During his visit to South Korea, Donald Trump was asked whether he’d push for the same “extreme vetting” of gun owners that he’s proposed for refugees and U.S. visa holders.
Trump’s response was a blustery and, at times, indignant mix of “How dare you,” “Nah, son” and “It could have been worse.”
In Trump’s joint press conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a reporter for NBC News confronted the president about the latest American mass shooting that left 26 dead in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
“You’ve talked about wanting to put extreme vetting on people trying to come into the United States,” the reporter said, casually alluding to Trump’s reaction to a mass attack in New York perpetrated by an Uzbeki national driving a truck. “But I wonder if you would consider extreme vetting for people trying to buy a gun?”
“It’s OK if you feel that’s an appropriate question,” Trump replied, which is what you say when it’s not OK and you think the question is inappropriate AF.
Visibly frustrated, Trump also huffed at the reporter for raising the question “in the heart of South Korea.” While he said this, Trump made big arm motions, Christ the Redeemer-style, as if to say, “Look, this is South Korea.” Why having a gun control discussion in that country (which, despite being under nuclear threat, has strict gun laws) is inappropriate, as opposed to anywhere else in the world, is beyond me, and probably beyond all the South Korean journalists in the room, too.
“If we did what you were suggesting, there would be no difference three days ago. And you might not have had that very brave person who happened to have a gun or a rifle go out in his truck and shoot [the gunman] and hit him and neutralize him,” Trump said, referring to Stephen Willeford, the Texas man credited with shooting and chasing off the Sutherland gunman.
“If he didn’t have a gun, instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead,” Trump continued.
This point—a common conservative refrain—is worth pausing on.
Shockingly, there is a bit of nuance that Trump inadvertently introduces. Per our current gun laws, Devin Kelley, the gunman in Sutherland Springs, should never have had a gun in the first place. Kelly’s domestic violence charges were never entered into a national database, allowing him to pass background checks and buy firearms.
This is important to remember: We can have the right laws in place, but it doesn’t matter if they’re not being enforced properly.
Still, the focus on the “good guy with the gun” being unable to purchase his firearm is ridiculous—there is simply no way of knowing that for sure. News outlets are reporting that Willeford had a rifle and not the sort of semi-automatic weapon that would likely be subject to “extreme gun vetting.” (It’s also worth mentioning that Willeford, as a former National Rifle Association instructor, was also a highly trained marksman, which is not true of many gun owners.)
Proclaiming that “hundreds” more could have died, so we must be glad that only 26 lives were lost, is shameful and indicates how normalized mass murder has become in the U.S. As USA Today reports, 208 people have died in mass shootings this year alone.
Finally, the reporter asked Trump whether he would consider any gun control policy.
“The city with the strongest gun laws in our nation is Chicago, and Chicago is a disaster,” Trump answered, brandishing a favorite and demonstrably false response that, in fact, highlights the need for federal gun regulations.
As a recent NPR fact check noted, Chicago’s gun laws, while tough, are certainly not the strongest in the country. And while the state of Illinois is tough on guns, its neighboring states, Wisconsin and Indiana, aren’t. Guns, like people, can easily move across state borders, and evidence shows that a significant percentage of Chicago’s guns are trafficked in from states with lax gun laws.
Rather than talk about Chicago again, the dotard in chief could very well have used South Korea as an example. The last deadly shootings in the country happened in 2015, in two back-to-back incidents. Immediately following the shootings (quite literally, on the first business day after the last incident), the South Korean government moved to track all guns in the country via GPS.
Read more at NBC News.