In a stunning display of a lack of understanding or care for the Constitution, President Trump today, during a bi-partisan meeting of key lawmakers, announced that he would like “to take the guns and then go to the courts for due process.”
Vice President Pence was outlining a vision in which local authorities would be empowered to go to the courts and petition the legal system to seize firearms from those who were credibly deemed to be a threat to themselves or others (also known as the system presently in place) when the President interrupted him. President Trump made it clear that he wanted to seize guns from those the police deemed a threat and only then go to the courts for due process. The President cited the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida as an example. He further accused Republican lawmakers of being afraid of the NRA, despite the fact that the NRA’s political contributions are a tiny fraction of that of other organizations.
The problem with President Trump’s scenario is three-fold.
1. In Parkland the local authorities in the form of the Broward County Sheriff’s Department not only didn’t even TRY to go through the proper legal procedure, but ignored more than two dozen calls warning that the future shooter was dangerous.
2. The Bill of Rights is non-negotiable. They aren’t there to protect people when it is convenient. It is there to protect innocent citizens from having their rights trampled on by the government, which is exactly what the President seems to have been proposing. The President’s statement, while possibly having been made in the heat of the moment, was to the left of many Democrats, and gives credence to many of the accusations of being a wannabe tyrant.
3. This creates huge political and electoral problems for the President. In a mid-term election year, even Democrats outside of New York and California will run away from gun control knowing they cannot get re-elected if they anger their blue-collar and middle class constituents by trampling on their right to self-defense. Further, the President just yesterday announced his re-election bid and his campaign manager for that effort. In order to win re-election the President will need significantly more votes than he received in 2016 since Democrats are not likely to stay home in the numbers they did the last time. While many who refused to vote for Trump last time have been impressed with many of the things he’s done thus far (myself included) the President can forget winning in 2020 if he attacks the 2nd Amendment in any way.
Republicans reactions across the country were decidedly skeptical.
Shane Hazel, running for the GOP nomination in the Georgia 7th, said, “I will always uphold the Constitution and Americans’ inalienable, God-given right to protect themselves, their families, and property as they see fit and fight for their right to due process.”
When asked for his opinion, Austin Petersen, running for the GOP nomination for Senate to run against Claire McCaskill, a holder of an “F” rating from the NRA, said, “That’s not how the 5th Amendment works, and that’s not how due process works.”
The President has done some damage to himself today, and he needs to walk this back right away. Suffice it to say Sarah Huckabee Sanders will have her work cut out for her tomorrow. His people had already walked back his previous statements on wanting to raise the age to buy long guns to 21, but this new gaffe may be harder to spin. 2nd Amendment advocates are rarely single-issue voters, but you CAN lose their votes if you go against gun rights. A Republican going against gun rights has the same chance of being elected as a Democrat who comes out against welfare. President Trump’s team has some serious damage control to do on this issue, and considering Trump’s long history of not exactly being the most pro-gun man in the world, he can’t afford any more gaffes on this.