Washington, DC, Aug. 5, 2019 – Congresswoman Jackie Speier, co-chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, issued the following statement today in response to the President’s address to the nation in the wake of this weekend’s deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.
Speaking to the nation today, the President failed to denounce white nationalism despite FBI Director Wray warning the Senate just over a week ago that white supremacists are involved in most of the domestic terrorist arrests in the US this year. The President spoke of limiting weapons for some individuals but gave no indication of his support for HR 8, the bipartisan background check bill languishing in the Senate that he’s previously threatened to veto. He blamed the internet, video games, and mental illness for ‘this monstrous evil,’ but took no responsibility for his own words and cowardice in the face of racist chants at his rallies. Studies show that fewer than 5% of the gun-related killings from 2001 to 2010 were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness. A study comparing the countries with the highest use of video games showed that Japan, Korea, China, the UK, Canada, Australia, France, and the Netherlands all have much lower rates of gun violence than the US and “in fact, countries where video game consumption is highest tend to be some of the safest countries in the world.”
This is the time for the President to lead by words and deeds, not cower behind false claims, point the finger, and deflect blame. If he is indeed serious that ‘open wounds cannot heal if we are divided’ and wants to ‘seek real bipartisan solutions’ he should immediately convene an emergency meeting at the White House and craft a package of bipartisan bills that he will sign. Otherwise his words are empty and follow a well-worn pattern: Big words, no action. Either way, Congress needs to reconvene and move forward legislation in the House and Senate to address this epidemic of death and destruction with common sense gun safety reform.