Donald Trump is not equipped to solve the epidemic of massive gun violence in our society. This is evidenced by how Trump’s responded to most acts of violence in this country, but also in what he’s suggesting as the country continues to reel from the shootings in Dayton and El Paso.
Before he left for a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Thursday, Trump spoke with reporters about solutions for gun violence. A reporter asked if Trump was “prepared” to write new executive orders to deal with gun violence.
“We’re gonna look at that very closely. We’re gonna look at the whole gun situation,” he said vaguely.
Then Trump got to the terrifying part of his answer.
“I do want people to remember the words ‘mental illness.’ These people are mentally ill, and nobody talks about that. But these are mentally ill people. People have to start thinking about it. I think we have to start building institutions again,” Trump said. “Because if you look at the ‘60s and ‘70s, so many of these institutions were closed. And the people were just allowed to go onto the streets.”
If your goal is to make everyone afraid of anyone with a depression diagnosis, then Trump reached it. Painting institutions, where we lock up all the people whose brains don’t work like you want them to, as the solution to gun violence would be laughable in its absurdity, if it wasn’t such a terrifying concept.
In an article in Time about the dangers in linking mental illness and gun violence after Dayton and El Paso, Drs. Megan L. Ranney (an associate professor of emergency medicine at Brown University) and Jessica Gold (an assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis) wrote that “there is no factual link between mental illness and violence against others.”
What’s worse, Ranney and Gold continued, “people with mental health disorders are more likely to be victims of a violent crime.” Further, the authors reported on an analysis in 2011 which found that 35,000 patients with schizophrenia would have be detained to prevent the death of one stranger.
Trump’s ideas are dangerous to anyone who deals with mental health disorders, diagnosed or not, in treatment or not. And this wasn’t a slip of the tongue. “They closed them. Cities couldn’t afford them and they closed them,” Trump said of these institutions. “I can tell you in New York they closed a lot of them. And the people went out, they went out onto the streets and it was a terrible thing.”
The president is going out of his way to say we should lock up the most vulnerable among us. “A lot of our conversation has to do with the fact that we have to open up institutions. We can’t let these people be on the streets,” Trump said.
We could just get rid of the fucking guns. But I guess we’re going to build more prisons instead. They’ll just be under a different name.