Jeanette Strong: Take the guns first
Take the guns first, go through due process second.”
Republicans/conservatives have been declaring for years that Democrats/liberals want to take away everyone’s guns. Never mind that millions of Democrats own guns, and never mind that no Democratic official has ever declared this idea to be policy. Screaming, “They’re coming for your guns!” is a great way to keep their base inflamed.
The above quote might seem like a validation of all this fear-mongering, except it didn’t come from a Democrat. It came from President Donald Trump, and in case anyone thinks he was misquoted, here are his full comments, given at a roundtable meeting in the White House on Feb. 28.
“I don’t want mentally ill people to be having guns. Take the guns first, go through due process second … Take the firearms first and then go to court … They have so many checks and balances that you can be mentally ill and it takes you six months before you can prohibit it. Number one, you can take the guns away immediately from people that you can adjudge easily are mentally ill, like this guy. The police saw that he was a problem, they didn’t take any guns away … think they should have taken them away anyway, whether they had the right or not.”
Besides this mind-blowing disregard for our rights, Trump seems unaware that there is a legal way to take guns away from someone judged to be dangerous. California, Connecticut, Indiana, Oregon and Washington have passed “red-flag” laws, and other states are considering them. These laws “allow individuals — immediate relatives, lovers, guardians, roommates — and law enforcement to ask courts to order temporary confiscation of a person’s weapons based on credible evidence of a threat. If the petition is granted, the weapons are seized immediately, though the subject may challenge the order within a brief period.” (Washington Post, March, 1, 2018)
When the Parkland school shooting happened on Feb. 14, Florida had no such a law, partly because of opposition by the National Rifle Association. On March 7, the Florida legislature passed new gun regulations, including a red-flag provision; Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed them into law on March 9. But because no such law existed on Feb. 14, the police and FBI couldn’t have taken the suspect’s guns away legally, no matter how much they wanted to. And so, 17 people died.
Nevada doesn’t have a red-flag law. In fact, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., has opposed a common-sense law banning high-capacity magazines, even though many shooters have been stopped while reloading. Heller also supports the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which allows anyone with a concealed carry permit from another state to conceal carry in Nevada. At least 11 states have no minimum requirements to get a concealed carry permit, so felons, domestic abusers and other dangerous people would be free to bring concealed guns into our state.
In contrast, Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., supports strong universal background checks, closing the terror loophole which allows terror suspects to buy guns, and preventing domestic abusers from buying guns. I find it inconceivable that anyone could disagree with those policies, so we’ll see how Heller deals with those issues.
Contrary to right-wing claims, Democrats/liberals are not comfortable with any level of school violence, and most mass shooters aren’t Democrats. These are just some of the hundreds of lies conservatives like to spread. Truth is irrelevant; all that matters is smearing the left. Most mass shooters are white males. Many are white supremacist types or are dangerously mentally ill. Whatever their political inclinations, we need a stronger system of background checks and laws restricting gun ownership for the seriously disturbed. All political parties should agree on that.
Trump claims he wants stronger background checks, more mental health resources, and stronger school safety. However, his budget proposal cuts funding for background checks, mental health resources, and school safety. As usual, his words don’t match his actions. On Feb. 28, Trump told the White House roundtable group that he wanted to raise the age limit to purchase a rifle, and that he wasn’t afraid of the NRA. Now he’s caved to the NRA on the issue of raising the age limit.
Trump has no firm governing principles, so his positions change frequently. We need state and federal lawmakers to take a more principled stand and work on passing laws, such as the red-flag laws, which will provide some real protection for us and our children without confiscating everyone’s guns. It’s really not that complicated.
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.