With Mariana Alfaro
THE BIG IDEA: For the first time this year, Joe Biden is thrilled to be talking about the 1994 crime bill.
The former vice president has been pilloried from his left for months over the tough-on-crime elements in the legislation that he authored 25 years ago. It created a federal three-strikes rule, offered states more money to construct prisons if they tightened parole and funded 100,000 new police officers. Most experts agree that the law contributed to mass incarceration and tilted the justice system to become even more unfair to African Americans.
But the bill also included a 10-year ban on assault weapons. Biden has touted that achievement during every event, fundraiser and interview in the past three days, from Nevada on Saturday, to California on Sunday and Idaho on Monday.
Speaking in the wake of two mass shootings in less than 24 hours that left at least 31 dead, in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, Biden said last night that he would make reinstituting the assault weapons ban – something he tried and failed to do when it expired in 2004 – a priority if he becomes president. He also said he would push for a federal gun buyback program and enhance background checks.
Biden was asked during an appearance on CNN how he’d respond to criticism that he’s trying to take away people’s guns. “Bingo,” he replied. “You’re right, if you have an assault weapon. … The Second Amendment doesn’t say you can’t restrict the kinds of weapons people can own.”
That flip response from Biden, who prides himself on appealing to white working-class voters who defected to President Trump, reflects how much the Democratic Party has changed in the last few years on this issue. After two contentious nights of debate last week, what has been remarkable this week – as the country feels so divided – is the degree to which the two dozen Democratic presidential candidates appear to be on the same page about gun control. Some of this is because of the stomach-churning surge in mass shootings over the last few years. They’ve happened with increasing regularity since 13 people were killed at Columbine High School two decades ago.
Not coincidentally, though, the move toward unanimity among Democratic leaders also coincides with the party becoming more suburban in its orientation than ever before. The moderates who have swung their way during the Trump era tend to be much more supportive of stricter gun laws than the blue-collar voters who have gravitated toward Republicans. Suburbs have become more homogeneous and less sectional in their voting patterns, regardless of which region of the country they’re in. That helped Democrats make massive inroads in suburbs from Orange County in California to the Twin Cities in Minnesota, as well as from Philadelphia in the North to Atlanta, Houston and Dallas in the South.
Network exit polls conducted in the November midterm elections showed that gun policy was No. 4 on the list of top voter concerns, behind health care, immigration and the economy. Of the 10 percent of people who named gun policy as their top concern, 70 percent favored Democrats. Regardless of whether it was a priority of not, 59 percent of people who voted said they support stricter gun control measures and 37 percent said they oppose them. Democrats won 76 percent of the voters who support stricter gun measures.
The most recent national polling on guns, a Marist-NPR-PBS survey conducted in mid-July, showed that 57 percent of Americans support banning the sale of “semi-automatic assault guns such as the AK-47 or the AR-15,” while 41 percent oppose it. Among people in the suburbs, the number supporting an assault weapons ban rose to 62 percent. It was even higher among suburban women. But the majority of people who live in rural areas oppose such a ban.
— Perhaps no one captures the Democratic Party’s evolution toward the suburbs over the past quarter century better than Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. He voted for the Biden crime bill as a young House member in 1994, and he lost his seat that fall because of the assault weapons ban. Still a young and ambitious politician, Inslee decided to move from a relatively rural district around Yakima to a more suburban district, buying a home on Bainbridge Island near Seattle. He picked up that House seat in 1998 and ran for governor from there 14 years later. Inslee has consistently called the vote for the assault weapons ban one of his proudest.
— Other presidential candidates have not moved districts but have changed their stances on gun control to catch up with the zeitgeist. Speaking yesterday in San Diego at the annual convention for UnidosUS, the Latino civil rights and advocacy group, for example, Bernie Sanders called on Mitch McConnell to cancel the rest of August recess so that the Senate can vote on new gun laws. The independent senator from Vermont said the majority leader must “stop allowing the [National Rifle Association] to dictate gun policy in America.”
As a member of the House, Sanders also backed the Biden crime bill. Last week, he said he had been reluctant to support what he said he knew was “a terrible bill” but he said he did so because it included the assault weapons ban.
Sanders was pressed during last week’s debate on a quote he gave in 2013, a few months after the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Conn. “If you pass the strongest gun control legislation tomorrow, I don’t think it will have a profound effect on the tragedies we have seen,” Sanders said at the time.
The senator demurred on whether he still believes this. “I think what I meant is what President Obama said, in that nobody up here is going to tell you that we have a magical solution to the crisis,” he clarified. “I come from one of the most rural states in America. I have a ‘D-minus’ voting record from the NRA. And as president I suspect it will be an ‘F’ record.”
Sanders noted onstage at the debate that he called for an assault weapons ban during his unsuccessful campaign for the House in 1988. What he omitted was that the NRA supported him when he ran in 1990. He was the enemy of their enemy: The Republican incumbent Sanders went on to defeat had flip-flopped and endorsed an assault weapons ban after promising he would not do so. Sanders won over gun groups by promising to oppose a bill, if elected, that would establish a waiting period for handgun sales. Once in office, Sanders voted against the Brady Bill, named for Ronald Reagan’s late press secretary James Brady, who was wounded in the assassination attempt on the then-president. The bill expanded background checks and created a waiting period.
He also voted for the 2005 legislation that immunized gunmakers from lawsuits related to how their products were used, the top priority of the gun lobby at the time. This vote dogged Sanders during his battle with Hillary Clinton four years ago. After strenuously defending his position for a solid decade, he renounced his vote in 2016 and sponsored legislation to repeal the protections he had helped to provide for gun manufacturers and dealers.
— Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan also voted for that 2005 bill to limit liability for gun manufacturers, and he too has said that was a mistake. In only a few years, Ryan went from touting his “A” rating from the NRA in campaign materials to boasting about his “F” rating. “I come from a state like Ohio, where we have a sportsman’s culture and we hunt,” the congressman said Sunday on CNN. “So that’s kind of where I started politically. But watching kids get killed in schools and watching the nightclubs and what happened in Nevada, I didn’t want anything to do with it.” Ryan, who represents the Youngstown area, traveled to Dayton yesterday to participate in vigils, pay his respects to those who died and advocate for new gun laws. He also noted that he gave all the money he received from the NRA to groups that advocate for gun control.
— New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who joined Sanders in calling for the Senate to reconvene to take up gun control bills, has done her own 180 on guns since she was appointed to replace Clinton in 2009. She changed her tune as she shifted focus from getting reelected in a rural and red House district to representing a blue and heavily urban state.
During a televised town hall on Fox News in June, Gillibrand was asked if her shift was driven by political opportunism. She said her views changed after meeting the families of people who were killed by guns. “Just realizing that not every part of this country is like my rural, upstate New York district,” she said, “because the truth is, it wasn’t good enough to care only about your backyard — you’ve got to care about communities across this country.”
The NRA responded by tweeting out a letter that she wrote praising their work while in the House:
Gillibrand said on Monday that she would happily vote for both background check bills that passed the House in February, but she wants to do much more. “We should ban the assault weapons,” she said on CNN. “We should ban the large magazines. We should have a federal anti-gun trafficking law, as well as universal background checks.”
— During last week’s debate, former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper – one of the more moderate candidates – touted legislation he signed after the 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora to require universal background checks. “We decided that we were going to go out and take on the NRA,” he said. “We did the basic work that, for whatever reason, doesn’t seem to be done in Washington.”
But our Fact Checker team says what happened was not nearly as straightforward as Hickenlooper presented it: “Immediately after the shooting, he expressed doubt that tougher gun control laws would make a difference. ‘This person, if there were no assault weapons available, if there were no this or no that, this guy’s going to find something, right? He’s going to know how to create a bomb,’ he said on CNN. Hickenlooper eventually came around the idea of tightening gun laws. But, after a political firestorm erupted when Colorado lawmakers passed measures expanding background checks for gun purchases and limiting magazine sizes to 15 rounds, he distanced himself. ‘One of my staff had committed us to signing it,’ he told the sheriffs of his support of the law limiting high-capacity magazines. One gun-control advocate told the Colorado Sun that the comments made her ‘sick.’”
Two Democratic state senators who voted for these bills later lost their seats in recall elections heavily funded by the NRA, and Hickenlooper’s margin of victory in 2014 was probably narrower than it would have otherwise been. Whatever his initial hesitations, the gun laws are now a big part of his legacy. He hopes they can also be a calling card that ignites his floundering campaign.
— The issue will likely stay on the front burner. Two days before the massacre in El Paso, the student-led March for Our Lives movement and the group led by Gabby Giffords, the former congresswoman who was nearly assassinated in Tucson in 2011, announced plans to invite all the Democratic candidates to outline their plans for gun control at a forum in Las Vegas on Oct. 2.
The event is timed to coincide with the two-year anniversary of the shooting at a country music concert in the city. One man killed 58 and wounded 422 more in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. It will be interesting to see if, when they are drilled for specifics, clearer contrasts emerge between the presidential contenders on gun policy. Among other things, there is a significant dispute about the definition of an assault weapon.
— Meanwhile, the once-in-a-generation realignment that’s underway makes it less tenable for Republicans to support significant gun control, as the GOP has become more dependent on rural voters who once backed Democrats. Last month, for example, Virginia’s Republican-controlled General Assembly adjourned a special legislative session on gun control after 90 minutes without even considering a single bill. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) ordered the session following the May 31 mass shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal building in which 12 people were killed. Lawmakers had filed some 30 bills aimed at restricting gun use or lethality or stiffening penalties for gun law violations. Republican leaders in the state House and Senate, after initially suggesting that they might be open to doing something, decided to refer all the bills to a bipartisan commission for study and then reconvene after the November off-year elections, in which all 140 legislative seats are on the ballot. This has made gun control a top issue in these local campaigns.
— In Virginia last night, several hundred protesters gathered in front of the NRA’s headquarters in Fairfax County to play out what has become a routine after mass shootings: Call for stronger gun laws. Repeat. (Jenna Portnoy was there.)
— The groups that push more restrictive gun laws have become bigger counterweights to the NRA in recent years, thanks to infusions of cash from billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the gun lobby’s internal struggles and increasingly sophisticated tactics. This has liberated some Democrats in areas where the issue is still marginal to stake out more liberal positions. But the NRA maintains structural advantages in the Senate – where rural votes have disproportionate influence. The Republican majority expanded last year, despite the blue wave that let Democrats seize the House, because moderate Democratic incumbents lost reelection in North Dakota, Missouri and Indiana – states that have drifted toward one-party rule.
— “Republicans are headed for extinction in the suburbs if they don’t distance themselves from the NRA. The GOP needs to put forth solutions to help eradicate the gun violence epidemic,” said Dan Eberhart, a major Republican donor and oil-and-gas executive who supports Trump, in an interview with Bloomberg News. “The GOP needs to make several moves such as universal background checks, eliminating loopholes and banning military-style assault weapons to neutralize the issue. Otherwise, Republicans will lose suburban voters just like they did in the midterms on health care.”
