Gun News of the Week: Trump Unfolds Five-Point School Safety, Mental Health Plan

Plus: Key GOP Governors Signal Support for Reassessing State Gun Laws

TOP STORY

Trump Unfolds Five-Point School Safety, Mental Health Plan

President Donald Trump outlined a five-point initiative on Monday that will “turn our grief into action” in addressing mass shootings and boosting mental health services, including issuing an executive order banning bump stock devices.

“I am writing them out. I don’t care if Congress does it or not—I am doing it myself,” Trump said in a discussion with the National Governors Association during its winter meeting in Washington, D.C.

Trump said he is calling upon Congress to consider these five proposals:

1) Harden schools: School boards should be allowed to designate vetted, trained administrators, teachers and staff to carry firearms or have access to firearms on school property.

While school districts should also consider hiring security guards or stationing local law enforcement officers — school resource officers — in schools, Trump said his suggestion would likely make responding to a shooting faster.

“At some point,” he said, “you need volume.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee challenged the notion of arming teachers. “I have listened to a lot of first grade teachers who do not want to be pistol-packing first grade teachers,” he said. “Take that off the table and move forward.”

Trump said Inslee is misinterpreting the proposal, which is to allow school boards to consider allowing “a very small group of people who are gun adept” to carry firearms on school property — not to arm “first grade teachers who do not want to be pistol-packing first grade teachers.”

There are a number states that already do this, Trump noted — injecting actual reality into a conversation that has warped into a fact-free blatherfest with feigned incredulity over a policy that is already, in various manifestations, policy in 30 states.

2) Confront the issue of mental health: "We have to do something about that," Trump said. "In the old days, we had mental institutions."

States and the federal government need to reopen many of the mental health hospitals and clinics that have been shuttered as budget casualties over the last few decades, Trump said.

“Right now, we have nothing between prison or leaving (someone acting erratically or threatening) in his house,” he said.

3) Develop a better 'early warning system': Authorities need a more streamlined, proactive process that allows them to "act quickly, decisively" in taking firearms from someone who has drawn attention because of their behavior.

‘We got to give them immediate access to take guns away,” he said.

4) Pursue "common sense measures that protect the Constitutional rights" of gun owners: Trump said he could forward suggested tweaks to make the proposed Fix NICS Act of 2017 (SB 2135). "We are going to strengthen it and make it more pertinent," he said.

The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Sen, Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), could be presented to the Senate for a vote this week.

5) Create a culture that embraces life, respect, dignity: Trump did not elaborate on what this means or how to do it.

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STRAW BOOGIEMAN

Demonizing NRA Is A Diversion To Sustain Fundraising, Not Resolve Existential Issue

The demonization of a single-issue civil rights advocacy group because it has done exactly what it is supposed to do — effectively represent a constituency — is a textbook tactic in contrived polarization that stymies momentum to collectively craft answers to solve problems.

The National Rifle Association doesn’t do anything any other advocacy organization can’t do. It plays by the same rules and operates under the same regulations as do the many gun control groups that are now orchestrating a coordinated campaign to turn the NRA into a boogieman.

And they need a boogieman.

They need a boogieman to divert attention away from their own failures, their own inability to catalyze money, numbers, emotion into legislative action, their own ineptness in turning what should have been victories into purposely self-inflicted defeats.

Stalemate, gridlock, divisive paralysis benefit them and, in some cases, they sabotage any effort to discuss gun-related legislation and regulation in an informed, intelligent manner to enact effective laws that would actually be legally sustainable.

The reason is simple: Doing so would put them out of business.

And it is a business — a fundraising dog-and-pony show business.

The truth is no organization knows more about firearms legislation and regulation than the NRA. Currying cooperation — at least the pretense of it — would go a long way in addressing the many gun-related issues that confront lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and in state legislatures across the country.

The NRA can be its own worst enemy. Certainly, NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch has done nothing to defuse criticism of the organization with her statements since the Parkland school shooting.

