On Monday, CNN seemingly attempted to paint President Donald Trump as culpable for tragic mass shootings over the weekend in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Anchors Poppy Harlow and John Avlon claimed on-air that the president eliminated a proposed Obama-era regulation that would keep firearms out of the hands of the “mentally ill.”
The proposed rule, however, was seriously broad, undermining the Second and Fourth Amendment rights of tens of thousands of Americans in constitutionally dubious fashion. The restrictions were based merely upon the fact that those on the list had received assistance in managing their Social Security disability payments. Even the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has become increasingly partisan over the years, vehemently opposed the regulation.
“The ACLU and 23 national disability groups did not oppose this rule because we want more guns in our community. This is about more than guns. Adding more innocent Americans to the National Instant Criminal Background database because of a mental disability is a disturbing trend — one that could be applied to voting, parenting or other rights dearer than gun ownership. We opposed it because it would do little to stem gun violence but do much to harm our civil rights,” the ACLU wrote at the time, as previously noted by The Daily Wire.
Deputy Editor of the Washington Examiner, Jay Caruso, excoriated CNN for its partisan coverage.
“My God, [Poppy Harlow] just repeated the lie that the Trump administration ‘rolled back’ Obama administration rules that kept guns out of the hands of the ‘mentally ill,'” Caruso posted in a series of tweets on Monday. “This is such poor journalism on her part. The regulation had nothing to do with ‘mental illness’ and everything to do with the lack of due process. The Obama era rules designated anyone who needed a representative payee through the Social Security Administration and Veterans Affairs ‘mentally unfit.’ If a person met that criteria, their name was entered into the NICS database.”
“These are people who require some assistance handling their finances and slogging through the federal bureaucracy and the Obama administration turned them into criminals,” he explained. “You know who opposed it, [Poppy Harlow]? The ACLU. It lobbied for repeal and the ACLU was right.”
Caruso noted that CNN “attempting to make Trump into some kind of a hypocrite on the issue of mental illness and firearms using that example, just means [Harlow], A. Doesn’t know what she’s talking about or B. Being purposely deceptive.”
“Both [Poppy Harlow] and [John Avalon] require a much-needed corrective when saying Trump rolled back regulations that would keep guns away from the ‘mentally ill’ when it had everything to do with due process and the move had the full support of the ACLU,” he added.
This type of distortion has been all-too common from CNN. In February 2018, following the Parkland, Florida shooting, CNN’s Chris Cuomo said to President Trump via Twitter: “[A]re you aware that one of the regulations you got rid of made it more difficult for mentally ill to get guns?”
The regulation in question, however, “potentially deprived between 75,000 to 80,000 people of a right based not on what they had done but on the basis of being classified by the government in a certain way,” noted Scott Shackford at Reason. “The fact that these people may have these impairments did not inherently mean that they were dangerous to themselves or others and needed to be kept away from guns.”
“The government does have the power to restrict and even deny gun ownership to people,” he added, “but it has to show that these people have engaged in behavior that makes weapons dangerous in their hands.”