US reels after mass shootings
More than 200 House members — all Democrats — have urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call back the Senate and get to work to pass their background checks bill.
"This inaction must stop. We know background checks save lives," the group wrote in a letter, dated today.
Some context: A bill that would require background checks on all firearm sales in the country passed the House in February with bipartisan support — and subsequently stalled in the Senate. The Senate is currently on an August recess. While there have been private conference calls among some members to discuss steps ahead after this weekend's mass shooting, the idea of bringing the Senate back from recess was not discussed.
Here's the full text of the letter:
Dear Leader McConnell:
We strongly urge you to take immediate action to call the Senate back into session to pass H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and H.R 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act.
In February, the new Democratic House Majority took swift action to pass these bipartisan bills which not only save lives, but also has the support of more than 90 percent of the American people. Since that time, you have allowed more than 150 days to pass and countless lives have been lost including those most recently lost in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio, Chicago, Illinois and the many others who will never make the headlines.
This inaction must stop. We know background checks save lives. Every day background checks stop more than 170 felons and 50 domestic abusers from getting a gun. Any delay to pass commonsense gun violence prevention legislation only increases the chances that more innocent people in America may suffer from the tragic and needless loss caused by gun violence.
Again, we urge you to follow the leadership of the House Democratic Majority and immediately come back into session to pass H.R 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, that could prevent dangerous criminals from obtaining weapons and save lives.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter of great urgency to the American people.
President Trump and the first lady have departed Dayton, Ohio, after a little less than 3 hours on the ground.
The President didn't make any public remarks during his stop and instead met with medical professionals, first responders and some victims and family members behind closed doors at Miami Valley Hospital.
Trump is now en route El Paso, where he's expected to meet with a similar set of people affected by the weekend shooting there. It's about a 3-hour flight.
At least 31 people were killed in the two cities in mass shootings over the weekend.
President Trump will soon visit El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were killed in a mass shooting at a Walmart on Saturday.
CNN asked some residents, “Do you want President Trump here?” Here's how they responded:
- Dr. Sylvia Acosta: "Personally, I think this community is hurting and I don’t think he’s done anything to help that."
- Jim Ward, musician: "I don’t, no."
- Juan Cabrera, the El Paso Independent School District Superintendent: "I don’t know how he’s going to help. I don’t know what his desire to be here or what his actions are going to be but as a head of state, I do agree with the Mayor, if we get resources to support us so be it. But I don’t see how it’s going to help."
- Marina Moncisvais: "Absolutely not. It’s not the right time."
A longtime friend of Dayton shooter Connor Bett’s said the gunman practiced firing weapons at a local shooting range.
The friend, who requested anonymity for privacy reasons, said he had known Betts for more than 10 years and occasionally went to the Shoot Point Blank range with Betts. The last time was a few months ago.
He said Betts owned three or four guns, including an AR-15 pistol, and another pistol.
The friend said he had no reason to believe Betts would ever do anything violent with the weapons.
“We would play basketball, go to the gym, drink together, smoke weed together,” he said. “The Connor I knew was a funny guy, he was charming, he was fun to be around. He had a dry sense of humor but he was funny.”
He described Betts as a “heavy drinker,” but said he never saw any signs that Betts had violent tendencies. The last time he said the two got together was for drinks on the 4th of July.
“I am completely shocked to think he is capable of something like this,” he said, adding the two were closest throughout high school.
CNN on Wednesday visited the Shoot Point Blank range and the declined comment, referring inquiries to the range’s corporate offices. Calls to corporate were not immediately returned.
Scott Bronstein contributed reporting
Some of the people gathering for President Trump's visit to Dayton, Ohio, are holding signs welcoming him to Toledo.
At least one protest sign read, "President Cheeto, we're not Toledo."
What this is all about: On Monday, while speaking about the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, President Trump misidentified the city where one of the deadly attacks took place.
Trump offered prayers for "those who perished in Toledo." The Ohio shooting took place in Dayton, which is about 150 miles south of Toledo. The Texas shooting took place in El Paso, which is about 1,600 miles from Toledo.
"May God bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo, and may God protect them," Trump said. "May God protect all of those from Texas to Ohio, may God bless the victims and their families, may God bless America."
A man carrying a large "Trump: Keep America Great!" flag just walked into a group of protesters gathered to rally against President Trump's visit to Ohio.
The protesters started chanting directly at the Trump supporter. They yelled, "32 seconds, nine dead," referencing the nine people killed in the mass shooting on Sunday.
Later, they chanted, "Do something! Do something!" and "Hey hey, ho ho! Donald Trump has got to go!"
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump are "at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, visiting patients and staffers," White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said.
"Very powerful moments for all!" Grisham said in a tweet.
President Trump and the first lady arrived to the Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, moments ago.
The protesters came, too.
Protesters chanted "No more hate!" and "Dayton strong!" as black SUVs pulled into the hospital. They later sang, "hey hey, ho ho! Donald Trump has got to go!"
While visiting the hospital, Trump is expected to meet first responders, medical professionals and some victims and families.
Elizabeth Burke, 35, brought her young daughters to protest President Trump’s visit to Dayton, Ohio.
She painted a gun control sign with them: (in the photo above, from left) 8-year-old Avery, 6-year-old Abby and 8-year-old and Aly.
Asked why she brought her girls out today, she got teary-eyed and told CNN:
“Kids are dying. ... They need to see that these are the kids that could be taken.”