shooting.
frequently reposted far-left and anti-Trump memes,
including such phrases as "Make Racists
Afraid Again" and "Kill All
Fascists." The user retweeted memes that
compared immigrant detention centers to
concentration camps. Another retweet included a
photo that suggested slashing the tires of Border
On the night of the
2016 presidential election, a post responded to a
Twitter hashtag asking to sum up the election in
three words. It read: "This is bad." In
June, the account tweeted "I want socialism,
and I'll not wait for the idiots to finally come
around to understanding."
Twitter user last month posted the question
"martyr or villain?" with an article
about a man killed in July in an attack on an ICE
detention facility, the account replied
In reply to a March
post from another user proposing "3 Guilt
Free Ways to Kill Fascists," the account
replied "Hammer, brick, gun." Several
posts reflected a fascination with firearms,
retweeting photos of assault-style rifles with
comments such as "awesome."
shortly before Christmas, the account wrote:
"This is America: Guns on every corner, guns
in every house, no freedom but that to kill."