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Thursday, February 22, 2018

The last thing we need is Trump riding shotgun

Just when we thought Donald Trump couldn't shock us any further, he tells us that he is considering a proposal to promote concealed carrying of weapons by trained school employees to respond to campus shootings.

As the Independent reports, Trump believes the proposal could “solve the problem” of school shootings, by making potential attackers think twice and noted that some airline pilots have carried concealed weapons since the attacks of September 11, 2001.

This solution has been advocated by the gun lobby for some time. They would rather see gunfire met by gunfire than make any attempt to restrict their so-called right to bear arms, even the assault weapons that have been used in many of these shootings.

The paper also says that the President is interested in exploring how mental health treatment or awareness could help to stop future mass shootings. Perhaps he should look to his own culpability in this. After all it was him who repealed Obama's initiative last February that would have made it harder for people with mental illness to buy a gun.

As this website points out, this regulation, which was enacted after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, would have required the Social Security Administration to send records of beneficiaries with severe mental disabilities to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The measure would have affected about 75,000 people found mentally incapable of managing their financial affairs.

Molly McCaffrey, also in the Independent. employs irony to take apart Trump's solution from a practical point of view:

A teacher who is trained to be a good shot should have no problem whatsoever sensing the presence of an active shooter while in the middle of teaching a lesson on photosynthesis, unlocking the closet/drawer/briefcase where the pistol is kept, calmly pulling the pistol out, getting off a clean shot, and taking out the active shooter before he sprays bullets across the classroom with an assault weapon. No problem whatsoever.

She is right. Teachers are there to teach. They are not marksmen or trained special agents. They cannot be equipped to combat automatic weapons or assault rifles. And is the President of the United States really suggesting that guns should be kept in the classroom just in case?

And that is before we even consider how many people will be killed, maimed or injured in the crossfire as a gun fight erupts across the classroom. Trump and his NRA backers have been watching too many Dirty Harry movies.

Guns have been fired on school property in the US at least 18 times so far this year, according to incidents tracked by Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group. In eight of these cases, a gun was fired on school property, but no one was injured. Another two incidents were gun suicides, claiming the lives of one student and one adult on school property.

The Guardian says that the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting last December passed in subdued fashion, with congressional Republicans refusing to pass new gun control laws and instead pushing for a law that would weaken gun restrictions nationwide and make it easier to carry a concealed weapon across state lines.

Donald Trump won the White House campaigning on a promise to support the National Rifle Association, the influential gun rights group, and oppose any limits to Americans’ right to own guns. Surely, even he must begin to see that this is not working.

As The Week reports: Between 2014 and 2017, 56,755 Americans were killed by guns, including 2,710 children under the age of 12. In that time, there have been 1,333 mass shootings - defined as incidents in which at least four people are injured or killed - eight of them at elementary or high schools.

In 2015 and 2016, at least one school shooting took place every month, while in 2017 only February passed by without a gun casualty in an elementary or high school.

The 17 victims shot dead yesterday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, brings the total number of fatalities in American schools in the first six weeks of 2018 to 23.

So far this year, the US has racked up 30 mass shootings and 1,827 gun-inflicted deaths. Americans are more likely to die from a gunshot than from skin cancer or stomach cancer.

These figures are shocking. The only possible explanation has to be the easy availability of guns. The answer is not to arm more people, but to disarm them. Surely, Donald Trump can understand that.
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