Three months ago, there were back-to-back mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso, leaving 31 people dead over the course of about 13 hours. Not surprisingly, many Americans once again looked to elected leaders to do something about gun violence in the United States.
Donald Trump assured the public that he was prepared to take the issue seriously. “We’re going to come with something that’s going to be, really, very good – beyond anything that’s been done so far,” the president told reporters on Aug. 7. He added that White House officials had already begun talks with congressional leaders, before complaining about his predecessors’ inability to address the issue “over the last 30 years.”
At the same Q&A, the Republican went on to voice his strong support for expanded background checks – “like we’ve never had before,” he said – before vowing to “certainly bring up” a ban on assault weapons.
In context, all of this was poised to be part of a White House blueprint of reforms, which Trump intended to present to lawmakers and the public. In mid-September, the president suggested he was still serious about this, adding, “[W]e’ll be reporting back in a fairly short period of time. There are a lot of things under discussion. Some things will never happen, and some things can, really, very much – some very meaningful things can happen.”
According to a new Washington Post report, the White House has decided not to bother to make anything happen.
President Trump has abandoned the idea of releasing proposals to combat gun violence that his White House debated for months following mass shootings in August, according to White House officials and lawmakers, a reversal from the summer when the president insisted he would offer policies to curb firearm deaths.
Trump has been counseled by political advisers, including campaign manager Brad Parscale and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, that gun legislation could splinter his political coalition, which he needs to stick together for his reelection bid, particularly amid an impeachment battle.
The article added that the White House Domestic Policy Council had worked on a plan that included eight to 12 tenets, but Team Trump has since decided to “move on.”
If all of this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s not your imagination.
After the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., Trump declared, “There’s a movement on to get something done. We want to be very powerful on background checks.”
Soon after, as public attention faded, the president quietly abandoned his “very powerful” plans. It now appears the same dynamic is unfolding once more.
I imagine after the next mass shooting, we’ll restart the cycle, at which point it’d be wise not to take Trump’s promises seriously.