Former President Barack Obama on Monday called for new gun control measures in the wake of the two shooting massacres in El Paso and Dayton over the weekend, arguing "these tragedies will keep happening" until laws are changed.
In a rare statement posted online, the former president said, “No other developed nation tolerates the levels of gun violence that we do. Every time this happens, we’re told that tougher gun laws won’t stop all murders; that they won’t stop every deranged individual grom getting a weapon and shooting innocent people in public places."
Continuing, Obama wrote: "But the evidence shows that they can stop some killings. They can save some families from heartbreak. We are not helpless here. And until all of us stand up and insist on holding public officials accountable for changing our gun laws, these tragedies will keep happening.”
Obama also referenced the El Paso suspected gunman’s alleged motives, saying: “While the motivations behind these shooting may not yet be fully known, there are indications that the El Paso shooting follows a dangerous trend: troubled individuals who embrace racist ideologies and see themselves obligated to act violently to preserve white supremacy.”
The former president closed the statement with a call for tolerance and diversity, saying both “should be the hallmark of our democracy,” before he also seemingly critiqued President Trump.
“We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments; leaders who demonize those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people," Obama said.
“Such language isn’t new -- it’s been at the root of most human tragedy throughout history, here in America and around the world," he said. "It has no place in our politics and our public life. And it’s time for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much -- clearly and unequivocally.”
Obama has rarely commented on political matters, or Trump, since leaving office. His comments came after Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Richard Blumenthal, D.-Conn., pushed a bipartisan bill Monday that would create a federal grant program to assist states in adopting “Red Flag” laws in response to the mass shootings.
Graham, who also serves as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced the plan for legislation, which would “assist and encourage” states to adopt "Red Flag" laws to “timely intervene in situations where there is an imminent threat of violence.”
“These grants will be given to law enforcement so they can hire and consult with mental health professionals to better determine which cases need to be acted upon,” Graham said in a statement. “This grant program also requires robust due process and judicial review. It does allow for quick action.”
Blumenthal n a statement Monday said that he and Graham have been working on developing an “Emergency Risk Protection Order” statute since the last Congress.
“We will be finalizing details for this bill and reaching out to colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the coming days and weeks,” Blumenthal said. “I look forward to introducing final legislation with Senator Graham in the very near future.”
On Saturday in El Paso, the gunman, whom Trump described Monday as a "wicked man," killed at least 22 people and injured 24 others after he opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso.
In Dayton, a 24-year-old man, whom Trump described Monday as a "twisted monster," opened fire outside a bar around 1 a.m. Sunday, killing his adult sister and eight others. Police say he was fatally shot by officers within 30 seconds, and was wearing a mask, bulletproof vest and earplugs and had at least 100 rounds. He injured more than two dozen people, leaving one in critical condition, police said Sunday.