Donald Trump, who is still abroad in Japan, faced questions at a recent press conference in Tokyo regarding the November 5th mass shooting that occurred at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. When asked about gun control in relation to the attack, Trump said the Texas shooting was a “mental health” problem. It’s a devastating yet common response often made by Republican politicians, and in the wake of mass shootings, many Americans are outraged that our president can’t recognize a phenomenon that speaks to both problems in mental health care and gun control regulation.
At a previous press conference, Trump called the shooting, which left at least 26 people dead and approximately 20 injured, an “act of evil.” He also stated that “through the tears and through the sadness, we stand strong — oh so strong.”
While his “thoughts and prayers” rang hollow, his later statements did more work to leave some people infuriated. When asked by a reporter about gun control laws, Trump responded:
Trump stated that, “based on preliminary reports,” the alleged shooter, 26-year-old Devin Kelley, was a “very deranged individual.”
Trump continued, “This isn’t a guns situation. I mean we could go into it, but it’s a little bit soon to go into it.”
Saying it’s too “soon” to discuss gun control legislation immediately after a mass shooting is outrageously flawed, as The New York Times noted in response to the Texas massacre. And this was also the White House’s response after the Las Vegas shooting, as the LA Times reported.
Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., echoed his father’s misguided sentiment in a series of tweets after the Sutherland Springs attack. Both Trump and Trump Jr. credited an armed citizen for taking down Kelley. (As ABC News reported, authorities said a local man did shoot at Kelley, who dropped his weapon and fled in his car. The local man and another man then helped the authorities pursue Kelley, who was ultimately found dead of a gun wound in his crashed car.)
Many Americans are not buying their fallacious rhetoric. Gun control issues and mental health issues are not mutually exclusive. In fact, these ideas are more interconnected than not when it comes to mass shootings.
Some people also called out Trump’s hypocrisy since, in February, he signed a bill that undid an Obama regulation that would have made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun.
Piers Morgan condemned the narrative that lax gun control regulations aren’t part of the problem while speaking to Sean Spicer on Good Morning Britain. And yes, it’s definitely a strange, dissonant feeling when you actually agree with Morgan on a topic, but goes to show how other countries have seen the light when it comes to gun control.
Politics aside, our thoughts are with the victims of the Sutherland Springs shootings. We hope the president will work to make these horrific events a thing of the past.