UPDATE, with video game industry response Describing the weekend’s shooters as “twisted monsters” and “wicked,” President Donald Trump said “our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy” in a speech from the White House this morning.
In today’s address, following shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio (incorrectly referred to by Trump as Toledo at one point during the speech), the president also called for mental health law reform and criticized the internet as a means to “radicalize disturbed minds.”
In the address that began shortly after 10 a.m. ET, Trump also said that capital punishment should be “delivered quickly, decisively, and without years of needless delay” in hate crimes, and directed his Department of Justice to propose such death penalty legislation. (Saturday’s shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, is being treated as domestic terrorism and a possible hate crime; the shooter, now in custody, posted a racist manifesto prior to the shooting.)
The 21-year-old El Paso shooting suspect is believed to have posted his manifesto on 8chan, the online messaging board favored by extremists. “The internet, likewise, is used for human trafficking, illegal drug distribution and so many other heinous crimes. The perils of the internet and social media cannot be ignored and they will not be ignored.”
Condemning video games that “celebrate violence,” Trump said, “We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grizzly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this and it has to begin immediately.”
Following Trump’s speech, the Entertainment Software Association released a statement countering the president’s stance on video games. “Numerous scientific studies have established that there is no causal connection between video games and violence,” the trade association said. “More than 165 million Americans enjoy video games, and billions of people play video games worldwide. Yet other societies, where video games are played as avidly, do not contend with the tragic levels of violence that occur in the U.S.”
While video clips of the president decrying an “invasion” at the Southern border shown repeatedly on cable news programs this weekend – the Texas shooter used the same word – Trump today did not acknowledge or concede to any responsibility of his own for the tone or substance of the rhetoric commonplace on the internet.
Towards the end of his speech this morning, Trump, reading from the teleprompter, incorrectly referred to the Ohio city where nine people were killed in the weekend shooting. “May God bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo, and may God protect them,” Trump said of the Dayton shooting.