For all his bravado — “I really believe I’d run in [to the Florida school shooting] even if I didn’t have a weapon” — we see now what President Donald Trump is really made of.
That’s because when the time came to get serious about addressing gun violence, his big mouth was full of empty promises and we saw the yellow streak of wispy hair when he turned tail and ran when confronted by the National Rifle Association.
Sure, Trump talked about raising the age for young people to buy semi-automatic assault rifles, like the one the gunman at Stoneman Douglas High School used to massacre 17 people.
He talked about taking guns away from mentally ill individuals with his typical lack of thought, saying they should be seized before there is due process for the gun owner. Now he’s backed away, saying states could decide that on their own.
His promises to tackle gun violence have been so watered down they barely address guns at all. Instead, he wants to look at arming teachers and possibly improving the data in the national background check system.
“Responding to the murder of 17 students and educators by endorsing the gun lobby’s platform is a shameful abdication of the president’s responsibility to lead,” said California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. “Shame on you, Mr. President.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who during her confirmation hearing defended guns in schools to protect children from marauding bears (seriously, this happened), will take the lead on a study of school safety, because, really, who better?
As we have seen, the courage and common sense over the past several weeks have been coming from young people, the students who are fed up with inaction and on Wednesday plan to stage a nationwide school walkout to demand change.
Utah students will undoubtedly be among those calling for action, and hopefully Utah leaders will pay attention.
The Utah Legislature’s response to the Florida shooting was unsurprisingly disappointing. Like Trump, the legislators say they want to study the the issue.
Lawmakers do deserve credit for their work on suicide prevention, which is a gun issue, since 87 percent of gun deaths in the state are the result of suicide. It is the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 and 17, and the majority of teen suicides also involve a firearm.
Continuing the distribution of gun locks, funding crisis lines and rapid response mental health teams, expanding use of the Safe UT phone app, and other steps will help.
But there’s more that can — and should — be done.
Legislative leaders explained they didn’t have enough time after the high school massacre to respond thoughtfully — ignoring that we had the Las Vegas slaughter last October, or the Texas church shooting last November, or the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016, and we had some 370 Utahns die from gun violence in 2016.
Layton Rep. Stephen Handy’s “red flag” bill, which would have allowed courts to issue orders to confiscate guns from people deemed to pose a severe risk to themselves or others, was voted down in committee, even though it has been proven to save lives in states like Connecticut.
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser has called on the state to partner with school districts to study best practices for buildings.
Nationally, there isn’t much hope for change. But state lawmakers should listen to these young people who walk out of their classes on Wednesday. Our state leaders should summon the courage that Trump can’t muster and convene a special session this summer to take real, meaningful steps to address gun violence in our state.