IGS scholar on Las Vegas shooting: ‘We’ll have to come together without our president’

Following Sunday night’s mass shooting at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas — called the “deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history” in which at least 58 people were killed and more than 500 injured — the issue of gun control is once again gripping the nation, causing many to wonder how these shootings are still happening.

Thomas Mann, a resident scholar at UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, addressed the mass shooting on KQED’s Forum this morning (Monday), during an interview about a new book he co-authored, One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported. In the interview, Mann touches on President Trump’s role in light of the massacre.

“Can he, potentially or in some fashion, particularly in the wake of such a terrible tragedy as this, actually bring the country together?” asked Forum host Michael Krasny.

“I don’t believe so,” said Mann, an expert in U.S. elections and political polarization. “Certainly strong Trump supporters will take solace from his on-script remarks this morning, but the rest of the country is used to the abrupt shifts in tone and in focus by President Trump — and fully expect in minutes, hours or days, he will identify some enemies. He has to have an enemy to play off of. And so we’ll have to come together as a country without our president.”

Mann went on to describe a similar mass shooting in Australia in 1996 that left 35 dead and 23 wounded. After the massacre, however, Australia passed legislation that sharply restricted the availability of guns. “It led to the most extraordinary shift by the conservative party,” said Mann.

It’s something that won’t happen in the U.S. under Trump’s leadership, he said, but could happen in reaction to it.

“Trump’s behavior is so egregious, and so contrary to the democratic and ‘small r republican’ norms and expectations that many people — including those without strong partisan sentiment — are so shocked by, that it may well provide the basis for jolting us up out of our acceptance and interpretation as anything that comes along as the new normal, and begin to see that Trump didn’t come out of nowhere,” Mann said. “This is not just about the man — the demagogue. This is about broad changes in American politics.”

Listen to the complete interview on KQED’s Forum.