President Donald Trump boasts of taking action against gun violence in America, but the opposite is true. His administration has quietly loosened numerous gun regulations related to mental illness, gun safety, weapons produced on 3-D printers, and other issues — all to the delight of the National Rifle Association, which spent some $30 million to help him get elected.
On the timely topic of the country’s dangerous addiction to firearms, Americans should consider not what this president says, but what he has done.
After last weekend’s carnage in El Paso and Dayton, Trump told reporters, “We have done much more than most administrations” to address gun violence. “We’ve done, actually, a lot.”
They’ve done, actually, a little, including strengthening the national background-check system and banning bump stocks, the accessory that allows a semi-automatic rifle to fire a non-stop stream of rounds like a fully-automatic weapon. Trump’s Justice Department instituted the ban by rule after a bump stock was used in the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting that killed 58 people.
But in banning bump stocks by rule, the administration effectively short-circuited an effort to ban them by law — a preferable approach, but one the NRA opposed. And beefing up the instant background-check system is meaningless when Senate Republican leaders, with Trump’s blessing, continue blocking common-sense legislation to close the private-sale loophole that lets gun buyers skirt background checks altogether.
Weigh this meager progress against what the administration has done to loosen gun control, as outlined in an analysis by Politico:
- Despite Trump’s recent lip-service about addressing the mental illness that contributes to many mass shootings, he has made it easier for the mentally ill to get weapons. His administration reversed a regulation by President Barack Obama that blocked people from buying guns if they’re getting mental disability payments through Social Security.
- Trump’s Justice Department has narrowed the definition of “fugitive,” allowing many people to avoid being added to the national database of those excluded from buying weapons even if they leave a city or county to avoid an arrest warrant.
- The administration is loosening export policies in a way that will increase small-arms s ales to foreign buyers, while making it easier to obtain virtually undetectable firearms produced on 3-D printers.
- The administration in May asked the Supreme Court to overturn New York City’s gun-transportation ban, prompting the city to loosen the ban itself before the court could act.
- Trump’s Army Corps of Engineers is considering ending its ban on firearms on federal lands, while his Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is stalling an Obama-proposed rule to make gun-safety devices more widely available.
Whatever Trump says, these aren’t the actions of an administration trying to address gun violence. If this president is truly interested in leading on this issue, and not just pretending to, he should get started.