Trump used to back gun control. If he wants to be popular, he’ll go there again.

Trump used to back gun control. If he wants to be popular, he’ll go there again.

After the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, when 20 first graders and six adults were gunned down in a Connecticut school, Donald Trump lavished praise on then-president Barack Obama for his eloquent remarks at a memorial service. The speech included a call for greater measures to contain gun violence.

“Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?” Obama asked, the sound of weeping parents audible in the background.

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“President Obama spoke for me and every American in his remarks in Newtown, Connecticut,” Trump tweeted the next day.

Surprised Trump paid such a compliment to Obama? You shouldn’t be. This is the same guy who once said, “I support the ban on assault weapons.” Don’t believe me? Check out his 2000 book The America We Deserve.

But you can’t say you support a ban when you’re seeking the Republican nomination for president, not if you want to win over older, white, rural men — pillars of today’s Republican Party. So Trump flipped.

Which is the real Trump? The 2000 “I support the ban” Trump, or the 2016 say-whatever-is-needed-to-win Trump?

Here’s a prediction: Donald Trump, who is now in Obama’s shoes, will eventually edge away from the National Rifle Association’s hard-line views and move toward positions on guns that even majorities of gun owners favor.

We already saw a glimpse of that Tuesday, when the president announced that he was instructing the Justice Department to issue regulations that would ban “bump stocks” that convert semiautomatic guns into automatic weapons. He also said he supports a bipartisan NRA-backed bill to strengthen background checks. Depending on how all this plays out, and if there are additional shootings — which sadly seems inevitable — Trump could call for even stronger measures.

Crazy, you say? Trump just floated an immigration deal that offered 1.8 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, a huge flip-flop on a position he had held since he first became a candidate nearly three years ago. If he can flip on that, he can flip on anything.

By the way, when I say majorities, I don’t mean 51% or 52%. In 2013, a Fox News poll — Fox News — found that 85% of voters favor requiring checks on all gun buyers, including at gun shows and private sales. That includes 83% of Republicans, 82% of independents and 81% of gun-owner households.

And when it comes to mental health, a Pew Research survey produced similar results: “80% support laws to prevent mentally ill people from purchasing guns, with broad support across party lines,” it said.

Like water flowing downhill, politicians eventually gravitate to where the voters are. Trump’s no Einstein, but the man can presumably read poll numbers. Here’s another one: 62% of Americans, according to a new ABC-Washington Post poll, say Trump’s not doing enough to prevent mass shootings.

That’s enough political cover for Trump to move from Crazytown, where he is now, closer to the middle. Depending on what he proposes (if anything), it could shock people in a Nixon-goes-to-China way, and he might lose some of his base. But that base is rather narrow anyway. Trump is polling in the low 40s; a bold move on guns might help him more than it hurts.

This is where Trumpsters point out that Trump got $30 million from the NRA and there’s no way he’d turn his back on them. You know why the NRA showered him with cash? Because the other candidate in 2016 was Hillary Clinton, and they were desperate to stop her. Keep in mind that some 40% of Trump’s 62 million voters indicated they weren’t so much voting for him as voting against her. That’s nearly 25 million votes. They’re not necessarily committed to Trump in 2020.

Does Trump have the guts to flip? I doubt it, but you have to remember that Donald Trump’s first priority is always Donald Trump. He makes decisions based on what’s good for him. We all do this of course, but presidents are supposed to be different. They’re supposed to make decisions based on the greater good. That Trump doesn’t do this is just one of his huge failings as a president, but in this case doing what’s good for him would also be good for the country — and thus he could reap political rewards. That’s all he cares about.

 

Source by usatoday..

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