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To Reform Gun Violence, Trump Must Accept Responsibility
by Ovi Magazine Guest
2018-03-13 08:59:41
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To Reform Gun Violence, Trump Must Accept Responsibility
By George Cassidy Payne

My first real job out of college was working as a supervisor at an IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site in Charlotte, N.C. I had a shoestring budget, six employees and a humble three room office. It didn’t take long before I learned a fundamental lesson in leadership: the manager is responsible for everything; even if it had nothing to do with me personally, my position meant that I was accountable for anything that my staff said and did.

gun01_400Ten years later, as I have been following the events in Parkland, I keep coming back to those experiences which taught me what it means to be a good manager. Sadly, these lessons do not appear to be a part of this president's education. Instead of taking responsibility for himself and the people he was elected to govern, what I have seen President Trump do in the wake of Parkland is seize one opportunity after the next to blame everyone but himself.

Trump has blamed students for not reporting Cruz earlier on, Congress for being ineffective and dishonest, President Obama for being incompetent, the mental health industry for being a failed system, the media for reporting exploitative news, the school resource officers for being cowards, the teachers for being poorly trained, the NRA for being unreasonable, and the shooter for being evil.

Blame, blame, blame, and more blame. The only person who has escaped Trump’s blame is the one person who was most empowered to enact institutional reform-the type that can actually prevent shootings in the first place. But to this day the president has yet to say I am sorry.

Let's not beat around the bush. How many anti-gun speeches did Trump give before this massacre? How many school safety listening tours did he conduct before he was forced to speak up? How many speeches on mental health funding did the president give? In all, guns had been fired on school property in the US at least 18 times before Parkland, according to incidents tracked by Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group. Where was Trump’s passion for reform before this latest shooting?
Parkland student and social activist Emma Gonzales has made this point better than anyone else: “If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I'm going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association….You want to know something? It doesn't matter, because I already know. Thirty million dollars. And divided by the number of gunshot victims in the United States in the one and one-half months in 2018 alone, that comes out to being $5,800. Is that how much these people are worth to you, Trump? If you don't do anything to prevent this from continuing to occur, that number of gunshot victims will go up and the number that they are worth will go down. And we will be worthless to you.”

Gonzales is right. It is critical that we hold Trump accountable. Before the president can do anything that will bring about lasting solutions to this crisis, he must first acknowledge everything that he neglected to do before this tragedy happened.

George Cassidy Payne is a free lance writer, domestic violence counselor, and adjunct professor of philosophy. He lives and works in Rochester, NY

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