Gun control: nothing has changed

Photo courtesy Odyssey Online

Jessica Wade

Last Tuesday, a man officials described as an immigrant from Uzbekistan drove a truck into a crowd of pedestrians in Manhattan, killing eight. The next day, President Donald Trump called for Congress to end the visa lottery program that had allowed the suspect into the country, calling the American justice system “a joke” and “a laughingstock.”

“We have to get much tougher,” Trump stated at a press conference. “We have to get much smarter. And we have to get much less politically correct. We’re so politically correct that we’re afraid to do anything.” Trump released this statement rather quickly considering his administration’s response to the Las Vegas shooting Oct. 1, where a man shot and killed 58 people at an outdoor concert. Trump’s response to the largest mass murder in modern American history?

“We’re not going to talk about that today [gun control],” Trump said. “We won’t talk about that.” It took a matter of hours for him to respond to the attack in Manhattan. “I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program,” Trump tweeted. “Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!”

The foundation of Trump’s campaign was built on the promise of tough immigration reform and increased national security. The terrorist attack on Oct. 31 was the first attack carried out by a foreign-born assailant since Trump took office, and he is using it as an opportunity to push his agenda. While Trump blamed Sen. Chuck Schumer and former President George H.W. Bush’s immigration policy. Schumer pointed out that Trump’s own budget proposal would cut an estimate of a half-billion dollars from antiterrorism programs.

“The special interests, the arrogant media, and the political insiders, don’t want me to talk about the crime that is happening in our country,” Trump said in a speech he gave in September. “They want me to just go along with the same failed policies that have caused so much needless suffering.” So, perhaps it’s the special interests, arrogant media or political insiders that have made Trump go along with the same failed policies of gun control in a country plagued with an epidemic of mass shootings or, more likely, it’s the NRA.

Many Democrats and Republicans agreed that the banning of bump stocks, the device used by the Las Vegas shooter to make his semi-automatic weapon fire more rapidly, was a logical move.

Yet, despite the rare bipartisan agreement, the ban never came. The NRA pushed the decision to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives (ATF) after claiming bills to ban bump stocks were “intentionally overreaching.” It seems the ATF has made no attempt to move forward, and the Trump administration has put no pressure on them to do so. The Las Vegas shooter and the Manhattan assailant had similar goals. Both men tried to end as many lives as possible. One of them killed 58 people in a matter of minutes. The other didn’t have a gun.