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Thoughts, prayers & political agenda: Response to El Paso shooting on left & right

Thoughts, prayers & political agenda: Response to El Paso shooting on left & right
A shooting at a Walmart in Texas, where 20 people were killed, plunged the US into sorrow but also rekindled a political debate. The incident has become a case in point for gun control advocates, including presidential hopefuls.

A majority of high-profile politicians have relayed their condolences to the victims of the shooting rampage, refraining from pinning the blame on US President Donald Trump or his administration directly, like some did in the wake of the New Zealand mosque massacre in March, when they accused the US leader of inciting anti-Muslim violence with his rhetoric.

Instead, an array of Democratic presidential candidates, including frontrunner Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Rep. Kamala Harris (D-Ca) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) used the occasion to drum up support for tougher gun control, while scolding Republicans for inaction.

Several Democratic candidates still attempted to drag Trump into the picture. Speaking at the AFSCME Public Service Forum in Las Vegas, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who has just qualified for the next Democratic debate in September, fell short of blaming Trump but got as close to it as it gets.

READ MORE: Reports & ‘8chan manifesto’ identify El Paso shooter as Hispanic-hating, Christchurch-inspired 21yo

She brought up the story of a Somali-American girl who was told to go back “where she came from” by an alleged Trump supporter, before saying “this hate is fueling a lot of these shootings and it is fueling a lot of other crimes.”

Others took on white nationalism, which is being investigated as a possible reason for the shooting. Another Democratic hopeful, Pete Buttigieg, said one of the reasons was “domestic terrorism, almost all of which is inspired by white nationalism,” which is in turn the Trump administration's fault.

“A lot of this is... whether we allow people to be pitted against each other by maneuvers like the peak white identity politics being practiced out of this White House,” he said.

Many lower-profile progressives were even less discreet in their choice of words, squarely blaming Trump for instigating violence with his “racist border propaganda.”

They were joined by several outspoken Hollywood celebrities. Actor John Leguizamo argued that Trump’s rhetoric was “triggering all this violence” against the Latino community.

Republicans, led by Trump, have limited their response to the incident to mostly good wishes and prayers.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), however, turned his attention to the issue of mental health, often invoked by conservatives during mass shootings.

The shooting took place on Saturday afternoon at a Walmart in El Paso on the US-Mexican border. A total of 20 people were killed in the attack, and a further 26 were injured. It has been reported that the gunman left an hate-filled manifesto, inspired by the one written by the New Zealand mosque attacker, but targeting Hispanics.

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