Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump appeared on CNN Thursday to push back against the liberal argument that more gun control is needed in the wake of the Virginia shooting.
“This isn’t a gun problem, this is a mental problem,” said Trump. “It’s not a question of the laws, it’s really the people.”
After Democrats from Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe to Hillary Clinton made calls for background checks, the ATF confirmed that shooter Vester Flanagan actually passed one in order to buy the Glock that was used in the murders.
“In the old days,” Trump said, “they had mental institutions for people like this because he was really, definitely borderline and definitely would have been and should have been institutionalized. At some point somebody should have seen that, I mean the people close to him should have seen it.”
What’s really tragic is that this story is being politicized at all. Isn’t it enough to witness this horror in all of its gruesome character? Democrats couldn’t even wait until the killer had been identified before they started sounding the gun control alarm. And they haven’t stopped since, even after learning that Flanagan bought his gun within the full confines of the law. There was no break in the system. There is no reasonable law that could have prevented this tragedy.
Trump isn’t wrong when he talks about the need for stronger mental health awareness, but there’s more to it than that. We need to recognize one undeniable truth that has been with the human race for as long as it has existed: murder is part of our society. Evil is part of our society. Bad people exist, and they were killing innocents long before the invention of the gun. Lest anyone forget, 19 terrorists killed 3,000 people without a single gun among them. Somehow, though, we didn’t spend the next ten years talking about box cutter control. Maybe because that would be ridiculous.
Instead of focusing on background checks, we should focus on the sick society that gave rise to a killer like Flanagan. He was directly influenced by the black church murders in Charleston, a shocking attack that liberals politicized as well. Instead of focusing on the insidious white supremacy that led Dylann Roof to carry out the murders, though, they wasted all their time on the Confederate flag. They conveyed a simple, subtle message: as long as that flag flies, every Southerner is responsible for these murders. As is clear from Flanagan’s 20+ page letter explaining his actions, he was highly susceptible to that message.
The further we stray from fundamental principles of societal integrity and morality, the more of this we’re going to see. No amount of gun control will stop it. No mental institution will stop it. Only when we shake this country free of the parasites infecting its soul will we conquer evil.