Trump ditches promise to act on gun violence following months of NRA pressure
Trump once pledged not to let victims of gun violence die in vain.
Months after promising to take “strong measures to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous and deranged individuals,” Donald Trump has reportedly settled on a strategy to reduce gun violence: doing nothing.
That’s welcome news for the National Rifle Association, the pro-gun group that spent more than $30 million to elect Trump in 2016 and has instructed him to to back off of his gun violence proposals repeatedly.
The Washington Post reported on Friday that Trump has “abandoned the idea of releasing proposals to combat gun violence.” Trump’s 2020 campaign manager and acting White House chief of staff reportedly warned him that “gun legislation could splinter his political coalition.”
The report also noted that Trump “no longer asks about the issue.”
There have been more than 350 mass shootings so far in 2019, according to the Gun Violence Archive — more than one a day, on average — but a series of particularly deadly attacks over the summer in Texas and Ohio spurred strong demand for meaningful legislative action.
Trump, who opposed any restrictions on gun purchases while running for president, announced shortly after those massacres that he wanted red flag laws to allow courts to temporarily disarm those who are a danger to themselves and others and to close the gun-show loophole that allows “private sale” purchases without a background check.
“We must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms and that if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process,” Trump said in August. “That is why I have called for red flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders.”
He added that it was crucial that those killed in El Paso and Dayton over the summer did not “die in vain.”
“Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks,” he said, stating that the country needed “intelligent background checks.”
“I spoke to [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell yesterday…. He is totally on board,” he said.
But the National Rifle Association quickly pushed back, reportedly telling Trump to “stop the games.” Trump apparently heeded that advice and dropped his support for background checks not long after.
Congressional Republicans also stopped pressing for action. Rather than consider a popular House-passed gun safety bill, McConnell (R-KY) said in September that he didn’t believe Trump’s public comments meant much and vowed to take no action until the White House established a clear position.
But the White House never did. Trump’s Attorney General William Barr circulated a draft plan around Congress, but Trump would not even commit to that.
According to Dan Eberhart, a wealthy oil CEO and major Trump donor who spoke with the Post, “President Trump quietly moved gun control to the side and let it be replaced by breaking news.
Eberhart said he suspected “that was the plan all along.”
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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