Trump Comments About Texas Shooting Raise Questions About Racism and Terrorism

After a shooting in Texas this week, Trump calls the man "deranged" and frames the issue as one of mental health, not of terrorism.

President Donald Trump is the first person to claim that a shooting is an act of terrorism if it benefits him politically. When there were attacks in Europe earlier this year, Trump lost it criticizing leaders there for not condemning terrorism harshly enough. When there was an attack in Manhattan by an immigrant several weeks ago, Trump advocated declaring him an enemy combatant and sending him to Guantanamo Bay. However, in response to a shooting in Texas this week, President Trump refused to denounce the attacker as a terrorist – likely because he was white.

Trump refused to even admit the need for gun control, even though the “deranged individual” killed at least twenty six people. “This is a mental health problem at the highest level,” Trump said, speaking alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “This was a very deranged individual,” he continued. “We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries. This isn’t a guns situation.”

He rejected that gun control might help the issue, citing a report that a neighbor with a gun was among the first responders to try to derail the gunman. “Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction,” Trump said.

The gunman has been identified as Devin Kelley. He killed twenty-six and injured at least twenty more at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

It is peculiar that the conversation becomes one of mental health and gun control if the shooter is white, and one of terrorism and immigration if the shooter is any other color or ethnicity. This latest mass shooting is likely to spur a conversation in Capitol Hill about gun control, much like how Congress responded to such shootings as Sandy Hook, in Connecticut. President Trump, in a concession to establishment Republicans, has refused to budge on gun control, once infamously insisting at an NRA rally that somebody should shoot Hillary Clinton.