Trump invokes ‘good guy with a gun’ myth while dismissing gun discussion following Texas shooting

"Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction."

CREDIT: SCREENGRAB
CREDIT: SCREENGRAB

During a joint news conference in Japan with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Trump rejected calls for gun control following a mass shooting that killed 26 parishioners at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas this weekend. Trump said Sunday’s event, which represents the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history, “isn’t a guns situation.”

“We have a lot of mental health problems in our country as do others countries, but this isn’t a guns situation,” Trump said. “We could go into it, but it’s a little bit soon to get into it.”

Trump then alluded to the myth that “good guys with guns,” not gun control laws, are the key to stopping mass shootings.

“Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction, otherwise it [wouldn’t have] been as bad as it ways, it would’ve been much worse,” he said. “But this is a mental health problem at the highest level.”

Despite what Trump would have you believe, someone else “shooting in the opposite direction” did nothing to stop Sunday’s mass shooting.

The shooter allegedly responsible for the Sutherland Springs massacre — a 26-year-old former Air Force member named Devin Patrick Kelley who had a history of domestic violence — shot multiple people in the church with a Ranger military rifle in a matter of minutes. Authorities say that after he exited the church, an armed resident exchanged gunfire with Kelly and shot him. Kelly escaped and drove off in his vehicle; he later crashed and was found dead in his car.

Trump isn’t alone in thinking that more guns, not less, are the solution to mass shootings. Hours after Sunday’s shooting, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton appeared on Fox News and urged people to respond to the news by bringing guns to church.

All I can say is, you know, in Texas at least we have the opportunity to have concealed-carry, and so if it’s a place where somebody has the ability to carry, there’s always the opportunity that gunman will be taken out before he has the opportunity to kill very many people,” Paxton said. Later, he argued that we need to be “arming some of the parishioners or the congregation so that they can respond if something like this, when something like this happens again.” 

But research indicates the “good gun with a gun” myth referenced by Trump and Paxton is just that — a myth.

A comprehensive study by the Violence Policy Center found guns “are rarely used to kill criminals or stop crimes.” In 2012, “for every justifiable homicide in the United States involving a gun, guns were used in 32 criminal homicides,” researchers concluded. Another study by the University of Pennsylvania found that someone carrying a gun is “4.46 times more likely to be shot in an assault.”

When a man allegedly began firing “nonchalantly” at shoppers in a Colorado Walmart last week, the fact that other people in the store were armed caused more problems than it solved. Police said that the fact so many people pulled their own weapons as shots rang out complicated the investigation. Ultimately, the shooter wasn’t apprehended for five hours.

Trump has a remarkably tight relationship with the National Rifle Organization, which spent more than $30 million to help him get elected. So perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the Trump administration never seems to think the time is right to discuss gun control.

The day after a gunman in Las Vegas killed 58 people early last month, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huackbee Sanders told reporters it was too soon to discuss gun control. Her comments echoed what Trump told reporters during Monday’s news conference in Japan.

The shooting in Sutherland Springs came less than two months after the Las Vegas attack — meaning that two of the five deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history have occurred in the last 35 days, and three of them have happened in the last two years.

Trump’s comment about the Texas shooting being “a mental health problem at the highest level” is belied by his actions. Shortly after he took office, the Trump administration repealed an Obama-era regulation that prevented certain people with mental health conditions from buying firearms.