Accuracy in Media

After the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and in Dayton, Ohio, many mainstream media pundits found an immediate scapegoat in President Donald Trump, blaming the president’s rhetoric as the reason behind the two mass shootings, due to the president’s alleged anti-immigrant stance and his insistence on building a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump gave remarks in the White House in response to the mass shootings and flatly condemned the actions of the perpetrators.

“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” Trump said, according to NPR.  Trump said he would direct the Department of Justice to “propose legislation ensuring that those who commit hate crimes and mass murders face the death penalty and that this capital punishment be delivered quickly, decisively and without years of needless delay.”

The president called for laws to be passed that would make sure that people “judged a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms” and said that “mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”

The media and the Democratic Party clamored for gun control measures, but Trump tied any gun reform measure to immigration reform.

He tweeted, “Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying … this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform.” NPR noted that tying both issues together would be difficult, “It’s not clear why Trump is now talking about linking gun legislation with immigration policy. Those have been two of the most politically intractable issues in recent years, with bipartisan efforts ultimately failing.”

NBC News published an article in the wake of the shootings headlined, “Trump made it easier for the mentally ill to get guns when he rolled back Obama regulation,” written by Corky Siemaszko. In it, NBC News blamed the Trump administration for rolling back an Obama-era regulation.

The regulation aimed to add more people to the national background check database, which is used by law enforcement officials to approve or not approve gun purchases. Specifically, people who received Social Security checks for mental illnesses and those deemed unfit to handle their personal financial affairs were to be added to the national database. The rule came about after the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting and the regulation’s purpose, per NBC News, was to prevent people who suffered severe mental health problems from buying guns.

NBC cited Obama administration figures that “predicted it would have added 75,000 names to the national background check database.”

But the rule was scrapped when a Republican-sponsored bill, H.J. Res 40, revoked the gun regulation and the bill was passed by a Republican majority Congress in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

NBC News did not have a clear answer on whether Trump was at fault for making it “easier” for mentally ill persons to buy guns. Instead, the network cited mental health experts who accused the president of focusing on mental health “to avoid taking politically risky steps like banning high-powered weapons like the ones that were used in the El Paso and Dayton massacres.”

NBC also quoted Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), an avid gun control supporter, in addition to naming the National Alliance of Mental Illness as a critic of the Trump administration’s mental health initiatives without being specific about their criticism of the White House.

Yet NBC News could not prove if the revoked rule from the Obama administration led to more mentally ill people purchasing guns, which then were used in mass shootings.

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