Trump’s right, this is a men­tal health is­sue

USA TODAY US Edition - - OPINION - Alan M. Got­tlieb

Pres­i­dent Trump’s sug­ges­tion that the tragedy in Texas is a men­tal health is­sue rather than a gun is­sue de­serves more than an ar­ro­gant dis­missal by gun con­trol pro­po­nents.

There are roughly 90 mil­lion gun own­ers in the U.S. who re­spon­si­bly own firearms of all kinds. They didn’t harm any­body on Sun­day, and in­deed one of those cit­i­zens coura­geously grabbed his own ri­fle and opened fire on the killer, caus­ing him to drop his ri­fle and flee the scene.

We have tried nu­mer­ous re­stric­tive gun con­trol mea­sures, and none has lived up to sales pitches about pre­vent­ing vi­o­lence. Texas At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ken Pax­ton noted that the killer vi­o­lated ex­ist­ing Texas law by com­mit­ting mur­der and caus­ing may­hem.

As Pax­ton ob­served, “I would rather arm law-abid­ing cit­i­zens and make sure that they could pre­vent this from hap­pen­ing as op­posed to try­ing to pass laws that would pre­vent law-abid­ing cit­i­zens from hav­ing guns.”

That’s a re­fresh­ing per­spec­tive from the chief law en­force­ment of­fi­cer in Texas. He ob­vi­ously un­der­stands that try­ing the same thing over and over, ex­pect­ing a dif­fer­ent out­come, is un­pro­duc­tive and ir­re­spon­si­ble.

It is time to take a dif­fer­ent tack, rather than of­fer­ing up the same old gun pro­hi­bi­tion agenda. We haven’t ac­com­plished any­thing by erod­ing the rights of mil­lions of Amer­i­can cit­i­zens while treat­ing the Sec­ond Amend­ment as a sec­ond-class right or, worse still, a gov­ern­ment-reg­u­lated priv­i­lege.

No firearm, even a so-called as­sault weapon, has a brain to hate with or a fin­ger to pull its own trig­ger. A men­tally deranged mass mur­derer can just as eas­ily use a truck, as just hap­pened in New York, or a pres­sure cooker bomb, as was used in Bos­ton, to cause mass ca­su­al­ties.

The pres­i­dent is right; this is a men­tal health is­sue that we have ne­glected and must ad­dress.

De­mo­niz­ing mod­ern sport­ing ri­fles by call­ing them “weapons of war” only po­lar­izes the de­bate and ul­ti­mately solves noth­ing.

Alan M. Got­tlieb is founder of the Sec­ond Amend­ment Foun­da­tion and chair­man of the Cit­i­zens Com­mit­tee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

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