Republican Presidential Nominee, Donald Trump, sent out a Tweet announcing a meeting with the NRA to discuss policy and potential legislation related to banning gun sales to those on no fly or terrorist watch lists. Predictably, the tweet sparked much criticism from those who, like the NRA itself, have issues with such legislation violating constitutional due process protections.
The terrorist watch and no fly lists have been an issue for many libertarian-minded and Constitutionalist Americans for some time. The secret nature of these lists, complete innocents being placed on the lists and the inability of people to find out if they are on a list cause grave concerns. Many equate these lists to nothing more than a political hit list. Ironically, or not, this proposal is also favored by President Obama. So, why would Donald Trump make such a proposal?
His record on guns and gun control is spotty at best. He did publicly support the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban and waiting periods (back in 2000), but his current position since announcing his Presidential bid have been far more gun rights friendly. Is this a legitimate change of heart or political opportunism? Some might say that his support for this watch list proposal is indicative of his “true colors” and his roots as a New York Democrat on the issue of guns. Others might argue that in light of the recent slaughter in the Orlando FL nightclub, he is just floating the idea out there to soften his newly acquired hard line Republican stance on guns in preparation for the general election.
With the NRA having already stated their position, it gives him the opportunity to disagree with their position and therefore appear NOT to be “in the pocket” of the NRA, despite there endorsement of him. With the centerpiece of his campaign being that he is not beholden to any special interests or lobbyists, this move is consistent with that campaign theme. So, which is it?
I don’t claim to have any special insight into the heart and mind of Donald Trump, so I cannot answer that question. It is also worth noting that people tend to fear the unknown and Trump’s apparent fluidity on the subject of gun control will likely make many Americans, who support guns right, justifiably nervous. However, when faced with the seemingly shifting foundations of Trump on the issue, as opposed to Hillary Clinton’s hard line anti-gun rhetoric and record, do you go with the “devil you know” (Hillary) or the “devil you don’t know” (Trump)?