President Donald Trump’s suggestion in the wake of two mass shootings that immigration measures should be tied to gun control legislation is an “absolute freaking joke,” Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan said Monday.
“That’s a joke. That’s an absolute freaking joke that he’s going to tie this to the most polarizing issue happening in the United States around immigration reform. This is very clear-cut here. There are people that are getting access to guns that shouldn’t be, and the guns are high-powered. The magazines hold too many bullets,” Ryan, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, told CNN’s Erica Hill on “New Day.”
Earlier Monday, Trump, who is scheduled to address the nation at 10 a.m. ET, suggested on Twitter tying immigration legislation to strengthening background checks. The recommendation comes after a mass shooting on Saturday in El Paso, Texas, left at least 20 dead, and a separate rampage on Sunday in Dayton, Ohio, left at least nine dead. He did not indicate in his tweets on Monday morning if he supported a sweeping gun control bill that passed the House with bipartisan support in February that requires universal background checks but has not been considered by the Senate.
“(Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell needs to get off his ass and do something. People are getting killed in the streets in America and nobody is acting. Nobody. There’s a bottleneck in the United States Senate. The House has sent a comprehensive background check bill supported that’s by 80 to 90% of the American people. What the hell are we doing in the United States of America?” Ryan said.
In his first public comments following the shootings, Trump acknowledged that “perhaps more has to be done” to address gun violence. His administration has overseen a ban on so-called bump stocks, but has not pursued large-scale gun control efforts. His predecessor, President Barack Obama, took executive actions on gun control, including on background checks and mental health.
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat who is also seeking her party’s 2020 presidential nomination, also rejected Trump’s suggestion on Monday, saying on the same program that it was “absurd.”
“He’s linking the issue of basic, common-sense gun reform, that we should be going back into the Senate today to vote on, with this issue of immigration because again he continues to try to demonize people seeking asylum, people needing our help,” Gillibrand said.