People take part in a rally for gun control and anti-racism, in El Paso, Texas, the United States, Aug. 7, 2019. U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on Wednesday afternoon visited the University Medical Center and the Emergency Operations Center in the city of El Paso in the U.S. state of Texas, where they were greeted by protesters. The visits came just days after two mass shootings took place hours apart over the weekend in the United States, leaving at least 31 people dead and dozens injured. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)
by Xinhua writers Gao Lu, Liu Liwei
HOUSTON, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on Wednesday afternoon visited the city of El Paso in the U.S. state of Texas, where they were greeted by protesters.
The two visited the University Medical Center and the Emergency Operations Center there. Before that, they had visited Miami Valley Hospital in the city of Dayton in the state of Ohio earlier on the day, where they also faced protests.
The visits came just days after two mass shootings took place hours apart over the weekend in the United States, leaving at least 31 people dead and dozens injured.
On Saturday, a 21-year-old white male opened fire at throngs of shoppers in a Walmart in El Paso, killing at least 22. The suspect, identified as Patrick Crusius, was taken into custody and is believed to have acted on anti-immigrant sentiment.
Thirteen hours later, Connor Betts, a 24-year-old white male, opened fire in a popular bar district in Dayton, killing nine before being killed by the police.
The consecutive shootings forced the country to confront an American nightmare originating from a deadly mix of racial tensions and a gun violence epidemic.
The United States was founded by immigrants, said Mexican American veteran Roman Payan. "We are a mixing pot that makes our country great, and we welcome everyone."
Meanwhile, in line with multiple foreign nations, London-based non-governmental organization Amnesty International issued Wednesday a U.S. travel advisory, saying "depending on the traveler's gender identity, race, country of origin, ethnic background, or sexual orientation, they may be at higher risk of being targeted with gun violence, and should plan accordingly."
Following the two mass shootings, there is growing concern about public security in the United States and whether to place more stringent measures on gun ownership.
People must look around to make sure their surroundings are safe, 19-year-old college student Jennifer Estrada told Xinhua. "I'm here (in El Paso) to promote (gun) control."
"I stand out here today to ban assault weapons," said Todd Curry, assistant professor of political science at the University of Texas.
Still, some analysts believed that new gun control laws that many are now calling for will not likely stop mass shootings from happening again.
The U.S. Constitution provides the right to own firearms for individual citizens. This has been curtailed during recent decades with registration regulations and other laws. But the idea that individuals should be armed to prevent a foreign invasion is the ideological framework of the existing law.
Therefore, though many advocates want it repealed, it has strong and patriotic backing in many parts of the country, analysts said.
"Shooting such as these always prompt calls for draconian gun policies," Robert Gordon, assistant professor of cultural affairs at the University of Arizona, told Xinhua.
Some people continued to believe that gun control will mean people control, that if the government would just ban firearms, the problem of mass killings would just go away, he said.
"But the problem that gun control advocates continue to run into is that guns do not fire themselves, that volumes of regulations already exist, and that laws never stop the lawless," he added.
"I blame the individuals who committed the crimes. However, it may be that people increasingly feel as though they do not have a culture, no shared system of beliefs, values or customs," he said.
Christopher Fitzhenry Robling, former election commissioner for the Board of Elections of the City of Chicago, told Xinhua that he also believed the answer lies in the alienation of the killers.
"American society can detect and prevent such outbursts of senselessness only by stronger families, friendships, and communities," said Robling. "We must be acutely aware of the explosive mix of guns, alienation and resentment, and help people back to respect for human life."
In light of the weekend's tragedies, Texas leaders vowed to invest necessary resources to strengthen public security across the state.
Governor of Texas Greg Abbott announced Wednesday an immediate financial assistance of over 5.5 million U.S. dollars for recovery in El Paso.
Abbott also announced a series of upcoming roundtables with state officials and experts to discuss ways to improve the safety of Texas communities.
"The people of Texas, including the people of El Paso, deserve to be safe, and it is our responsibility to ensure that safety," he said.
Sylvester Tuner, mayor of Houston, Texas, also announced Wednesday a financial assistance overtime of 1.5 million dollars to increase police presence and enhance public security in neighborhoods, mosques, churches, and synagogues.
"It's more important than ever to keep Houston safe," Tuner said, adding that "we're not standing idly by -- we're taking action as a community to keep our city safe."
(Xinhua reporters Zhang Yichi, Wang Ying contributed to the story.)