Washington: As the United States grappled with yet another mass shooting event on Sunday, President Donald Trump said that background checks on gun purchasers would not have prevented recent gun violence in the country.
A gunman near Odessa, Texas, killed seven and wounded 21 more after fleeing a traffic stop on Saturday. His motives remain unclear.
Trump made the remarks to reporters at the White House after returning to Washington from Camp David. The president said he would be working with Democrats and Republicans on gun legislation when Congress returns this month.
“I think Congress has got a lot of thinking to do frankly. They’ve been doing a lot of work,” Trump said. “I think you’re going to see some interesting things coming along.”
Later, as Trump attended a briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Hurricane Dorian, he said he is committed to finding ways to “substantially reduce” the frequency of mass shootings by keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous people, imposing harsher penalties for gun-related offenses, and expanding mental-health services.
Earlier this year, the Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives passed a bill that calls for background checks on every gun purchase, including sales at gun shows, which are currently exempted. But the measure has failed to receive a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Trump said at the White House that “for the most part, as strong as you make your background checks, they would not have stopped any of it.”
Last month, a gunman killed 22 people and wounded another 24 in El Paso, Texas, while another assailant killed nine and injured 27 in Dayton, Ohio.
The shooter in Saturday’s incident opened fire during a traffic stop near the town of Midland, Texas, and then sped off, spraying bullets at pedestrians and motorists. At one point, he ditched his car and hijacked a postal truck.
The gunman, who remains unidentified, was killed by police in a movie theatre parking lot in Odessa.
Trump called him “a very sick person.”
After the El Paso and Dayton shootings, Trump initially indicated a willingness to support more stringent background checks on gun buyers, but has since seemed to more closely align himself with the gun lobby, which opposes any increased restrictions.
Julian Castro, the former US housing secretary and Democratic presidential candidate, said on Sunday that Trump “had gone back on his word” regarding background check legislation. Castro, who made the remarks on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” is a former mayor of San Antonio, Texas.
Trump has suggested that he would support efforts to encourage states to adopt “red flag” laws, which give family members and police the power to obtain a court order from a judge to confiscate firearms from someone deemed a danger to themselves or others.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, told reporters in Texas on Sunday that he would continue to work to end gun violence and that the latest incident required new approaches.
“We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of criminals, like the killer here in Odessa, while also ensuring that we safeguard Second Amendment rights. And we must do it fast,” Abbott said.
New laws passed by the state legislature that eased restrictions on guns took effect in Texas on Sunday, including those that allow firearms in churches and more armed marshals in schools.
Trump hints at some announcement at ‘Howdy Modi!’ event in Houston
US President Donald Trump has hinted that there “could be” some announcement by him at the mega “Howdy Modi!” event in Houston on Sunday, where he would join Prime Minister Narendra Modi in addressing the 50,000-strong Indian diaspora.
The White House on Monday announced that Trump would join Modi at the mega Houston rally on September 22 as a “special gesture” by the US President to underscore the special bond between the two countries.It is for the first time that Trump and Modi would share a stage together. The event is the third meeting between the two leaders in three months, after the G-20 summit in Japan in June and the G-7 summit in France last month.
“Could be. I have a very good relationship with Prime Minister Modi,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday aboard Air Force One on his way back from California to Washington DC. He did not elaborate.He was responding to a question if there would be any announcement when he goes to Houston for the rally with the Indian leader.
According to media reports, officials of the two countries are trying to finalise a trade deal before Modi and Trump meet in Houston.
Trade tensions between India and the US have been rising with Trump complaining that tariffs imposed by New Delhi on American products were “no longer acceptable”.
The US in June terminated India’s designation as beneficiary developing country under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme.
India imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products, including almonds and apples from June 5, after the Trump administration revoked its preferential trade privileges.
Reacting to a record number of 50,000 Indian-Americans registering for the event, Trump said the crowd for the event had now become bigger after it was announced that he would be going there.
“He (Modi) has got a big crowd coming and I guess the crowd just got a lot bigger because they just announced–he asked, would I go, and I will go,” Trump said.
After the Houston event, Trump would travel to Ohio for an event with the visiting Australian Prime Minister.
“Then we’re stopping in Ohio on the way back and then I guess we do the United Nations the following week,” the US President said.
Trump also said that he had a great relationship with both India and Pakistan.
Modi will be visiting the US from September 21-27 for the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). It is his first US trip after winning a second term as prime minister in May.
The two leaders are again scheduled to meet later in the week in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session.
Kashmir may not be a major topic during PM Modi-Xi Jinping summit next month: China
China on Tuesday said the Kashmir issue may not be a “major topic” of discussion during the planned 2nd informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping, notwithstanding the high voltage campaign by its close ally Pakistan over India revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Tension between India and Pakistan escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5. Reacting to India’s move on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.
A senior Chinese official said it should be left to Modi and Xi on the issues they would like to discuss.
“As for Kashmir will be on the agenda, I’m not sure because this is kind of informal summit and leaders’ meeting I think better we need to give the leaders much time to discuss whatever they would like to discuss,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing here.
“For this kind of informal summit, I think it is better to leave the leaders much time to discuss whatever they would like to discuss,” she said.
Hua said Kashmir may not be a major topic of discuss between the two leaders. “I think for those things like Kashmir, I don’t think it will be a major topic occupying the talks, that is my understanding,” she said.
“But for the leaders, they will be free to talk about whatever they like,” Hua said, responding to a question.
China, the all-weather ally of Pakistan, already tried to take the Kashmir issue to the UN Security Council last month. But a closed-door meeting of the UNSC, in a snub to both Beijing and Islamabad, ended without any outcome or statement.
European Parliament set to discuss Kashmir
Brussels, Sep 17: The European Parliament is expected to hold discussions on the Kashmir issue on Tuesday, the media reported.
After India scrapped its Constitution”s Articles 370 and 35A, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and divided the state into two union territories, Islamabad has been crying foul over New Delhi”s move and continuously trying to highlight the issue on a global level.
However, Pakistan has failed to get the international community to censure India.
The report said that in early September, the European Parliament “had debated an urgent resolution for the horrible conditions, including human rights violations, in Indian-occupied Kashmir”.
The European Union”s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, delivered a detailed policy statement on the Kashmir situation on September 17, it said. (IANS)