What Donald Trump Really Thinks About Gun Control Will Make You Question Everything
2017 saw the deadliest shooting in modern American history. Festival-goers crowded the stage to see country hit Jason Aldean. An hour into his set, the crowd scattered amidst the commotion of gunshots that came from Stephen Paddock’s 32nd floor hotel suite.
The attack in Las Vegas left at least 58 people dead. There were six other mass shootings in America that week alone. Since then a shooter who attacked a Texas church in Sutherland Springs claimed the lives of 26 victims. A recent shooting in Northern California took five lives and could have claimed dozens more had an elementary school not gone on lockdown.
No other developed nation comes close to the rate of gun violence in America. Americans own an estimated 265 million guns, more than one gun for every adult, according to The Guardian. So, what’s our Commander-in-Chief, our president, the leader of the free world doing about the highly controversial, but clearly horrifying issue?
He says America doesn’t have a gun problem
“America doesn’t have a gun problem, it has a ____ problem.” The media, politicians, and people from both parties will fill in the blank with their opinion. A culture problem, a violence problem, several gun problems. The list goes on.
However, the current administration has done little to address this issue other than to reflect on America’s mental health. Trump has gone on record saying that what we have is not a “gun situation,” but rather, “a mental health problem at the highest level.” Richard Wolffe voiced his opinion on Congress’ lack of action; “Another year, another church. Another month, another mass killing. Another day, another political shrug about gun massacres across the United States,” he wrote for The Guardian.
He believes gun control would make no difference in the recent shootings
“But this isn’t a guns situation,” Trump told reporters at a news conference in Japan, following the Texas church shooting. “I mean, we could go into it, but it’s a little bit soon to go into it. But fortunately, somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction, otherwise it would have been — as bad it was — it would have been much worse.”
According to The New York Times, the focus on mental health has become “the standard response to shooting massacres,” for gun-rights supporters. Trump continues to deter questions about gun control with responses similar to his in Japan; “I think that mental health is your problem here.”
He says more guns could stop mass shootings
NBC asked Trump about gun control in the aftermath of the fatal shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The president offered praise for the man who was armed and shot the attacker. “If he didn’t have a gun,” Trump alleged, “instead of having 26 dead, you would’ve had hundreds more dead. So that’s the way I feel about it. Not gonna help.”
This isn’t the first sentiment he’s made about guns helping shootings, rather than facilitating them. On a campaign rally in Iowa in 2015, Trump said more guns could stop mass shootings. “Take Paris,” he said, “If a few people had guns on their belt, on their shin, in their jacket … — you might have lost some, you definitely would have lost the bad guys — but it wouldn’t have been hundreds of people…”
His views have changed over the last few decades
Trump has always generally opposed gun control. However, in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, he wrote that he supports, “the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun.” In 2012, following the horrifying Sandy Hook massacre, Trump tweeted praise for President Obama’s call for tighter gun regulations.
However, upon announcing his run for president, Trump has made increasingly anti-regulation sentiments. He announced he was proud to have the National Rifle Association’s endorsement in the 2016 presidential race. Trump also delivered a keynote speech at the NRA convention, making him the first president to do so since Ronald Reagan.
He urges unity, but no policy
President Trump called on the nation to seek “unity and peace” in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting in October, one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history. His vocal support of the second amendment seems to keep him from enforcing any policy on the matter.
In fact, despite his claims that mental health is what we need to concern ourselves with, in 2017, Trump signed a bill allowing mentally ill individuals to purchase guns. This reversed an executive order Obama signed to block such sales following the San Bernardino shootings in 2015. Devin Kelley, the shooter who killed 26 people in Sutherland Springs, Texas, shouldn’t have been able to purchase a gun legally. An Air Force officer failed to enter Kelley’s domestic violence court-martial into a national database.
Mass shootings are getting deadlier, experts say
Grant Duwe, criminologist and author of Mass Murder in the United States: A History, revealed that 2017 has been the deadliest year for mass public shootings in American history. “If we look at say the top seven in terms of how deadly they’ve been, five of the seven deadliest have been in the last 10 years,” he told NBC.
While the rate of mass public shootings hasn’t exponentially increased in the past few decades, the number of victims killed and wounded have recently spiked. Four of the five deadliest mass public shootings in our country’s history have occurred over the last decade, including the attacks in Las Vegas, Virginia Tech, the Orlando nightclub, Sandy Hook Elementary School, and the First Baptist Church in Texas.
The lack of policy response has people everywhere questioning: When?
Don Lemon of CNN’s Tonight with Don Lemon, asked viewers, “How many more times are we going to have to do this? How many times are we going to look up at the TV and see and hear people grieving, sobbing their hearts out … the responses from our leaders are sadly … familiar,” he reflected, before showcasing half a dozen tweets that offered prayers, but no call to action.
“Thoughts and prayers did not stop an oversight from the justice system, which enabled a guy who attacked his stepson and assaulted his wife, from getting a gun … Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about … taking guns out of the hands of responsible gun owners. Does a civilian really need an arsenal … body armor … those are the questions our leaders should be debating,” he said.
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