Democratic presidential candidate Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan condemned President Trump’s response to the recent mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas and urged the Senate to pass two gun control bills currently waiting for a vote.
Ryan, a native of Youngstown, Ohio, who traveled to Dayton after the shooting Sunday, called Trump the “distractor-in-chief” in an interview on CBSN’s Red & Blue Monday.
“He’s blaming everything but the issue that we really need to take care of and that’s the fact that these weapons of war are on the street and, through various loopholes, are able to get into the hands of people who are using them to slaughter people at Walmarts, at churches, at entertainment districts,” Ryan said.
Nine people were killed in a shooting that occurred early Sunday morning in Dayton’s entertainment district. The gunman’s motives are still not clear as of Monday evening, although his sister was among those murdered.
In a speech Monday, Trump blamed “white supremacy” for the mass shooting in an El Paso Walmart, where the suspect allegedly released a racist, anti-immigrant screed shortly before killing more than 20 people. Trump also called for the end of violence in “gruesome and grisly” video game culture, connecting the shootings to hatred and mental health issues.
Ryan doubled down on his rebuke of the president’s remarks and said the shootings were not caused by mental health issues or video games but rather the availability of the weapons used to perpetrate these incidents.
“They play video games in other countries. Other countries have mental health issues too, but you don’t see the mass shootings that you do in the United States,” Ryan said.
Ryan urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring two bills to a vote in the Senate which would establish new background check requirements and extend the review period for background checks. Ryan said that McConnell and congressional Republicans are resisting this gun control legislation because they are, according to Ryan, “in the pocket” of the National Rifle Association.
“This is about saving lives in the United States of America and showing some leadership in the United States, putting the power of the federal government — the most powerful government in the world — behind an idea that we can actually make our citizens safer,” Ryan said. “The president’s not doing that. Mitch McConnell’s not doing it.”
“And, as I said, Mitch McConnell has to get off his ass. And I hate to be so crude, but something’s got to penetrate what these people are thinking and get this thing done,” he added.
Ryan also said “red flag laws” may not be enough to combat the issue of mass shootings in the United States, though he said he would have to read the legislation before deciding whether or not to support it. Trump pointed to “red flag laws” Monday to prevent people who may pose a danger from accessing firearms.
At the end of his press conference, the president said “May God bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo,” instead of Dayton, the location of Sunday’s shooting. It is not clear whether Trump misspoke or read of an incorrect teleprompter.
Ryan criticized the misstep and called it “hurtful.”
“These are big issues that we have to deal with in the United States, and it was a slap in the face to the people of Dayton,” Ryan said. “And they noticed.”