But that’s her job. She is merely stating the NRA’s position: No retreat from gun-owners’ rights.

From a negotiating standpoint, that is exactly what any organization would so at the outset of any discussion regarding their primary issue.

President Donald Trump — rarely one to defuse rancor for the sake of common cause — on Monday told the National Governors Association that the NRA is part of the solution, not the whole problem in and of itself.

Trump said he had lunch over the weekend with NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre, NRA Institute for Legislative Action Executive Director Chris Cox and NRA-ILA Deputy Executive Director David Lehman.

“They want to do something. These guys are great patriots — they are great people — that want to do something,” he said.

And if they don’t? Fight them and beat them, Trump said.

“Don’t worry about the NRA. They are on your side,” he told the governors. “You are all so afraid of the NRA. Sometimes, we might have to fight them. That’s OK.”

Just don’t expect the NRA to be anything other than the NRA.

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STATE ROUNDUP

Key GOP Governors Signal Support For Reassessing State Gun Laws

Regardless how gun control proposals move through the Senate and House in Washington, D.C., a growing bipartisan number of state governors say they will spearhead a review of gun laws and school safety measures in their states following the Feb. 14 mass shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Individual governors attending the National Association of Governors winter meeting in Washington, D.C., told the Washington Post that they are open to raising the age limit for the purchase of long guns to 21 and want to explore r said they believed there should be better ways for family members or others to take concerns about unstable individuals to a judge and have weapons confiscated.

Both measures were proposed on Feb. 23 by Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who had opposed new gun laws after the 2016 mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Florida and the 2017 mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

"What I ask people to do is, you've got to search your heart on this," Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Sunday in an interview on ABC's "This Week." "Nobody wants to take everybody's guns away. Nobody wants to repeal the Second Amendment - oh, a few people. But this is about reasonable approaches to keep our community safe."

Kasich recently removed pro-Second Amendment language from his website and replaced it with a call for "common sense" on the issue of guns. He said he is open to reconsidering a ban on the sale of some high-capacity semi-autos, including the AR-15 police say was used in the Florida shooting.

Scott and Kasich are not alone among GOP governors reassessing their support for unbridled gun rights.

“Obviously, it's being a catalyst to bring that discussion to the forefront," said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder told the Washington Post. "We've had too many of these shootings. We should be trying to find common ground and move them ahead."

Snyder told the Washington Post he was open to moves to deny assault rifles to those under 21. "I haven't heard a good answer to: Why should a 20-year-old be able to buy an assault rifle and not a beer?" he said. "The issue around bump stocks, I don't hear a lot of people defending why we should have that."

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IN THE COURTS

Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Challenge To California’s 10-Day Waiting Period

The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 20 declined to hear the CalGuns Foundation and Second Amendment Foundation challenge to California's 10-day waiting period for firearms purchases, continuing its sustained pattern of avoiding gun-related cases.

The lawsuit, Silvester v. Becerra, maintains that the state's 10-day waiting period for firearms purchases is unconstitutional as applied to "those purchasers who already own a firearm or have a license to carry a concealed weapon, and who clear a background check in fewer than 10 days."

The challenge, originally filed by several individuals before gaining the support of CalGuns and the SAF, said since it typically takes only a day or two for most background checks to go through, the state has no legal justification for requiring prospective gun owners wait the full 10 days.

The suit prevailed before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California but was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which stated the provision was a "common sense understanding" that a 10-day "cooling off" period for gun buyers can help to reduce gun violence.

The Court’s refusal to hear the case drew sharp dissent from Justice Clarence Thomas, who blasted colleagues for their "inaction" and for turning the Second Amendment into "a disfavored right in this Court."

Thomas wrote that the 9th Circuit ruled in the state's favor "without requiring California to submit relevant evidence, without addressing petitioners' arguments to the contrary, and without acknowledging the District Court's factual findings."

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