With the latest mass shooting as his backdrop, Donald Trump continues to claim that our biggest problem with guns is mental illness. He also pretends that he is all for gun legislation. Both contentions could not be further from the truth. Let’s look at his claim regarding mental illness first.
Yes, people who buy guns and go out to kill people they don’t know are mentally ill. Sane people don’t typically wake up one morning and decide to kill Mexicans, blacks, gays, etc. That type of thought is arguably not sane. If, however, Trump were truly concerned about the mentally ill getting guns, why did he roll back President Obama’s regulation that made it more difficult for them to get guns?
NBC ran a piece on Trump’s rollback of this legislation earlier in August. When NBC asked why, Judd Deer, White House spokesman, said: “This was a wide-ranging regulation promulgated in the 11th hour of the previous administration that included all kinds of people with disabilities who are more than capable of owning a firearm. The rule went too far.” Another lie from the Trump White House. This rule specifically targeted people who had been diagnosed with mental illness, not any other disabilities. The NRA, of course, applauded Trump’s actions, which tells you this was a bad idea.
President Obama added the rule following the Sandy Hook massacre, not “at the 11th hour,” and it would have added 75,000 names to the national background check system, including only people on Social Security benefits due to mental illnesses. Obviously, this rule would not have covered every nut who wants a gun, but these were people who were easy to track and would have hindered at least those people’s ability to own guns. Mental health experts believe that Trump is focusing on mental illness to avoid the tougher issues that would likely destroy his relationship with the NRA, which brings us to what Trump does propose.
Because we well know Trump, he’s basically proposing nothing. According to the Hill, Trump believes that background checks “would not have stopped” mass shootings. When queried by the Hill on his ideas, all he could say was, “We’re looking at a lot of different things. We’re looking at a lot of different bills, ideas, concepts.” Again, he’s doing nothing. Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin authored a bi-partisan bill that failed to pass by 60 votes. Two other bills have passed Congress this year, and they are languishing in the Republican-controlled Senate. Trump also claims to have “done much more than most administrations” on gun control, but instead, he wants to slash Medicaid, which provides health insurance for over 70 million low-income Americans and is also a major source of public funds that treat mental health.
Trump continues to speak out of both sides of his mouth, and the end result means nothing. We will continue to experience mass shootings until something is done to stop them. That something is strong legislation that will make it harder for these people to get guns. It’s a very simple fix that Trump and the Republicans refuse to act on because they care more for the NRA than they do for us.