President Dances Around The Periphery Of Gun Control

Trump So Far Isn’t Proposing Anything That Hasn’t Already Been OK’d By The N.R.A. And Nothing So Far Would Have Had Any Impact On Last Week’s Massacre In Florida That Killed 17 People


• These steps seem more designed to quell a burgeoning national protest movement that makes him look bad and he cannot control, than doing anything to directly address the issues that were at hand in Florida. So far, the President’s taking great care not to step on the toes of the N.R.A., which has yet to comment on the Florida shootings. (Although the Washington Post reports he was batting around the idea at Mar-A-Lago this weekend of raising the minimum age for buying semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21 nationwide, something the N.R.A. might very well not support).

• But let’s not rush to judgment and jump all over the President just yet: Trump is doing the right thing, at least a little bit: he just needs to do more. Give him the chance to meet with students from Parkland and Sandy Hook and Columbine today, as well as community leaders and law enforcement (who BTW, are often opposed to the legality of assault rifles). Because as we’ve seen, Trump’s often very strongly influenced by whatever people he’s in a room with. And while sometimes that results in a cacophony of mixed messages, perhaps it’ll work to his credit in this case.

Maybe the President will be further moved. While announcing his small initiatives he said he has already been “moved, greatly moved, greatly moved” after meeting with students and families in Parkland. Here’s a clip of the President explaining his motivations and intentions. Click on the photo below to play:


The specifics:

• Trump said he’s ordering Attorney General Jeff Session to ban bump stocks, which are inexpensive devices that can render semi-automatic weapons fully automatic. (Fully automatic weapons, or machine guns, are illegal for civilian use). Bump stocks were used by the shooter who killed 58 people in Las Vegas. They did not appear to be used by Nikolas Cruz in Florida. The New York Times has a good explanation of exactly what a bump stock is, and how it works.


• Trump, in his comments also refers to improving communication between federal and state officials. And later he Tweeted in support of stronger background checks.


• This seems to be an allusion to a bill co-sponsored by Republican Senator John Cornyn from Texas and Chris Murphy from Connecticut that would improve the quality of background checks by improving information sharing (although wouldn’t impose any type of federal standard for those checks). Here’s a thorough analysis of exactly what their bill would do, from the Trace. Again, this would’ve had no impact on the Florida shooting, since Nikolas Cruz purchased all his guns legally after completing a background check.

• The N.R.A. gave nods of approval to both those measures following the Las Vegas and Texas shootings respectively, when  it looked for a brief period of time as if Congress was under pressure to actually do something. Then when the stories faded, and it became clear no action was ultimately necessary, nothing happened.

• Meanwhile Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, are considering reintroducing a bill that made it as far as the Senate floor after Sandy Hook, but was voted down amid pressure from the N.R.A. That bill set out to expand background checks to include gun shows and online sales.

• Finally, while we are not inclined to provide ad space to CNN, we do believe tonight’s Town Hall should be worth watching. It’s at 9PM EST and features Parkland students, as well as politicians that are friendly to their cause, and at least one that is not: Florida Senator Marco Rubio. His involvement in the forum, is both curious and interesting: is he trying to establish his bona fides as a unifier should he choose to run for President again, or as a staunch advocate for all types of gun ownership, perhaps for the very same reason?



Stunt In Florida Legislature Aimed At Forcing Republicans To Oppose Assault Weapons Ban On The Record Pays Off


With a bunch of high school students from Parkland watching from the gallery, the State Legislature in Florida widely rejected bringing a measure to the floor that would ban assault weapons in the state. That proposal has been floating around in subcommittee for months. But even with new momentum, there was no way this bill was going to pass, and that really wasn’t even the point of the vote.

Rather, it was to force Republicans to put themselves on record opposing the ban. In order to achieve this, Democrats took the unusual step of calling for a vote that would’ve moved the measure immediately to the chamber floor for a vote. That motion was blocked 71-36. There are 76 Republicans in the Florida House, meaning virtually every single one voted against moving the motion forward, something Democrats hope will be remembered in upcoming elections.


Parkland students look on in despair as Florida fails to take up assault weapons ban. But the vote did serve a purpose that should ultimately support their cause.


Meanwhile, today in Florida’s state capital, Tallahassee, students will hold the first of many scheduled rallies today calling for an assault rifle ban.



Supreme Court Ruling On Guns Displays The Court’s Much More Complex Relationship With 2nd Amendment Than Many People Think


The case at hand involved 2 gun owners who were challenging California’s 10-day waiting period to buy a gun. But the court denied them, almost unanimously, on the grounds that states have the right to set their own rules.

The lone dissent came from Justice Clarence Thomas who lamented “the 2nd Amendment is a disfavored right in this court.”

As the Los Angeles Times explains, while the Court in recent years has broadly supported the right of all Americans to own guns, it’s also been remarkably consistent about staying out of how that’s interpreted and administered by individual states.




Those In Trump’s Orbit Learning The Hard Way That While Lying To The American People Is Not A Crime, Lying To The Special Counsel Is


A surprise indictment from Robert Mueller, that lies kind of at the outskirts of his investigation. Still, the indictment of Dutch national Alex van der Zwaan is not without intrigue:

  • van der Zwaan is the son-in-law of Russian oligarch German Khan.
  • He also worked at one of the biggest and best known law firms in the country, Skadden Arps, where he was hired by Manafort to compile a report justifying the jailing of a Ukrainian opposition leader.
  • Also, while van der Zwaan is pleading guilty, he is not cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.


Indicted lawyer Alex van der Zwaan


van der Zwaan is accused of lying to the Special Counsel during its investigation of Carter Page, who worked on the Trump campaign and is a long time associate of ex-Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. While Manafort’s fighting his indictment, Page is said to be near a plea deal.



Wondering What’s Going On With DACA?


Less than 2 weeks left before protections start running out for hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. since they were children.

And sometimes Congress can make great progress when the spotlight temporarily moves to other big stories of the day. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening here.

The only new hope on the horizon is a medium-term fix from Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona. He’s calling it “3 for 3” and although it sounds like an IHOP menu item, it’s pretty simple: extend DACA for 3 years, and Trump gets his increased border funding and money for “the wall” for that same period of time.

If Congress can’t get together on a truly bipartisan plan right now, this sounds sensible. But there are a couple of big drawbacks:

1) Trump is no Flake fan.

2) Trump’s been demanding his wall be funded in-full, with the money put into a trust fund of sorts that gets drawn down as “the wall” gets built. He correctly assesses that if he doesn’t get all the money up front, should Democrats regain control of the House or Senate, his wall will immediately die.

Flake’s proposal doesn’t come close to giving him that.


Sen. Jeff Flake (R) Arizona