President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are spending Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, to meet with survivors, victims’ families and first responders in the wake of the weekend’s mass shootings.
As Trump left the White House, Trump said he wanted to strengthen background checks for gun purchases and make sure mentally ill people did not carry guns. He predicted congressional support for those two measures but not for banning assault rifles.
“I can tell you that there is no political appetite for that at this moment,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “But I will certainly bring that up … There is a great appetite, and I mean a very strong appetite, for background checks.”
Protesters advocating for stricter gun control measures flocked to the streets as the president visited survivors and medical workers at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton. But supporters with Trump flags also lined the streets nearby.
The Trumps spent roughly an hour and 40 minutes at the hospital, where there was no media coverage. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham says the president told survivors at the hospital, “You had God watching. I want you to know we’re with you all the way.”
Dayton’s Democratic Mayor Nan Whaley said she thinks the president listened when she spoke with him Wednesday urging stricter gun control measures, but she isn’t sure what will happen next.
President Trump is exploring ways to use regulatory power and executive action to curb gun violence after a pair of deadly shootings over the weekend — a move driven by his aides’ belief that Congress is incapable of coalescing around consensus legislation in a heated 2020 election cycle.
White House officials on Monday said Trump and U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr are “resolved” to take action after the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The administration is exploring solutions “that actually make an impact,” as opposed to “things that feel good,” one Trump aide said.
Trump has increasingly relied on his executive authority to address issues that have stained his administration, including the gun violence epidemic. Ten months after a teen gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last year, the Trump administration issued a rule — at the president’s request — to ban the sale and possession of devices known as bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic firearms to simulate automatic weapons. The National Rifle Association opposed the rule, arguing at the time that bans have rarely “worked on anything.” —Politico