trump on mental health as opposed to guns

Es­ti­mated reading time is 4 min­utes.

WITH CAFFEINE-INDUCED GUSTO—what other kind is there at 6:30 in the morning?—I opened my sole “con­ser­v­a­tive” newsletter, a sort of rightwing-lite ver­sion of TruthOut and other pro­gres­sive newslet­ters that I re­ceive. It ar­rived with this head­lined story: “Donald Trump Blames Mass Shoot­ings on 2 Words Pres­i­dent Obama Won’t Dare Bring Up.” I knew it was going to be a great way to start the day. 1

Was my cu­riosity piqued!

How could it not be?

What two words could it be?

I couldn’t think of any­thing that could re­place “gun con­trol” to put a halt to these episodes—episodes which now seem to be one of the defining char­ac­ter­is­tics that sets America apart from other Western/democratic-based coun­tries. Read on: 2

“Donald Trump re­cently went On the Record with Greta van Sus­teren, and al­though he spoke to her on sev­eral topics, it was his as­sess­ment of the Umpqua Com­mu­nity Col­lege shooting that’s making waves. Trump lamented the closing of mental health fa­cil­i­ties and the fact that the Pres­i­dent chose to shift the focus to guns:

‘I would have re­ally re­sponded by talking about mental health. A lot of the in­sti­tu­tions that used to be open are closed be­cause of budget rea­sons. I would have cer­tainly talked about mental health as op­posed to guns. The Pres­i­dent talked about guns, it’s not the guns that do the shooting. it’s the people, it’s the minds that do the shooting.’


He es­sen­tially echoed his own as­sess­ment of the Roanoke shooting, when he re­sponded to a ques­tion from CNN’s Chris Cuomo:

‘Mental ill­ness is a mas­sive problem. This isn’t a gun problem, it’s a mental health problem. You’re not going to get rid of all the guns. People see the sig­nals, but figure it will never happen. In the old days, we had mental in­sti­tu­tions for people like this.’

John Tozzi of Bloomberg Pol­i­tics was among those who disagreed:

‘Blaming vi­o­lence on mental ill­ness ob­scures the fact that most people with mental ill­ness will never in­jure anyone and most vi­o­lence is per­pe­trated by people without mental illness.’

Tozzi ad­mits that better mental health­care is needed, and better back­ground checks to keep guns from those with vi­o­lent crim­inal his­to­ries, but balks at the un­der­lying assumption:

‘Trump’s analysis makes the same faulty as­sump­tion as people on the left who paint all gun owners as ex­trem­ists. Nei­ther gun own­er­ship nor mental ill­ness is a good pre­dictor of who will go on a rampage.’

The trouble is that not only do most people with mental ill­ness not commit mass shoot­ings, but nei­ther do legal gun owners—of which there are around 80 mil­lion people in the United States.” (IJR)



Car­toon by Rick McKee of The Au­gusta Chronicle.

Psychopathic karate instructor killers

I read this with bated breath (sic) waiting for Trump to cite real life ex­am­ples from the media to bol­ster his ar­gu­ment. You know, all the times that men­tally ill people went bonkers and killed four or more people with weapons other than guns. I went searching for all the doc­u­mented in­stances of such events as: 3

•  mass blunt-object club­bings by bipolar killers with base­ball bats;
•  mass stab­bings by ram­paging hebephrenic killers with knives;
•  mass hand-to-hand beat­ings by psy­cho­pathic karate in­structor killers;
•  mass stran­glings by delu­sional New Age killers who be­lieve them­selves the rein­car­na­tion of Jack the Ripper; and
•  mass sword-skewerings by be­sotted Spaniards mut­tering, “Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya . . .”

But there none—zero, nada, nothing—for none of the above!

“Oops!” said I.

And that’s when I re­al­ized that Donald had a problem with his theory.


Guns cartoon Bagley 750

Car­toon by Pat Bagley of The Salt Lake Tribune.

Blame it on Ronnie

I need to say that I com­pletely agree with Mr. T’s state­ment con­cerning the han­dling of the men­tally ill in America due to bud­getary rea­sons. In 1978, I moved from Penn­syl­vania to Cal­i­fornia, where I dis­cov­ered that my new state was ten years into a “plan” for dealing with dis­turbed res­i­dents that would be­come a na­tional trend:

“Over 30 years ago, when Reagan was elected Pres­i­dent in 1980, he dis­carded a law pro­posed by his pre­de­cessor that would have con­tinued funding fed­eral com­mu­nity mental health cen­ters. This ba­si­cally elim­i­nated ser­vices for people strug­gling with mental illness.

He made sim­ilar de­ci­sions while he was the gov­ernor of Cal­i­fornia, re­leasing more than half of the state’s mental hos­pital pa­tients and passing a law that abol­ished in­vol­un­tary hos­pi­tal­iza­tion of people strug­gling with mental ill­ness. This started a na­tional trend of de-institutionalization. In other words, if you are strug­gling with mental ill­ness, we can only help you if you ask for it.” (Poverty Insights)

Fi­nally, the last para­graph above is such flawed rea­soning that at first, I thought the writer in need of a stay at one of the fa­cil­i­ties Trump re­mem­bers so fondly. Then I rec­og­nized it as the ob­fus­ca­tion so often used when ad­dressing folks with no skills in log­ical dis­crim­i­na­tion or crit­ical thinking. Hell, modern testing of the brain may lead us to re­alize that they are bi­o­log­i­cally in­ca­pable of such thinking.

As someone once fa­mous once said, “La de da!” 4

I do so look for­ward to to­mor­row’s edition . . .


Guns MandalayShooting 1500

HEADER IMAGE: The car­toon at the top of this page of people run from the Route 91 Har­vest country-music fes­tival after ap­parent gun­fire was heard on Oc­tober 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The shooter killed 59 people, making it the largest mass shooting in US his­tory. For now.



1   I usu­ally place the word con­ser­v­a­tive in quotes to in­di­cate that I am using it iron­i­cally: modern “con­ser­v­a­tives” rarely con­serve any­thing but their own rights.

2   Wholly Grom­mett! Is that why the righties tol­erate mass-killings-by-firearm: be­cause it sets us off from the other non-Americans taking up place on the planet?

3   The FBI de­fines mass murder as mur­dering four or more per­sons during an event with no cooling-off pe­riod be­tween the murders.

4   My fourth foot­note is my third movie reference/allusion/quote in this essay!

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