To Reform Gun Violence, Trump Must Accept Responsibility

To Reform Gun Violence, Trump Must Accept Responsibility

“The Firing of Romney,” stretched canvas, by Anthony Rotolo. From A Trumprenuer on the road at Trumpmania

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

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 and six employees in a humble three room office. Quickly, I learned a fundamental leadership axiom: the manager is responsible for everything. Even if it had nothing to do with me personally, my position meant I was accountable for anything that my staff said and did.

Following the unfolding events in Parkland and across the country, I keep returning 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, all I have seen President Trump do in the wake of Parkland is blame everyone but himself.

Trump has blamed students for not reporting Cruz earlier on, Congress for being ineffective and dishonest, President Obama for being hypocritical and incompetent, the mental health industry for being a failed system, the media for exploitation and fake news, the school resource officers for being cowards, the teachers for being unarmed and poorly trained, the NRA for bullying, and the shooter for being evil.  Blame and more blame.

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“Whatever” by Sarah Levy see image at #BloodyTrump. From A Trumprenuer on the road at Trumpmania

Unfortunately, the person who has escaped Trump’s litany of accusations is the one who is the most empowered to bring about institutional reform. It’s Trump himself.

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?

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez speaks at a rally for gun control at the Broward County Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on February 17, 2018. A former student, Nikolas Cruz, opened fire at the high school leaving 17 people dead and 15 injured on February 14. / AFP PHOTO / RHONA WISE

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez speaks at a rally for gun control at the Broward County Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on February 17, 2018. AFP PHOTO / RHONA WISE

Parkland student and burgeoning social activist Emma Gonzales has made this point better than I ever could. In a turning point speech at Florida’s state capital, she exclaimed:

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 and her fellow students at Parkland have spoken with undaunted courage and unscrupulous honesty. They know we must hold Trump accountable for what he says needs to happen moving forward. These student-activists know that the president cannot do anything that will bring about lasting reform until he acknowledges his own responsibility.
—  George Cassidy Payne



Two tragedies that spurred gun control debate

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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