Late last month Donald Trump, populist candidate turned U.S. President known for championing the Second Amendment, sent shock waves through Washington when he announced his feelings (at the time) about what should be done to combat gun violence in this country. After a comment made by Vice President Mike Pence that suggested removal of firearms and other deadly weapons from potential violent offenders suffering from mental health problems after “due process so no one’s rights are trampled,” Trump replied with something no one in the room could have expected. After negating the suggestion by his VP, Trump suggested a better solution would be; “ take the firearms first and then go to court. Because that’s another system. A lot of times by the time you go to court, it takes so long to go to court, to get the due process procedures.” The President went on to say that he likes “taking the guns early,” regarding the rest of Pence’s ideas as good so long as due process comes secondary.

Upon hearing about these comments that took place at a Congressional roundtable last February my response was to start an accelerated journey through the first and last stages of grief; shock and denial followed by eventual acceptance and hope. The latter of the two came as a result of a quick internet search that provided unadulterated video evidence of the meeting in question. Without the opportunity to hear these rantings for myself straight from the horse’s capricious mouth, I too might have jumped on the chance to cry “fake news” just as I imagine many Trump devotees will undoubtedly proclaim upon reading this article.

Just as a large portion of the Trump voter base gravitates towards an inclination of disbelief towards any comment that might paint the President in a disparaging light, some Republican Senators too seemed hesitant to accept what was said. Republican North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis took this default disbelief one step further with his comments; “I don’t think that he was saying that there’s a place where you suspend the Constitution and suspend due process; I just don’t believe that,” commented Tillis before announcing his privy to Trump’s real intentions that seemed to contradict what was actually said. “I know you heard the words,” responded Tillis, “I just don’t believe in my heart of hearts that’s exactly what he meant.”

Several weeks after the initial meeting took place, most Republican lawmakers have mostly ignored the incident. This should be cause for alarm among not only the gun owners in this country, but every American concerned with upholding the law. No politician, including the most progressive mainstream liberal candidates, have even come close to calling for policy that would bypass a “due process” to remove weapons from the mentally ill. Perhaps a politician’s actions through both speech and pursued legislation do not accurately reflect the intentions of our leaders, but perception, like that offered by Senator Tillis, held only in our “heart of hearts,” must be given the most credence.

While former President Obama faced continual accusations from the right that claimed he would eventually “take all the guns away,” he repeatedly denounced those intentions, and while serving two terms in the White House, gun sales skyrocketed in a defensive effort. After a sitting President calls for “taking guns first” before due process that would prohibit the mentally ill from owning a firearm, the response from a historically pro-gun conservative base is generally stale. Gun sales have actually decreased by 11 percent into what some commercial firearms manufacturers are referring to as the “Trump slump.”

letters@chronicle.utah.edu 

@TheChrony

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