“We’ll Be Talking About Gun Laws As Time Goes By”
Before you get too excited, remember: when Trump promises something’s going to happen in the future, he very often means never.
The President heads to Las Vegas today. His “gun” statement coming in the midst of impromptu comments on the reaction of Las Vegas police to the massacre there: calling their actions “in many ways, a miracle.” You can watch it here:
In our view, the only thing that could tighten federal gun regulation right now is an “Act of Trump.” He’s the only wild card in the deck. And this President does love to surprise and disrupt. And in the distant past he was for some minimal gun control. Direct quote from Trump in 2000: “I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun.“
He’s also occasionally been moved by events since becoming President, such as Syrian children coming under attack, and DACA’s “Dreamers”. And he broke big promises to his base in both those cases as a result. (Although he’s yet to come through on DACA, and those Syrian children he bombed to protect, he’s now obstructing from entering the U.S. as refugees: so we’ll see).
So again, we don’t mean to get your hopes up. This is a long-shot to the point of impossibility. If the President gives so much as an inch it would represent the biggest betrayal of his base yet.
That ain’t gonna happen. So, as usual, nothing’s gonna happen.
Or…as David Frum acutely counter-argues in The Atlantic, mass shootings often do lead to legislative action, loosening gun laws…
Why This Nation Lives In Thrall Of The NRA
They are far from the biggest or top-spending lobbying group: dwarfed by the Chamber of Commerce and a host of other special interests from real estate to energy to pharmaceuticals. Yet their power appears absolute. And that’s been the case as far back as we can remember.
A big part of it obviously has to do with having the force of the Constitution behind them.
But many people, like us, who support gun control, also support the 2nd Amendment. We just support common sense. Which the NRA flagrantly defies. (Which in a way we’re also OK with: that’s their job.)
What galls us is the people and politicians who will never ever challenge them. People who should know better, yet swallow the NRA’s nonsensical arguments without question; never say enough-is-enough.
Let’s say a town council wants to install a stop sign at a dangerous intersection. Nobody would interpret that as an attempt to prevent people from driving cars. And if somebody got up and shouted “you’re trying to take away my right to drive without stopping!” everybody would think that person was insane. Yet those are the types of arguments the NRA makes all the time and are accepted without question.
That’s how we get Trump blocking Obama’s rule preventing people diagnosed with serious mental disorders from buying guns. Why of course it’s because our leaders feel so strongly about the sacrosanct protections of the Constitution! Yet at the same time they seem to care little if at all, or even actively campaign against, the 1st and 4th and 5th and 8th and 10th Amendments, including our President.
Several people are making the argument (none more profanely and provocatively than this guy on Twitter), that there’s real hope if you draw a parallel between guns and cigarettes. The tobacco lobby was once considered so powerful that “nobody was ever going to be able to do anything”, yet all of a sudden you couldn’t smoke on planes, in offices, in bars and restaurants. (Except, ironically, Las Vegas. You can still smoke pretty much wherever you want in Vegas.) They maybe have a point. Except…smoking was never protected by a Constitutional Amendment, nor was being pro-tobacco seen as essential to electability (except in states that grow or process tobacco).
As expected, House Majority Leader Paul Ryan pulled a bill that would’ve made it easier for people to purchase silencers. But even that’ll probably just be temporary.
Because scoring high with the NRA is still a major selling point on the campaign trail in most every red state (and some blue). As long as that’s the case, it’ll stick.
Very Little In The Way Of Answers To The Two Questions We Asked Yesterday: “How?” And “Why?”
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms late last night confirmed that 12 “bump-stocks” were found in the shooter’s suite at Mandalay Bay. As we mentioned, those devices are touted as “an aftermarket accessory that enables semiautomatic rifle owners to replicate fully automatic fire — while escaping federal restrictions on machine guns“. But the ATF did not explicitly confirm they were used by Stephen Paddock during his attack.
A clearer picture emerged of Paddock’s room. Mainly due to leaked photos, which the Sheriff’s Office later confirmed were genuine. In addition to nearly 2 dozen guns, the shooter set up several cameras, so he could see police and others approaching in the hall. Here’s a brief video from the Las Vegas Review Journal:
The New York Times has a detailed timeline of events that we should warn you includes some very graphic photos.
Paddock’s girlfriend, who was out of the country at the time of the attack, arrived back in the U.S. late last night. Police hope she will be helpful in providing some answers.
The Washington Post has a great look at how Las Vegas hospitals coped with hundreds of emergency cases all at once, even calling trauma surgeons from the Air Force who are familiar with battle wounds.
Puerto Rico Ups Official Hurricane Death Toll…But Not Til Trump Leaves…
After Trump ended his visit, the territory’s Governor more than doubled the official death toll from Hurricane Maria. It now stands at 34. Earlier Trump said the island should “be very proud” of the low number of deaths compared to “a real catastrophe, like Katrina”. (More than 1800 people died in Hurricane Katrina). But Trump did OK in Puerto Rico, or at least he didn’t pick any fights. Media made fun of him for some silly, self-centered statements, (but if Trump’s on his way, you know that’s coming), and for tossing rolls of paper towels into a crowd, basketball-style…