Attempts to Change Gun Laws Are Only Political Ploy

Attempts to Change Gun Laws Are Only Political Ploy

Trying to change gun laws in response to the tragedy is nothing but a political ploy. — GOA’s Michael Hammond

Attempts to Change Gun Laws Are Only Political Ploy

In responding to the biggest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, President Trump assumed a role that was all too familiar for former president Barack Obama — consoling a shaken nation after a deadly shooting.

Like Obama, Trump is likely to confront more mass shootings, testing his leadership skills and capacity to empathize. Unlike Obama — a strong advocate of tighter restrictions on gun ownership — Trump is left with few policy solutions.

“In times such as these, I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness. The answers do not come easy,” Trump said in a Monday statement at the White House.

Trump condemned Sunday’s Las Vegas slaughter of 58 people by 64-year-old Stephen Paddock as “an act of pure evil,” called for national unity, led a moment of silence and ordered U.S. flags lowered to half-staff. But he made no mention of an epidemic of gun violence making the U.S. unique among advanced industrial nations.

While Trump once supported a ban on assault weapons, his views have changed significantly over the past decade, and it’s unlikely he’d support stricter U.S. gun laws now. In the first weeks of his administration, he approved a controversial bill to reverse an Obama-era ban on gun ownership by people ruled mentally “defective” by the Social Security system.

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Unlike many challenges facing the Trump administration, Trump’s offerings to the American public in the wake of mass shootings are likely to be limited to words of sorrow and “warmest condolences,” which was his initial response, said professor Robert Spitzer, author of The Politics of Gun Control.

Guns are “the only policy area where the conditioned response is that the law doesn’t matter, it’s bad people doing bad things,” said Spitzer. “That leads to a policy dead end.” …

Like Trump, Obama’s response to the first mass shooting under his leadership — at Fort Hood in 2009 — was focused mainly on those grieving. Yet his two terms included at least 14 public responses to mass shootings, and over time and with the number of incidents compounding, Obama’s frustration with the relative ease with which Americans can purchase high-capacity firearms became pronounced.

That was particularly true after the 2012 slaughter of 20 children in Newtown, Conn. After that tragedy, Obama repeatedly called for tighter laws, including requiring background checks for online purchase of guns and closing the so-called “gun show loophole” that allows sales between private individuals without a background check.

In a Monday White House briefing, press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump remains a strong supporter of the Second Amendment while dismissing questions about policy: “There’s a time and place for a political debate, but now is a time to unite as a country,” she said. “It would be premature for us to discuss policy when we don’t fully know all the facts,” said Sanders.

Mike Hammond, legislative counsel to the pro-gun Gun Owners of America, said trying to change gun laws in response to the tragedy is “nothing but a political ploy.”

While it’s unknown exactly what type of a weapon Paddock used, it appears to have been an automatic firearm, which federal laws tightly restrict. “Given it’s illegal to have the gun he had, illegal to have it in the hotel and certainly illegal to kill 58 people, it’s not clear what sort of new illegalization is going to make any difference,” Hammond said.

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