President Trump said a lot of good things today in his statement following the horrific weekend of gun carnage in America.
Displaying a rare and welcome empathetic tone, he unequivocally condemned white supremacists, denounced hate, racism and bigotry, used the phrase ‘domestic terrorism’ for those who commit such atrocities, criticized violent video games, demanded immediate tougher action to stop the radicalization of people on the internet, and called for bi-partisan solutions to gun violence and for Americans to come together.
All of this is to be applauded.
But what the President didn’t talk about is the one thing that actually caused the deaths and injuries to more than 80 people in El Paso and Dayton: GUNS.
Oh he mentioned them, but only to absolve them of any responsibility.
The President’s Monday speech on the weekend of gun violence in America failed to address the one thing that really caused the deaths and injuries – guns
‘Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger not the gun,’ Trump said.
And that is true.
But it is guns, and the bullets fired from them, that do the actual killing.
If mentally sick or hateful people don’t have guns, they can’t shoot people.
That’s why mentally sick and hateful people don’t shoot anyone in Japan, which has a greater obsession with violent video games than anywhere but no mass shootings – they can’t get their hands on guns.
That’s also why, when 16 schoolchildren were shot dead in Britain in the Dunblane massacre of 1996, we banned virtually all guns from civilian hands and haven’t, thank God, suffered a school shooting since then.
Yet in America, you can legally arm yourself like Rambo.
And when 20 schoolchildren were shot dead in a US classroom in Sandy Hook in 2012, nothing was done to stop it happening again and there have been over 240 school shootings in America since that day.
So let’s cut all the crap: it’s about the guns.
Many other countries have the same kind of mental illness, hate, bigotry, white supremacy, violent video games and internet radicalization that Trump referenced.
But only America offers such easy access to guns.
THAT’S the difference, and that’s why America has more gun violence and gun deaths than the next 23 developed countries combined.
The 24-year-old Dayton shooter Connor Betts used an AK-47 style semi-automatic assault rifle with a 100-bullet magazine.
Killer and his weapon: Connor Betts, picture top with his sister who was among the nine people he murdered, legally bought and used an Anderson Manufacturing AM-15 rifle with a 100-round double drum magazine in the massacre (pictured above)
All of it apparently bought legally, despite the fact
Betts was reportedly suspended twice from high school after drawing up a ‘kill list’ for boys and a ‘rape list’ for girls.
He was dressed and armed for a battlefield, yet able to bring war to the streets of Ohio.
Betts was shot dead by police 24 SECONDS after he fired his first shot, yet still managed to kill 9 people and wound 27.
That shows you both the devastating speed and power of these weapons, and the futility of relying on ‘good guys with guns’ to stop such horror happening.
The El Paso shooter Patrick Crusius, 21, also used an AK-47 style assault rifle, and had numerous high-capacity magazines, all also bought legally. He was able to kill at least 20 people and wound 26 at a Walmart store before police detained him.
The El Paso shooter Patrick Crusius, 21, also used an AK-47 style assault rifle, and had numerous high-capacity magazines, all also bought legally (pictured above left using the weapons and above right in a social media picture)
My brother is a British Amy Colonel and can’t believe civilians are allowed to use such high-powered guns.
‘They have one purpose,’ he told me, ‘and that’s to kill lots of human beings as fast as possible.’
Yes, and that’s why they have been used in almost every one of America’s 20 worst gun massacres.
Yet still they are legal.
No hunter or sportsman with any pride needs one, and no homeowner needs one to defend themselves.
When I pressed Trump, during our recent interview in London during his UK state visit, about why civilians need semi-automatic rifles, he said some use them for ‘entertainment’.
The only other reason I’ve ever been given was from a Houston restaurant worker who told me he used an AR-15 rifle to shoot packs of crop-destroying wild hogs from helicopters because ‘you can kill a lot of them at once’.
So that’s it?
These military weapons have to be made available to American civilians for entertainment and hog culling?
Well sorry America, it’s time you found another way to get your kicks and slay pigs.
It’s also time America stopped its ridiculous veneration of guns generally.
After the El Paso shooting, Texas Governor Greg Abbott was quick to appear in public offering his thoughts and prayers.
In Texas no state permit, registration or owner license is required to purchase a firearm, and there is no background check required for private sales. Yet when Texas Governor Greg Abbott appeared in public offering his thoughts and prayers (above) to El Paso victims, he claimed he was ‘shocked’ by what happened
This is the same Greg Abbott who on October 28, 2015, ten months after he took office, tweeted a link to a story in the Houston Chronicle that revealed Texans had made over 1 million requests to buy guns that year, with two months of the year still left.
