The president seemed ready to take on the NRA but experience should construct us wary of his inconsistency and inability to master detail
Donald Trump stunned Washington this week by espousing a series of gun control measures long opposed by the National Rifle Association and most Republicans on Capitol Hill. The predominating question remained how long it would last.
Senate Democrats breathed a sigh of relief on Thursday when they awoke to find Trump had not backtracked on gun control in an early morning tweet. (” Background Checks a big part of the conversation ,” he said .)
But on Thursday night, an NRA executive left the White House with a quite different impression of where the president stood on gun control legislation.
” I had a great fulfilling tonight with @realDonaldTrump& @VP ,” Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s lobbying arm, tweeted.” We all want safe schools, mental health reform and to keep handguns away from dangerous people. POTUS& VPOTUS support the Second Amendment, subsistence strong due process and don’t want gun control .”
An hour afterward, Trump tweeted:” Good( Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA !”
The president has been under pressure to reform America’s firearm statutes in the wake of the 14 February high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead. On Wednesday, Trump convened a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators to identify various legislative proposals on what ranks among the most politically contentious issues in Washington.
The discussion was televised for full impact, casting Trump once more as a deal-making chairman willing to buck members of his own party. But to skeptics, the display was reminiscent of Trump’s approach to immigration earlier this year- when he similarly adopted a softer tone before veering back to the right.
” It was just this January where the president held a bipartisan session on a thorny issue, immigration, and seemed interested in find common ground ,” the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, said here on Thursday.” He said he was willing to buck the extremes, and encouraged lawmakers to act .”
” Unfortunately the president was pulled back by the hard right, and avoided a bipartisan proposal from emerging ,” Schumer added.
” That happened several times. That cannot happen on guns .”
For Trump, vacillating constantly between vying policy positions is far from new. As a candidate, Trump repeatedly contracted himself while also doing away with the views he previously held as a Manhattan real estate mogul who donated to Democrats.
Since taking office, Trump has maintained a reliably conservative record and largely acted on the protectionist agenda that defined his presidential campaign.
So when Trump stated his support on Wednesday for universal background checks, taking away handguns from the mentally ill, new age restrictions for purchasing certain handguns, and even flirted with banning certain assault weapons, Republican balked.
” We have the second amendment and due process of law for a reason ,” said Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska.
” Strong leaders do not automatically agree with the last thing that was said to them .”
In one particularly striking exchange, Trump castigated Pat Toomey, a Republican senator from Pennsylvania, for resisting a proposal that would raise the age limit for buying certain guns from 18 to 21.
” You know why? Because you’re afraid of the NRA ,” Trump said.
The White House was left doing damage control. Trump’s aides reportedly told Republican on Capitol Hill to recall the immigration debate, when the president appeared to side with Democrat on a pathway to citizenship for young, undocumented immigrants before returning to a decidedly hard-right framework.
Trump’s allies weren’t the only ones describing parallels to the president’s handled with immigration.
Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat who was deeply to participate in immigration talks at the White House, expressed skepticism that Trump’s newfound positions on firearm safety would stick.
” I wouldn’t bet the farm on it ,” Durbin said.
Others gun control advocates were more hopeful.
Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut who has led the fight for stricter firearm laws, said he is anticipated to” take the president at his term “.
” Republicans are feeling the hot even more than ever ,” Murphy said.” This debate is different after[ Wednesday’s] session .”
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