Trump endorses candidate sympathetic to assault weapon bans

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

It remains to be seen if the endorsement of former President Donald Trump will mean a whole lot. While many on the right still support him, others are ready to move on from the Trump era. However, he’s still going to endorse candidates and many want it.

However, it seems one endorsement was for a candidate who supports assault weapon bans.

Former President Donald Trump endorsed Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) on Wednesday, citing the congressman being “Strong” on the “Second Amendment” – even though Mast supports an assault weapons ban, which Second Amendment supporters oppose.

In a New York Times opinion piece, Mast called for taking action such as, but not limited to, “[d]efining what constitutes an assault or tactical firearm and not allowing them for future purchase — just as we already prohibit the purchase of fully automatic firearms” and “[b]anning the sale of accessories and add-ons that circumvent the ban on automatic firearms, and increasing the ages at which individuals can purchase various categories of firearms.”

Now, understand, this was 2018 and emotions were more than a little high in the wake of Parkland. A lot of people were supporting things in the aftermath of that horrible tragedy that they don’t support now.

The question is whether Mast still supports such legislation.

On his campaign website, he makes no specific mention of assault weapon bans, only saying that he’s worked to oppose gun control legislation. He’s also backed a bill that addresses gun rights for medical marijuana users, but still, he’s said nothing disavowing that 2018 op-ed.

However, as I’ve said with other GOP candidates who seem to espouse support for gun control, he needs to clarify where he stands right now.

While flip-flopping is considered a bad thing in a politician–and for good reason–it actually is OK to change one’s mind about an issue over time and with careful examination of the facts. If Mast were to make a statement that no, he doesn’t feel that way now and that his op-ed was driven by emotion but since then he’s come to realize the error of that thinking, well, fine.

For me, the issue would be done. He learned the error of his ways, no longer supports assault weapon bans and now he’s ready to move forward.

Absent that, though, there’s no way I could vote for him were he running in my district. Not in the primary, at least.

But what about Trump’s endorsement?

The truth is that while Trump was better than a lot of people on the right expected, he was never a huge supporter of the Second Amendment. Remember that it was he who pushed the ATF to ban bump stocks, for example, and he was more than ready to work with Nancy Pelosi on additional regulations.

The idea that he’d bad a candidate who espoused support for an assault weapon ban isn’t overly shocking to me.

The question remains as to whether or not that endorsement will matter.

It won’t to me, but if Mast steps up and disavows his previous comments, the 2018 op-ed won’t matter to me either.

That leaves the big question of whether or not he’ll do so.