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State, local officials respond to mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso

Updated: August 05, 2019 05:42 AM

Flags in Minnesota and around the country will be flown at half-staff through Thursday in honor of the victims of the mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas.

As details of the horrors of both shootings emerged on Sunday, Governor Tim Walz called for action.

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“I just can't allow this to be the normal,” he said. “We have to recognize this doesn't happen like this in other countries.”

Gov. Walz said he plans to re-introduce two gun control bills this upcoming legislative session.

RELATED: 2 mass shootings in less than 24 hours shock US; 29 killed

“They don't have to infringe on people’s lawful rights (to) own firearms, but they should make sure it's not easy to possess a weapon of war on the street,” Walz said.

One bill would address universal background checks. The second is so-called "red flag" legislation, which would allow police and family members to petition the court to prevent people from having a gun if they are a risk to themselves or others.

Both failed to pass last session.

“This is not a partisan Democratic or Republican issue,” Walz said. “To not even hear those too bills, that's unacceptable, so I’m going to push again that we hold the hearings and see if we can get those through.”

In response, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka released the following statement:

“We are looking for solutions that work and that have significant bipartisan support. Most gun purchases already require background checks. Universal background checks on sales to relatives, friends, and neighbors have not proven to eliminate deranged murderers from killing innocent people. We can continue to focus on mental health issues broadly, and tougher sentencing on felons caught using guns in their criminal activities.”

After the shooting on Saturday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey took to Twitter to call for gun reform.

RELATED: Texas governor: 20 dead in El Paso shopping-complex shooting

He said, “Gun reform now. In Washington, in State Houses. No more El Pasos. No more Parklands. No more assault weapons on our streets. No more deaths bc we won’t act. #GunControlNow”

Minneapolis police said they stepped up patrols in and around the city’s entertainment districts on Sunday, out of an abundance of caution.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter shared a message on Sunday at the 40th birthday celebration for El Burrito Mercado.

“It would be incomplete for us to have this celebration today […] and not mention the shooting we saw this week in El Paso,” Carter said. “When we talk about how we celebrate and welcome each other it’s important to note that we're doing that in the context of a national energy. And too often messages that come out of Washington D.C., our own nation’s capitol, that tell us the opposite of we should love each other, that tell us the opposite of our diversity and our multilingualism makes us fantastic.”

RELATED: Police: Ohio gunman who killed 9 was stopped in 30 seconds

President Donald Trump spoke to reporters briefly Sunday, on his way back to Washington, D.C., from his New Jersey golf club.

“Hate has no place in our country,” Trump said. “This has been going on for years, for years and years in our country, and we have to get it stopped.”

On Sunday, top Democratic lawmakers called for the Senate to reconvene to pass background check legislation.

Senator Amy Klobuchar tweeted "Yesterday was a dark day. From El Paso to Dayton in less than 24 hours, we simply cannot go on like this. I mourn for the lives lost and the families devastated. Inaction is unacceptable. No more talk. The time for passing legislation is now. I'm ready to go back tomorrow.”

She went on to say, “After Parkland, I went to the White House and sat across the table from President Trump to make the case for strong gun laws. I kept track. Nine times he said he wanted universal background checks. Nine times. Then the next day he met with the NRA and folded. No more folding.”

President Trump said he plans to make an announcement on Monday morning.

“Spoke to members of Congress about whatever we can do and a lot of things are being done right now as we speak,” he said.

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