Mass shootings 'absolutely a homeland security threat': McAleenan

PHOTO: Authorities cordon off a part of the sidewalk in Odessa, Texas, after a mass shooting on Aug. 31, 2019.PlayMark Rogers/Odessa American via AP
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Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., responded to the mass shooting in Odessa, Texas, where seven people were killed and at least 19 injured on ABC's "This Week" Sunday.

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Speaking from Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters with "This Week" Co-Anchor Martha Raddatz, McAleenan said mass shootings "absolutely are a homeland security threat."

Since April, when McAleenan became acting secretary, the Department of Homeland Security has set up a new office with what he said was an explicit focus on domestic terrorism and racially motivated violent extremism.

Responding to a question from Raddatz about whether the department should devote more resources to fighting mass shootings, McAleenan said, "That's a conversation that we're having as an interagency team with the FBI, with the Office of Management and Budget to see what the right resource level is going forward."

PHOTO: Authorities cordon off a part of the sidewalk in Odessa, Texas, after a mass shooting on Aug. 31, 2019. Mark Rogers/Odessa American via AP
Authorities cordon off a part of the sidewalk in Odessa, Texas, after a mass shooting on Aug. 31, 2019.

Deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, galvanized calls for tighter gun control legislation. With the West Texas shooting on Saturday, more than 35 people have died in mass shootings in the month of August alone.

Toomey discussed the bipartisan bill he sponsored with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., with Raddatz on "This Week" Sunday and said that he has spoken with President Donald Trump "repeatedly and recently" about the topic.

The revived Manchin-Toomey bill calls for background checks on all commercial firearm sales and -- in an effort to bolster chances of Republican support -- is less ambitious than the universal background checks that Democrats have urged. The Manchin-Toomey legislation would not require background checks for guns transferred or sold among friends and family.

However, the Republican senator does not support a ban on assault weapons, saying in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday that assault weapons are "extremely popular" and that doing so "would be an infringement on the rights of law-abiding citizens."

Toomey said Sunday that Trump is "very interested in doing something meaningful" on the issue of gun control. Trump has yet to endorse a specific bill, but the senator said that would be premature at this time.

"I can’t guarantee an out, I’m not sure where this all ends, but the president is very interested," he said, adding that "we’re gonna take a very serious run" at gun control measures.