President Trump Shifts His Tone On Gun Reform

After expressing support for background checks, President Trump is reversing course while reverting to the usual NRA-driven Republican talking points.

President Donald J. Trump talks to members of the press on the South Lawn of the White House Wednesday, July 24, 2019, prior to boarding Marine One to begin his trip to West Virginia. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

President Donald J. Trump talks to members of the press on the South Lawn of the White House Wednesday, July 24, 2019, prior to boarding Marine One to begin his trip to West Virginia. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

After the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last year, President Trump appeared to support new gun reform measures. He held a joint meeting with Republican and Democratic lawmakers where he expressed support for numerous gun measures. After meeting with the NRA, he reversed himself and nothing got done. Well, he’s doing it again.

After a white supremacist terrorist murdered 23 people in El Paso, Texas and a shooter murdered 9 in Dayton Ohio two weeks ago, President Trump signaled he would support red flag laws and background checks for gun purchases. In recent days, after NRA lobbying, Trump has shifted blame towards mental health and said that we already have very strong background checks in place (we don’t).

If Trump truly felt the problem was mental health-related, he wouldn’t have rolled back an Obama-era regulation that made it more difficult for people with mental illnesses to obtain guns.

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The Republican Party should be very wary of this strategy. The political climate is different, the NRA is weaker, gun reform activists are mobilized, and Americans support gun reform. A post-El Paso shooting Wall Street Journal/NBC poll found that 89% favor expanded background checks for all gun sales, 76% back “red flag” laws, 75% support a voluntary gun buyback program, and 62% support banning the sale of assault weapons.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and President Trump will face a lot of pressure after the August recess. September is coming and with it, Americans expect new gun reform measures like the House-passed background check bill. Republicans can only ignore the will of the people for so long before it continues to harm them politically, as it did in 2018 with suburban moms.

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News // Donald Trump / Gun Reform / Gun Violence