Trump “Dances a Little Sidestep” On the Second Amendment

One issue that poses a problem for Donald Trump is his changing, and often contradictory, stances on the Second Amendment.

You may remember him coming out in support of Obama following the Sandy Hook shooting.

In case you’ve forgotten, Obama’s remarks included the following:

It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize, no matter how much you love these kids, you can’t do it by yourself. That this job of keeping our children safe, and teaching them well, is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community, and the help of a nation. And in that way, we come to realize that we bear a responsibility for every child because we’re counting on everybody else to help look after ours; that we’re all parents; that they’re all our children.

This is our first task — caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.
And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children — all of them — safe from harm? Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know that they are loved, and teaching them to love in return? Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?

So far, so good(ish), and next comes the setup:

We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.

But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that — then surely we have an obligation to try.

And then the hammer, a velvet one in this speech, but the meaning was clear to all who heard it:

In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?

And in the coming weeks, he did just that . . . tossed aside the velvet hammer and went for the anvil: Obama pushed for gun control measures, none of which would have stopped Sandy Hook (or the San Bernardino or Orlando terrorist attacks).

We know very well where Obama stands on gun grabbing and the Second Amendment; however, it’s not as clear where Trump stands. On the one hand, he thinks that certain gun bans should be in place to prevent (somehow?!) terrorists from obtaining and using guns, and on the other hand, he states that had the victims in the Orlando venue been armed, they could have protected themselves.  He has walked that back now.  In a tweet.

ABC News reports:

Donald Trump has warmed to potentially changing gun laws to ensure that no one with even “an inclination toward terrorism” can legally purchase guns, while reiterating that the Orlando nightclub massacre might not have ended so tragically had clubgoers been armed.

“If in that club, you had some people, not a lot of people … but if you had somebody with a gun strapped on to their hip, somebody with a gun strapped on to their ankle and you had bullets going in the opposite direction, right at this animal who did this, you would have had a very, very different result,” Trump, who has called himself the protector of the Second Amendment, said Saturday at the Arizona State Fairgrounds.

Apparently, Trump’s view of gun control would include anyone on the terror watch list; a list that includes such infamous would be terrorists as Fox News contributors and little children.

ABC News continues:

Trump has warmed to some measures of gun control, telling ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Jon Karl that he would be open to restricting individuals on a terror watch list from buying guns, a stance that puts him in direct opposition from many in his party and the National Rifle Association, which endorsed Trump in May.

“We have to make sure that people that are terrorists or have even an inclination toward terrorism cannot buy weapons, guns,” Trump told Karl in an interview to air Sunday on “This Week.”

If Obama said this, we’d—quite rightly—be outraged. Setting aside clear conflict with the Second Amendment . . . an “inclination toward terrorism”? What is that and how is it measured? And by whom? And on what authority is our Constitutional right to bear arms revoked because of some perceived “inclination”?

Given what we know about the government’s ideas of what a terrorist is (someone who supports the Tenth Amendment, the Constitution, and / or is pro-life or is a veteran of our armed forces, as but a few examples), this seems like a horrible idea. Even assuming that a President Trump would change all of this, do we really want to deprive American citizens of their Second Amendment rights based on a secretive list that is compiled somewhat randomly and with broad scope to ensure there’s no suggestion of discrimination?

And when did the government start knowing what people’s inclinations are? How would a President or his/her administration monitor every person’s “inclinations” and determine that they cannot own a gun based on those “inclinations”?

How does Trump reconcile the rights of the people and weigh in the Second Amendment against his belief that it is best to deprive citizens of their right to bear arms because they have the wrong “inclination” or appear on one of many government lists?

As one might expect from someone with Trump’s limited critical thinking skills:  It’s just easier to deprive anyone of their Second Amendment right to bear arms if, you know, they are on a list: “Asked by Karl if his position is that those on the no-fly or terror watch list should not be able to purchase a gun, Trump responded, ‘I’d like to see that, and I’d like to say it. And it’s simpler. It’s just simpler’.”

This is the same logic Trump applied to “closing the internet” before decrying as “foolish people” everyone who responded with “oh, freedom of speech, freedom of speech.”  Those pesky Constitutional Amendments throw a wrench into his childish worldview quite often.

It’s so much simpler to just deny gun ownership rights to a bunch of people who are tossed on a no-fly list for no apparent reason (including people like Weekly Standard columnist Stephen Hayes).

I say “no apparent reason,” but there are several ways one might be added to the no-fly list: one might be a terrorist or have terrorist ties, one might have traveled to a flagged country or region, one might have a name similar to that of a known terrorist, one might be added because someone somewhere made a “clerical error,” one might have no connection to terrorism but simply have outstanding warrants, one might have tweeted “controversial” statements on Twitter, and etc.

In other words, the no-fly list has morphed into a political tool much like an “enemies list” and into a law enforcement tool that far exceeds its original intent.

Preventing people who appear on these lists from buying guns may be “simpler,” but it is also problematic. Such slippery slopes that are enthusiastically traversed by the well-intentioned and the ill-intentioned alike require some forethought and consideration. The current government lists (no-fly, terrorist, selectee, someone insulted Obama or doesn’t like his policies) are arbitrary and random, with “clerical errors” abounding and common sense tossed to the winds. People are not notified when placed on such lists and may have no idea they are on one until they try to fly . . . or purchase a firearm.

Yet in practically the same breath that Trump calls for a “simple” blanket ban on anyone who turns up, often through no fault of their own and always with no due process and little recourse, on a no-fly or terrorist watch list, he also insists that an armed public is a sure means of thwarting or minimizing terrorist (or in the case of Sandy Hook, mentally-unstable) carnage.

Trying to make sense of Trump’s seemingly contradictory statements about our Second Amendment rights, I couldn’t help but think of the following hilarious bit from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas:

Trump’s both for gun control and against it. You know, if some data entry clerk gets a name wrong or something, you simply forfeit your Second Amendment rights; it’s the price you pay for safety: your Second Amendment rights are subsumed by the Greater Good and in the name of National Security.

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