Las Vegas Sun

August 21, 2019

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Sun editorial:

America’s ‘mental health problem’ has been cultivated for decades

In referring to America’s waking nightmare of mass shootings as a “mental health problem,” President Donald Trump inadvertently points out a fundamental truth about the matter.

This definitely is a mental health issue: The nation’s ongoing terror has been largely fueled by the insanity of Trump, the Republican Party and their propaganda arm Fox News.

Trump’s racist rhetoric and policies, combined with conspiracy theories and “replacement” hysteria driven by GOP extremists and Fox News, is a pressing mental health problem that our nation needs to overcome at the ballot box.

The same goes for the Republicans’ repeated blockage of any and all reasonable gun safety legislation, which glutted the nation with weapons designed solely for inflicting maximum deaths and casualties on battlefields.

Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association and its bootlickers in the GOP contend that the way to solve America’s gun violence problem is with more guns. It’s a textbook case of the classic canard that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome is insanity.

This weekend’s shootings showed in horrific detail that the “good guy with a gun” argument is a cruel lie designed to sell weapons, not protect Americans.

In Dayton, Ohio, police were directly on the scene and responded with lightning quickness, taking down the shooter within 32 seconds. Yet even during that brief amount of time, the shooter was able to kill nine people and critically wound 14 with his powerful assault rifle and high-capacity drum magazine.

The shooter who targeted Latinos in El Paso, Texas, carried out his attack despite knowing that Texas was an open carry state, meaning he was not deterred one bit by the threat of encountering a “good guy with a gun.”

Yet Trump, in addressing the shootings Monday morning, offered little in the way of gun safety policy. He mentioned support for Red Flag laws that allow authorities to seize guns from people proven to be a threat to themselves or others, but he mentioned nothing about his tweet earlier calling for universal background checks.

Was he already backpedaling? If so, it wouldn’t be the first time Trump sold out Americans’ safety. Remember, this president rolled back an Obama-era order making it harder for the mentally ill to obtain guns.

Here’s what should happen: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should call the Senate back from its break to pass — at a minimum — Red Flag and universal background check legislation that the GOP is currently blocking. Moscow Mitch should show the same urgency for the safety of U.S. citizens that he does serving Russian oligarchs and Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, the Democrat-controlled House should start laying groundwork on legislation banning sales of assault-type weapons and high-capacity magazines. It stands no chance of passing in the Senate, but it’s still important. Republican senators need to have their feet held to the fire and once again show what they care about more: Americans’ safety or the profits of the gun industry.

We agree with Trump that “mental illness and hatred pulls (sic) the trigger, not the gun.” And certainly, examinations of mass shootings uncovered signs of depression, anxiety, thought disorders and suicidal thoughts among those who committed them.

But not only is Trump stoking hatred, he also exhibits mental illness of his own by downplaying the role that high-powered guns play in the shootings.

Let’s be abundantly clear: The glut of guns in America is a problem, as is the easy availability of weapons expressly designed to slaughter people.

In Nevada, we know that basic truth all too well after the Oct. 1 shooting. That’s why we elected state lawmakers who, during the 2019 legislative session, passed such measures as a Red Flag law, a ban on bump stocks and expansion of background checks.

There’s much more work to be done here, including a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. It’s a black mark on our state that the recent shooter in Gilroy, Calif., bought his assault-type rifle here.

But we’re at least headed in the right direction.

For America to stop our gun madness, voters must oust Trump and his supporters and replace them with the type of responsible leaders we elected in Nevada.