To say there’s anger over President Trump’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives changing the rules over bump stocks is an understatement. While there isn’t the kind of outrage you’d see if he’d tried to ban semi-autos by fiat, there’s still a lot of hostility out there, and for good reason. We don’t like our supposedly uninfringeable rights being infringed.
We’re prickly that way.
Especially since, as one op-ed argues, Trump has already done more for gun control than Obama ever did.
Cries of “Obama’s going to take your guns!” were so loud in conservative circles dating back a decade that very few people remember that the only two major gun bills Obama signed into law actually expanded the rights of gun owners. One was a measure that allowed Amtrak passengers to carry firearms in checked baggage, and the other allowed the carry of firearms in national parks, reversing President Reagan’s policy that required guns to be locked in the trunks or glove compartments of vehicles upon entering national parks. Obama did announce a set of “executive actions” aimed at better enforcement of existing federal gun laws, but even the Charles Koch-founded Cato Institute said of these executive actions that “apoplectic opponents and overjoyed supporters are both probably overreacting.” Despite Obama being largely ineffectual on gun control policy, firearms sales spiked during his second term amid fears that he would enact gun control measures. Conversely, gun sales slumped when Trump was elected, in tandem with a perception among the hardcore gun owners that he would be comparatively lax on gun control and there was therefore no rush to equip oneself with hardware allowing for rapid sprays of bullets to be flung every which way.
The most significant gun control action from Obama was a second-term regulation requiring the Social Security Administration to supplement the federal firearms background check system with information about individuals who received Social Security benefits for mental illnesses. This measure was aimed at prohibiting mentally ill individuals from buying firearms, and approximately 75,000 people would have been impacted by the rule, according to official estimates. Trump quietly nullified the rule early in 2017 before it had fully taken effect.
Trump, though, is sending mixed signals on gun control. While he revoked Obama’s very modest mental health background check measure, he just promulgated a new rule banning bump stocks, the gun accessory used in last year’s Las Vegas massacre to mimic an automatic rate of fire. If you don’t yet know what a bump stock is, basically it’s a replacement butt for an AR-15 (or some other style of semi-automatic weapon) that has a piece partially extending over the trigger; a bump stock then uses the kick of the gun, which agitates the gun frame, to marginally depress the trigger during the recovery from each recoil, resulting in the rapid fire of successive rounds so long as the trigger finger remains held in place. Bump stock owners have 90 days to turn in or destroy their bump stocks (with no compensation) under the new Trump Administration rule.
Jonathan Wolf, who wrote the above, makes a good point.
Now, I’m not saying Obama was secretly pro-gun or anything. As he noted during his campaign, he didn’t have the support for the kind of regulations he wanted. Additionally, for much of his time in office, he had an oppositional Congress which would have likely overturned any executive orders he passed on the subject.
And I’m not saying that Trump is clearly anti-gun, either.
Frankly, I think Trump is probably fairly ambivalent about the Second Amendment, except when it comes to appeasing his base when he’ll say all the right pro-Second Amendment things.
Yet the point stands. Trump has done more to hurt the Second Amendment than Obama did.
No, not for lack of trying on Obama’s part, but I’m not an Obama apologist. I’m simply taking President Trump to task for selling out gun owners like this.
I get that some think this is some 4D chess move on Trump’s part, but I don’t care. You don’t gamble with our Second Amendment rights, and that’s all that any 4D chess move would actually be. He doesn’t get a pass on this.
If he wants to solidify his pro-Second Amendment credentials, he needs to step up act like he’s pro-Second Amendment.