Popular support leans toward reasonable gun control measures, but Trump is backing down – Washington Examiner
On gun control, President Trump’s strategy appears to be no different than most politicians: Admit that there is indeed a problem, suggest support for possible solutions, wait for the news cycle to die down, and then quietly back away from the aforementioned solutions.
After the El Paso, and Dayton shootings, which left 31 dead and dozens more injured, Trump appeared open to expanding background checks, admitting “there is a great appetite” for limiting access to firearms. But as the calendar continues to move forward, the media focuses its attention elsewhere. And as emotions die down, so, too, have the bipartisan negotiations between the Trump administration and Democratic lawmakers, according to White House aides.
The lack of progress is in part due to Congress’s summer recess. But Trump seems to be losing enthusiasm for the measure, reiterating that “guns don’t pull the trigger” and pointing to the rising mental health crisis mass shooters represent. Both of these points are true, but they won’t prevent another mass shooting from occurring. Universal background checks might not either, but most Americans see them as a pragmatic step toward much needed reform.
As Jay Cost notes on Twitter, Trump’s backtrack isn’t surprising. He’ll project support for universal background checks and red flag laws as long as the legislation is popular, and rescind it the moment it’s not. “Everything is transactional,” Cost says, “and once [Trump] gets pushback, he wilts.”
Now is not the time to wilt, especially since popular support for reasonable gun control measures is growing. A new APM Research Lab poll found that more than three-fourths of all Americans support family-initiated extreme risk protection orders, a kind of red flag law that would allow family members to seek court orders to temporarily take guns away from individuals deemed to be a threat to themselves and/or others. Among Republicans, support for ERPOs is at 70%, and among Democrats, it’s at 85%.
Perhaps the most telling part of this survey is when it was conducted. APM Research Lab said it asked Americans about red flag laws just two weeks prior to the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings. Emotion didn’t dictate these results, reason did.
I’ve written at length about the benefits of reasonable, constitutional red flag laws dependent on a vigilant citizenry. Trump was right to back ERPOs for the exact same reason he was right to get behind universal background checks, which would essentially serve as another hoop potential gun owners must jump through.
Both of these measures raise well founded constitutional concerns among gun rights advocates that should be addressed in any legislative effort moving forward. Trump has the chance to do just that. Instead of waffling, he should lead the charge for sharply drafted laws that protect the constitutional rights of Americans while limiting the access of those who desire to do harm.