One of President Donald Trump’s sons, Don Jr., shared a curious point of view on Tuesday’s terror attack in an early morning comment posted to his 2.19 million Twitter followers: The president’s son took to Twitter on Wednesday to criticize the lack of liberal response to the incident in New York City, which left eight dead and 11 injured, calling it a “gun attack.”
In the attack, a 29-year-old motorist named Sayfullo Saipov crashed a pickup truck into a school bus near the Hudson River, before leaving the vehicle and waving a pellet gun and a paintball gun. The man was shot in the abdomen by officers, but survived.
What’s odd about Trump’s tweet is that it paints a distorted picture of the tragic events, suggesting that Tuesday’s incident was a gun attack. In fact, Saipov carried out the attack by driving a rented HomeDepot truck down a bike lane running along the West Side Highway in Manhattan. The attack came to an end when his truck collided into the school bus, with police shooting him soon after.
It’s also hard to say that it was a “gun attack” in the sense that’s typically discussed in the debate over gun laws. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms does not count air guns like the pellet gun as a firearm:
(3) The term “firearm” means (A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon; (C) any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; or (D) any destructive device. Such term does not include an antique firearm.
The criticism also seems odd even when considering the possibility that Trump was referring to the officer that shot Saipov. While some writers have made the case for disarming police, it is not a regularly-espoused view among politicians in the Democratic Party.
It’s unclear why Trump referred to the incident as a “gun attack.”
When it comes to the worst gun attacks in the United States, the citizenship or native-born identity of the shooters has been largely American. The worst gun attack was a month ago today, October 1, when Stephen Paddock (born in Iowa) killed 58 people in Las Vegas. Omar Mateen (born in New York) killed 49 people in Orlando in June 2016. Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people in the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, was born in South Korea and moved to America as an eight-year-old. Adam Lanza, who killed 27 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, was born in New Hampshire. George Hennard, who killed 23 people in Texas in 1991, was born in that state. James Huberty (killed 21 people in California in 1984) was born in Ohio. The “Texas Tower Sniper,” Charles Whitman (killed 18 people in in Texas in 1966), was a former Marine born in Florida. Syed Rizwan Farook (born in Chicago) and Tashfeen Malik (born in Pakistan) were the couple who perpetrated the San Bernadino shootings and killed 14 people. Looking at recent history of the worst gun attacks in America, there doesn’t appear to be a correlation between immigration and gun violence.