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Trump Mixes up America’s Mass Shootings Because There Are Just That Many

Another week, another mass shooting in the only country where this is a regular occurrence! Who can even keep track of who’s dying where? Definitely not the President of the United States of America.

In the span of time that Donald Trump was visiting Asia, many Americans have died and been injured because of gun violence. But mass, often completely random shootings are our country’s specialty, an activity that can be pursued without much difficulty. It’s not as though anything happened as a result of the Las Vegas concert massacre—Congress couldn’t even get it together to ban bump stocks. The would-be gunmen of America have received the message loud and clear: here’s a way to put yourself in the history books. And the worse your violence is, the better the chances are that you’ll be remembered. Otherwise, you become a mere pin on our gun death map and interchangeable with any of the other thousands of low-casualty shootings.

Nine days ago, a lone gunman, armed with an assault rifle, massacred 26 people during church services, including a pregnant woman, children, and toddlers. Trump sent condolences on Twitter at the time and said that he was monitoring the situation from Japan. That seemed like a pretty egregious act, what with the church and the babies, so the President seemed aware of it.

On Monday, a gunman attempted to enter an elementary school in rural Rancho Tehana, California, and was prevented from slaughtering children en masse because of the school’s lockdown procedure. He killed four people, including his wife, before being shot by police.

By American mass shooting standards, four people shot dead is small potatoes—why, that happens in family disputes all the time—which might explain why the incident was such a blip on the radar that Trump couldn’t even be bothered to update his “thoughts and prayers” boilerplate. No, the President sent out a standard Tweet to his 42 million followers that was maybe just sitting in his drafts about the events in Texas, without even bothering to update the location to California. I know 12-year-olds who would never have allowed this kind of breach of proper social media proofreading etiquette.

The incorrect Tweet about California was deleted nine hours after posting and Trump has provided no new Tweet, so, sorry about that shooting, Rancho Tehana! Just no condolences from the President. He’d probably know who and where you are if the gunman had succeeded in entering the school and mass-murdering a bunch of young children, if only because he’d see a lot of chatter on Fox News about how liberals are politicizing the tragedy by pushing for gun control.

As Vanity Fair points out, there’s only one kind of violent incident wherein Trump calls for drastic action and concrete changes in law:

Following recent mass shootings in Vegas and in Sutherland Springs, Trump also rejected calls for greater gun control and has repeatedly criticized the politicization of tragedies, with the exception of terrorist attacks such as the one that took place in New York City earlier this month.

You know why.

After Vegas—the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history with 58 people dead and 546 injured—the president suggested that it would not be appropriate to talk about how the shooter had acquired his vast personal armory, or what steps might be taken to address the problem. “We’re not going to talk about that today,” Trump told reporters in the days afterward. “We won’t talk about that.”

News flash, my friends and countrymen: for Republicans, it is never, ever appropriate to discuss gun violence, and it never, ever will be. They ask you to wait a few days to render the mass death of innocents “less political,” yet never seem to alight upon a time when it is appropriate. And by the time the latest bodies are in the ground, there’s inevitably another shooting to replace the other in public memory and perpetuate the cycle.

Why should the President even attempt to keep track? He has better things to do than think about the violent deaths of Americans, like the Tweets he’s sent out today attacking the New York Times, CNN, and UCLA basketball players, and promoting Fox and Friends. His erroneous tweet about California is gone, and the message is clear: He’s already moved past it, and he’ll never think about it again.

Thoughts and prayers. Thoughts and prayers. Thoughts and prayers.

(via Vanity Fair, image: Twitter)

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Kaila is a lifelong New Yorker. She's written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.