Donald Trump is making wave after wave as a primary contestant for the 2016 election. He has stolen the spotlight from just about every other politician out there, with every media network following his words and actions as he offends group after group. As his immigration views remain at the forefront of everyone’s mind, his views on many other issues go relatively uncovered. One issue in particular that has been sparingly commented on is Trump’s views on gun control. Trump used to walk the precarious line between fully liberal and fully conservative views on gun control. He supports the Second Amendment and does not wish to see it violated, but he also sees the need for some restrictions, such as the assault rifle ban. In The America We Deserve, Trump discusses his belief that neither party has it right when it comes to gun laws, stating, “It’s often argued that the American murder rate is high because guns are more available here than in other countries. Democrats want to confiscate all guns, which is a dumb idea because only the law-abiding citizens would turn in their guns and the bad guys would be the only ones left armed. The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions…I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun. With today’s Internet technology we should be able to tell within 72-hours if a potential gun owner has a record.” However, it seems that in recent years, Trump has flip-flopped on this stance. He has more recently spoken out against the assault rifle ban, stating that just about any gun control law is an infringement of the Second Amendment. Many have speculated that this is simply a tactic to gain conservative votes.
The Slippery Slope Of Gun Control
When asked during an interview with Katy Tur of NBC, Trump informed the public that he has a license to own a gun. However, this was all of the information he was willing to disclose. In fact, Trump did not directly answer whether or not he owns a gun. When asked if he owned a gun, he replied only that he had a license to own a gun. When Tur went on to ask Trump if he uses the gun at gun ranges, Trump responded “It is none of your business, it is really none of your business. I have a license to have a gun.” When Tur went on to ask Trump if he would make any changes to gun laws to make it more difficult to own a gun, Trump responded, The problem is once you get into that you start getting into a situation, the slippery slope, where all of a sudden you are going to violate the Second Amendment. I don’t want to violate the Second Amendment. To me the Second Amendment is very important.” Therefore, while Trump has stated in the past that he supports the assault rifle ban and a longer wait period for buying a gun, it seems that he is not in support of any further gun control issues. He is also certainly not in support of any measures to force gun owners to disclose the status of their weapon ownership.
In an interview with AmmoLand, Trump opens up more about his own gun license and his family’s gun use. Trump explains, “I have a permit to carry and, living in New York, I know firsthand the challenges law-abiding citizens have in exercising their Second Amendment rights. My most trusted sources are my sons, Don, Jr. and Eric. They are fantastic sportsmen and are deeply involved in hunting, competitive shooting, and habitat conservation.” Whether Trump didn’t mention his own recreational shooting because it is not a pastime of his or because he chose not to bring that to the public’s attention is anybody’s guess, but if he is pointing out the fact that his sons shoot for sport, it shows a support of shooting as a recreation and a pastime as well as a form of self-protection.
Donald Trump’s Views Against Gun Control Laws
As stated above, Trump seems to have changed his song in recent years regarding gun control laws. In an interview with Fredy Riehl of AmmoLand, Trump discusses his strong support of the Second Amendment once again, but this time asserting that most gun control laws are a violation of the Second Amendment and should be done away with. Where he previously criticized the Republican Party for it’s tendency to “walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions,” he now proudly announced his NRA membership and his support of their principles, stating, “I am a Life Member of the NRA and am proud of their service in protecting our right to keep and bear arms. The NRA’s efforts to stop dangerous, gun-banning legislation and regulation is invaluable. The media focus on those efforts overshadows the great work the NRA does on behalf of safety and conservation.”
During this interview, Trump goes on to explain that his shift from pro-gun restrictions to anti-gun restrictions was a function of the level of restrictions being brought about by the government. Since his statement in The America We Deserve, determinations for what does and does not constitute an assault rifle have greatly changed. While he believes that genuine assault rifles should be kept out of the hands of the public, he states, “I certainly stand by my opposition to Gun Control when it comes to taking guns from law-abiding citizens. You mention that the media describes the AR-15 as an “assault rifle,” which is one example of the many distortions they use to sell their agenda. However, the AR-15 does not fall under this category. Gun-banners are unfortunately preoccupied with the AR-15, magazine capacity, grips, and other aesthetics, precisely because of its popularity.” Trump then goes on to assert that, “To the Left every gun is an assault weapon,” and that this is where he disagrees with gun control.
Trump does not believe that gun control laws reduce crime, which is why he only believes military-grade assault rifles should be controlled. Trump stated, “Gun control does not reduce crime. It has consistently failed to stop violence. Americans are entitled to protect their families, their property and themselves. In fact, in right-to-carry states the violent crime rate is 24% lower than the rest of the United States and the murder rate is 28% lower. This should not be up for debate.”
Donald Trump on the Second Amendment
When asked during his AmmoLand interview his opinion on Karl Rove’s suggestion of revoking the Second Amendment Trump responded by stating, “The Second Amendment is a bedrock natural right of the individual to defend self, family, and property. It is a ridiculous notion to ever repeal it. For Rove to even think it shows a lack of respect for all of the freedoms in our Constitution and a complete ignorance of our shared American inheritance.”
Donald Trump on Mental Health Initiatives
While he is opposed to tighter gun control, Donald Trump has stated that he supports addressing mental health concerns to prevent the rise of public shootings. Trump told CNN’s Chris Cuomo, ”This isn’t a gun problem, this is a mental problem. It’s not a question of the laws, it’s really the people.” Trump did not cite a specific plan for mental health reform, but stated that there is “so many things that can be done.” Regarding a shooting in Virginia in August of 2015 Trump stated that the shooter should have been institutionalized before he ever got the chance to commit such a crime. Trump stated, “In the old days they had mental institutions for people like this because he was really, definitely borderline and definitely would have been and should have been institutionalized…At some point somebody should have seen that, I mean the people close to him should have seen it.”
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