President Donald Trump has a habit for stunning lawmakers on both sides of the aisle any given day with positions on policy that often veer wildly in one direction or another. He certainly doesn’t go by any single playbook. This time, though, he seems to have crossed a line that the NRA, GOP, and most Second Amendment supporters aren’t going to be too happy with.
Following the wake of the Parkland school shooting, Trump and lawmakers throughout DC have been under an enormous amount of pressure to do something, regardless of whether or not that something would actually prevent gun violence in any significant way.
Most GOP Presidents would have sat this one out, waiting on the outrage to blow over before they made any significant moves. Never one to sit on the sidelines, though, Trump shocked Republicans on live television last week by seeming to suggest that he was willing to work with Democrats on their gun control agenda.
Trump expressed that he intended to at least entertain the ideas of expanding background checks, limiting access to firearms to people deemed mentally ill, raising the age to purchase a rifle from 18 to 21, and even banning so-called “assault weapons”. It’s these last two points that are the most dramatic gun control legislation that Trump is apparently considering and the ones that gun owners across America are going to have the hardest time stomaching.
In addition to entertaining these policies, Trump has also suggested that law enforcement ought to have more rights to take away firearms from individuals that they deem to be a threat, saying, “I like taking the guns early. Take the guns first, go through due process second.”
There seems to be a lot of facts that Trump is ignoring in this shift in policy. Starting with raising the age to buy a rifle to 21, there’s the fact that there has been only one mass shooting since 2009 – the Parkland shooting – that was committed by an individual between 18-20 years old who purchased their rifle legally. When you compare that to the total mass shootings in that time period – which is 156 – it becomes clear that raising the age limit for purchasing a rifle to 21 would do little except strip away the rights of countless 18-21 year old law-abiding citizens.
Of course, the ideas of an “assault weapons” ban and allowing the police to confiscate firearms without due process aren’t much better. The assault weapons ban that President Clinton put in place didn’t even put a dent in violent crime. In fact, it didn’t stop the Columbine High School massacre in which 12 students and 1 teacher were murdered. And the idea that the police would have the power to strip people of their Second Amendment rights without due process is frightening, to say the least.
To Trump’s credit, he did seem to walk back from some of these points after speaking with representatives from the NRA. Executive director of the NRA, Chris Cox, said after his meeting with Trump that the President and the Vice President “support the Second Amendment, support strong due process, and don’t want gun control.”
President Trump has a habit of making strong statements to whatever group is listening, only to walk back those statements later, so it is yet to be seen if he will follow through on any of the suggestions. It seems unlikely that he will when you consider the politics of enacting legislation such as an assault weapons ban. Democrats are unlikely to support Trump no matter what he does (even in this instance), and taking a strong stance on gun control would certainly alienate a large portion of Trump’s conservative base. If the President wants to have any chance of winning in 2020, going against his allies to placate a group that will always oppose him is not the way to do it.
Nevertheless, it’s startling to see Trump being even remotely open to futile ideas such as raising the minimum age to buy a rifle and enacting an assault weapons ban. Supporters of the Second Amendment should certainly keep an eye on what the President does in the coming months in the off chance that his suggestions were more than just empty words meant to placate a Democratic crowd.
~ American Gun News