Trump addresses El Paso, Dayton mass shootings, outlines potential reforms

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There were two tragic and fatal mass shootings over the weekend in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio that received extensive media coverage and elicited the typical shouts for the government to “do something” to address the horrific incidents of mass murder that occur all too frequently these days.

While most on the left reiterated their standard call to simply ban all guns, Second Amendment be damned, President Donald Trump took a more nuanced approach in his remarks on Sunday and Monday and indicated that “something” may very well actually be done this time — albeit, not anything that either side of the gun debate is likely to fully endorse.

Trump’s take

Speaking to reporters prior to his return to the White House from his resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, President Trump offered his condolences to the victims of the shootings and their families and praised law enforcement for their quick reactions that most likely saved additional lives from being lost.

Asked what he would do to address the problem of mass shootings, Trump replied, “We’re talking to a lot of people, and a lot of things are in the works, and a lot of good things.” He noted that his administration has already done some things to take on the problem, little of which has been adequately reported by the media. “But perhaps more has to be done,” he said.

“But this is also a mental illness problem. If you look at both of these cases, this is mental illness,” the president added. “These are people — really, people that are very, very seriously mentally ill. So a lot of things are happening. A lot of things are happening right now.”

Condemning racism, bigotry

President Trump noted in those remarks to reporters that he would make an official statement on the subject from the White House on Monday, and did indeed deliver prepared remarks from the Diplomatic Reception Room Monday morning.

He reiterated his condolences and shared grief with the victims and survivors of the attacks, condemned the “barbaric slaughters” that took innocent lives, and forcefully and specifically called out “racist hate.”

“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy,” Trump said. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul.”

Potential solutions

The president further offered up four areas where bipartisan consensus could be found to help prevent future mass shooting attacks, the first of which was to “do a better job of identifying and acting on early warning signs.”

He also called for an end to “the glorification of violence in our society” — specifically in violent video games and the entertainment industry — called for the reform of mental health laws to help identify, and possibly even involuntarily commit, “mentally disturbed individuals” who may carry out mass shootings.

Finally, Trump signaled an openness to so-called “red flag” laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders, in order to “make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms, and that, if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process.”

Nobody on either side of the debate will be entirely happy with what Trump said, and it remains unclear what his proposals would actually look like in practice, but he at least called out hate for what it is and has shown a willingness to actually “do something” pragmatic and reasonable instead of just talk about unconstitutional gun bans or ignore the problem that will not just go away on its own.

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