AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
President Donald Trump was elected at least in part on the support provided by the NRA and gun owners in general. Since then, we haven’t gotten a whole lot in exchange for that support. Instead of national reciprocity and suppressors in every gun store, we got a ban on bump stocks. Not quite the direction any of us expected when he took office, to be sure.
In fairness, the political landscape has changed. Las Vegas shook a whole lot of people to their core. We were likely going to get some kind of regulation on bump stocks anyway. At least with the way Trump handled it, we didn’t get too broad a ban that also impacted binary and competition triggers.
However, now we’re dealing with yet another shift potentially taking place. Last weekends double-whammy of El Paso and Dayton may also have shaken lawmakers to their core. It seems enough so that the White House is considering backing gun control legislation.
Alan Gottlieb, the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation and chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, told the Washington Free Beacon he spoke with a top White House staffer. They discussed how gun rights advocates view the current debate over recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Gottlieb said they addressed a wide range of proposals that have been discussed in recent days.
“We talked about everything from background checks to banning semi-automatic firearms and magazines to red flag laws,” Gottlieb said. “We went through everything that’s been proposed.”
Gottlieb said he expressed concerns over how the proposals could potentially infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners. He said the official, who he described as a top staffer but declined to name, was receptive to the concerns and open to hearing how proposals could be changed to address concerns.
“It was a very good, positive conversation,” Gottlieb said. “They wanted to address the problems of violence in our society and at the same time protect Second Amendment rights. And doing it not just lip service or symbolism over substance, but making proposals that could work and don’t eradicate people’s freedom.”
Now, let me be clear. Based on what Gottlieb said, it’s not a done deal. This doesn’t mean the Trump administration is going full-on gun-grabber on us. It just means they’re open to trying to find whether or not there’s some common ground that could be explored.
But based on what I’m seeing on social media, a number of supposed conservatives are willing to give this ground. Note that I said “conservatives” and not gun folks. The two aren’t synonymous, after all. The problem with this, however, is that it may give enough cover for Republicans to back anti-gun bills. It seems Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is making similar noises.
Look, so far as we can tell, neither of the proposals being seriously talked about by some on the right–universal background checks and red flag laws–would have done anything to prevent these tragedies. While we see all these red flags now, it remains unclear that someone would have seen it with close to the same clarity as we do in hindsight. Plus, it looks like the all bought them after passing a background check.
Yet that’s not stopping the discussion from taking place, and that’s troubling.
If I thought this would end the gun control debate, I might be willing to consider it. I don’t buy a lot of guns in face-to-face transactions, after all. If it stopped the rest of the assault on the Second Amendment, I’d at least think about it because we can always take our rights back when people calm the hell down. But it won’t stop the push. They won’t take this and just stop. It’ll be something else afterward, just like it’s always been.
And I sincerely hope Gottlieb told the White House that. More importantly, I hope they listen.