While speaking to Americans about the recent mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso, Donald Trump, refusing to lay the blame where it deserves, unequivocally reported, “mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”
Sorry, Mr. President, but we beg to differ. Deadly violence in the District has increased over a year ago, reaching our 100th homicide during the first week of August. And guns, in the majority of those cases, served as the cause of death. We’d be more willing to support the claim, “hurt people hurt people than allow for a new spin on that old, and false, anti-gun control slogan, “guns don’t kill people, people do.”
Countries across the globe have people who suffer with mental illnesses. Countries with access to technology similar to that enjoyed by Americans, have video games with violent themes and the ability to surf the internet. Yet, our peer nations do not have rates of gun violence anywhere near America’s.
The epidemic which continues to infect more of our citizens, particularly our youth, is gun violence — no ifs, ands or buts. Somewhere along the way, the fabled Pandora’s Box must have been opened, allowing a dangerous wave of anger and violence to be unleashed in our cities and suburbs. Guns have become the easiest method for setting that rage free with assault weapons surging to the front as the tool of choice.
Returning back to Trump’s revisionist retort of a slogan that’s long lost its luster, we are almost unable to respond — almost. But as responsible members of the District, and of the United States, we are unable and unwilling to pass off the unacceptable rise of gun fights on the streets or mass shootings in schools, stores, centers of faith or popular community gathering spots solely on mental illness.
America has long had a love affair for guns. Consider that in Texas, the state where the El Paso massacre just occurred, the law still allows for people to enter most any public facility with a rifle in tow. Citizens are equally allowed to showcase their pistols as they rest upon their hips in full view of others.
Somehow, the right to bear arms has taken precedence over the right to life.
If we have any hopes of taking our communities, our cities, our streets and the future of our children back in our own hands and under our own control, we must eliminate the unfettered ability to purchase or to use guns. We must put out of office those politicians who have embraced complacency.
And while we would never advocate alternative means of violence, Black folk realize that while a session with a psychologist may help our children, every now and then a visit to that old shed out back with Dad or Uncle Joe may help a few youngsters see the light.