President Donald Trump said a bunch of crazy things this week.
Nothing new there.
I’m not referring to the global trade war he may have started on Thursday with his announcement that steep protective tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum could be coming as early as next week.
I’m referring to the tougher gun control laws the president publicly floated on Wednesday during an unscripted discussion with bipartisan lawmakers in the White House.
Sounding more like Nancy Pelosi than a lifelong friend of the National Rifle Association, the president suggested three steps he thinks would help to prevent future mass school shootings like the one in Parkland, Fla.
He proposed raising the age limit to buy assault-type weapons like the AR-15 to 21, making background checks tougher on all gun buyers and taking guns away from people with mental problems.
In the real world, where there are more than 300 million guns floating around the United States, Trump’s first two actions will do nothing but burden law-abiding gun owners.
The president’s third idea — taking someone’s guns away for mental-health reasons and making them go to court to get them back—is especially outrageous.
Forget the serious constitutional concerns about taking law-abiding citizens’ guns and doing the due process later.
Does Mr. Trump have any clue how impossible it would be to determine who was truly crazy and dangerous and needed to have his or her guns seized?
Does he realize the dangerous road his idea would send us down?
‘Hello 911? The guy next store is cutting his lawn sideways. He’s really crazy. You better come and take his guns away.’
And my Congresswoman Maxine Waters thinks the president is mentally ill.
Do you say, ‘I’m sorry, Mr. Trump, someone says you’re crazy. You have to give us your guns.’
Trump’s gun control ideas are not worth the breath he spent on them.
The most obvious reason the Parkland school tragedy happened was because the FBI and the local police screwed up — despite multiple warnings.
A less obvious reason the shooter was not stopped before he could take 17 innocent lives was the “parental” failure of his mother and the family he lived with after she died last year.
Those adults knew he was mentally ill, angry and dangerous, yet they did little to get him the help he needed.
Few parents agree to have their kids treated for being mentally ill because it reflects poorly on them. Fewer still will turn their own kids in to the police.
But talk about bad parenting skills.
The couple the teenage killer was living with at the time of the shooting knew he had a bunch of guns and did nothing to get them out their house.
They locked his weapons in a safe, but the shooter easily made a spare key for himself. Apparently, the couple never met a teenager before.
Parkdale was a tragedy that could have been averted with the common sense that all parents should employ.
A good friend of mine, a hunter who owns several guns, was having trouble with one of his kids and had to put him on Ritalin.
After the boy had an out-of-control moment, the father took every one of his guns out of the house and gave them to a friend to keep for him.
If you have a kid you think is mentally ill, and you have guns in your house, you shouldn’t look to the government to solve the problem.
You should solve it yourself. Remove the guns from the house. Don’t put them in a safe. Get them out.
If we are not going to take responsibility for being good parents when it comes to guns, don’t be surprised when Donald Trump or the government takes that responsibility away from us.
It never pays for public officials to appear to be living high on the hog. Well, almost never. At least that’s the advice we should have given a certain former Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon who took up politics only recently and now finds himself defending a $31,561 dining room set the taxpayers purchased for his office suite at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. And, apparently, he didn’t even get to pick it out.
The problem, of course, is that while the agency in charge of helping the poorest Americans find decent housing was ordering a custom-made table for the secretary’s personal space, HUD officials were also planning how best to make substantial reductions to programs that help the elderly and homeless. And, worst of all, people noticed. A senior agency official claims Dr. Carson’s wife, Candy Carson, has spearheaded an effort to spend lavishly on that same office space — even if it means going around federal rules that require congressional approval for any spending on a department head above $5,000 — and the official filed a whistleblower complaint about it.
Not good, right? You are about to make decisions about how many Americans deserve to live on heating grates and in cardboard boxes while simultaneously picking out that just-so mix of mahogany and leather. Dr. Carson’s defense is that he didn’t have much direct involvement (it was a Charm City-based federally-approved contractor picking out that fancy dining room table, by the way) and that the cost isn’t out of line for such furniture. Here’s what his defense should be: I’m just following the example set by my boss and fellow cabinet members.
Yet all that pales to the master of the opulent lifestyle who once criticized Barack Obama for playing golf too much only to set the presidential record for days on the links in his first year in office, spending tens of millions in taxpayer dollars (and better yet, directing many of those dollars at his own businesses) to fly to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida at least 13 times and New Jersey’s Bedminster 11. The fact-checkers at Snopes estimate his Secret Service golf cart rental bill for 2017 at more than $100,000 alone. NBC News calculates the president’s first year in office included 130 days at Trump properties. Mr. Trump refuses to give Americans a full accounting of his personal finances, so we’re kept in the dark about just how much he profits from his position and government spending at venues like his D.C. hotel or Mar-a-Lago, but he’s certainly set the tone
Dr. Carson’s circumstances may seem more severe because he works at HUD, not Treasury or the Oval Office. But it’s still small potatoes. As Secretary Mnuchin’s spouse might observe, he’s adorably out of touch. This may be an administration that claims to be working for the little guy, but it’s a crowd that identifies more with guys who fly in the front of the plane and play the back nine at the most exclusive clubs.
— The Baltimore Sun, Feb. 28
The gun lobby has long stoked its constituents with the nightmare scenario of a president who’d swipe their God-given right to own weapons. The NRA frequently warned that Barack Obama was “coming for our guns,” and that Hillary Clinton would “come for your guns.” The group cringed at the prospect of a president saying something like this: “I like taking the guns early ... Take the guns first, go through due process second.”
But lo and behold, that’s what Trump said on Wednesday.
Since we’re stuck with a regime that’s historically incompetent, malevolent, corrupt, and security-challenged, we’ve got to get our laughs whenever we can. And Trump’s gun-grabbing riff, which fell from his mouth during a live TV gig with emissaries from Capitol Hill, fully qualifies as roll-on-the-floor hilarity — if only because of the gun guardians’ subsequent freakout.
In the words of Michael Hammond, legislative counsel for the Gun Owners of America, Trump “has become the gun-grabber in chief ... an enemy of the Second Amendment.”
In the wake of a harrowing domestic event—in this case, the Parkland massacre—a president is typically tasked with taking the lead, talking knowledgeably and pushing policy solutions. We were led to believe (though only a minority of voters believed it) that Trump possessed such traits. But what’s manifestly obvious, as underscored by his summit with lawmakers, is that when Trump is positioned at the crossroads of politics and policy, he is lost.
He sat there, free-associating about gun solutions, “thinking” out loud, seeming at times to endorse various Democratic ideas (raising the age ceiling on sales, maybe expanding background checks, maybe banning assault weapons) without actually committing to anything.
The most fascinating moment of the event involved the issue of guns being taken from potentially dangerous people. Vice President Pence mentioned that some states have passed “red flag” laws, which empower the cops to seize guns after obtaining a court order.
As Pence explained, those laws “allow due process, so no one’s rights are trampled ... the ability to go to court, obtain an order, and collect not only firearms but any weapons in the possession” of the person who’s certified as dangerous.
That’s when Trump chimed in: “Or, Mike, take the firearms first and then go to court ... I like taking the guns early ... Take the guns first, go through the process second.”
Well. We can only imagine how many articles of impeachment would be drafted if Obama had ever endorsed pre-emptive gun confiscation. Sean Hannity’s head would’ve spun with centrifugal force.
Granted, the Gun Owners of America guy did go ballistic, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch went on TV to rebuke Trump for “talking about punishing innocent Americans, stripping from them constitutional rights without due process,” and a Republican senator or two got upset. For instance, Thom Tillis of North Carolina said, “I don’t ever believe there’s a time in this country where due process can be dismissed. Period.”
But mostly, folks in the GOP just seemed exasperated—and rightly so, because they know that Trump wasn’t suddenly embracing a radical lefty policy to grab guns. They darn well know, as do we, that whatever Trump says at any given moment is merely symptomatic of the mush between his ears.
As a senior Republican Senate aide told the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, “This is why you don’t do high-stakes, hot-button negotiation on live TV with someone who doesn’t know or care about details.” And as Sen. Tillis said about Trump, “He’s not a legal scholar ... I know you heard the words. I just don’t believe in my heart of hearts that’s exactly what he meant.” Which was tantamount to saying that the so-called leader’s policy beliefs are illusory, that his words have no value.
Another Republican aide told the Weekly Standard, “At some point, someone will tell the president what he endorsed, and it will be like the meeting never happened.” That sounds about right. By tomorrow someone in Trump media will insist that Trump never actually said it, or that Obama was actually the one who said it.
Unless maybe it was a plan cooked up by Hillary in one of her emails. Some people are saying.