— With inaction at the federal level, blue states have also been picking up the torch. New Jersey enacted three new laws yesterday to help victims of gun violence avoid becoming hurt again by firearms or seeking out retaliation. Since Republican Chris Christie left the governor’s office, the state has enacted about a dozen new gun laws. A co-sponsor of the bill called it a “tragic” coincidence that the signing ceremony came in the wake of El Paso and Dayton.
WHILE YOU WERE IN YOUR MORNING MEETINGS:
— Toni Morrison, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist who conjured a black girl longing for blue eyes, a slave mother who kills her child to save her from bondage and other indelible characters who helped transfigure a literary canon long closed to African Americans, died Aug. 5 at a hospital in the Bronx. She was 88. From Emily Langer’s obituary: “Ms. Morrison spent an impoverished childhood in Ohio steel country, began writing during what she described as stolen time as a single mother, and became the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize in literature. Critically acclaimed and widely loved, she received recognitions as diverse as the Pulitzer Prize and the selection of her novels — four of them — for the book club led by talk-show host Oprah Winfrey.
“Ms. Morrison placed African Americans, particularly women, at the heart of her writing at a time when they were largely relegated to the margins both in literature and in life. With language celebrated for its lyricism, she was credited with conveying as powerfully, or more than perhaps any novelist before her, the nature of black life in America, from slavery to the inequality that went on more than a century after it ended. Among her best-known works was ‘Beloved’ (1987).”
THE FALLOUT FROM A WEEKEND OF DOMESTIC TERRORISM —
THE THREAT WITHIN:
— If you read one story today, make it this: “Rise of far-right violence leads some to call for realignment of post-9/11 national security priorities,” by Greg Miller: “The United States continues to employ a staggering arsenal of armed forces, unmanned drones, intelligence agencies and sweeping domestic authorities to contain a threat — Islamist terrorism — that has claimed about 100 lives on American soil since the nation mobilized after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. No remotely comparable array of national power has been directed against the threat now emerging from the far right, a loose but lethal collection of ideologies whose adherents have killed roughly the same number of people in the United States, post-9/11, as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State combined. The disparity is a source of growing alarm for officials and experts, some of whom now say the United States is overdue for a realignment of national security priorities as violence on the far right escalates. …
“The 22 people killed in El Paso … extended a series of at least five fatal attacks over the past year directed at targets selected for racial or religious reasons, including shootings at synagogues in San Diego and Pittsburgh. And 9/11 was preceded by a series of smaller al-Qaeda attacks and unaddressed alarms about the group that analysts say should caution current officials about the dangers of inaction. … The grim statistics associated with these two strains of extremism have begun to converge. The numbers of people killed in attacks linked to Islamist radicals or the far right in the United States since 2002 are virtually equivalent — 104 versus 109, respectively, according to data compiled by the think tank New America. …
“The prospects for a change in course, however, appear limited — complicated by legal constraints, toxic American political currents and the amorphous nature of an adversary that has no discernible structure or Osama bin Laden-like leader and has burrowed into corners of the Internet the way al-Qaeda once hid in the mountain redoubts of Afghanistan. … Protecting the public from the most pressing terrorist threat ‘has been our governing principle for many years now,’ said Lisa Monaco, who served as the top counterterrorism adviser to President Barack Obama. Given the surge in attacks linked to the far right, she said, ‘we need to prioritize our resources and focus on this threat.’
“In some ways, the opposite has occurred under President Trump. Last year, the administration downgraded the position that Monaco previously held, meaning that the top counterterrorism adviser in the White House no longer reports directly to the president. The administration has also curtailed or disbanded a Department of Homeland Security program that had been created to counter violent extremism by working with regional authorities and organizations to identify those vulnerable to radicalization, whether by Islamist groups or the far right.
“Even as the FBI has turned greater attention to domestic threats, federal investigators lack some of the legal tools they have to combat Islamist terrorism. In cases involving al-Qaeda or the Islamic State, federal prosecutors can turn to a statute that makes it illegal to provide any ‘material support,’ such as money or training, to a designated foreign terrorist group. There is no comparable statute for domestic groups such as far-right extremists.”
— The chairmen of the 9/11 Commission said the time has come for a similar examination of domestic terrorism. From USA Today: “Tom Kean, the former Republican New Jersey governor, and Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana, said the current political establishment appears at a loss for how to respond to repeated spasms of gun violence that have cut a bloody swath through an increasing number of American communities. Kean and Hamilton, whose 9/11 inquiry resulted in an overhaul of the U.S. intelligence system and new information sharing systems across the government, said in interviews with USA TODAY that a similar examination of domestic extremism would require a bipartisan commitment that would likely be difficult during a time of such political discord. ‘This is such a desperate problem that something like a commission could work, but you would have to have a total commitment,’ Kean said. ‘It just seems like the country doesn’t know what to do.’”
— Cesar Sayoc, the fanatical supporter of the president who last year mailed explosive devices to prominent Democrats and media figures, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff concluded that Sayoc “hated his victims but did not wish them dead, at least not by his own hand.” Among the targets were 2020 candidates Biden, plus Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker. (Philip Bump and Devlin Barrett)
— How the world sees us: Uruguay issued a travel warning for the United States after the shootings. “The Uruguayan foreign ministry warned of ‘growing indiscriminate violence, mostly for hate crimes,'” Rachelle Krygier reports.
