By now, we all know that President Donald Trump has a knack for spreading misinformation, even about things as trivial as how much he paid for his wife’s engagement ring. And his comments on gun violence after the February 14th Parkland shooting have been no exception. Here are all of the misleading things the president has said about gun control:
Mental illness causes gun violence.
In the wake of the Parkland shooting, Trump blamed the attack on the shooter’s mental health. He said that his administration was committed to tackling issues related to mental illness, and he called for bringing back mental institutions as a means to stop gun violence. (Huh?) But there is little proof to support the idea that people with mental illnesses are likely to commit shootings. A 2015 study in the journal NCBI found that less than 5 percent of mass shootings from 2001 to 2010 were carried out by people with a diagnosed mental illness.
He’s done more to prevent gun violence than former President Barack Obama.
Obama was an outspoken proponent of gun control legislation, but Trump has routinely argued otherwise. Most recently, in a February 28th meeting with members of Congress, the president claimed that an amendment to implement more comprehensive background checks proposed by Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey had failed because of a lack of “presidential backup.” In reality, Obama advocated strongly for the bill, and was upset when it didn’t pass in 2013.
Most shootings take place in gun-free zones.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump claimed that 98 percent of mass shootings from 1950 to 2014 took place in gun-free zones. But the study he got this statistic from has been widely contested due to its definition of a gun-free zone. A later book published by a University of Massachusetts, Boston professor found that only 16 percent of mass shootings had occurred in gun-free zones.
The Pulse Nightclub shooting could have been stopped with a gun.
Trump erroneously claimed that there was no one with a gun at the June 2016 Pulse shooting. But an Orlando police officer, Adam Gruler, was acting as an armed security guard at the club, and he did actually shoot at the gunman.
Trump’s false claims about gun control are insidious and scary. By pinning the blame on past presidents and mental health, Trump is misleading the public and perpetuating problematic ideas about mental illness. We need our president to stop detracting from the real issue: gun laws. We need reform, and we need it now.