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Monday January 27th, 2020 7:48PM

Ohio gun reform urged; calls in Texas for Trump to stay away

By The Associated Press
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DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's Republican governor bucked his party to call for expanded gun laws Tuesday and some Democrats in Texas told President Donald Trump to stay away as both states reeled from a pair of shootings that killed 31 .

A racist screed remained the focus of police investigating the massacre at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, as further details trickled out on the shooter at a popular nightlife strip in Dayton, Ohio, who was described as fascinated with mass murder.

PUSH FOR LEGISLATION IN OHIO

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine urged the GOP-led state Legislature to pass laws requiring background checks for nearly all gun sales and allowing courts to restrict firearms access for people perceived as threats.

Persuading the Legislature to pass such proposals could be an uphill battle. It has given little consideration this session to those and other gun-safety measures already introduced by Democrats and DeWine's Republican predecessor, John Kasich, also unsuccessfully pushed for a so-called red flag law on restricting firearms for people considered threats.

"We can come together to do these things to save lives," DeWine said.

EX: OHIO SHOOTER SHARED DARK THOUGHTS

An ex-girlfriend of the Ohio gunman, 24-year-old Connor Betts, said he suffered from bipolar disorder, joked about his dark thoughts and exhibited a fascination with mass shootings.

The woman, Adelia Johnson, said in an online essay that Betts showed her a video of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting on their first date.

She said Betts expressed "uncontrollable urges" that she called "red flags," which eventually led her to call things off in May.

EL PASO DEMOCRATS SHUN TRUMP VISIT

President Donald Trump was planning visits to both cities Wednesday, an announcement that stirred some resistance in El Paso.

Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar of El Paso made clear that the president was not welcome in her hometown as it mourned. Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, who was an El Paso congressman for six years, also said Trump should stay away.

Escobar said Tuesday that victims' families were already using the city's newly opened resource center where various government and mental health services have set up booths.

"We've got to make sure that folks have access to mental health care. There's going to be a lot of trauma in our community, a lot of children saw things that no human being should see," Escobar said.

GUN CONTROL AND IMMIGRATION

On Monday, Trump made a vague expression of openness to new gun laws , suggesting a bill to expand gun background checks could be combined with his long-sought effort to toughen the nation's immigration system but gave no rationale for the pairing.

Studies have repeatedly shown that immigrants have a lower level of criminality than those born in the U.S., both shooting suspects were citizens, and federal officials are investigating anti-immigrant bias as a potential motive in the Texas massacre.

In both El Paso and Dayton, a young white male was identified as the lone suspect. The suspect in the Texas shooting, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, was booked on murder charges. Betts was killed as police quickly swooped in to end his ambush.

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Sedensky reported from New York and can be reached at msedensky@ap.org and https://twitter.com/sedensky

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Contributing to this report were Julie Carr Smyth and Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio; Cedar Attanasio, Astrid Galvan and Morgan Lee in El Paso, Texas; Paul J. Weber in Austin, Texas; and Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire in Washington.

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