Former President Barack Obama said Monday that “racist sentiments” coming from some U.S. leaders have fueled the climate that led to this weekend’s shooting rampages, and said the country must take steps to rein in “white nationalist websites that proliferate on the internet.”
Mr. Obama, in a statement, said America’s level of gun violence was far out of proportion to other developed countries and that excuses about the difficulty of stopping the crimes will no longer cut it.
“Every time this happens, we’re told that tougher gun laws won’t stop all murders; that they won’t stop every deranged individual from getting a weapon and shooting innocent people in public places. But the evidence shows that they can stop some killings,” he said.
He said it will take public pressure on legislators to change things on that front.
But he also called for steps to combat “troubled individuals who embrace racist ideologies.”
He compared white nationalist criminals to followers of the Islamic State, saying the internet is radicalizing people and spurring them to violent outbursts.
“All of us have to send a clarion call and behave with the values of tolerance and diversity that should be the hallmark of our democracy,” he wrote, specifically criticizing “leaders who demonize those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life.”
Mr. Obama didn’t mention names, though other Democrats have attempted to connect President Trump’s rhetoric on immigration to this weekend’s shooting in El Paso, Texas, where the suspected gunman released a manifesto complaining that the U.S. was being overrun by Hispanic immigrants.
Another shooting in Dayton, Ohio, involved a suspect from the other side of the ideological spectrum. Police are still searching for a motive in that shooting.
Mr. Obama repeatedly called for stiffer gun control laws after major shootings during his time in office, but major legislation never cleared Congress.
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