The South Bend, Ind., mayor pointed specifically to “weak gun safety” measures and white nationalism as the culprits, after the El Paso shooter was linked to anti-Mexican statements.
“This is terrorism and we have to name it as such,” Buttigieg said, specifically calling it “white nationalist terrorism” in a conversation with host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”
“We need to acknowledge that this is a problem.” Buttigieg said, claiming that white nationalism has been “condoned at the highest levels” in Washington.
“Right now you see it being echoed by the White House and there is a measure of responsibility that you just can’t get away from,” he said. Buttigieg cited President Trump’s comment that there were “very fine people” on both sides after a deadly attack at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
President Trump condemned the El Paso shooting early Sunday morning, calling it "hateful" and "an act of cowardice."
The president later expressed support for those in El Paso and Dayton.
Addressing gun safety, Buttigieg asserted that there is a need for tougher gun laws to help prevent future mass shootings in the “only country in the world with more guns than people." He said "most gun owners" are in favor of universal background checks, and accused the National Rifle Association of not having the American people in mind when fighting stricter regulation.
“The NRA no longer speaks for gun owners, it speaks for gun corporations,” he said.
The Democratic candidate stopped short of calling for repealing the Second Amendment, but indicated that it should not be used so broadly as to prevent the government from protecting Americans.
“We cannot allow the Second Amendment to be a death sentence for thousands of Americans a year," he said.
Buttigieg also addressed his lagging poll numbers, optimistically saying that "we're a long way from the finish line," and that his team is doing the work necessary "to deliver us to victory in the early states."
The mayor has also drawn criticism from a notable source after his suggestion that the Supreme Court must be restructured. Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg shot down the idea of increasing the number of justices.
"Nine seems to be a good number," Ginsburg told NPR in July, noting that adding the number of justices would make the court seem more partisan.
Buttigieg said he agrees that simply "adding more justices onto the court who agree with you" would be a bad idea, but said his plan is to "depoliticize" the court by having some justices chosen by the other justices. He admitted that the only way he can think of to make this work would be to increase the size of the court from nine justices to 15, but claimed it is all in the name of removing politics from the high court, which he said has been a problem.
"The bottom line is, this system is not working for us," he said.