Trump Claims Gun Control Would Have Left "Hundreds More Dead" In The Texas Shooting

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Share

The left's calls for gun control law emerge after every mass shooting in America. However, President Trump has made it clear he doesn't support legislation that would make it more difficult to buy guns. In fact, during a press conference in South Korea on Tuesday, Trump claimed Texas' mass shooting would've left "hundreds more dead" if tougher gun laws were in place.

The president was asked by a reporter if he would support "extreme vetting" for those seeking to buy guns, evoking the same language Trump used on immigration after a man in the country on a visa killed eight people in New York City on Oct. 31. President Trump responded: "If you did what you are suggesting, there would have been no difference three days ago."

After the lone gunman fled the Texas church where he opened fire, killing at least 26, a witness began shooting at the suspect and followed as he drove away. The authorities concluded the suspect had been shot by the armed bystander, but died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Nevertheless, President Trump used the presence of an armed civilian to argue against gun control, saying that had the witness not been armed, the small town "would have had hundreds more dead."

The notion Trump advanced that people need guns to defend themselves and others is the crux of pro-gun organizations' argument for less gun control. However, it's largely a myth.

Studies show more guns don't make Americans safer, and a Stanford law professor's research found states with right-to-carry laws have higher rates of violence. Additionally, a 2012 Mother Jones investigation found that no mass shootings in the previous 30 years had been stopped by an armed bystander.

While the Texas case may be used as proof that civilians with guns can help when tragedy strikes, the shooter died from a self-inflicted bullet. And to Trump's point that "hundreds more" would have died, the shooter had already left the church where he shot more than 40 people, and no evidence suggests he was headed to a second target.

Oftentimes the presence of more guns slows down police response to a shooting, as happened in Colorado last week. When a gunman began firing inside a Wal-Mart, multiple shoppers pulled out guns as well. Although none of the armed bystanders fired a shot, their actions made it more difficult for law enforcement to pinpoint the shooter in surveillance footage after he fled the store.

Victor Avila, a Thornton Police Department spokesperson, told reporters investigators were forced to go "back to ground zero" multiple times while trying to identify the active shooter on video.

On top of praising armed bystanders, the president also used another myth to argue against gun reform Tuesday. "Look at the city with the strongest gun laws our in our nation — Chicago," he said. "Chicago is a disaster, a total disaster."

It's true that Chicago's murder rate is rising, but the city doesn't have the "strongest gun laws" in the country, as Trump purported. Many of Chicago's previous gun control measures have been overturned in court, including a requirement that gun owners register their weapons with the city. A concealed carry law was also passed in Illinois in 2013, allowing citizens to walk around with concealed guns if they have a permit.

"Sorry, gun lovers, your attempts to use Chicago as a prop to bolster your claims that gun control laws do nothing to curb gun violence just don’t hold up," Dahleen Glanton wrote in The Chicago Tribune last month.

Trump's response to the Texas shooting didn't deviate much from his message following the massacre in Las Vegas just a month ago. In October, he hedged talk about gun control while visiting the city, telling a reporter, "We're not going to talk about that today."

The fact remains, though, that mass shootings in the U.S. are becoming more frequent and more deadly. And with continued inaction in Congress on gun control laws, many are simply waiting until the next apparently inevitable mass shooting to happen.