It doesn’t matter how many thoughts and prayers are being pledged for the innocent victims and their families of the massacres in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The bitter truth is that nothing will be done legislatively in Congress to address this epidemic of violence so long as the National Rifle Association is calling the shots in the White House and the Republican-controlled Senate.
Indeed, the NRA’s primary justification for opposing any sensible gun-control laws on the federal or state levels has been adopted by Republican President Donald Trump and the GOP.
In his first public statement Sunday in the aftermath of the mass killings over the weekend, Trump wasted no time in declaring that “extreme mental illness” was the reason 21-year-old Patrick Crusius and 24-year-old Connor Betts shot to death in cold blood 31 people and injured dozens.
But the facts surrounding the mass killings in El Paso and Dayton do not support the “mental illness” explanation embraced by Trump and other Republicans.
In Texas, Crusius drove almost nine hours from Allen to El Paso, walked into a crowded Walmart on Saturday and shot customers and employees like fish in a barrel.
Less than a half-hour before going on his shooting spree, Crusius is said to have posted a 2,356-word “manifesto” that appeared on the anonymous message board 8chan, according to USA Today. The four-page document shared widely online contains anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric, advocates a plan to divide the nation into territories by races and warns of an impending yet unspecified attack, the newspaper reported.
Those facts certainly don’t define an individual with mental illness.
Thirteen hours later in Dayton, Betts drove to a downtown entertainment district with his sister and others, separated from the group, and went on his shooting spree.
But before he launched his attack, he donned body armor and a mask.
He walked down the street firing at random. One of his victims was his sister. It is fortunate that police responded within 30 seconds of the first shot being fired and killed Betts.
There’s nothing to suggest that mental illness was the driving force behind his act of pure evil, either.
An individual who is not in control of his mental faculties does not take the time to hide his identity and to protect himself.
The president and Republicans are wrong when they try to diminish the reasons for the epidemic of mass killings in this country.
It is noteworthy that Trump is offering an explanation for the dastardly acts of two white males that he has not used in other such mass killings.
He has been merciless in his condemnation of individuals of Middle Eastern backgrounds or even black shooters.
In 2016, for example, then presidential candidate Trump responded to the deadly police shootings in Dallas by calling for restored “law and order.”
END SUMMER RECESS FOR CONGRESS
“Every American has the right to live in safety and peace,” Trump said. There was no mention of the killer being mentally ill.
Rather than trying to excuse the actions of the El Paso and Dayton killers, the president should join Democrats in Congress in urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to cancel the Senate’s summer recess and reconvene to pass gun-violence prevention bills.
The Democratic controlled House has passed universal background-check measures, but McConnell has placed those and other pieces of legislation on the Senate calendar. In other words, he has not referred the bills to a committee.
It’s interesting that the House passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 by a vote of 240-190. Eight Republicans joined almost all Democrats to vote for the bill.
The measure would prohibit most person-to-person firearm transfers unless a background check can be conducted, aiming to close a potential loophole allowing the transfer of firearms without a background check at gun shows or between individuals, USA Today reported.
Another bill would extend to at least 10 days the amount of time firearm dealers must wait for a response from the background-check system before the sale can proceed, according to the newspaper. Currently they can make the sale if they haven’t received a response in three days.
Then there are “Red-flag” laws that would enable family members or law enforcement to limit a person’s access to firearms if he or she is deemed a potential threat to the public.
Finally, Congress should reimpose the assault-weapons ban and prohibit the sale of extended ammunition clips.
On Monday, Trump sought to link the passage of gun-control legislation to immigration-reform initiatives.
The American people who are tired of their communities becoming killing fields should let the president know that such linkage is a perversion of the legislative process.