Trump on guns: ‘We do have a lot of background checks right now’

President Donald Trumpon Sunday emphasized a need for the country to focus on “a very big mental health problem” in the wake of two mass shootings in one weekend that left 32 people dead earlier this month as he appeared to defend current US gun control measures, stating “we do have a lot of background checks right now.”

“It’s the people that pull the trigger, not the gun that pulls the trigger so we have a very, very big mental health problem and Congress is working on various things and I will be looking at it,” Trump told reporters on the tarmac before heading back to Washington after a vacation at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. 

The White House, Trump said, is “very much involved” in the discussions Congress is having to address gun violence and while “a lot of things are happening on the gun level” he said “the concept of mental institutions” must be addressed.

“These are people that have to be in institutions for help, I’m not talking about as a form of a prison, I’m saying for help and I think it’s something we have to really look at, the whole concept of mental institutions,” he said. “I remember growing up we had mental institutions, then they were closed — in New York, I’m talking about — they were, many of them closed. A lot of them were closed and all of those people were put out on the street.”

“So I think the concept of mental institutions has to be looked at,” he said. 

Guns in America

Trump’s comments Sunday mark an increased focus from the President on mental health measures over gun control legislation to address gun violence as lawmakers remain skeptical gun control legislation could pass a divided Congress. 

Trump, who has previously expressed support for tighter gun restrictions only to back off under pressure from the National Rifle Association, added Sunday that he’s “very concerned about the Second Amendment.”

Meanwhile, two gun control groups mobilized to increase the pressure on senators to pass legislation in the wake of the two mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas.

Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action held rallies across the country this weekend after announcing Thursday that they would spend nearly $1 million on ads against a handful of Republican lawmakers. 

The effort from Everytown and Moms Demand comes as the NRA, its biggest adversary, has been noticeably absent from applying pressure on Capitol Hill allies to hold fast against strong forces for gun reform.

Support for background checks 

The Democrat-controlled House passed a universal background check bill in February, but the measure has not been considered by the Republican-led Senate. Trump last week expressed an openness to background checks.

Speaking to a Kentucky radio station last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the Senate will put the issues of background check legislation in addition to “red flag” laws “front and center” when the body reconvenes after its summer recess, but it will not return early as Democrats are demanding.

A mid-July NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that 89% of Americans considered it a “good idea” to implement background checks for gun purchases at gun shows or other private sales, with a nearly nonexistent partisan divide: 96% of Democrats, 89% of independents and 84% of Republicans called it a good idea.

[CNN]

Trump blames news media for causing ‘anger and rage’ in wake of domestic terror attack

Donald Trump has blamed what he called “Fake News” for stoking “anger and rage” in the wake of two gun attacks that killed a total of 29 people, one of which is being treated as a case of domestic terrorism.

In a tweet on Monday morning, the president said the media had a responsibility to safeguard “life and safety” in the United States. 

“Fake News has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years,” he wrote. 

“News coverage has got to start being fair, balanced and unbiased, or these terrible problems will only get worse!”

The tweet came at the end of a string of angry missives about the El Pasoand Dayton mass shootings over the weekend, which saw 29 people shot dead in less than 24 hours. 

Earlier, Mr Trump had thrown his support behind tougher background checks for buying guns, but then insisted any legislation was tied to immigration reform. 

There is no obvious connection between the two shootings and immigration reform. The suspect in El Paso, Patrick Crusius, is believed to be a white nationalist and police are treating the attack as an act of domestic terrorism.

Now, the president has turned his ire on the familiar foe of the media and appeared to accuse journalists of being partly to blame for the epidemic of gun violence which blights America. 

Speaking to reporters just before boarding Air Force One, Mr Trump had offered his condolences to the families of those killed in Dayton and El Paso. 

“We love the people,” he added. “Hate has no place in our country.”

However, earlier Democrats had accused Mr Trump of “sowing seeds of hate” and said he, not the media, was responsible for the wave of right-wing terrorist attacks in recent years.

Cory Booker, a Democratic senator and presidential candidate, told NBC: “You reap what you sow, and he is sowing seeds of hate in this country.

