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Trump Touches the Third Rail on Guns

by | Mar 12, 2018 | Second Amendment

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Now that new gun legislation has been passed by the Republican legislature in Florida and signed by GOP Governor Rick Scott, where does our Republican President come down on the various components of the bill?

Well, President Trump apparently thought a lot about the issue over the weekend and expressed his views in a trio of tweets early Monday.  And they included something for everyone.

Approve or Disapprove

The gun rights crowd will appreciate that he decried gun-free school zones, voiced support for concealed carry in schools and intimated that he’s skeptical about raising the age of eligibility for possession of long guns.

On the other side, gun control advocates should be pleased that this NRA-backed President says he supports the strengthening of background checks and a prohibition on bump stocks, the device used in the Las Vegas massacre to turn a semi-automatic weapon into a virtually automatic one.

This mixed set of policy views is consistent with the President’s position on immigration, where Trump has offered the left legal status for current and eligible DACA recipients in return for his big, beautiful wall and tightening of immigration restrictions.

So what is the upshot?  Is Trump turning weak-kneed?  Not likely.  But the President’s independence from the political establishment and the seemingly unshakable support of his MAGA base has positioned him to compromise on the issue of guns.  And as in the immigration debate, neither side is terribly happy.  That’s the result of almost all compromise.

Whether the President personally favors the gun control measures he claims to support in these tweets or not, can he ignore the post-Parkland hue and cry about guns, which was loud enough to force a fully Republican state like Florida to take action?  Similarly, despite what he has said about deporting illegal migrants, can he ignore the undeniable majority of Americans who support the humane treatment of illegal immigrants brought here before they were old enough to decide for themselves?

Political Compromise

The answer is: of course he can.  But it’s also true that he is President of all the American people, not just those who voted for him.  Trump evidently believes, whether true or not, that compromise on these issues will improve his chances for a second term.  And with those pesky suburban white women, who are famously soft on guns and immigration, showing signs of abandoning their support for him, the President’s positions on these two hotter-than-hot button issues signals a bow to political reality. 

If that makes him sound like another swamp President, remember that Trump had exactly zero political experience before his shocking election to the highest office in the land.  He is still trying to figure out this president thing.  But he has now surveyed the landscape and lived the life for 14 months, on top of the 18 months of the presidential campaign, and has evidently decided there are some things on which he must give ground.

Still Swinging Big!

At the same time, Trump demonstrated over the weekend that he is still the same guy who attracted all those votes in flyover country which landed him in the White House.  At a rally for Pittsburgh-area congressional candidate Rick Saccone, so reminiscent of his now-legendary campaign rallies, Trump looked rested, ready and revved-up as he revived his favorite themes and ridiculed familiar targets – the “fake media” (calling poor Chuck Todd “a sleeping son of a bitch”), Sen. Pocahontas Warren, “low IQ” Maxine Waters, “a lot of evil” in Washington, leftist “support” for MS-13 gangs and other red meat which was cheered wildly by the capacity crowd.  And for good measure, he returned to his penchant for assigning hysterical nicknames (Crooked Hillary, Low-Energy Jeb, Lyin’ Ted, Sloppy Steve Bannon, etc) by attaching the moniker “Lamb the Sham” to Saccone’s opponent, Conor Lamb.

Yes, this was the same furniture-breaker who defied overwhelming odds to become President by speaking unvarnished – and, um, inelegant – truth to power.  But as Trump’s gun – and immigration – policies reveal, the unprecedented drumbeat of hatred for him by the left, the entirety of the national media, permanent bureaucracy, foreign policy apparatus and intelligence community – among others – can sometimes induce even a rogue President to compromise.

Read More From Tim Donner

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