THE PRESIDENTIAL RESPONSE:
— “Teleprompter Trump repudiated Twitter Trump in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on Monday,” Ashley Parker, Phil Rucker and Josh Dawsey write. “Trump spoke of ‘the inherent worth and dignity of every human life’ and the scourge of ‘destructive partisanship.’ … That unifying message stood in stark contrast to more than 2½ years of name-calling, demonizing minorities and inflaming racial animus, much of it carried out on Twitter. As White House officials privately scrambled to plan a visit for Trump later this week to El Paso and Dayton … the president found himself unwelcome in the grieving Texas border city. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Tex.), whose district includes the El Paso Walmart involved in the massacre, urged the president and his team ‘to consider the fact that his words and his actions have played a role in this.’
“Senior policy adviser Stephen Miller led the effort to write Monday’s response, with four or five people pitching in … The group consulted previous speeches the president had given following tragedies, including after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville left one dead and after a 2017 mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas … Trump spent part of the weekend complaining to allies and club members about media coverage that seemed to blame him for the shootings, two people familiar with his comments said. But, these people added, Trump was not visibly upset or at what they would describe as a ‘nuclear level.’”
— During his speech, Trump proposed no fewer than a half-dozen ideas to reduce the epidemic of gun violence — a mishmash of proposals that varied from the legislatively possible to the ill-defined and implausible. Seung Min Kim evaluates what’s realistic on Capitol Hill: “Trump decried ‘gruesome and grisly video games’ and urged the public to begin lessening their influence, even though researchers say there is little evidence that ties video games to violent behavior. He promoted a bipartisan effort led by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), one of his closest congressional allies, to help confiscate firearms from those deemed unfit to possess them. … The president also said he was directing the Justice Department to draft a proposal that would hasten the death penalty for those convicted of committing certain federal hate crimes and mass murders. …
“Though discussions are preliminary, several senior Republican officials on Monday pointed to extreme risk protection orders as the most plausible legislative route, particularly if Trump continues to endorse it and give GOP lawmakers political cover to back the most anodyne of gun restrictions. ‘A lot of this will be driven,’ one senior Republican aide said, ‘by how active Trump is.’ … Trump has been known to endorse gun restrictions and subsequently backtrack amid opposition from conservatives, and there were some early signs of consternation as some GOP officials noted Graham, who leads the Senate Judiciary Committee, didn’t consult other Republicans on the panel on his plans.”
— Keep an eye on Bill Barr: “Trump is exploring ways to use regulatory power and executive action to curb gun violence,” Politico reports. “‘Any action will likely be executive instead of legislative,’ said one congressional aide, noting that Barr has long been a supporter of stricter gun laws. Barr’s track record of statements about gun control caused some gun rights groups to oppose his nomination for attorney general, arguing at the time of his Senate confirmation hearing that he backed confiscation orders and gave ambiguous responses when asked whether he would support a nationwide ban on semi-automatic firearms. … A second administration official said it’s no coincidence, the official said, that Trump specifically mentioned Extreme Risk Protection Orders, or red-flag laws, in his remarks Monday. (Barr told the Senate in January that advancing ERPOs was ‘the single most important’ action Congress could take ‘in the gun control area.’)”
— “Trump says white supremacy and sinister ideologies ‘must be defeated.’ Will he lead the way?” asks chief correspondent Dan Balz: “With the nation in shock and so many Americans feeling a sense of despair and helplessness, the president’s language was prepared to fit the moment. He has been given appropriate words at other times in his presidency, which he has read from a teleprompter, often with only minimal emotion. It is what presidents are expected to do. What this president does before and after those moments is the real issue. Absent from the president’s remarks Monday was any note of self-reflection.”
— “Trump doesn’t just pollute the social environment with hate. He is the environment,” writes conservative columnist George F. Will: “The grotesquely swollen place of the presidency in governance (now that governance has become, for Congress, merely a spectator sport) and society has been made possible by journalism that is mesmerized by, and easily manipulated by, presidents — especially the current one, whose every bleat becomes an obsession. This president is not just one prompting from the social environment; he, in his ubiquity, thoroughly colors this environment, which becomes simultaneously more coarse and less shocking by the day.”
— “Trump should vow never again to spew his loathing from the bully pulpit,” inveighs The Post’s Editorial Board: “The president’s words have wide and deep consequences. When he smears all Latinos or Muslims, announcing walls or visa bans to keep them out; when he denounces the news media as ‘enemies of the people,’ using Stalinist terms; when he says four congresswomen of color should ‘go back’ to the countries they came from — all these spread fear, exclusion and hatred. The president cannot be held responsible for every irresponsible act of citizens. But he can he held to account for propagating ugly and bigoted notions in his public remarks.”
— Some of Trump’s reelection ads on Facebook repeat his inflammatory claims about an “invasion” on the southern border — language that is now under scrutiny after the El Paso shooting. From the Times: “Since January, Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign has posted more than 2,000 ads on Facebook that include the word “invasion” — part of a barrage of advertising focused on immigration, a dominant theme of his re-election messaging. … In his re-election campaign, Mr. Trump has spent an estimated $1.25 million on Facebook ads about immigration since late March, according to data from Bully Pulpit Interactive, a Democratic communications firm that is tracking the digital advertising of presidential candidates. Those ads represent a significant portion of the roughly $5.6 million that Mr. Trump has spent on Facebook advertising during that period. Most of the ‘invasion’ ads began running between January and March, though a few dozen began running in May. Many of the ads began with a blunt message — ‘We have an INVASION!’ — and went on to say, ‘It’s CRITICAL that we STOP THE INVASION.’”
