US President Trump visits Dayton and El Paso amid protests after mass shootings

US President Donald Trump is due to visit the sites of the two latest deadly mass shootings in the country on Wednesday.

Trump, who critics blame for stoking violence with his rhetoric, arrived in Dayton, Ohio, the scene of a rampage early on Sunday in which nine people and the suspect were killed.

He arrived in El Paso, Texas, later in the day.

Twenty-two people were killed at a Walmart store on Saturday in El Paso before the gunman was arrested.

The back-to-back massacres, which occurred just 13 hours apart, have reopened the national debate over gun safety, with protesters in Dayton heckling Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, at a vigil for the shooting victims with chants of: “Do something!”

Trump says he wants to strengthen gun checks

As he departed from the White House, President Donald Trump said he wanted to strengthen background checks for gun purchases — a policy response that was notably absent from proposals he put before the American people in televised remarks on Monday.

But he also said there was no political appetite to ban assault rifles, as many Democrats would like.

Speaking to reporters, Trump rejected criticism that his rhetoric has helped fuel division and encourage violence.

US President under fire

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat, said she planned to tell Trump “how unhelpful he’s been” on the issue of gun violence, referring to the speech he gave on Monday focusing on mental health reform, tighter internet regulation and wider use of the death penalty.

Democrats have accused Trump of hiding behind talk of mental illness and the influence of social media rather than committing to laws they insist are needed to restrict gun ownership and the types of weapons that are legal.

A motorcycle backfiring on Tuesday night in New York’s Times Square sent crowds running for fear of another gun attack — a sign of higher tensions after the shootings.

Trump’s plan to visit the predominantly Hispanic west Texas border city of El Paso was especially controversial for another reason.

Authorities in Texas have said they are investigating Saturday’s shooting spree as a hate crime and an act of domestic terrorism. They cited a racist manifesto posted online shortly before the shooting, which they attributed to the suspect.

An open letter to Trump on Wednesday the editor of the El Paso Times, Tim Archuleta, described the border city as having “a deep tradition of racial harmony” whose people came together after the tragedy. He admonished Trump for calling El Paso one of the country’s most dangerous cities in his February State of the Union address.

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