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'We Don't Think People Need These Kind Of Guns,' Dayton Mayor Tells Trump


Thirty seconds - that was all the time it took for police to take down a gunman in Dayton, Ohio, and they are being praised for that swift action, as they should be. But it's also important to note that, in those same 30 seconds, that same gunman was able to kill nine people - nine lives taken in half a minute. Just 13 hours before, a similar scene unfolded in El Paso, Texas, when another white man opened fire on a shopping center, killing 20.

Both communities are grieving. We'll have more coverage from El Paso this hour. But right now, we're going to focus in on Dayton, and we are joined by the mayor of that city, Nan Whaley, who joins us on the line. Mayor, thank you so much for being with us. Our condolences for your community.

NAN WHALEY: Thank you, Rachel.

MARTIN: There was a vigil yesterday for the victims of the shooting in Dayton. Is there an image, is there a moment, a person, that stands out to you from that?

WHALEY: I think the (inaudible) number that came (inaudible) in a moment's notice (inaudible) coming together, people that they might not have known. That (inaudible) for the community is strong. And I think that (inaudible) determination is what moves Dayton through these kind of challenges.

Also, I think, for me, it was a young woman who actually came up to me, who had dated the shooter, and had said, you know, that she had - she thought she had seen the signs of this and tried to tell authorities. And she feels like no one was listening, and so there was a lot of - I could feel, like, she had a lot of guilt on her. And she came up at the vigil. And I remember saying to her, like, look - you did everything you could do.

And so I think, you know, there's a lot of people in our community - because these actions, you know, really could be preventable, that some people even individually think that they could prevent it, and that's very difficult to handle.

MARTIN: Your line was breaking up at the top of that.

WHALEY: Sorry.

MARTIN: But basically, you were describing how people each can sometimes feel their own individual guilt over not being able to prevent something that no one could have necessarily predicted.

WHALEY: Right.

MARTIN: Have you spoken to any of the victims' families at this point?

WHALEY: No, we're really - here in Dayton, we give the victims and their families space. We give them each a victim advocate. And, you know, this is such a horrific time for them that, you know, we want to make sure that they have what they need, and so that advocate is there with them through the entire process.

MARTIN: President Trump has ordered that flags at the White House be lowered in honor of the victims in El Paso and Dayton. Have you heard from the president?

WHALEY: Yes, the president called me last (inaudible) evening. We discussed, in my view, (inaudible) this is a preventable action, regarding these assault weapons. And, you know, I shared with him my concern that I don't think - that in my police department, that we don't think people need these kind of guns. We're in southern Ohio. We, of course, recognize people (inaudible) these handguns, but when you see the destruction that a gun can do in 24 seconds, it really begs the question, what are we doing?

MARTIN: Can you remind us what weapons the shooter was armed with?

WHALEY: He was armed with a .223 caliber, which was an AK-like rifle. He had put these drums on it that would allow him to shoot a hundred rounds in the course of a minute. He purchased them legally, and there was no flag to see that he better not - received under the law today to get this gun.

MARTIN: Did you talk to the president about specific policy prescriptions that you would like to see happen when it comes to gun control?

WHALEY: No. I shared with the president how this just doesn't make any sense, that Dayton is the 250th site for a mass shooting. You know, in May, you all covered as well, that we had 14 tornadoes ravage through our city. That was an act of God. This action seems to me to be completely preventable.

MARTIN: How - when you say that, what does that mean, though? How would you like to see these massacres prevented?

WHALEY: Look - I'm a mayor, and I'm going to spend my time grieving with my community and doing everything I can to heal my community through this very tough decision. But we have people in Washington, D.C., and in Columbus, Ohio, that really need to get off their duffs and do something.

MARTIN: Nan Whaley is the mayor of Dayton, Ohio. We appreciate you taking the time this morning.

WHALEY: Thank you, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.