— Trump promised “unfailing support” for El Paso yesterday, but his campaign has not paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in police and public safety-related bills that it owes the city. The president’s reelection committee owes El Paso’s municipal government $569,204, according to an invoice to the Trump campaign dated July 18. The campaign also has not paid a $16,191 invoice for police and public safety costs associated with a rally held in Lebanon, Ohio, a city that is about 20 miles south of Dayton. (Center for Public Integrity)
TWO COMMUNITIES MOURN:
— El Paso has always lived and loved in two countries. Now the transnational community is forced to grieve that way, too. Maria Sacchetti and Scott Wilson report from El Paso: “Funeral homes in El Paso and Juarez, the larger sister city long racked by hundreds of murders a year, offered free services for the victims of the shooting massacre at a shopping center here Saturday. Businesses and residents from across North America have donated more than $600,000 for the victims. Mexicans and Americans are huddling over the burials, the medical bills, the prosecution — the aftermath of what some people here consider an act of war on the United States. … Here on the border it is normal for an Irish American soccer coach named Steve Donnelly to speak fluent Spanish. It is normal for a Latina named Felicity Randle, a 17-year-old soccer champ, to speak no Spanish, because her family speaks English at home. What is not normal is what happened Saturday at a popular Walmart. …
“‘I’d heard the shooter wanted to kill as many Mexicans as he could,’ said Sandra Garcia, 41, a single mom and 25-year El Paso resident. ‘Well, he certainly came to the right place.’ Garcia shops at the mall, calling it the ‘most convenient in the city, everything is right here.’ She often shops with her children, who range from 6 to 19 years old, but on this day they wanted to come for another reason. ‘They had been watching it on the news all day and wanted to come by — to say hi to the police officers, to thank them,’ said Garcia … The mall is the kind of place where local soccer teams sell bottles of water and hot dogs to raise money for the season ahead, as a few teams were that day. This coming weekend is a sales-tax holiday in Texas. Those who gathered at the makeshift shrine the day after the killings said perhaps the only fortunate aspect of the tragedy is that the shooter did not arrive during that time, which would have been busier.”
— Two people who were shot in El Paso succumbed to their wounds. Authorities released the names of 22 victims. Our reporters tell their stories. Among them:
- David Johnson was at the Walmart checkout line with his wife Kathy and their 9-year-old granddaughter when the shooting began. When he was shot, the Army veteran fell toward them to protect them. Kathy and the child were able to escape but David, a “selfless, dedicated family man,” according to his nephew, died.
- Ivan Filiberto Manzano, a native of Ciudad Juarez, was an “exemplary father” to his two children, ages 5 and 9, said a former colleague.
- Javier Amir Martinez was among the youngest killed in the shooting. He was 15. The teenager was just weeks away from starting his sophomore year of high school. He loved to play soccer.
— “A mother died shielding her infant in El Paso. The father died shielding them both, family says,” report Meagan Flynn and Rebecca Tan: “They had just dropped their oldest daughter off at cheerleading practice when they pulled into the Walmart parking lot, packed with hundreds of back-to-school shoppers like them. Jordan and Andre Anchondo grabbed their 2-month-old baby and headed inside. … Jordan, 25, and Andre, 24, were among 21 victims killed in Saturday’s mass shooting at a Walmart and shopping center in El Paso, leaving their infant son without parents as they died protecting him, their family told The Post. Jordan’s death was confirmed Saturday. Family members confirmed Andre’s death to The Post late Sunday night, after waiting more than 24 hours to find out what happened to him.”
— “You just got to get in, stop the bleeding . . . then come back and fight another day,” said a University Medical Center of El Paso doctor of this past weekend, when he and his colleagues treated 15 shooting victims. “I told everybody we’re going to be in this for the long haul. … This isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon.” (Yasmeen Abutaleb)
— Beto O’Rourke is showing raw anger as he helps his hometown, so central to his political identity, cope with the trauma. Jenna Johnson is on the ground: “O’Rourke was preparing to leave a vigil when he was stopped by yet another reporter asking yet another question about President Trump — this time wanting to know what Trump could ‘do now to make this any better.’ ‘What do you think?’ the Democratic presidential candidate replied, shaking his head in exhausted exasperation. ‘You know the s— that he’s been saying. He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I don’t know, like, members of the press: What the f—?’ O’Rourke threw his hands up: ‘It’s these questions that you know the answers to. I mean, connect the dots about what he’s been doing in this country. He’s not tolerating racism; he’s promoting racism.’ This is Beto O’Rourke since the shooting: raw, emotional, mirroring the pain and frustration of those around him. … O’Rourke’s team has been quietly allowing the candidate to be himself and then megaphoning his words to the country.
“It’s a contrast to how most presidential candidates respond to tragedy, maintaining a veneer of composure as they present themselves as clear-eyed, strong leaders in moments of pain. And it’s unlike Trump, who rarely, if ever, is publicly overcome by emotion and has been accused of failing to show empathy in moments of crisis. The question is whether, in the age of Trump, this is what voters, especially Democrats, are looking for in a president — someone who is willing to unleash anger and emotion in visceral terms, a channeler of rage and grief rather than a leader in tight control of himself and others. The nation’s sudden focus on El Paso comes as O’Rourke’s presidential campaign has been foundering. O’Rourke once again called for gun-control measures that he has long backed, including a ban on the sale of assault rifles, saying the country should ‘leave that s— on the battlefield.’”