Abbott was unhappy.
Not that so many new guns would be flooding his state, but that not enough would be doing so.
‘I’m EMBARRASSED,’ he tweeted, ‘Texas #2 in nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let’s pick up the pace Texans.’
He copied in the NRA to his plea, presumably so they could help facilitate the faster gun sales he wanted to spare his shame.
Abbott has an A+ NRA rating, the highest ‘accolade’ it gives to gun-friendly politicians.
Abbott has an A+ NRA rating, the highest ‘accolade’ it gives to gun-friendly politicians, and has voiced his embarrassment in the past that California was beating Texas for the number of new gun purchases
And they recently thanked him for signing all ten NRA-supported pieces of legislation sent to him during the past session of Texas legislature.
Texas has some of the weakest gun laws in America.
No state permit, registration or owner license is required to purchase a firearm, and there is no background check required for private sales.
It is also an ‘open carry’ state, so you can carry your gun around with you like you would your cell phone.
In fact, in Texas, it is legal to carry a long firearm (rifle) without a license, which is what the El Paso shooter did.
Governor Abbott said he was ‘shocked’ by what happened.
How shocked can you be when you’ve literally begged people to buy more guns, and made it so easy for anyone – however disturbed their mind may be – to do so?
The most staggering thing about America’s gun culture is that even the country’s supposedly smartest minds don’t seem to understand how insane it is.
Acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson decided that perspective was required. ‘In the past 48 hours, the USA horrifically lost 34 people to mass shootings,’ he tweeted. ‘On overage, across any 48 hours, we also lose… 50 to Medical errors, 300 to the Flu, 250 to Suicide, 200 to Car Accidents, 40 to Homicide via Handgun. Often our emotions respond more to spectacle than to data.’
The most staggering thing about America’s gun culture is that even the country’s supposedly smartest minds don’t seem to understand how insane it is, as proven by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson in the above tone-deaf tweet
I had to read this ridiculous whataboutery, for which he has now apologized, several times to fully comprehend its spectacular tone-deaf awfulness.
When someone like deGrasse Tyson instinctively decides this is the best way to respond to two of the worst gun massacres in modern U.S. history, I truly despair.
America’s had 249 mass shootings in 2019, and it’s only August.
On average, 100,000 people every year are hit by gunfire in the U.S., of which 32,000 die.
To offer some of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s ‘perspective’, just 32 people die from guns in the UK each year.
We have our own issue with knife crime, for sure, but the casualty levels are not in the same stratosphere as US gun violence statistics (more people will be shot dead in America this week than were stabbed to death in Britain last year).
So America has a uniquely terrible romance with guns that is now exploding into a never-ending series of grotesque massacres as the weaponry grows ever more powerful.
And nobody, least of all the President, seems inclined to do anything about the main cause of the violence.
Curiously, Trump began the day tweeting that ‘Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks’, then crassly and inappropriately added, ‘perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform.’
(So you’d give the El Paso shooter exactly what he wanted, Mr President – REALLY?’)
But by the time he got to the White House podium 3 hours later, he didn’t mention even this small but significant new gun law proposal, despite it being one that not only 90% of Americans support but also the vast majority of Republicans.
I suspect he was bullied into dropping it by the NRA, which still has Trump in its pocket after supporting him at the 2016 election, when they read his tweet.
If so, then it’s hard to imagine anything more spineless.
Don’t make America weep again: A ban on assault weapons, a ban on high-capacity magazines, and the introduction of mandatory background checks on all gun purchases is needed to stop massacres like those witnessed this weekend in El Paso (top right) and Dayton (top left)
All the eloquent words in the world won’t change a damn thing, Mr President, if you continue to allow yourself to be pushed around by a bunch of gun-toting maniacs whose sole interest is in selling more guns and making billions of dollars in profit.
These mass shootings have to stop, and the best way to start the process is to stop those committing them from being able to buy their tools of their terror.
So it’s time you grew a pair President Trump, stand up to the NRA and do what REALLY needs to be done.
As you said today, you banned bump fire stock after the Las Vegas massacre.
Now you must go much further.
That means a ban on assault weapons, a ban on high-capacity magazines, and the introduction of mandatory background checks on all gun purchases.
Do it now, or stand condemned as a coward.