Tomorrow night marks the first presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, and one of Fox News’ announced topics for the night –– “race and violence in the cities” –– stands out as particularly problematic. “Race and violence in the cities” is a dangerous framing that not only plays into President Trump’s egregious fear mongering and other common myths about gun violence, but also suggests that recent gun violence in cities is the result of recent Black Lives Matter Protests. This is not true: the disproportionate impact of gun violence on cities existed long before recent protests against police violence, and it was exacerbated by COVID-19 before largely peaceful demonstrations began.
Rather than furthering this dangerous myth, Chris Wallace should ask President Trump the following questions about our deadly gun violence epidemic in America:
- The deadly toll of inaction: President Trump, it’s estimated that more than 145,000 Americans have been killed by gun violence and twice that many wounded during your presidency –– far more than in any other developed nation. A key difference between the U.S. and our countries is our weak gun laws. You’ve opposed changes to our gun laws, including threatening to veto legislation to require background checks on all gun sales, a policy supported by 93% of American voters. As president, do you take responsibility for the gun violence that has occured in this country under your watch?
- Broken promises after mass shootings: President Trump, after last year’s El Paso and Dayton mass shootings that killed 32 people and wounded 40 in less than 24 hours, you and Senate Republicans pledged to act. Then NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre reportedly asked you to “stop the games” on gun safety. Soon after, you seemed to walk away from your pledge to act on gun safety –– a fact that has led critics to claim that you care more about protecting the NRA than the American people. Why haven’t you followed through on your pledge to act, and what do you say to those critics?
- SCOTUS: President Trump, you just nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. In a 2019 opinion, she wrote that people convicted of serious felonies should be allowed to possess guns. Do you agree with her?
- The impact of Trump’s rhetoric: President Trump, during your presidency, your supporters have committed several acts of violence. Last year, for example, the El Paso shooter’s manifesto echoed some of your comments; in 2018, one of your supporters sent bombs to your critics, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama; and, just a few weeks ago, one of your supporters shot and killed two protestors in Kenosha. On top of that, an ABC report found 54 cases invoking the word ‘Trump’ in connection with violence, threats, and alleged assaults. Do you condemn these actions, and do you believe you bear any responsibility for them?
- America’s background check system is completely overwhelmed: Gun sales have surged during the pandemic, which has overwhelmed our national background check system and –– according to recent reports –– likely led to thousands of guns to be transferred to prohibited purchasers like convicted felons or domestic abusers. At the beginning of the pandemic, the Department of Justice predicted this problem and asked for help addressing it. President Trump, in a time of increased gun violence, why haven’t you provided that assistance?