— An Ohio Republican state representative from near Dayton wrote a Facebook post that blamed mass shootings on a laundry list of factors, including immigrants, same-sex marriage, transgender rights, disrespect toward veterans and “drag queen advocates.” Alex Horton reports: “Candice Keller, a Republican state representative from Middletown, near Dayton, Ohio, where nine people were killed early Sunday, offered her diagnosis on her personal Facebook page, the Dayton Daily News reported. Her list also included fatherless upbringing, violent video games and two arguments that conservatives have leveled at former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick — that kneeling protests over police brutality are insults to both law enforcement and veterans. Keller also blamed President Barack Obama for ‘disrespect to law enforcement,’ along with Democratic lawmakers, public schools and ‘snowflakes, who can’t accept a duly-elected President.’ Amid an apparent rise of domestic terror arrests, Keller did not include anything about white nationalism.”
The chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, Jane Timken, called for Keller’s resignation. “Candice Keller’s Facebook post was shocking and utterly unjustifiable,” she said, joining other local officials.
— The Dayton shooter, an ex-girlfriend said, would talk about “dark, evil things.” Emily Davies, Tim Craig and Hannah Natanson report: “During his senior year of high school, Connor Betts seemed to always have caffeine pills in one hand and an energy drink in another. He was unable to sleep, he told his then-girlfriend Lyndsi Doll, because of dark, animal-like shadows that tormented him at night. … While they were in high school, Betts told Doll that he had suffered from psychosis since he was young and feared developing schizophrenia. ‘He would cry to me sometimes,’ she said, ‘saying how he’s afraid of himself and afraid he was going to hurt someone one day. It’s haunting now.’”
— More victims of the Dayton shooting have been identified:
- Saeed Saleh, an African immigrant, was a kindhearted and hard-working person who had left Eritrea as a refugee and spent time in Sudan, Libya and Malta before coming to the United States three years ago with his wife and 5-year-old daughter. He worked seven days a week and had taken one day off to spend time with a friend downtown when the shooting began. (Laurel Demkovich)
- Logan M. Turner, a graduate from the University of Toledo, turned 30 last week and was out with friends Saturday night. He was a very generous and loving son, his mother said. (Nick Anderson)
- Beatrice N. Warren-Curtis was one of the most “genuine, caring, selfless people that you would meet,” her childhood friend Ricky Brown said. She would volunteer to buy drinks for her friends on their birthdays and would post to social media when the school year approached to ask families in need if they needed help affording supplies. (Morgan Krakow)
— The terrible numbers grow with each mass shooting. Bonnie Berkowitz, Chris Alcantara and Denise Lu built a database: “There is no universally accepted definition of a public mass shooting, and this piece defines it narrowly. It looks at the 165 shootings in which four or more people were killed by a lone shooter (two shooters in a few cases). It does not include shootings tied to gang disputes or robberies that went awry, and it does not include domestic shootings that took place exclusively in private homes. A broader definition would yield much higher numbers. This tally begins Aug. 1, 1966, when a student sniper fired down on passersby from the observation deck of a clock tower at the University of Texas. … At least 1,196 have been killed [since then]. The people came from nearly every imaginable race, religion and socioeconomic background. Their ages range from the unborn to the elderly; 190 were children and teenagers. In addition, thousands of survivors were left with devastating injuries, shattered families and psychological scars.”
— Walmart will continue selling guns, despite concern from advocacy groups and workers. (Abha Bhattarai)
— Three lawmakers — Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) and Steve Scalise (R-La.) — who have experienced gun violence discussed what Congress should do about the issue. From Rhonda Colvin:
- Scalise: “One of the areas I’ve been very vocal about is enforcing existing laws. Too often we see breakdowns in laws that are in the books, breakdowns in government agencies that didn’t do their job right and, because of that, something bad happened.”
- Speier: “I support the Second Amendment and I support common sense gun violence prevention measures. I support an assault weapons ban and having experienced the devastation associated with automatic weapons and surviving — which I probably never should have — you don’t need an assault weapon to kill bad people.”
- McBath: “Red flag laws. We have an epidemic of these kinds of tragedies happening, mass shootings, massacres. And so if we’re able to identify individuals that might have behavioral problems or might have an element of something that is disturbing in their behavior and not necessarily mental illness, but behavioral problems that may be risk factors, if they own guns or have access to guns giving the families the ability to go to law enforcement and also with the help of a judge … that will help to, kind of, possibly delay this person having access to guns or using guns.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
— The Treasury Department designated China a “currency manipulator” after the country allowed its tightly controlled currency to slide to an 11-year low against the dollar. David J. Lynch, Gerry Shih, Jeff Stein and Damian Paletta report: The move is “a largely symbolic slap at Beijing that is likely to deepen the growing animosity between the two trading partners. … [It] requires Treasury only to initiate consultations with China. Beijing has long denied U.S. accusations that it keeps its currency undervalued to make its products more competitive on world markets. … ‘This is a big policy mistake. We get recession because of policy mistakes like this,’ said Allen Sinai, chief economist and strategist at Decision Economics. ‘China did not actively drive its currency down. It was a market-driven move. Secretary Mnuchin’s comments are totally political.’”
