While left-wing partisans scramble to politicize the tragic mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton that took 31 lives, President Trump proposed commonsense, bipartisan solutions that should be taken seriously.
On Monday, President Trump categorically condemned “racism, bigotry and white supremacy” and stated in no uncertain terms that “hate has no place in America.”
Additionally, the president laid out a number of concrete proposals to address mass shootings. The proposals ranged from instructing the Department of Justice to work with social media companies to “develop tools that can detect mass shooters before they strike” to pursuing the death penalty for these perpetrators.
Among a number of other solutions, President Trump advocated for “red flag laws,” also known as extreme risk protection laws, which permit judges to temporarily confiscate firearms from individuals determined to be a danger to themselves or others.
Eighty-five percent of Americans support red flag laws, including 81 percent of gun-owning households. Support for these laws is overwhelming for one simple reason: they work.
One commonality in the mass shootings we have seen is that perpetrators tend to communicate their intent beforehand. A Secret Service and Department of Education study of 37 cases of school violence found that, in 93 percent of cases, the perpetrator demonstrated behavioral red flags prior to attacking.
Furthermore, in 81 percent of cases, the attacker communicated their intent to do harm to at least one person, and in 59 percent of cases, the attacker had told more than one person.
So why not permit family members or law enforcement – as determined by law – who have observed either behavioral warning signs or communicated intent to harm to petition a judge to temporarily seize firearms from a potential attacker?
The anecdotal evidence backing up the statistical evidence is clear.
According to a former high school principal, the Dayton, Ohio shooter who killed nine on Sunday morning had literally made a hit list of fellow students he intended to kill. This list was known to fellow classmates and school personnel.
In the case of the Isla Vista shooting, who killed six, the shooter openly pontificated about his murderous plans online in a YouTube video and more generally in online threats.
The Parkland massacre that killed 17, the tragedy is described by NPR as “a story of red flags, ignored” with local law enforcement being called on the killer dozens of times and the FBI notified twice. The shooter even wrote online, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”
The preexisting mental health red flags have been equally as alarming.
For instance, the Sandy Hook Elementary shooter, who killed 20 children and six adults, was described in Surgical Neurology International as “a loner with a personality disorder – and in critical need of mental health evaluation and psychiatric treatment.”
The shooter who killed five people in Arizona and shot former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, exhibited “signs of psychiatric illness and social psychopathology that should have alerted those around him,” according to the same journal article.
The Aurora, Colorado movie theater attack who killed 12 was seeing a psychiatrist “who was so alarmed by his behavior that she notified the campus-wide threat-assessment team,” as noted by the Denver Post.
Finally, the Virginia Tech shooter was no exception, with the Washington Post pointing out that “the state’s mental health system fail[ed] to recognize, communicate and treat the gunman’s increasingly erratic behavior.”
In fact, in the case of Virginia Tech, the gunman was actually labeled “a danger” after threatening to kill himself, and a judge ordered him to receive involuntary outpatient treatment.
Nevertheless, the perpetrator – like far too many others – fell through the cracks.
For decades, America has suffered far too often at the hands of mass shootings, the majority of which have a common thread of preexisting communicated intent or behavioral red flags.
With red flag laws, President Trump proposed a bipartisan, commonsense solution that could go a long way in preventing these atrocities.
Though bipartisanship is rare in Washington, President Trump has extended an offer of reasonable reform that 85 percent of the nation endorses.
Will Democratic lawmakers stop politicizing this weekend’s tragedies and accept President Trump’s offer of meaningful change?
Time will tell.