Trump's Gun Control Plan Is A Return To The NRA's Wishlist
President Trump has made numerous contradictory statements about what he thinks are the best ways to solve the problem of gun violence. When it comes to actual policy, though, it seems like the White House's gun control proposal mostly follows the NRA's wish list, with few measures that gun control advocates will find attractive.
The most notable part of the proposal coming from the White House is the much-discussed idea of arming certain teachers at schools, which the NRA enthusiastically backs. Trump has stressed since he began discussing it after the Parkland school shooting that it would only be those "certain highly adept people, people that understand weaponry, guns" who would have that responsibility, and he even suggested that they could be given bonuses for taking on that responsibility. This new proposal says that school officials, teachers, or other volunteers who wanted to could undergo "rigorous firearms training," which Trump believes would make schools safer.
The proposal also includes the creation of a federal commission that would explore how to make schools safer. However, The New York Times reported that this idea drew attention from critics after Trump spoke at a rally on Saturday about how he believed that such commissions were the sort of ineffective, empty solution that Washington too often relies on.
This gun control proposal does not, however, recommend raising the minimum age to buy rifles to 21, an idea that the president have previously expressed his support for. This measure, which gun control advocates support and which the NRA does not, was originally reported to be in the White House proposal, but ulyimately the proposal did not end up making any reference to it. On Friday, the NRA sued Florida after Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill raising the minimum age to buy rifles to 21 from 18, saying that the new law violated the second amendment.
The new Florida law also included a provision banning the sale of bump stocks, a device that makes semi-automatic rifles fire like automatic rifles, most notably used in the 2017 Las Vegas shooting. CNN reports that the White House has already been moving forward with a plan to ban bump stocks at the federal level as well; Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that he would work to ban them through regulation.
CNN also reports that the White House is continuing to back Republican Sen. John Cornyn's "FIX NICS" bill, which aims to improve the national background check system by offering state and local administrations financial incentives to report criminal histories. This bill has a limited reach, though, as it only intends to increase the enforcement of existing laws.
Trump had previously expressed support for universal background checks to be required for gun purchases. The NRA has worked to block similar legislation in the past. A White House official explained that not including this requirement was a matter of getting legislation off the ground quickly.
"The president wants to improve our background check system — we want to act now, we don't want to wait," ABC News reports that the White House official said, referring to the FIX NICS bill. "We believe that this legislation is important and useful in improving the background check system and can pass virtually immediately if there's not obstruction in Congress."
The proposal also includes improvements to mental health programs, one of the potential measures that Trump has publicly focused on in the wake of the Parkland shooting. CNN reports that the White House is now advocating increased coordination between mental health professionals and law enforcement — which is still a step back from Trump's previous statements that guns should be taken away from dangerous individuals without due process.
This set of proposals is unlikely to end discussion of gun violence prevention, so perhaps it's just a start, and the Trump White House has more to come. However, so far the administration has put forward very little that the NRA does not already openly support.