Former President Barack Obama has finally spoken out on the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton that occurred over the weekend. The ex-politician delivered some powerful words in the wake of both tragedies, reminding Americans, "We are not helpless here," according to USA Today.
Amid claims from critics that stricter gun laws won't stop the senseless violence, Obama, 58, claimed it "can save some families from heartbreak." He urged the public to band together to push for new restrictions on automatic weapons and other gun-related legislation to prevent such incidents in the future, the outlet reported.
"We are not helpless here," Obama said. "And until all of us stand up and insist on holding public officials accountable for changing our gun laws, these tragedies will keep happening."
The former president said, "there are indications that [it] follows a dangerous trend," pointing to racism as a root of many of these shootings. He went on to condemn "white nationalist websites that proliferate on the internet" for helping to foster radical ideologies in "troubled individuals."
Obama said that "law enforcement agencies and internet platforms need to come up with better strategies to reduce the influence of these hate groups."
He admitted that racist language against immigrants and people of color is not a new trend, saying it stems from "slavery and Jim Crow, the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans." Still, Obama said it's time to do away with that type of language, especially when it comes to politicians.
"It has no place in our politics and our public life," he said. "And it's time for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill of every race and faith and political party, to say as much — clearly and unequivocally."
Per Deadline's reporting, Obama said he and wife Michelle "grieve with all the families." He went on to say, however, "No other nation on Earth comes close to experiencing the frequency of mass shootings that we see in the United States."
Within minutes of Obama's statement, the National Rifle Association (NRA) responded with a comment of their own. The gun lobby organization blamed the El Paso shooting and Dayton shooting on mental illness, not guns.
"It has been the NRA's long-standing position that those who have been adjudicated as a danger to themselves or others should not have access to firearms and should be admitted for treatment," the statement read, according to Deadline.
Trump also spoke on the shootings on Monday, condemning "white supremacy" and "racism," according to the BBC. He did, however, blame mental illness, much like the NRA.
"Mental illness and hate pull the trigger, not the gun," Trump said in an address at the White House.
He went on to say, "In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America."
Trump's comments didn't get him far with critics, especially after he mistakenly claimed the Dayton shooting occurred in Toledo, Ohio, a city roughly150 miles north of Dayton, according to Fox News.