Washington officials condemned the mass shooting in Buffalo and the racist motivations behind the attack, with Democrats and at least one retired Republican criticizing political speech they believe encouraged white supremacy.
President Biden described Sunday’s attack in Buffalo as a “racially motivated act of white supremacy” and called on the nation to “address the hatred that remains a blot on America’s soul,” a sentiment Vice President Kamala Harris wrote in a statement. her own statement.
“What is clear is that we are seeing a hate epidemic in our country, reflected in acts of violence and bigotry,” she said. “We must proclaim it and condemn it. Racistly motivated hate crime or violent extremism harms all of us.”
California Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that the House would pass legislation that would “strengthen efforts to combat domestic terrorism,” though she did not specify which legislation.
“That’s what this is, domestic terrorism,” Ms Pelosi said on DailyExpertNews’s “State of the Union,” calling separately for federal legislation to be passed to expand gun background checks, which she said was a “huge priority” for Democrats .
Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, also called the attack a “act of domestic terrorism” by a racist, anti-Semitic white supremacist,” and called for the adoption of “common sense gun security reforms.”
Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat and a champion of that legislation, told MSNBC that “in the wake of this Buffalo shooting, we may have to vote in the Senate or the House – show the American people where stand.”
But legislation to extend background checks and impose other safeguards before buying a gun has stalled in the evenly divided Senate, where 60 votes are needed to move most legislation forward and hold Republicans against.
At least one Republican, Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger, called the shooting “a reminder of why we don’t play with white nationalism.” Mr Kinzinger, who is not running for re-election and has repeatedly clashed with his party after the Jan. 6 riots on Capitol Hill, added that “we = everyone (especially the GOP).”
He called Representative Elise Stefanik, who represents a congressional district in New York State, someone who is “pushing the white replacement theory,” referring to ads paid for by Ms. Stefanik’s campaign committee that echoed far-right commentary on the replacement theory. (Mrs Stefanik expressed her condolences to the victims of the attack on Saturday, calling it a “horrific loss of life.”†
Alex deGrasse, a senior adviser to Ms. Stefanik, said on Sunday that the congresswoman “has never advocated a racist position or made a racist statement.”
He added that “the shooting was an act of malice and the criminal should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Mr Biden, who arrived at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Sunday morning, said he had not yet spoken to the victims’ families. He had previously said he wasn’t sure if he would be able to visit Buffalo for a planned trip to Asia this week.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Sunday the shooting was an act of terrorism, but did not say whether the Biden administration would support a new federal law criminalizing domestic terrorism.
“Obviously we don’t know all the details that fit the legal definitions,” Mr. Buttigieg said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“What we know is that someone traveled a long distance with an AR-15 to hunt people, to hunt black people. We need to make sure we eradicate that kind of hatred.”