In the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre, on Wednesday, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump announced that he'd meet with the National Rifle Association (NRA) to discuss banning individuals on the terrorist watch list from buying guns. The Orlando killer, who was responsible for the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history, had been on a federal watch list for 10 months during 2013 and 2014. Trump has previously said that he would support blocking such people from purchasing guns.
The NRA, meanwhile, objects to such measures, arguing that they would impinge on the rights of innocent people mistakenly added to terrorist watch lists from buying weapons. This is an argument I find to be both extremely thin and mind-numbingly stupid, to the point where I am not going to devote any more time to it. Perhaps the NRA is realizing that endorsing Trump in May didn't ensure he'd follow their lead on gun control.
Not that I am one to ever pour out a lot of sympathy for the NRA, but they really should have seen this coming. The fact that Trump happily accepted its endorsement never had any bearing on whether he would one day turn on the organization if the dictates of the cultural moment required him to do so. No person or entity is safe from Trump’s willingness to pivot wherever he needs to in order to stoke maximum fear. Not even the NRA.
For its part, the NRA has tweeted that it's "happy" to meet with Trump. While it emphasized keeping guns from terrorists in the tweet, the NRA also stated,"Due process & right to self-defense for law-abiding Americans."
And while this meeting might play into a more Democratic agenda than is typical for him, I still consider it just another example of Trump saying whatever he needs to say. After watching him this election, it's hard to believe he is ever coming from a place of conviction.
Consider how Trump tweets about how he "will fight" for LGBT community, but that the Human Rights Council points out that he's "been a consistent opponent of marriage equality." He has also tweeted about Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren being racist for claiming Native American heritage, while in the same breath calling her "Pocahontas."
So whether or not anything actually gets accomplished in this meeting, I just doesn't believe it signals any kind of genuine turning point for Trump. He’s said before that he opposes increasing gun restrictions in the wake of mass shootings, and he’ll pivot to that again when he needs to do so. If the NRA comes out the other side of this looking a bit feckless and silly, I suppose we can appreciate that as a side effect. But that’s all.
Image: Bustle/Caroline Wurtzel