Trump and Republican Absence from Fixing Cities and Gun Violence
Update: Trump read a TelePrompTer speech condemning the killings, but not touching on any gun or ammunition control issues. The Dayton shooter is now known to have used the highest capacity magazine for an assault rifle, 100 rounds in two circular magazines.
Update: Sunday 8/4. Last night there was another mass shooting, this time in the crowded entertainment district of Dayton, Ohio, on Saturday night. It has claimed 9 lives, with 27 wounded. It again involved an AK47 type semi-automatic rifle, with high capacity magazines. With the Gilroy shooting killing 3, it is the third mass shooting this week.
While Trump is tweeting and insulting Democratic Mayors and Representatives about the shape of their cities and their gun crimes, he is setting himself up for criticism of not doing things to improve them. That’s what I intended to write about today. But other authors are also writing about this.
And now, with the enormous tragedy of the Walmart Shooting in El Paso, now with 22 fatalities, involving a semi-automatic weapon, Trump’s failure at gun control and homicide prevention has come to the fore. We should also include his weak efforts at stopping opioid overdosing, which occurs at double the rate of murders and suicides. As I recall, after the Stoneman Douglas Parkland Florida high school shooting, Trump promised to look into banning assault weapons. This only lasted one day, until he talked to the NRA. Thoughts and Prayers, is all we got. To his credit, Trump did ban bump stocks, after the Las Vegas record mass shooting. Trump has lovingly embraced the NRA, even though gun owners favor universal background checks, since many of them buy guns for their own protection.
The NRA is at its weakest now. It has little money to give to campaigns, and it is racked by corruption and factions. It is so transparent that it is beholden to the gun industry, and not gun owners. Yet it seems to still hold Republicans in its grasp.
Three days into the New Democratic House session of 2019, they filed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Check Law of 2019, which required universal background checks in gun sales between private citizens. This passed the House on March 27, and went to the Senate. There is also a House passed bill to extend background checks from three days to 10 days, when needed, as well as an additional 10 days if needed. There is also Senate Bill S. 66, which is the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019, introduced by California’s Senator Diane Feinstein. It was given a 4% chance of passage.
The Governor of Texas said that we should look into mental health, the standard Republican response. It’s not just shooters, but 22,000 people a year commit suicide with guns. That is almost 2/3 of gun deaths. The first thing Gov. Greg Abbott will find is that Trump canceled the restriction on gun sales to people with mental health records, after only a month in office, with the approval of his Republican Congress.
The mental health aspect is now at the forefront, as the Dayton shooter had been spotted as a minor, when he was twice suspended from High School for putting a hit list on a bathroom, and also a list of students that he would like to rape. Past Ohio Governor John Kasich said in an interview that he proposed a Red Flag state law to prohibit possession of firearms to such threats, but could not get it passed.
Any efforts at improving housing for the poor had been doused by Trump’s appointment of untrained and inexperienced Dr. Ben Carson, a pediatric surgeon, as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Trump’s 2020 budget calls for a 16.4% reduction in HUD funding, and a 22% cut in the Department of Transportation funding. Trump’s prejudice that we are pouring billions into cities is not accurate. Cities spur business and contribute more in taxes than they get back in government funding, as does California. Trump’s appointment of a large monetary backer Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, tilted government emphasis away from helping public education in cities, and towards public funding of private and religious schools, attended by the elite.
Clearly, Trump will not win over many cities, which have minorities, and large Democratic votes. Just like he abandoned policies to help California or New York and other Democratic states, he is also abandoning Democratic cities. He is also turning his supporters against these cities, rather than doing anything to help them.
Here is data from Wikipedia about the 50 largest US cities, having a joint population of 50 million. 33 of the mayors are Democratic (66%), 14 Republican (28%), and 3 independents, but elected with Democratic help. The largest six cities, which are all Democratic, are: New York City (8.6 million), Los Angeles (4.0), Chicago (2.7), Houston (2.3), Phoenix (1.6), and Philadelphia (1.6). Then we get to Independent San Antonio (1.5), and the first Republican, San Diego (1.4). While the city of Baltimore has a population of 0.61 million, the Baltimore metropolitan area has a population of 6.7 million. The Baltimore mayor was Democrat Catherine Pugh, who resigned in May.
Trump has not invested in urban infrastructure, or any infrastructure, except for The Wall, which hardly qualifies. Such infrastructure would be putting money into Democratic cities. The largest cities above are quite old, and need such investment. There are also many cities now without clean water.
As details of the El Paso shooter emerge, it looks like he followed Trump’s dog whistles characterizing Mexican immigrants as murderers and rapists, and Trump’s embrace of White Nationalism. It took four years, since the first day of Trump’s campaign, but there it is. Trump has also degraded all refugees and seekers of asylum, as well as Muslims. Trump has also brushed off the Nationalist movement as not a serious threat.
Instead of appointing Attorney Generals to solve city crimes, gun control, and growing Nationalist threats, Trump only chooses them on the basis if they have his back and protect him alone. The first AG, Jeff Sessions, cancelled programs to adapt police forces to deal fairly with minorities. Instead of any ideas to increase our safety by limiting gun availability or large magazines to dangerous people, AG Barr just said he would punish the one surviving terrorist to the fullest extent of the law. It’s odd, that in the case of Donald Trump, Barr was hired to do just the opposite.
I hate to give this warning. Arming dedicated terrorists with semi-automatic rifles and large magazines costs about $2,000. They also add on body armor. So the spate of armed killings is often followed by less well off terrorists just driving their cars into crowds.
During the present and future of the Trump elitism golf tour (now 200 days at our expense), cities and the poor have been sorely neglected.