“This harvest of hate violence we’re seeing right now lies at his feet. He is responsible.”

Mr Trump has repeatedly attacked the media since he was elected, condemning almost any critical coverage of his divisive presidency as “fake news”. 

Although the business mogul’s linking of the press with the two shootings appears to simply continue this trend, he is not the first person to connect journalism and gun violence. 

There is some evidence the media’s coverage of mass shootings can lead to a wave of copycat attacks. 

One study from last year by Australian researchers concluded there were spikes in the numbers of shootings in America after a high profile incident is given wall-to-wall exposure on rolling TV news. 

In total, the study suggested 58 per cent of all shootings in the three year sample they examined could be linked to coverage of previous tragedies. 

[The Independent]

Trump again says armed concertgoers could have prevented Paris attack

President Trump on Friday reiterated his claim that the 2015 terrorist attacks at the Bataclan nightclub in Paris might have been avoided if some concertgoers had been armed.

“Paris, France, they say has the strongest gun laws in the world,” Trump said Friday during his speech to gun rights advocates at the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) annual convention in Indianapolis.

“If there was one gun being carried by one person on the other side, it very well could have been a whole different result. The shooting went on so long and there wasn’t a thing you could do about it,” he said.

Trump used his fingers to emulate a gun being fired, saying, “Get over here, boom. Here, boom. And then they left. They were captured later.”

The president added that if a “tiny percent” of concertgoers had been able to carry weapons, the attack “probably wouldn’t have happened because the cowards would have known there were people and they’re having guns.”

Trump has weighed in before on the shooting, which left 90 people dead. Coordinated attacks from Islamist extremists at a concert hall, stadium, restaurants and bars killed 130 people and injured hundreds more on Nov. 13, 2015.

The president made very similar comments last year while speaking at the NRA conference in Dallas and was later condemned by the French government.

[The Hill]

Reality

Actually Trump is echoing the NRA’s own argument that if guns are not allowed near schools, churches, and government buildings then shootings cannot be stopped by a “good guy with a gun.” However the empirical evidence is not on Trump’s side.

In 2014 the FBI released a reported titled “A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013” which looked over 13 years of data and a of total of 160 incidents, and concluded the concept of a good guy with a gun was unequivocally proven to be a myth. The number of times a shooting ended after armed citizens exchanged gunfire with the shooters only amounted to 5 times (3.1%). In contrast the number of times unarmed citizens safely and successfully disrupted the shootings was 21 times (13.1%).

Media

Trump parrots Fox & Friends report on gun control meeting in rambling ‘respect the 2nd Amendment’ tweet

President Donald Trump reacted to Fox News reports about a bipartisan White House meeting he led with a tweet on gun safety measures.

The president surprised many Republicans during Wednesday’s meeting by calling for more extreme gun control measures than Democrats have proposed, and Trump apparently responded to “Fox & Friends” commentary on those ideas.

[RawStory]

Media

 

Trump insists on arming teachers despite lack of evidence it would stop shootings

In the past 24 hours, Donald Trump has thrice backed a plan to arm teachers in US schools despite the lack of evidence showing this would end school shootings.

Facing opposition from the country’s largest teachers’ unions, school security guards and military veterans, the president continued to endorse the plan in White House meetings and on Twitter.

“I want my schools protected just like I want my banks protected,” Trump said Thursday morning in a meeting about school safety at the White House.

In the Thursday meeting, the president suggested offering bonuses to teachers who are trained to carry concealed weapons.

“If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly,” Trump said at a Wednesday night listening session with loved ones of people killed in mass shootings.

There are few examples available of armed citizens stopping mass shootings and it is difficult to track, in part because it is difficult to know what a gunman was planning before they were stopped.

A 2014 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) study of US active shooter incidents in the US between 2000 and 2013 said of the 160 total incidents examined, 21 were stopped by citizens, workers or off-duty police officers. Of the 21 people, six were armed.

An active shooter incident is defined as a shooting that occurs in a confined, populated area and in which law enforcement or citizens could affect the outcome based on their response. Shootings related to gang violence, accidents and suicides were not included in the tally.

