It’s not the gun that pulls the trigger.
We don’t have guns that can pull their own triggers.
Wisdom and guidance and comfort to that effect spilled forth from the mouth of the current leader of the free world Monday as he tried to reason with a shaken nation in the aftermath of the two most recent mass shootings. Below is the actual verbatim sentence that came from President Donald Trump as he tried to explain the problem, and what he was going to (not) do about it:
“Mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun.”
I don’t mean to be unkind to the poor, dear leader. And I suppose I know I’m committing the cruel sin of quoting him as if his words are supposed to be coherent. He was obviously reading from a teleprompter something that had been written for him, and he’s terrible at that. He does his best talking with his thumbs, on Twitter.
But I think it’s OK to hold the commander in chief responsible for what comes out of his mouth, in an actual public event that he organized to explain his thoughts and feelings to the nation, something written by his staff, for him to say to give his public reaction to the two massacres of innocents.
After all, he hired the staff, and he said what they put on the teleprompter: that guns are not the problem because they do not pull their own triggers. It’s even dumber than the usual version of this bromide, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” which is designed to somehow get us thinking that easy access to guns in our country has nothing to with our country having far more gun killings than occur in countries that don’t have such easy access to guns.
The president did float some (somewhat vague) ideas to address gun violence: Do a better job of finding mass killers before they mass kill, stop “the glorification of violence in our society,” build “a culture that celebrates the inherent worth and dignity of every human life,” reform mental health laws to identify and treat those who might turn into mass murderers and reduce access to firearms to those people, and enact a death penalty for mass murderers.
He also came out against gruesome video games, although he didn’t propose to do anything about them. He suggested better efforts to find people with homicidal tendencies and, if necessary, lock them up before they can kill. I’ll be interested to see his forthcoming proposal on this.
He also called for the death penalty for those who commit mass murders. Of course, the Dayton shooter was killed by police fire immediately, while he was still shooting people. The El Paso mass murderer is in custody. Before his massacre, he left a statement about the need to prevent a “Hispanic invasion of Texas,” that some have suggested resembled some of Trump’s rhetoric.
But, to make plain my point, since the gun didn’t pull its own trigger, new restrictions on the availability of guns capable of mass murder are not part of the solution, according to Donald Trump, as of this writing. And, of course, no universal background checks on those seeking to purchase weapons.