— Some analysts are beginning to fear a U.S.-China currency war. Jeff Stein reports: “Analysts and economists said they fear severe economic consequences for both countries, including additional trade restrictions that could slow growth. … The depreciation in China’s currency means American manufacturers will have an even harder time selling their products to China and in other markets where Chinese producers compete, experts say, further widening the nation’s trade deficit. … But the most dangerous potential consequence of a currency battle would be a slowing of overall economic growth in the United States and China, at a time when analysts already fear a global slowdown could push the United States into a recession.”
— China confirmed it is suspending the purchase of U.S. agricultural products in response to Trump’s new 10 percent tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods. From CNBC: “’This is a serious violation of the meeting between the heads of state of China and the United States,’ the [Chinese] Minister of Commerce said in a statement Monday that was translated via Google. The department also said it would ‘not rule out’ tariffs on newly purchased agricultural goods after August 3.”
— In this trade war with China, Trump is increasingly relying on himself and not on his aides. Damian Paletta reports: “Trump is convinced that the Chinese economy is suffering more than the U.S. economy from the conflict. And he has felt validated that his hardball threats in other circumstances, including a recent tangle with Mexico over border security, seemed to get at least some results, even if they scared investors in the short term, said the people familiar with the matter. This has left aides, many of whom have preferred for the president to be more patient, to scramble to complete directives issued by Trump.”
— Wall Street had its worst day of 2019 because of fears that Trump’s trade war with Beijing will push the economy into recession. Thomas Heath and Taylor Telford report: “Bright spots were hard to find in the day-long scrum. Gold prices, a fear barometer, jumped. The Japanese yen and Swiss franc, long safe harbors, advanced. ‘They are viewed as safe havens when the world falls to pieces because these countries are politically stable,’ said Joachim Fels, chief economic adviser at Pimco. Utilities, another go-to sector in times of stress, edged into positive territory before succumbing and turning negative late in the day. Investors also flocked to the safety of the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond, evidence of a loss of faith in stocks altogether. The losers were everywhere. Most stocks. Technology. Retail. Oil prices, down. Natural gas, down. Dow transports — a closely watched marker for the economy — fell. The volatility index, VIX, soared 30 percent.”
— The Chinese government vowed to punish Hong Kong protesters and expressed support for the city’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, who is a reliable puppet of Beijing. From the Wall Street Journal: “Yang Guang, a spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, on Tuesday reiterated Beijing’s backing for Mrs. Lam, following two months of protests that have at times turned violent and engulfed the city. He said that the first priority is to end the violence and return Hong Kong to order. Mr. Yang said that attempts by Hong Kong’s opposition to force Mrs. Lam to resign will ‘lead nowhere.’ He also said that ‘all criminals’ will be held responsible, including behind-the-scenes instigators.”
— North Korea fired two more projectiles into the sea, according to South Korean officials. From the Guardian: “The foreign ministry said the military drills were violations of diplomatic agreements and added that North Korea had remained unchanged in its commitment to resolve the issues through dialogue, but ‘will be compelled to seek a new road as we have already indicated,’ if South Korea and the United States continue with hostile military moves.”
— Trump issued an executive order late Monday placing a full economic embargo on the Venezuelan government of President Nicolás Maduro, and his administration warned Russia and China that if they continue to support him, they may never get back their billions of dollars in loans and investments in Venezuela. Felicia Sonmez, Karen DeYoung and Anthony Faiola report: “The embargo, which follows months of escalating sanctions on government individuals and entities, blocks all property and assets of the government and its officials, and prohibits any transactions with them, including the Venezuelan Central Bank and the state oil company. The action puts Venezuela on par with Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria, the only other countries under a similar full embargo. White House national security adviser John Bolton is to give a speech outlining the measure Tuesday at a meeting of international supporters of Juan Guaidó, whom they recognize as Venezuela’s interim president. The meeting is being held in Lima, Peru.”
— The administration has temporarily frozen and ordered a review of several key foreign aid funds that Congress approved. Carol Morello and Karoun Demirjian report: “The Office of Management and Budget sent a letter to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development on Saturday, notifying them of the action, which took effect one minute before midnight that day. … The letter, viewed by The Washington Post, lists eight areas that cover a variety of assistance: international organizations; peacekeeping operations and activities; international narcotics control and law enforcement; development aid; assistance for Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia; economic support funding; foreign military financing programs; and global health programs. … According to people familiar with the process, the named funds could be as little as $2 billion and as much as $4 billion. … A senior Democratic aide said that it appears the administration is preparing to circumvent Congress with a rescission package and that it can expect a fight.”
— An explosives-packed car killed 20 and injured dozens more in downtown Cairo. Sudarsan Raghavan reports: “It was the highest terrorism-related death toll in the capital in more than two years. The government initially said the early-morning blast was caused by the collision of four cars. But later in the day, the Interior Ministry said the explosives-filled car was actually on its way to commit an attack in another part of the capital. … No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast. But Egyptian authorities were quick to blame Hasm, a militant group that emerged three years ago and has claimed several attacks. Egypt accuses Hasm of being the militant arm of the banned Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamist movement, once a political force, has denied the allegations.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“You have farmers who are looking at climate and weather that they’ve not seen in their lifetimes,” said Lewis Ziska, a top climate scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who resigned in protest of the Trump administration’s politicization of science. “It’s not your father’s climate. It’s changing. What does that mean? Does it mean that I’m screwed, or does it mean I have an opportunity? What does it mean in terms of soil health? What does it mean in terms of diseases or weeds that might be new to the area? This is a fundamental change across all different aspects. … To ignore it. To just dismiss it and say, ‘Oh that’s political.’ … I don’t have the words to describe that. It’s surreal. It feels like something out of a bad sci-fi movie.” (Politico)
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
The previous president tweeted a statement that called on the country to reject words “of any of our leaders” that feed fear and hatred.
