President Donald Trump is traveling to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday in the aftermath of mass shootings that claimed the lives of 32 people this weekend.
The visit comes amid calls for new gun safety measures, including from Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, who introduced a major plan for new background checks and increased penalties for gun law violations in the state.
Since the shootings, Trump has said that he would support new background check legislation and “red flag laws,” which would enable authorities to seize firearms from people who are thought to be dangerous, but he dismissed calls for restrictions on assault rifles, saying there is “no political appetite for that at the moment.”
Trump has called for gun control in the past only to back down. After a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., Trump said lawmakers should “think about” raising the age from 18 to 21 to buy certain types of guns. Though his Administration banned bump stocks, it did not work toward that goal.
The President also addressed criticism that he has not done enough to implement gun reform. Democrats, including Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, have said that Trump has done little to prevent future tragedies. Other critics have suggested that Trump is actually exacerbating the tensions which lead to violence.
“He’s not tolerating violence, he’s inciting racism and violence in this country,” former Texas representative and Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said.
On Wednesday, Trump brushed off the criticism. He noted that some of his critics are “very low in the polls” and argued that he would like to “stay out of the political fray.”
“These are people that are looking for political gain. I don’t think they’re getting it. And, as much as possible, I’ve tried to stay out of that,” Trump said.
Trump also emphasized that the gunman who murdered nine people in Dayton held liberal views. Local news has reported that the shooter allegedly belonged to the loose affiliation of radical activists known as Antifa, and that he carried a gun as a counter-protester during a Ku Klux Klan rally in the city this May.
“If you look at Dayton, that was a person that supported, I guess you would say, Bernie Sanders, I understood; Antifa, I understood; Elizabeth Warren, I understood. It had nothing to do with President Trump,” Trump said.