Trump says he wants to strengthen gun background checks

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he departs on travel to Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas following back-to-back mass shootings in the cities, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he wanted to strengthen background checks for gun purchases, a policy response to two recent mass shootings that was notably absent from proposals he put before the American people in televised remarks on Monday.

Trump made the remarks at the White House as he prepared to leave for Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, where two shootings over the weekend killed 31 people.

Speaking to reporters, Trump rejected criticism that his rhetoric has helped fuel division and stoke violence. He said there was no political appetite to ban assault rifles, as many Democrats would like.