- Thomson Reuters
- It doesn’t really matter what Trump thinks about gun control.
- He can’t do much without Congress, and he doesn’t have the political experience or skill to bend his party to his will on this issue.
- He also owes pro-gun voters a lot.
It doesn’t really matter what President Donald Trump thinks about gun control.
It seems that the 17 Americans killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the outspoken, brave survivors who will not allow the country to forget about them are making something of an impact on the president. He has started asking questions about what he can do about background checks, and more.
And sure, we may be curious about how he feels about all this since he’s the president of the United States. Maybe his views will be a comfort to someone who agrees with them.
But the reality is, figuring out he what he thinks about this is a useless exercise. His powers are limited on this issue. He’s had pro-gun-control predecessors in his office and they haven’t been able to do much. President Barack Obama’s views on gun control were well known and maligned by the gun lobby, but that didn’t do much but propel gun sales during his tenure.
Even more limited than Trump’s power is his general knowledge of how to do his job effectively, which is a major impediment to doing anything as difficult as convincing GOP congressmen to turn against their donor, the National Rifle Association. Already, conservatives are fighting him on legislation that would require stricter background checks.
Trump’s questions don’t seem to inspiring the Florida state legislature, either, which would not even debate the issue of bringing up a vote on an assault-weapons ban as survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School looked on.
Add to all this the fact that Trump’s base largely opposes gun control measures, and the $30 million his campaign accepted from the NRA. No matter what he says after the tragedy, it’s hard to see him moving to far against his donors and his base.
Trump’s administration has jolted from scandal to scandal, giving the entire nation a sense of whiplash and timelessness thanks to its incompetence. It’s hard not to put that in the center of everything, but gun control is bigger than that. It’s an issue that will require appealing to legislators and their voters, and making a show of the fact that the majority of Americans do want stricter rules around purchasing a gun.
This is about gun control advocates being bigger than Trump, louder than his base, and more intimidating at the ballot box. So it doesn’t really matter what he thinks. That’s a side show.