Displaying a cognitive dissonance that’s become common with him, President Donald Trump on Thursday made a reference to the alleged mental instability of the young man accused of the deadly Parkland, Florida school shooting.
Though just last year he signed a bill that made it easier for those with mental illnesses to obtain guns.
Speaking to the American public from the White House, Trump said of the fallout, “We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health.”
The comments echoed those that Trump made Thursday morning (where else?) on Twitter, calling the alleged shooter “mentally disturbed.”
So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2018
But even as he lamented the mental health of the alleged shooter, Trump failed to mention that one year ago, he rolled back an Obama Administration regulation that would add the names of around 75,000 individuals declared incapable of managing their own financial affairs to the federal background check list.
While it’s unlikely the regulation would have directly blocked the Parkland shooter from obtaining a gun — it depended largely on data from the Social Security Administration and it doesn’t appear, so far, that the Parkland shooter met the criteria of the regulation — it does show a president whose words are at odds with his actions.
This isn’t the first time Trump has brought up the mental stability of a mass shooter. In October 2017, after a man opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas, killing dozens of people and injuring hundreds, Trump called the shooter “a sick man, a demented man, lot of problems.”
It is a “miracle” how fast the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police were able to find the demented shooter and stop him from even more killing!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 4, 2017
And yet Trump’s only action on guns as president was to weaken a relatively minor gun regulation that would have kept a group of mentally ill citizens from buying guns.
In fact, Trump didn’t mention guns at all in the speech nor did he address the fact that the Florida shooter used an AR-15 assault rifle, the same rifle used in several other mass shootings, and that he bought the gun legally.
If there’s one thing Trump has been consistent on, it’s his insistence there’s no need for gun control, something that came up during the 2016 presidential campaign thanks to one of his more incendiary comments (which is saying something).
So, as the nation tries to move forward from yet another tragedy (and one that claimed the lives of innocent students, once again), we’re left to try and make sense of Trump’s views. Though he offered words of comfort on Thursday, the comfort feels thin as he continues to ignore the glaring issues that have led to a numbing cycle of gun violence.
When his only direct action runs counter to the safety and protection he promises us as a nation — and to our children, who he directly addressed in Thursday’s brief speech — all those words simply ring empty, hollow platitudes that do nothing to actually make us safer.