“Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”
So, we’re doing this again.
Let’s be absolutely clear here—Donald Trump’s response to this weekend’s mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, was gross. And also plain f***ing wrong.
On Saturday, Aug. 3, a gunman opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, killing 21 innocent people. Not 24 hours later, another mass shooting occurred in Dayton, resulting in the deaths of nine people. After the attacks, authorities confirmed discovery of an online manifesto posted by the El Paso shooter that echoed anti-immigrant rhetoric eerily similar to—guess who?—Donald Trump.
Trump and other Republican leadership repeated the same BS we hear every single time something like this happens. Receiving the brunt of the blame was mental illness, U.S. border policy, violent videogames—basically anything but guns.
But here’s the thing: This has nothing to do with immigrants, and never has. The El Paso shooter was not an immigrant. The Parkland shooter was not an immigrant. The Las Vegas shooter was not an immigrant. The Sandy Hook shooter was not an immigrant. They were not Muslim. They were not ISIS. They were homegrown, white, domestic terrorists empowered by the Trump administration’s peddling and/or hand-waving of white nationalism in America.
“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” Trump said to a room of reporters following this weekend’s events. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart and devours the soul.”
If you’re thinking to yourself that the “sinister ideologies” the President is referring to are literally his own, you’d be correct. His “condemnation” is always followed by inaction, so it doesn’t matter. “Thoughts and prayers” do not matter. Since his election (and way before that), Trump has empowered white nationalists, incited racism and violence, and dodged any wrongdoing in the process using classic gaslighting tactics and good old-fashioned narcissism.
It has nothing to do with violent videogames, either—the age-old argument that games drive people to commit horrific crimes has been discredited and disproven time and time again, yet it’s still used as a crutch by political leaders looking for any excuse not to blame the weapons themselves, our regulation of them, and pro-gun organizations like the NRA and its deep influence over our politics. This idea has constantly been used to target the mentally ill, as well, which is, yet again, nonsensical and ludicrous. The mentally ill are already ostracized enough; blaming them for mass shootings isn’t needed, nor is it fair or correct in any way.
“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society,” Trump said during Monday’s conference. “This includes the gruesome and grisly videogames that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this, and it has to begin immediately.”
I can’t believe we have to keep saying this. It’s tiring, but it will be repeated until something happens. The problem is guns. Call a spade a spade. Report on it accordingly and call it what it is. The problem is guns.