“Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”

Trump recently stated that action is desperately needed in the aftermath of this past weekend’s terrible mass shootings. You can read this transcript of his speech, courtesy of USA Today. To the credit of whoever prepared this speech for him, Trump addressed these attacks as inexcusable acts of hatred, and even acknowledged that the mass murderer behind the tragedy in El Paso was motivated by white supremacy. The comment section underneath the Independent UK article discussing his speech was in angry turmoil over the following section of his speech.

“Today I am also directing 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.”

Several people in the article’s comment section pointed out the real danger of Trump blanketing over mental illness in the wake of these tragedies. His words could easily lead to stigmatization of citizens with every day mental illnesses who mean no harm. The American Psychological Association released a statement regarding the problem of focusing on potential mental illnesses in the shooters, especially when all countries have relatively equal amounts of mentally ill citizens.

“Routinely blaming mass shootings on mental illness is unfounded and stigmatizing. Research has shown that only a very small percentage of violent acts are committed by people who are diagnosed with, or in treatment for, mental illness. The rates of mental illness are roughly the same around the world, yet other countries are not experiencing these traumatic events as often as we face them. One critical factor is access to, and the lethality of, the weapons that are being used in these crimes. Adding racism, intolerance and bigotry to the mix is a recipe for disaster.” 

To summarize these points best, all one must do is behold Sen. Cory Booker’s following response to Trump’s speech.

Sen. Booker is absolutely correct. We must avoid excusing white supremacy as mental illness, which would lump anybody with a bona fide mental illness in the with monsters behind these massacres.

Is the Death Penalty the Right Answer?

We may have forgotten, but Dylann Roof was sentenced to death in 2017 (although he has yet to be actually executed) for his mass murder of the Charleston church back in 2015. Unfortunately for the El Paso shooter, he could very much find himself facing a similar fate. But before any of us celebrate the idea of him facing execution for his crimes, I would like to discuss a very valid point that my best friend recently shared with me.

Clearly, these evil men are filled with dangerous delusions focused on their ideals, and they might very well believe that they are champions of their respective causes. As such, there is a disgusting possibility that they would revel in the chance to receive the death penalty, because this would turn them into martyrs for their white supremacist brethren. Although the death penalty would be intended as a method to prevent more massacres, there is an insidious chance that more monsters will crawl out of the woodwork in honor of their evil “saints”.

Something else to consider, and an unfortunately cold fact at that, is that killing the perpetrators won’t ever bring the victims back to life. If anything, the deaths of the murderers would only momentarily appease our nation’s cry for vengeance. Though of course, there is always the possibility that the victims’ loved ones would gain some measure of closure from seeing these evil men be put to death.

It also begs this important self-check question for those of us who testify as pro-life: if we actively demand the death of another human, doesn’t that violate our sacred beliefs? Does ending the life of another human, albeit an absolutely vile one, truly erase the pain of the lives they destroyed?

Dear reader, what do you think the right answer is, regarding Trump’s demand that these shooters receive the death penalty? Do you see this as a clear-cut matter, or something that is a varying shade of gray, no matter how you look at it?