“Barack Obama’s remarks Monday represent the most forceful political statement he has made since leaving office in 2017,” Felicia Sonmez reports. “Obama did not mention Trump by name in his statement, although he sharply criticized the type of inflammatory rhetoric about immigrants and ethnic minorities that has become a staple of Trump’s reelection campaign.”
Until all of us stand up and insist on holding public officials accountable for changing our gun laws, these tragedies will keep happening: t.co/reTnmcg3xo
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 5, 2019
Democrat Amy McGrath, who is running to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, criticized the Kentucky Republican for a photo shared by his campaign that showed a gravestone with her name on it.
McConnell’s campaign tweeted the image of what it called a display built by supporters hours after Saturday’s mass shooting in El Paso, describing it as based on a newspaper cartoon:
Hours after the El Paso shooting, Mitch McConnell proudly tweeted this photo. I find it so troubling that our politics have become so nasty and personal that the Senate Majority Leader thinks it’s appropriate to use imagery of the death of a political opponent (me) as messaging. pic.twitter.com/2x5kO5jwPi
— Amy McGrath (@AmyMcGrathKY) August 5, 2019
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) called out McConnell after an image of young men wearing #TeamMitch shirts and posing inappropriately with a cardboard cutout of her went viral:
Hey @senatemajldr – these young men look like they work for you.
Just wanted to clarify: are you paying for young men to practice groping & choking members of Congress w/ your payroll, or is this just the standard culture of #TeamMitch?
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on McConnell to allow a clean vote on two background check bills that passed the House in February but which he’s been blocking:
There are three important letters missing from this statement from @SenateMajLdr McConnell about these awful shootings: g-u-n.
Put the bipartisan, House-passed background checks bill on the Senate floor for a vote. I believe it would pass. t.co/jKVTrvUxKJ
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) August 5, 2019
In his remarks about the two shootings, Trump mourned the victims “in Toledo,” an Ohio city 150 miles away from Dayton:
The White House has sent out the official transcript of Trump’s remarks from this morning, with the words “in Toledo” crossed out. pic.twitter.com/BMb8E6gDWE
— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) August 5, 2019
In a conversation with reporters, the mayor of Dayton sneaked in a dig at Trump’s city misnomer:
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said @realDonaldTrump told her on the phone he was coming to Dayton this week. She doesn’t know when. “I’ve heard he might be coming Wednesday, but I haven’t gotten a call. But you know he might be going to Toledo.” @Enquirer pic.twitter.com/RIM54Lxj0o
— Chris Mayhew (@reportermayhew) August 5, 2019
Reporters noted that “Toledo” wasn’t on the president’s teleprompter:
Holy Toledo, it wasn’t even on the TelePrompTer. pic.twitter.com/vviFo7vqMw
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) August 5, 2019
A Republican state senator in Nebraska, John McCollister, criticized the GOP for being complicit “to obvious racist and immoral activity inside our party”:
What I am saying though is that the Republican Party is COMPLICIT to obvious racist and immoral activity inside our party.
— Senator McCollister (@SenMcCollister) August 5, 2019
We have Republican senators and representatives who look the other way and say nothing for fear that it will negatively affect their elections.
When the history books are written, I refuse to be someone who said nothing.
— Senator McCollister (@SenMcCollister) August 5, 2019
We all like to cite Abraham Lincoln’s Republican lineage when it is politically expedient but NOW is the time to ACT like Lincoln and take a stand. pic.twitter.com/Yk32capM4C
— Senator McCollister (@SenMcCollister) August 5, 2019
The Nebraska Republican Party’s executive director responded with a statement calling on the senator to leave the GOP and offering to send a change of registration form:
— NEGOP (@NEGOP) August 5, 2019
Many of the 2020 Democrats criticized Trump for pointing the finger at mental illness and the Internet as a “dangerous avenue to radicalize disturbed minds”:
The president is weak. And wrong.
White supremacy is not a mental illness, and guns are a tool that white supremacists use to fulfill their hate.
“Mental illness & hate pulls trigger, not the gun” is President’s dodge to avoid truth: there’s mental illness&hate throughout world, but U.S. stands alone w/high rate of gun violence. When someone can kill 9 people in a minute, that gun should never have been sold. Action!
O’Rourke said Trump isn’t welcome in El Paso:
This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso. We do not need more division. We need to heal. He has no place here.
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) August 5, 2019
Castro accepted an invitation from a Parkland shooting survivor to a forum on gun control:
The anchor of NPR’s Latino USA shared this scene from El Paso:
I’m standing in the El Paso airport and I see all this love. Mexicans kissing each other. Latinos hugging. Children smooching. Our culture of love and affection is everywhere. Right here in the airport! Why did a 21 y/o white man hate this? Hate us? We are no threat. NONE
— Maria Hinojosa (@Maria_Hinojosa) August 6, 2019
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Authorities in Brazil stopped Clauvino da Silva from escaping a prison in Rio de Janeiro disguised as his daughter after his nervousness gave him away:
Stephen Colbert said Trump tried to heal the nation … in his own way:
Some Republicans keep blaming this weekend’s shootings on video games, driving Seth Meyers to suggest that maybe if video games are so influential, they should make one for members of Congress called “Do Something”:
Trevor Noah responded to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s tweet on the El Paso and Dayton shootings:
Finally, grieving high school students in El Paso sang “Amazing Grace”: