With the nation clamoring for something to be done about a recent spate of mass shootings, it appears that nearly all options are on the table for President Trump.
Predictably, several of the usual storylines have emerged in the wake of last weekend’s violence. The far left is looking to ban “assault” weapons outright, while republicans and libertarians attempt to steer the conversation in the direction of mental health. In the middle of this well-worn path lies the concept of “red flag” laws – something that President Trump has expressed some support for over the course of the last few days.
The NRA isn’t having it, however.
NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre spoke with Trump on Tuesday after the president expressed support for a background check bill and told him it would not be popular among Trump’s supporters, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss internal talks. LaPierre also argued against the bill’s merits, the officials said.
The NRA, which opposes the legislation sponsored by Sens. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., and Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., declined to comment.
Advisers to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he would not bring any gun-control legislation to the floor without widespread Republican support. Trump has waffled, current and past White House officials say, between wanting to do more and growing concerned that doing so could prompt a revolt from his political base. Even some supporters of the Manchin-Toomey bill, which would expand background checks to nearly all firearm sales, say it is unlikely to pass.
The NRA’s concerns are legitimate, although maybe not timely.
The issue is that these “red flag” laws do come with the potential for serious abuse by the government.
As an example, let’s say that “red flag” laws existed in the 1770’s. As our Founding Fathers prepared to revolt against the empirical British, those expressing their concerns over English tyranny would likely have found themselves on the receiving end of extraneous attention and possible gun confiscation. That’s because, despite their pure and populist purpose, the definitions by which these laws can be enacted are subjective, and can change over time at the behest of those who created them.
A solution to mass shootings and mental health must be explored for the good of our nation, but we must never turn our backs on freedom in order to do so.
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