On Wednesday, President Trump “stunned” his allies with a series of statements suggesting he was ready to move on some controversial gun control initiatives, even if that meant violating due process rights.
While his comment that he wanted to “take the guns first, go through due process second” and encouragement of Democrats to include an “assault-style rifle” ban in legislation sent shockwaves among conservatives, in a statement Thursday morning, Trump seemed to suggest that pro-Second Amendment advocates need not be too worried. He clearly wants a bill to “emerge,” but stressed that we must “respect” the Second Amendment.
“Many ideas, some good & some not so good, emerged from our bipartisan meeting on school safety yesterday at the White House,” said Trump in a tweet Thursday morning. “Background Checks a big part of conversation. Gun free zones are proven targets of killers. After many years, a Bill should emerge. Respect 2nd Amendment!”
On Wednesday, Trump described the event as a chance to “turn our grief into action.”
Among the more shockwave-sending statements Trump made during the bipartisan gun control debate on Wednesday were his comments about due process. Here are the key excerpts:
You have to do something very decisive. Number one, you can take the guns away immediately from people that you can adjudge easily are mentally ill, like this guy. You know, the police saw that he was a problem, they didn’t take any guns away. Now, that could have been policing. I think they should have taken them away anyway, whether they had the right or not. But I’ll tell you this, you have to have very strong provisions for the mentally ill. …
Or, Mike [Pence], take the firearms first, and then go to court. Because that’s another system, because a lot of times, by the time you go to court, it takes so long to go to court to get the due process procedures, I like taking the guns early, like in this crazy man’s case that just took place in Florida. … To go to court would have taken a long time. So you could do exactly what you’re saying, but take the guns first, go through due process second.
Many conservatives responded forcefully to the comments, including Republican Sen. Ben Sasse (NE), who rebuked the president in a statement Wednesday. “Strong leaders don’t automatically agree with the last thing that was said to them,” said Sasse in the statement. “We have the Second Amendment and due process of law for a reason. We’re not ditching any Constitutional protections simply because the last person the President talked to today doesn’t like them.”
The NRA, which is currently facing a major campaign targeting its supporters, issued a similarly strong rebuke. “While today’s meeting made for great TV, the gun control proposals discussed would make for bad policy that would not keep our children safe,” NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker told The Hill in a statement. “Instead of punishing law-abiding gun owners for the acts of a deranged lunatic our leaders should pass meaningful reforms that would actually prevent future tragedies.”
Baker issued a follow-up statement reiterating the NRA’s commitment to “support[ing] legislative efforts to make our schools and communities safe and oppos[ing] gun control schemes that cannot keep us safe and only punish law-abiding Americans.”
Meanwhile, the Democrats have signaled that they might back out of a gun control bill that actually has the chance to pass.