By Henry Ward

According to gunviolencearchive.org, 12,367 people have been killed so far in 2016 by firearms. However, Republican candidate Donald Trump still sees this problem starting and ending with gang members and drug dealers. His misguided belief reflects the little hope the country has to fix this problem with him in office.

As for possible solutions to the gun violence epidemic in America, his publicized views don’t address these problems whatsoever. In fact, they’ll presumably add to other problems America faces. According to his website, Trump’s answers to these problems are to, “expand and bring back programs like Project Exile and get gang members and drug dealers off the street,” and to “empower law-abiding gun owners to defend themselves.”

Trump’s campaign is deeply set in tones of violence and hate towards minorities, and his gun policies don’t differ. The terminology used on his website seems to be targeting minorities specifically, and these kinds of statements go hand in hand with his ideas of building a wall across the Mexican border and keeping Muslim immigrants out of the country. Although he doesn’t outright say it, Trump clearly sees the immigrant population of the United States as the biggest cause of gun violence, while the white “law abiding” gun owners in America are harmless.

This could not be more misguided. According to the New America foundation, since 9/11, 48 people in America have been killed by white, right-wing terrorists while 26 have been killed by Islamic extremists. The study also detailed how jihadists were judged more harshly than non-Muslim terrorists, indicting them more frequently and giving out longer punishments. The idea that Islamic extremists are the biggest threat to innocent lives in this country is a myth, but Trump fails to see this, and it shows in his policies.

Additionally, more guns is the last thing America needs. Gun violence and the number of guns in America are both at an all time high, and it’s not a coincidence. The gun culture in America is undeniable, as, according to gunpolicy.org, the estimated number of firearms owned by civilians in the US is between 270,000,000 and 310,000,000. Having so many people with deadly weapons leads to the high death tolls America faces every year, which leads to growing paranoia about gun violence, which leads to more purchased guns. This self-perpetuating cycle seemingly only leads to an increase in deaths by guns every year.

A white, male third year I talked to shared the same sentiments.

“Too many people have guns that don’t need them and they are too easy to obtain,” he said. “The types of guns for sale are too overpowered. There is not justification for someone owning an assault rifle. No one has that many enemies.”

Furthermore, Trump’s plans to make the country safer when it comes to guns seems to give rise to another problem, mass incarceration. According to the US Bureau of Justice statistics, about one in every 110 adults in America were incarcerated in county, state or federal jails as of 2013. To further emphasize how specific this problem is to America, the United States holds 4.4 percent of the world population but 22 percent of its prisoners. His plans to “get gang members and drug dealers off the street” to solve gun violence seems to only add fuel to the fire that is growing prison populations across the country.

First year Jackson Schulte worries for how this mantra will affect the ever-growing tensions between minorities and law enforcement.

“It sounds like he’s going to militarize police to aggressively put gang members in jail, and continue the American tradition of sentencing minorities to time behind bars that is excessively long, further destroying the little trust that minorities might still have in police and our justice system,” Schulte said.

Overall, it’s hard to find a scenario in which Trump follows up on his word and we see a change for the better when it comes to gun violence. Statistics show how erroneous his solutions are, and quite frankly, it often sounds like he doesn’t see a need for a solution. With a republican in the White House and a red congress in place for the next four years, anti-gun activists will be forced to ramp up efforts that have been highlighted with events such as those in Aurora, Newtown, Columbine, and more. There’s an extreme amount of uncertainty that will come with this presidency, but perhaps one of the most bleak aspects is gun control.

 

Henry Ward is a Crossroads graduate currently attending Grinnell College