Trump Laments Gun Violence But Limits Gun Control

by Joseph D. Lyons
Pool/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Violence was a big theme in President Donald Trump's first address to Congress. A big theme. He called for respect of law enforcement, created a special office for victims of crimes committed by foreigners, and introduced the country to four crime victims. And Chicago! What on earth is going on there? You'd think violence was the biggest issue Americans saw the country facing (it's not) or we were in the midst of an epic crime wave (we're not). But don't let the words fool you. Trump lamented gun violence and slashed gun control on the exact same day.

Yep, you read that right. On Tuesday, Trump signed H.J. Res 40, a bill that revokes a gun-control regulation put into place by the Obama Administration and finalized in December. Obama first suggested it after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, and it puts limits on the ability to buy a gun for people who are mentally ill.

The rule required the Social Security Administration to submit information about people with some mental disabilities to the national gun background check system four times a year. The predicted effect of the rule is mixed, but one of the biggest reasons to prevent this population from buying a gun would be suicides. That alone should make Trump think twice before reversing it.

Trump must also realize this, because he signed the bill with no photo-op (and does he love those — remember all the men signing the anti-abortion order?). So the fact that he signed this in private after signing other bills with the press in attendance proves he's aware of the hypocrisy. It was only mentioned in the last line of a White House press email, NBC News reported.

Just a reminder, here's what Trump said during the address to Congress:

In Chicago, more than 4,000 people were shot last year alone — and the murder rate so far this year has been even higher. This is not acceptable in our society. Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, to attend a great school, and to have access to a high-paying job.

How can communities be safe if Republicans and Trump roll back regulations on firearms? The NRA is happy, but those actually working to decrease gun deaths were not. Sen. Chris Murphy, one of the biggest gun-control advocates in Congress told NBC News in an email:

Republicans always say we don't need new gun laws, we just need to enforce the laws already on the books. But the bill signed into law today undermines enforcement of existing laws that Congress passed to make sure the background check system had complete information.

Trump needs to understand that if he's going to make a dent in the number of gun deaths — be they in Chicago or anywhere else in the country. This regulation may not have been perfect (the ACLU didn't love it either), but unless Trump puts forward another gun-control solution, all of this bluster is for naught.