2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg unveiled a policy plan Tuesday to prevent gun violence in the wake of the mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, and said he believes President Donald Trump bears “some responsibility” for the rampages.
As part of his plan, the South Bend, Indiana, mayor would increase federal funding to combat hate and violent extremism, boost federal research into gun violence and work with social media companies to stem incendiary rhetoric spread online.
But, Buttigieg says, part of the immediate response could come from Trump, who on Monday called on the nation to condemn racism and white supremacy but did not acknowledge the impact of his own divisive rhetoric.
“It’s too late for him to not be a white nationalist and not bear some responsibility for what’s happened here,” the South Bend, Indiana, mayor told CNN’s John Berman Tuesday on “New Day.” “But what he could do is refrain from divisive and politicizing rhetoric and focus on making something happen. How about some action?”
Trump is “part of the problem” and is “incapable of bringing people together,” Buttigieg said.
“We know that there needs to be common sense gun safety reform in this country and we know there’s a lot of things we can do at the civic level to knit back together the social fabric that is so frayed in this country,” Buttigieg told CNN.
Buttigieg’s plan released Tuesday would dedicate $1 billion to law enforcement, including increasing the FBI’s field staff, for “sufficient resources to counter the growing tide of white nationalist violence.” Those funds would also be reinvested in the Department of Homeland Security efforts to fight extremism, violence and hate.
His proposal would work with social media platforms to try and combat violent extremism online. He wants to call out online platforms that are used by hate groups and accused of not taking sufficient action to self-regulate themselves – like the online message board 8chan – and for law enforcement to regularly monitor these sites.
Buttigieg supports universal background checks and argues that the Senate should pass the universal background check bill, HR 8, that was passed by the Democratic-led House in February but has yet to be considered by the Republican-led Senate.
He also urges a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
“I think the weapons of war can do no good in American neighborhoods,” Buttigieg, an Afghanistan War veteran, said on “New Day.” “I trained on weapons that are similar to these, and they have one purpose, which is to destroy as much as possible as quickly as possible. They have tactical uses in war zones. Since when are American cities and neighborhoods supposed to be war zones?”
Buttigieg supports the so-called “red flag” laws, saying Congress should pass a federal “Extreme Risk Protection Order Act.” He pushes for a nationwide gun licensing system and for Congress to close loopholes, including the “boyfriend loophole” and the “Charleston loophole.”
His plan would also allocate federal funds to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health to conduct research on gun violence, which he labels as a “public health crisis.”
Over the weekend, more than 30 people were killed in less than 24 hours in two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. In El Paso, authorities said the shooter was believed to have authored a “manifesto” filled with white supremacist language and racist hatred aimed at immigrants and Latinos. The racist, anti-immigrant document was published on 8chan about 20 minutes before the shooting.
Both shooters had purchased their guns legally, according to police officials in both cities.