The Latest: Sanders urges steps to address gun violence

Politics
Julian Castro

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary and Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro speaks during a candidate forum on labor issues Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Democratic presidential candidates and the shootings in Texas and Ohio (all times Eastern):

3:45 p.m.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has opened a town hall meeting in North Las Vegas with a moment of silence for the victims of the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

He then joined several of his fellow Democratic presidential contenders in calling for universal background checks for firearm purchases and more restrictions on assault weapons.

Sanders said, “Assault weapons are designed for one reason. They are military weapons. And I don’t have to explain that to the people in Las Vegas who experienced the worst gun tragedy in the history of this country.”

Sanders urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call senators back to Washington. He said the Senate should “have a special session to address gun violence in America and let us finally have the courage to take on the NRA.”

He also called out the president, saying “I say to President Trump, please stop the racist anti-immigrant rhetoric. Stop the hatred in this country which is creating the kind of violence that we see.”

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11:35 a.m.

A top White House aide says President Donald Trump is saddened and angry following mass shootings in Ohio and Texas and “wants to do something about it.”

Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tells ABC that one of Trump’s first calls Saturday after the shooting in El Paso was to his attorney general “to find out what we could do to prevent this type of thing from happening” and send a message that the shootings are “not appropriate.”

Mulvaney described recent shootings as a “difficulty” facing the U.S. that “predates this administration by many, many years.” He says there should be some public discussion about gun laws but also the role of social media.

Mulvaney stressed that the shooters in El Paso and Dayton are “sick” people, and that “no politician is to blame for that.”

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10:45 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidates are pointing a finger of blame at President Donald Trump following recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

In television interviews, several urged additional gun restrictions such as universal background checks. But they also cited Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and racial language.

Julian Castro, who previously served as San Antonio mayor and U.S. housing secretary, pointed to a “toxic brew” of white nationalism and says Trump needs to do more to “unite Americans instead of fanning the flames of bigotry.”

Beto O’Rourke, a former congressman from Texas, accused Trump of being a white nationalist and says he is encouraging “open racism.”

New Jersey senator Cory Booker says Trump bears responsibility because he has done nothing to call out rising hatred in the U.S.

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1 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidates are expressing outrage that mass shootings have become chillingly common nationwide. They are blaming the National Rifle Association and its congressional allies after a gunman opened fire at a shopping area near the Texas-Mexico border.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders blasted Republican Senate leadership for being “more concerned about pleasing the NRA than listening to the vast majority of the American people” and said that President Donald Trump has a responsibility to support commonsense gun safety legislation.

At least 20 people were killed Saturday in El Paso, Texas.

The shooting was personal for former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso native who represented the city in Congress for six years. He suspended campaigning to fly home and “be with my family and be with my hometown.”

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