It’s the Guns. It’s Always Been the Guns. Trump and the GOP blame mental illness for the Texas massacre. That’s a destructive lie.
Here are snippets from The Nation essay.
Within a day of the massacre of men, women, and children in a Texas church, President Donald Trump made three claims. First, he maintained it wasn’t a guns problem. Second, he said the shooter was stopped by someone else with a gun. Third, he blamed mental illness. Together the statements made one thing very clear: There is no amount of violence or sympathetic victims that will ever shame today’s Republican Party to take action on guns.
First, how can it not be a “guns problem”? The shooter managed to obtain an assault rifle and 30 magazines even with a history of domestic violence. Second, one guy did have a gun but stopped the shooter only after 26 lay dead. (And, it might be supposed that some of the Texans who were shot had firearms.) Third, blaming mental health for such tragedies is an excuse for not doing anything about the prevalence military-grade weapons in America. More on that follows.
Trump’s comments on mental health are typical of Republican response to violence. He characterized the killer as a “very deranged individual” who has a “mental health problem at the highest level.” This was also his and Representative Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) response after the Las Vegas shooting. Republicans (and some Democrats) have been making comments like this for decades. On Monday in Japan, though, Trump added, “We have a lot of mental health problems in our country—as do other countries—but this isn’t a guns situation.”
That middle clause, “as do other countries,” is quite the tell. Trump regularly runs his mouth freely, revealing the subtext that lies beneath the usual GOP talking points. Trump isn’t wrong. Many countries have not adequately met the mental-health needs of its population. But linking acts of violence to people with mental health is gross stigmatization that belies the data. People with mental illness are vastly more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it.
Still, let’s take Trump at his word here and agree that around the world other countries also have people with unmet mental-health needs. And yet among 171 nations of the world, the United States is the clear leader in mass shootings. It’s the guns. Of course it’s the guns.
And on that point, consult my post from this last Wednesday about false arguments and real facts about gun control.
Trump’s little slip, “as do other countries,” makes his agenda transparent. The problem is guns; Republicans know it; and they’re not going to do anything about it. The GOP has decided that the murder of children in church is a reasonable price to pay for the continued support of billionaire gun merchants and the NRA.
I’ve made that same point on this blog several times before. America is willing to sacrifice its children on the altar of the Great Gun God attended by its high priest, the NRA.
If Americans don’t wish to wear the NRA’s vestments, then they need to do something differently. As the authors says, “To stop, or even slightly slow the violence, we are going to have to elect different politicians.”