Whenever there's a mass shooting, we can count on two things to happen. First, nothing. Nothing will happen. No matter how horrendous the shooting happens to be, the National Rifle Association has rendered Congress entirely impotent, ensuring nothing will happen to prevent another would-be gunman from easily purchasing firearms. Not even the cold-blooded murder of 20 kindergarteners or the live on-air murder of two journalists has successfully shaken our political leaders from their NRA-induced torpor. Second, the NRA's flying monkeys inevitably fan out across the country, disbursing the usual talking points about mental health, arming schoolteachers and outlawing gun-free zones, all as a distraction from the real issue, which is, of course, ridiculously easy access to firearms.
The mental health issue, in this context, is horseshit. In spite of how often they lean on this particular button in the wake of a shooting, the Republicans haven't done a damn thing about addressing mental health. Ever. In fact, it was a Democrat, the late Paul Wellstone, who championed the notion of making mental illness a legitimate health matter. It was also a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president who included mental health coverage as an Obamacare mandate -- covering nearly 4 million Americans who previously didn't have mental health insurance. The Republicans, on the other hand, have voted to repeal Obamacare upward of 60 times, while attempting to block the Wellstone amendment. If they were really concerned about mental illnesses contributing to gun massacres, you'd think there'd be something in the works to mitigate the problem by delivering more medical care to the people who need it the most. Nope. Not a chance.
So, leave it to Donald Trump to shift an already badly skewed debate from mental illness to, somehow, evil geniuses. Yes, Trump blamed gun massacres on shooters who are "geniuses in a certain way." They're masterminds, he said, who can "break the system."
“No matter what you do, you’re gonna have problems,” Trump told NBC News in an interview that aired Sunday. “Because you have sick people. They happen to be intelligent. And, you know, they can be sick as hell and they’re geniuses in a certain way. They are going to be able to break the system.”
Not only are the shooters geniuses, but there's really nothing we can do to stop them, said Trump. Gone are Trump's usual over-the-top superlatives about how he has a "terrific" plan to stop gun violence -- that there's going to be so few kindergarteners shot when he's president, our heads will spin. None of that. Trump's reaction? Oh well. He might be a complete fraud, but he sounds a hell of a lot like a Republican here. It's frankly worse than Jeb Bush's unfortunate "stuff happens" reaction. Indeed, Trump went one step further by suggesting that stuff happens and nothing can be done about it because mass shooters are basically Batman villains who can "break the system," apparently using green laughing gas and an entourage of anonymous, masked henchmen.
Contra Trump, what we absolutely shouldn't be doing now, especially given how one mass shooter happens to inspire the next mass shooter, is stroking the apparent intelligence of these murderers. Whether true or not, the last thing we ought to be doing is pointing to guys like Adam Lanza or Chris Harper-Mercer and treating them like MENSA candidates.
More from Trump:
“It’s a horrible thing to say,” he added. “And it’s not even politically correct. But it’s common sense. You’re going to have problems no matter how good, no matter what kind of checks you do, you know, what kind of laws.”
No matter what we do, Trump said, stuff will still happen. Fascinating coming from a front-runnner for the presidency who thinks a border fence -- complete with a "beautiful big door" -- will end the allegedly immigrant-based violence in Baltimore and Chicago. So, evidently, there's an actual solution to gun violence as long as it includes vilifying brown people with a new Berlin-style wall. But when it comes to preventing these mostly white mass shooters from easily stockpiling obscenely large arsenals of firearms, whatevs.
Trump possesses neither a conscience nor any core values whatsoever, making him capable of blurting literally anything. This blurt, in particular, is especially egregious. But it fits nicely within his contradictory, half-assed positions on the Second Amendment. One of those positions, as published on his website, states that we shouldn't expand background checks until we fix what he believes is a broken system. This is not unlike suggesting that a professional football team shouldn't sign better receivers until the quarterback recovers from a mildly strained hamstring, but OK. Yet, at the same time, he declared that it really doesn't matter how strong the system is because the geniuses will always find a way around it. Put another way: Trump thinks we should fix the broken system, but it doesn't matter if we do because "you're going to have problems, no matter how good" the system is.
As infuriating and insensitive as it might be, Trump's gun position is precisely the GOP position, only he doesn't mind blurting it out loud, nor does he mind sounding like a self-contradicting nincompoop in the process. And rest assured, Wayne LaPierre is perched in his underground lair, writing a series of campaign contribution checks to Trump as we speak. All told, Trump has managed to top the old "mental health" excuse in the wake of various gun massacres. Even if we address mental health, he believes, the shooters will still break the system. It's a line we should expect the rest of the GOP to embrace presently because it's kind of, in a sinister way, also genius. There's an increasing sense of futility on both sides of the gun debate, and Trump's position plays directly into it. Why bother? Nothing will happen. Sure it won't, because the system is broken and there's nothing we can do about, so we might as well take our toys and go home. And if that happens, the NRA wins. Flawless victory.