With most of the Democrats howling for “common-sense gun laws” and pointing the finger of blame for the two gun massacres in El Paso and Dayton, President Donald Trump’s reaction has been described as conspicuously mild and even statesmanlike. First, though, he went to Twitter and offered a deal.
“We cannot let those killed in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, die in vain. Likewise for those so seriously wounded. We can never forget them, and those many who came before them. Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying…
“….this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform. We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!”
As Hot Air suggested, the two issues have nothing to do with one another except for the president’s desire to exercise The Art of the Deal. Since the El Paso shooter was partly motivated by the presence of Hispanics in Texas, Ed Morrisey regarded the optics of the proposal to be “jaw-dropping.” Morrisey also noted that immigration reform is so complex that it is likely a losing strategy to try to pair it to something as simple as enhanced background checks for gun purchases.
A few hours later, Trump seemed to quietly drop the immigration reform and gave a full-throated condemnation of “white nationalism” as well as racism and bigotry. According to the AP:
“President Donald Trump on Monday condemned weekend shootings in Texas and Ohio as barbaric crimes ‘against all humanity’ and called for bipartisan cooperation to respond to an epidemic of gun violence. He blamed mental illness and video games but made no mention of more limits on sales of firearms.
Trump said he wanted legislation providing ‘strong background checks’ for gun users, though he has reneged on previous promises after mass attacks. He offered few details.
“We vow to act with urgent resolve,” Trump said, speaking from the White House about shootings that left 31 dead as the count rose on Monday. His scripted remarks came after two days of muted response to the shootings and included a solitary denunciation of white supremacy, which he has been reluctant to criticize.
In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,’ Trump said, adding that he had directed the FBI to examine steps to identify and address domestic terrorism. ‘These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America,’ he said.”
Besides background checks, the president proposed that the Justice Department and social media companies partner to locate signs of violent extremism online. One common factor that many have found for mass shooters is that they seem to find validation on social media platforms, one reason why law enforcement has been able to discover the motivations of mass murderers after the fact. The idea is to locate potential shooters before they open up on a crowd of people and stop them.
The president has proposed to institute nationwide “red flag laws,” which Florida has already passed in the wake of the Parkland school massacre. The idea is that if family members or the police deem that a person is a potential danger to himself or others, they can petition a court to remove his or her second amendment rights and confiscate his or her firearms.
As Townhall noted, unless such legislation is carefully crafted, it could be a reason for the abuse of a person’s constitutional rights. The process has to be subject to judicial review, with the person whose firearms have been taken given every opportunity to regain possession of them. Even so, such a law might not pass Supreme Court muster.
Trump also called for measures to attack the glorification of violence, especially in video games as well on TV and at the movies. Trump also suggested that those judged at risk for creating a mass murder might be subjection to involuntary confinement and those who do commit such an atrocity should be subject to an automatic death penalty. Even so, Hot Air noted that these measures have a lot of practical and constitutional hurdles to surmount before becoming reality.
Overall, the president is being given good marks for his condemnation of extremism, contrasting with the hoary image of Trump as a racist who is egging mass shooters on. He also sounds more reasonable than those on the left who suggest that total gun confiscation, as happened in Australia, is the answer.