Guest Commentary / March 8, 2018

President Trump Should Stick to His Guns

Since he was elected, President Trump has earned a well-deserved reputation among his supporters for keeping campaign promises. But his latest gun control proposal is a worrisome contradiction to the MAGA movement. And it’s our responsibility to take him to task for it.

By Patrick Hall

Since he was elected, President Trump has earned a well-deserved reputation among his supporters for keeping campaign promises. But his latest gun control proposal is a worrisome contradiction to the MAGA movement. And it’s our responsibility to take him to task for it.

The president met with lawmakers from both sides of the isle last week to discuss gun regulation and the Second Amendment in the wake of the recent Parkland shooting. Republicans in the room — including Sen. Marco Rubio, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, and Vice President Mike Pence — likely expected to hear the president deliberate on policy recommendations that would defend the Second Amendment while deterring the likelihood of another school shooting. Instead, President Trump sided with Democrats and railed against the Republican Party’s support for the NRA.

Specifically, Trump accused Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey of being “petrified” of the gun lobby. He then went on to recommend that lawmakers raise the legal purchasing age for AR-15s from 18 to 21 and for enhancing the federal background check system (which many believe will result in law-abiding gun owners being barred from purchasing firearms due to the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen rather than any legitimate threat).

However, the most startling of his remarks came in the form of a rebuttal to Vice President Pence, when the president bluntly stated we should “take the guns [from mentally ill citizens] first” and worry about due process later. Let’s face it: If president Obama (or any other president for that matter) were to make such a claim, the entire conservative base would be up in arms (pun intended) — and rightfully so. Due process of the law is one of the most paramount protections of our liberty, and any politician who threatens to infringe on it must be held accountable.

This turn of events was especially unfortunate since President Trump garnished exceptional backing from Second Amendment supporters throughout his 2016 presidential campaign. This was no coincidence. Then-candidate Trump was an ardent supporter of the DC v. Heller decision and routinely trashed Hillary Clinton for opposing it. He also favored solutions like reciprocity for concealed carry laws, armed security in public places, and the overall deregulation of firearms.

A tragedy like Parkland should not initiate a change in attitude, nor should the liberal media’s shameless co-opting of children to further their totalitarian agenda. President Trump should instead return to what he campaigned and won on: protecting the Second Amendment at all costs.

Luckily for the president, there are a variety of proposed pro-gun bills that he can support without abandoning his base. Sen. Marco Rubio is in the process of drafting two bills — one dealing with straw purchasing (buying a firearm for someone who legally cannot), and another allowing citizens to apply for court orders to ban “red flag” individuals from obtaining a firearm. Both have bipartisan support.

Furthermore, various House and Senate Republicans are authoring legislation that would offer a wide array of improvements to school security, including metal detectors, armed guards, and third-party security reviews. All of these proposals would allow Trump to get back on the right track — should he choose to do so.

All hope is not lost for gun owners in America. So long as president Trump backs away from the intoxicating aurora of “dealmaking,” the executive and legislative branches could enact some refreshingly effective policies that would put a sizable dent in the likelihood of another mass shooting. But Trump’s supporters must hold him accountable. If they don’t, Trump could very well latch on to a restrictive piece of legislation that will have devastating impacts on our personal freedoms.

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