Home / USA / ‘Take the guns first’: Trump angers gun lobby, Republicans with surprising gun control talk

‘Take the guns first’: Trump angers gun lobby, Republicans with surprising gun control talk

WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump’s televised meeting on guns ended with a gun control activist gleefully tweeting out an image of people eating popcorn and a gun rights group calling him “the gun-grabber-in-chief.”
In summary: Trump, whose best-known position on guns is his proposal to arm teachers, started talking like one of the Democrats he usually spends his time mocking — and then, in one especially dramatic way, went much further than they have.
Three days after lunching with executives from the National Rifle Association, which spent tens of millions to get him elected, the Republican president embraced a series of policy positions the NRA and other gun groups loathe.
The most remarkable moment was Trump’s endorsement of seizing guns, without legal authorization, from people suspected of being mentally troubled, like alleged Douglas killer Nikolas Cruz.
Trump has regularly claimed that Democrats want to eradicate Americans’ gun rights. Fears about Democrats looking to seize guns are common among Republican voters. Yet Trump said the authorities should have taken Cruz’s guns “whether they had the right or not.”
“Take the guns first, go through due process second,” he said.
Michael Hammond, legislative counsel for Gun Owners of America, a group sometimes more uncompromising than the NRA, said “he’s become the gun-grabber-in-chief.”
“If he succeeds in doing everything he talked about in the meeting, he will far surpass Barack Obama as an enemy of the Second Amendment,” he said.
Hammond added that Trump might be trying to execute a “Machiavellian” manoeuvre that would end up helping their side. But he was not fully convinced, saying: “I’m open to the possibility that Donald Trump is either very clever or very stupid.”
Trump’s words might not matter in any practical way. Gun-friendly Republicans who control Congress are extremely unlikely to act on his wishes. Sen. Ben Sasse said in a statement: “Strong leaders don’t automatically agree with the last thing that was said to them.”
And Trump has a long history of making pronouncements and then ignoring them. At a January meeting on immigration, Trump promised senators he would sign whatever compromise they made, then proceeded to reject their compromise.
“Will Trump stick with this position? Is he making space between himself and the NRA because he knows Congress will never act on any significant new gun law? It’s hard to know what’s going on here, but I’m generally skeptical that it is a real change on his part,” said Robert Spitzer, a SUNY Cortland political science professor who wrote five books on gun policy.
As very least, though, the White House session was a striking display of political theatre that may be further evidence of a shift in attitudes about gun policy following the massacre of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
Trump did reiterate his belief that more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens could thwart mass shootings. He frequently seemed confused about policy and legislative history — asking repeatedly why nothing was done after previous massacres — and he was frequently unspecific.
On the whole, though, the meeting was as close to a Democratic fantasy as could be imagined at this moment.
He delivered his most emphatic argument for his previous proposal to raise the minimum age for buying semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21.
He backed the expansion of restrictions on gun ownership by domestic abusers.
He said again that he would eliminate the sale of the bump stocks that turn semi-automatic weapons into machine guns.
And he called for “very, very powerful background checks,” saying an NRA-opposed bill to expand checks to more purchases, defeated under Barack Obama, could be the base bill for the whole package of legislation.
There was still more. Trump scoffed at a Republican plan to quickly pass a law to would force states to recognize concealed-carry gun permits from other states, saying it was an obstacle to the priority of strengthening background checks.
And he accused Republican lawmakers of being scared into inaction by the NRA.
“They have great power over you people. They have less power over me,” he said.
It is not only gun control activists who see they sense a shift. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam told The New York Times that views, “particularly among suburban women,” were moving in favour of gun control.
Much of the quick action on guns is occurring in Democratic-controlled states. On Tuesday, Washington’s state legislature passed a ban on bump stocks.
But there is also movement among Republicans. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a gun owner, said he had “changed completely” from just “a week or two ago,” before Vermont had its own school shooting threat, and he said “everything’s on the table.” In deep-red Utah, senior Republicans have decided to push to legalize the seizure of guns from people deemed unstable.
Florida is a mixed bag. Republicans there have pushed a plan to raise the AR-15 purchase age and impose a three-day purchase waiting period. But they have dismayed Douglas survivors by allocating $67 million to a plan to place 10 armed teachers in every school.

About admin

Check Also

US election 2020 President Trumps re-election strongly opposed by nearly 700 economists

US election 2020: President Trump’s re-election strongly opposed by nearly 700 economists

Almost 700 economists — with the November 3 election right around the corner — have …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *