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Legislation to ban assault rifles not politically feasible: Trump

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump dismissed legislation to ban assault rifles as politically unfeasible yesterday as he prepared to visit the sites of two deadly mass shootings that shocked the country and drew criticism of his anti-immigrant rhetoric.

As he left the White House, Mr Trump said he wanted to strengthen background checks for gun purchases and make sure mentally ill people did not carry guns.

He predicted congressional support for those two measures but not for banning assault rifles, Reuters reported.

"I can tell you that there is no political appetite for that at this moment," Mr Trump told reporters. "But I will certainly bring that up... There is a great appetite, and I mean a very strong appetite, for background checks."

He also dismissed critics who say his rhetoric on race and immigrants has fuelled violent extremism, saying they were out for "political gain", AFP reported.

"My critics are political people, they are trying to make points. In many cases they are running for president. I think my rhetoric brings people together."

He faced an uncertain welcome yesterday in Dayton, Ohio, where nine people and the suspect were killed in a rampage on Sunday and in El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were killed at a Walmart store on Saturday before the gunman was taken alive.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat, said on Tuesday that she would welcome the Republican president, who wants to meet law enforcement, first responders and survivors.

But Ms Whaley said she planned to tell Mr Trump "how unhelpful he has been" on the issue of gun violence.

An open letter to Mr Trump yesterday in the El Paso Times described the border city as having "a deep tradition of racial harmony" whose people came together after the tragedy.

It admonished Mr Trump for calling El Paso one of the country's most dangerous cities in his February State of the Union address.

"The violence that pierced El Paso, drawing you here today, is not of our own community," wrote editor Tim Archuleta. "An outsider came here to shatter our city, to murder our neighbours. A white man from another Texas city came to target the more than 80 per cent of us who share Hispanic roots."

WORLD