In the wake of two horrific mass shootings, President Trump on Monday offered welcome words and a few useful starting points to address the madness. But he — and all of Washington — have a long way to go.
Americans are “outraged and sickened by this monstrous evil,” said Trump. “Our hearts are shattered for every family whose parents, children, husbands and wives were ripped from their arms and their lives.”
Citing the El Paso gunman’s “racist” manifesto, he called on Americans to “condemn racism, bigotry and white nationalism” — “sinister ideologies” that must be “defeated.”
Finally, Trump warned that Americans can’t let themselves feel “powerless.”
“We can and will stop this evil contagion,” he said, then offered specifics:
- He ordered the Justice Department to work with other agencies and social-media companies to “develop tools that can detect mass shooters before they strike.”
- He repeated his calls for red-flag laws, which allow judges, after “rapid due process,” to bar dangerously troubled individuals from possessing firearms. The Parkland high-school shooter, he noted, had raised many red flags, yet no one acted.
- He called for “reform” of mental-health laws “to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence” and get them treated and, when necessary, involuntarily confined.
Plus, Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) met with the president and say he “showed a willingness to work with us” to toughen up background checks.
Trouble is, Trump’s tone-deaf follow-up tweet linked passage of new background-check laws to his pet subject, immigration:
“Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying . . . this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform. We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!”
Huh? Immigration reform has absolutely nothing to do with mass shootings, and the president’s linkage makes it sound like he’d agree to one only if he got the other. Worse, some might even think he’s somehow justifying the lunacy of the El Paso wacko, who lashed out at immigrants in his manifesto and waged his attack at a place near the Mexican border where immigrants shop.
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Also disappointing: Trump said nothing about the broader gun-control issue — specifically, for example, passing a new and better assault-weapons ban.
“Mental illness pulls the trigger, not the gun,” he asserted. Yet unless high-powered weapons are made significantly harder to get, there will still be triggers around for the mentally ill to pull.
To those who say any new gun laws are an infringement on the Second Amendment: Our nation gives citizens the right to bear arms. But it does not, and it should not, give them the right to become an arsenal. This isn’t about handguns, it’s about weapons of war.
Trump is right that Americans are not “powerless” in the face of ongoing gun violence. Yet, as president, he has more power than anyone. He needs to use it.
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