The majority of the 160 incidents, 56.3%, were ended by the shooter before police arrived. Either the shooter committed suicide, stopped shooting or fled the scene. “The FBI recognizes that seeking to avoid these tragedies is clearly the best result,” the study concluded.

Trump’s suggestion to arm teachers was immediately opposed by the nation’s largest teachers’ unions – the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) – as well as the teachers’ union in Florida’s Broward County, where last week’s shooting took place.

Individual teachers criticized Trump’s suggestion on social media under the #ArmMeWith campaign. There, teachers asked that the money that would be needed to fulfill Trump’s plan instead be used to improve schools resources such as mental health services and basic classroom supplies.

A former assistant principal who stopped a shooting at a high school in Mississippi while armed told the New York Times the experience left him with nightmares and acute stress for six months afterward.

“It doesn’t matter what a pistolero you are, or think you are,” Joel Myrick said. “You don’t need to be in school in charge of protecting children.”

The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), the nation’s largest school policing group, also said it opposed arming teachers. They noted law enforcement officers responding to an incident may mistake armed personnel not in uniform as the assailant. They also emphasized how law enforcement officers receive ongoing practice in high-stress and difficult shooting environments.

At the Wednesday listening session, Trump also described a situation where there would simply be more armed people on campus – not just teachers.

“They may be Marines that left the Marines, left the Army, left the Air Force,” Trump said. “And they’re very adept at doing that. You’d have a lot of them, and they’d be spread evenly throughout the school.”

Veterans disputed this claim on Twitter.

Jay Kirell, a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan, said it was “extremely difficult” to shoot under stress. “Cops & soldiers literally get paid to do this & most of them can’t shoot accurately under stress,” Kirell tweeted.

Daniel Riley, an infantryman in the Marines who attended Columbine high school, guessed how many Marines would have been needed to prevent students being killed at his alma mater during the 1999 attack.

“Using my knowledge of both, my guess on what it would take to prevent kids from being killed on 4/20/99: at least 20 Armed Marines (And it’s still a maybe),” Riley said. “And that’s somehow ‘common sense’?”

Trump’s proposal ignores the efficacy of gun laws in other countries where there are far fewer incidents of gun violence.

[The Guardian]

Trump Says He’ll Back ‘No Fly List’ Gun Control Bill

Donald Trump said Wednesday in a tweet that he would meet with the National Rifle Association to discuss “not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or no fly list, to buy guns.”

If the presumptive Republican nominee follows through, it would appear to put him on roughly the same side of the issue as President Obama and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

But it’s also possible that Trump’s position, so far described only in a tweet, will be closer to a long-held Republican position—which sounds identical on paper, but is very different in implementation.

Here’s the issue. Most Democrats support banning anyone on the FBI watch list from purchasing a weapon, full stop.

Most Republicans, and even the NRA, say the same thing. In 2015, the gun lobby said it “does not want terrorists or other dangerous people to have firearms.” But the Republican solution would not impose a full ban.

(h/t Time)

Reality

While Trump’s proposal to ban suspected terrorists is a from purchasing a firearm is a common-sense approach to gun safety (and something the Democrats have been pushing a long time for) unfortunately it would have done little to prevent the shooting in Orlando.

Omar Marteen was actually taken off the terrorist watch list, which is something the FBI should be held accountable for.

Keep in mind, people on the terrorist watch list are still able to legally purchase guns because on December 3rd, 2015, U.S. Senate Republicans blocked legislation that would have prevented known or suspected terrorists from buying guns.

Here is the vote count for that law you can read yourself: S.Amdt.2910 to S.Amdt.2874 to H.R.3762.

Trump Takes Credit for ‘Being Right on Radical Islamic Terrorism’

Donald Trump wasted little time seeking political advantage in the massacre at a Florida nightclub, taking credit for “being right on radical Islamic terrorism” in the wake of the worst mass shooting in American history.

The suspect in the attack, identified by authorities as a U.S. citizen of Afghan descent named Omar Saddiqui Mateen, killed 50 people and injured another 53 during a rampage through a gay dance club in Orlando. He died in a gunfight with SWAT officers after initially firing shots into the club and later taking hostages.

