Problem, reaction, solution?
In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in American history, the Left has predictably ramped up their calls for stricter gun laws with everyone from Chuck Schumer to Lena Dunham suddenly voicing their ‘expertise’ on the topic.
And while Trump enjoyed strong support from the NRA throughout the 2016 campaigning season, he offered a glimmer of hope to gun control advocates this morning saying “we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by.” Per the Washington Examiner:
“We’ll talk about that later,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked about gun reform Tuesday morning.
“We have a tragedy. We’re going to do — and what happened in Las Vegas, it’s in many ways a miracle. The police department has done such an incredible job and we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by,” Trump said as he departed for Puerto Rico. “But I do have to say how quickly the police department was able to get in was really very much of a miracle. They’ve done an amazing job.”
“What happened in Las Vegas is in many ways a miracle:” Trump praises police response says talks on gun laws to come https://t.co/wt38s9fvbT
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) October 3, 2017
Of course, it’s unclear whether Trump’s non-committal response was a sign that the mass shooting in Vegas has swayed his view on gun laws or if it was just a simplistic way to avoid another political firestorm on his way to Puerto Rico.
As Axios points out this morning, Steve Bannon, for one, seems fairly sure that it’s simply not politically viable for Trump to change his position on gun control saying it would almost certainly result in a 2020 loss.
“Impossible: will be the end of everything,” Bannon told Axios’ Jonathan Swan, regarding the prospect of Trump pushing for stricter gun control.
Bannon, who recently left his post as chief strategist at the White House and returned to Breitbart News, argued that a shift in Trump’s second amendment stance would have a devastating impact on his support from his base. The move would generate a “worse” reaction from his base than a move to support an amnesty immigration bill, Bannon said.
Certainly Trump’s comments made in a speech to the NRA earlier this year, in which he vowed “you came through for me, and I am going to come through for you,” would seem to support Bannon’s view that a reversal on gun control would be ill-received, to say the least. Here is a portion of Trump’s speech transcript courtesy of Newsweek:
But you came through for me, and I am going to come through for you. I was proud to receive the NRA’s earliest endorsement in the history of the organization. And today, I am also proud to be the first sitting President to address the NRA Leadership Forum since our wonderful Ronald Reagan in 1983. And I want to thank each and every one of you not only for your help electing true friends of the Second Amendment, but for everything you do to defend our flag and our freedom.
With your activism, you helped to safeguard the freedoms of our soldiers who have bled and died for us on the battlefields. And I know we have many veterans in the audience today, and we want to give them a big, big beautiful round of applause.
But we have news that you’ve been waiting for for a long time: The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end. You have a true friend and champion in the White House. No longer will federal agencies be coming after law-abiding gun owners. No longer will the government be trying to undermine your rights and your freedoms as Americans. Instead, we will work with you, by your side. We will work with the NRA to promote responsible gun ownership, to protect our wonderful hunters and their access to the very beautiful outdoors. You met my son—I can tell you, both sons, they love the outdoors. Frankly, I think they love the outdoors more than they love, by a long shot, Fifth Avenue. But that’s okay. And we want to ensure you of the sacred right of self-defense for all of our citizens.
All that said, the devastating pictures of the Vegas massacre that will undoubtedly flood the media in the weeks to come could prove to be too much political pressure for the Trump administration to ignore. As some GOP sources have suggested, one solution that Trump could pursue might be a deal in which he opposes an NRA bill designed to relax restrictions on silencers while avoiding talk of a more comprehensive gun control bill.
People he talks to haven’t heard old views surfacing: “In the past Donald was very pro-gun control on automatic rifles, but I doubt he’s going to make an issue out of it this time and pick a fight with the NRA,” said a New York-based conservative operative who has advised Trump. “Perhaps down the road.”
Yes, but: Almost everybody we spoke to hesitated when predicting Trump’s next move on guns. Some mentioned his taste for bipartisan deal-making, and one source who has worked closely with Trump thought a deal with the Democrats on guns wasn’t out of the question — especially as an emotional reaction to the carnage.
“On top of the immense political pressure, the visuals Trump will see, hundreds of severely injured young people, could provoke him to act,” this source said. “The rational route to take would be to let the investigation play out to see if any new laws could’ve prevented this. I’m 100 percent Second Amendment but … people who had their brains blown out is enough to make anyone with a heart consider anything to prevent this.”
One possible path: Trump could make a modest concession to gun control advocates by opposing a controversial bill, backed by the NRA, to relax restrictions on the purchasing of gun silencers. Politico reported, citing GOP sources, that the bill “won’t be reaching the House floor anytime soon after a horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas.”
Trump could get out in front of it, get a slap from the NRA on an issue that’s not nearly so radioactive as gun ownership, and move on without considering more substantial gun control actions.
So, what say you…is Trump just buying time until the media pivots back to the “Russian collusion” narrative or is the NRA about to get blindsided?
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