Weekly briefing: Trump comments on mass shootings

Wednesday, 7 August: US President Donald Trump has made his first remarks addressing the two mass shootings that occurred over the weekend, condemning racism, bigotry and white supremacy. On Saturday in El Paso, a gunman killed 22 people and injured another 26 as they shopped in Walmart. Then, in the early hours of Sunday morning in Dayton, a separate shooting attack in the city’s nightlife district left nine dead, and 27 injured. President Trump offered a handful of solutions to gun violence in America including addressing video games that celebrate violence, reform of mental health laws, and introducing the death penalty for hate crimes and mass murders. The President’s comments have come under intense scrutiny under the backdrop of his ongoing election campaign rhetoric targeting immigration issues at the Mexico-US border. Critics have been quick to link allegations that the El Paso shooter is the author of a document that advocated white nationalist and anti-Hispanic ideals and was posted online just before the shooting. Police are investigating the incident as an act of domestic terrorism. The White House is refuting the claims.

By the numbers

128 – the United States’ ranking on the 2019 Global Peace Index

4 – the United States dropped four rankings in the 2019 Global Peace Index

20 – the United States’ ranking on the 2018 Global Terrorism Index

Far-right terror, an increasing concern in North America

Since the turn of the century, Jihadist groups have been linked to the majority of deaths from terrorism in North America, but in the past few years, there has been a resurgence of far-right political terrorism.

Data from the latest Global Terrorism Index shows white power extremists were responsible for nine attacks and seven deaths in North America in 2017. The most notable terror attack committed by white extremists in 2017 occurred in August 2017 during the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, North Virginia, during which a white extremist drove a car into a crowd and killed one person. In October 2018, a white power extremist shot and killed eleven people at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Canada, also part of the North America region, experienced six terror-related deaths in 2017, all of which were the result of an armed assault at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City by a right-wing extremist.

The year 2017 was the second-deadliest year for North America with regards to far-right terrorism since 2002, with 16 deaths from 31 incidents, the deadliest being an armed assault against a mosque in Quebec City that left six dead in January 2017.

The deadliest year was in North America was 2015, when 22 people were killed from 10 incidents.

Online platforms have amplified far-right messaging substantially throughout North America and Western Europe, with elements of Islamophobia and xenophobic sentiments found across 50 different far-right organisations.