Is President Trump serious about combating gun violence? | The Tylt
Is President Trump serious about combating gun violence?
Nearly 24 hours after the Florida school shooting that left 17 dead, President Trump finally made a statement about the incident. Trump focused on the mental health of the shooter without talking about the weapons used to perpetrate the attack.
I want to speak now directly to America’s children, especially those who feel lost, alone, confused or even scared: I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be. You have people who care about you, who love you, and who will do anything at all to protect you. If you need help, turn to a teacher, a family member, a local police officer, or a faith leader. Answer hate with love; answer cruelty with kindness.
Republicans and gun rights advocates have consistently claimed mental health―not access to firearms―is "the critical ingredient" in mass shootings in America, and Trump appeared to echo this sentiment. Law abiding gun owners should not be punished for the actions of a deranged few. Focusing on firearms rather than the motivating factors that would lead an individual to commit a heinous act of violence is not productive.
Later this month, I will be meeting with the nation’s governors and attorney generals, where making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority. It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make that difference.
Many believe Trump's statement was strong and he is taking the issue of violence in our communities seriously.
But critics argue Trump's comments about the importance of mental illness are hypocritical. Two months into his presidency, Trump reversed an Obama-era policy that made it harder for individuals with mental illnesses to purchase guns.
President Barack Obama recommended the now-nullified regulation in a 2013 memo following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which left 20 first graders and six others dead. The measure sought to block some people with severe mental health problems from buying guns.
Even if we choose to ignore the conversation about access to guns, Trump's insistence that communities warn law enforcement about individuals they think may be dangerous is also invalid.
According to BuzzFeed News, the FBI was warned in September about the Florida gunman's penchant for violence and desire to become "a professional school shooter." If the FBI has clear evidence that a person is dangerous but isn't empowered to do anything about it―like prevent said person from purchasing firearms―how would Trump's advice help anything?
As MSNBC's Joy Reid puts it, the NRA has made it impossible for law enforcement to prevent killers from carrying out their attacks. If Trump is serious about keeping American schools and communities safe, he should start with some common sense gun control legislation.