FBI special-agent-in-charge Ron Hopper told reporters that Mateen had been interviewed twice in 2013 after he made comments to co-workers about potential ties to terror groups, and another time in 2014. Just before his bloody rampage on Sunday Mateen called 911 to proclaim “allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State,” Hopper said.

Trump followed up that tweet with a statement expressing his “deepest sympathy and support” for “the victims, the wounded, and their families.”

But he also attacked President Barack Obama, whom he said “disgracefully refused to even say the words ‘Radical Islam'” during his comments on Sunday afternoon. “For that reason alone, he should step down.”

Obama condemned the attack as “an act of terror and an act of hate,” but declined to identify a motive. “We’ve reached no definitive judgment on the precise motivations of the killer,” the president said. “The FBI is appropriately investigating this as an act of terrorism, and I’ve directed that we must spare no effort to determine what, if any, inspiration or association this killer may have had with terrorist groups.”

Trump also went after his Democratic rival for the White House, writing, “If Hillary Clinton, after this attack, still cannot say the two words ‘Radical Islam’ she should get out of this race for the Presidency.”

“If we do not get tough and smart real fast, we are not going to have a country anymore,” Trump continued. “Because our leaders are weak, I said this was going to happen – and it is only going to get worse. I am trying to save lives and prevent the next terrorist attack. We can’t afford to be politically correct anymore.”

Trump then noted the killer’s ethnicity and religious faith, citing Pew statistics showing that “99% of people in Afghanistan support oppressive Sharia Law.”

He accused Clinton of wanting to “dramatically increase admissions from the Middle East, bringing in many hundreds of thousands during a first term,” warning that “hundreds of migrants and their children have been implicated in terrorism in the United States” since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. “We will have no way to screen them, pay for them, or prevent the second generation from radicalizing.”

“We need to protect all Americans, of all backgrounds and all beliefs, from Radical Islamic Terrorism – which has no place in an open and tolerant society,” Trump concluded. “Radical Islam advocates hate for women, gays, Jews, Christians and all Americans. I am going to be a President for all Americans, and I am going to protect and defend all Americans. We are going to make America safe again and great again for everyone.”

Earlier on Sunday, Trump was the first remaining presidential candidate to speak about the massacre, tweeting about the “really bad shooting in Orlando.”

“Police investigating possible terrorism. Many people dead and wounded,” he wrote.

After the death toll had risen from an estimated to 20 to a confirmed 50 with dozens more injured, Trump tweeted again, offering his condolences and urging the U.S. to “get tough.”

“Horrific incident in FL. Praying for all the victims & their families,” he said. “When will this stop? When will we get tough, smart & vigilant?”

Minutes before President Barack Obama spoke, Trump tweeted:

(h/t Politico)

Reality

Donald Trump was quick to congratulate himself over 50 dead Americans, then continued on with his anti-immigrant speech. Trump then spent the rest of the day with tweet after tweet disseminating unverified information.

This could very well be a case of domestic terrorism, but as the day progressed and more information became available another possible motive arose as a hate crime against the LGBT community. The shooter’s father said that his son was angered after seeing two men kissing on the street months ago. More information later came in that the shooter was not mentally stable and was not at all religious or interested in religion.

Donald Trump claims we have to be smart but (and this is important but completely lost on Donald Trump) the investigation is still way too early to jump to his conclusions. That’s not at all smart.

Finally, Trump took the opportunity to bring up the old conservative trope that Obama refuses to acknowledge terrorism, and until he does we’ll be vulnerable to terrorists… or something. However there is a very good reason why President Obama, and before him George W. Bush, will not speak the words “radical Islamic terrorism” when referring to terrorist groups like ISIS. They may sound like small words to Republican critics like Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz, but they have big meaning. The members of ISIS and other terrorist groups are desperate for legitimacy. This is why ISIS calls themselves the “Islamic State.” They try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of Islam. And they propagate the notion that America, and the West, is at war with Islam. For a President of the United States to infer that we are at war with the Islamic religion, it would have immediate consequences from our Muslim allies in the middle-east as well as give terrorist groups the legitimacy they exactly want.