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U.S. President Donald Trump talks to the press in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. Speaking to reporters, Trump rejected criticism that his rhetoric has helped fuel division and stoke violence.

Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he wanted to strengthen background checks for gun purchases, a policy response to two recent mass shootings that was notably absent from proposals he put before the American people in televised remarks on Monday.

Trump made the remarks at the White House as he prepared to leave for Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, where two shootings over the weekend killed 31 people.

Speaking to reporters, Trump rejected criticism that his rhetoric has helped fuel division and stoke violence. He said there was no political appetite to ban assault rifles, as many Democrats would like.

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