Just under one year ago, President Donald Trump signed a law undoing an Obama administration regulation that made it more difficult for individuals with severe mental illness to purchase firearms.
Fast forward to Thursday morning: Following yet another mass school shooting, Trump suggested in a tweet that students and others should have tried harder to bring the shooter, 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz, to the attention of authorities because there were “so many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed."
[I]t’s Trump’s party — and Trump himself — who have consistently prevented the federal government from doing anything about this kind of situation. The Obama-era gun regulation wouldn’t have had a massive impact on gun violence in the US since it’s estimated that it would only affect about 75,000 people.
But anything that makes it easier to obtain a gun, the research suggests, will likely worsen gun violence. After all, America already has some of the weakest gun laws in the developed world — and repealing a rule that made it a little tougher for some people to buy a gun likely makes that worse.
The Obama administration rule would have helped keep guns out of the hands of individuals deemed unable to work or care for themselves due to severe mental illness - to most, not an unreasonable qualification for gun ownership.
Specifically, what Obama did was order to Social Security Administration to take the list of people who were deemed so severely mentally ill that they are unfit to handle their own disability benefits and forward it to the FBI. The FBI was then supposed to incorporate that list in the background checks used to disqualify people from gun ownership.
Though Obama's rule would not have stopped Cruz from legally purchasing a gun, it makes little sense to say citizens should try harder to report the mentally ill when Republicans are not willing to enact legislation that would do the same.