On Wednesday, Feb. 14 there was a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that left 17 students and teachers dead and another 14 wounded. On Saturday, Feb. 24, though, Donald Trump's fundraising email used a picture of one of those wounded victims of the Parkland shooting in an email to raise campaign funds, and the only questions is why?
Over the weekend, Trump sent out an email asking for donations to fund his reelection, despite only being in the second year of his presidency. Nothing out of the ordinary. But the email also contained a photo of Parkland shooting victim Madeleine Wilford in a hospital bed with her family, the first lady, and the president gathered at her bedside. The photo was taken when Trump went to visit Wilford on Feb. 16 after the shooting.
The rest of the email was pointed at Trump's initiatives on gun reform and keeping children safe, according to CNN. The email read,
The nation has turned its attention to the senseless school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Trump is taking steps toward banning gun bump stocks and strengthening background checks for gun purchasers. The President has made his intent very clear: making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority.
Then there's a link to donate to his campaign.
The use of the picture in an email calling for donations raises a little bit of an issue. There is no mention anywhere of Trump asking Wilford's family if he could use the photo in such a way. But also, it seems as though he is trying to raise money off the backs of the Parkland victims.
Twitter pointed out how exploitative they felt it was, and they were mad.
Trump is in the White House right now.
So, he can try to actually do the things he is currently campaigning on. He doesn't need to just use it as a strategy. However, as of now he hasn't done all that much on gun control.
Recently, Trump has also stated that he thinks the solution to keeping our schools safe from mass shootings is to arm teachers, rather than restrict guns. After listening to stories from young shooting survivors in the White House on Wednesday, Feb. 21, Trump floated the idea of arming teachers and staff. "If you had a teacher who was adept with the firearm, they could end the attack very quickly," he said.
Then on Saturday, Feb. 24, the president doubled down on the idea. He tweeted that "armed educators" would work, but they'd have to be adept at firearms and go through training.
Another issue that Trump has been touting since the Parkland incident is issues of mental health. Trump's first response after the shooting was to tweet about how the alleged shooter was "mentally disturbed," and he said that the White House will focus on tackling the issue of mental health. That's definitely an interesting choice, given that in 2017 Trump signed a bill that essentially undid restrictions which made it harder for the mentally ill to obtain weapons.
However, he has made some positive moves.
On Feb. 20, six days after the shooting, Trump ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to start banning bump stocks, which turn semi-automatic guns into automatic guns and allow them to shoot rapidly. On Feb. 26, while addressing state governors at the White House, Trump said that he would write bump stocks out even if Congress doesn't agree, according to Politico. "I don't care if Congress does it or not," he said, "I'm writing it out myself."
So Trump seems to be inching forward on gun reform, as per his fundraising email. Which is something. It's important that Trump listen and take care of the issue at hand, and he is allowed to tell the constituents that he is trying and moving forward. However, maybe not with a picture of a victim next time.