Gun violence

Published 4:10 pm Tuesday, August 13, 2019

It seems nothing ever changes. There were two more mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. Instead of doing something to stop this national tragedy, President Trump and both national and Virginia Republicans cower behind NRA talking points and offer worthless prayers for the slain. Trump’s speech on the shootings lacked anything resembling empathy for the victims. He read it like he was a hostage making a video for his captors. He couldn’t even get one of the towns correct, mentioning the shooting in Toledo, Ohio instead of Dayton. I’ve been to both towns and believe me they aren’t very easy to confuse.

Trump and Republicans want to blame the shootings on mental health and violent video games. This is baloney. Every country in the world has people with mental health problems and play video games. Yet they have very few incidents of gun violence compared to the U.S. If mental health really was an issue, why did Trump in February 2017 sign a bill revoking an Obama regulation adding people with mental illness to a national background check database?

No, there are two major problems regarding mass shootings. One is the easy availability of guns in this country. The other problem is that we have a white nationalist domestic terrorist movement whose chief enabler is President Trump. His public statements which have been echoed by Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingram of Fox News among others have incited some disaffected white men to commit acts of violence.

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Patrick Crusius, the alleged El Paso shooter committed a premeditated act of murder by driving over 600 miles from Dallas before posting a manifesto minutes before shooting up a Walmart. The manifesto echoed Trump’s words from a tweet in July 2015, “WHAT U REALLY SHOULD B ANGRY ABT IS THE INVASION OF MILLIONS OF ILLEGALS TKING OVER AMERICA! NOT DonaldTrump.”

To Trump, if someone commits a senseless act of violence and is Islamic then he’s defined as a terrorist. If a white man commits the same offense, he isn’t a terrorist but simply insane. Trump’s response to the threat of domestic terrorism is to have the Department of Homeland Security disband a group of intelligence analysts who focused on domestic terrorism.

While Trump isn’t directly responsible for the shootings and other acts of domestic violence, he reminds me of a person who yells “Fire!” in a dark movie theater. He may not want people to be trampled to death but still wants to see the crowd’s reaction.

JAMES PECA is a retired U.S. government analyst living in Farmville. He can be reached via email at