Another View: Trump made an empty promise on guns - again

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"We cannot let those killed in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, die in vain. Likewise for those so seriously wounded. We can never forget them, and those many who came before them. Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks. . . .We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!"

That tweet from President Donald Trump after back-to-back shootings over the summer killed 31 people raised some hope that action would finally be taken to fight gun violence. But Trump's talk about changing gun laws was — as is often the case with him — empty. No action has been taken, none is planned, and that means more lives will be lost and others tragically changed by gun violence.

Trump, The Washington Post's Josh Dawsey reports, has given up on the idea of releasing proposals that the White House was developing after the president promised "strong measures to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous and deranged individuals." Strengthened background checks and "red flag" laws that allow authorities to temporarily confiscate weapons from someone deemed a danger were two measures he said he supported, even if it meant crossing the National Rifle Association.

That Trump decided to cut and run on gun control doesn't come as a big surprise given the many contradictory statements he has made in the past about this issue and his penchant not to follow through on promises. It is nonetheless distressing that his willingness to turn his back on sensible, lifesaving reforms supported by large majorities of the public is rooted in what he apparently sees as his own political self-interest. According to The Post's account, it was his political advisers, including campaign manager Brad Parscale, who warned him of splintering the political coalition he needs for his reelection bid, particularly amid an impeachment battle.

The NRA, which spent more than $30 million to help elect Trump in 2016, pressed him in recent months to drop any push for gun control. That it succeeded — and apparently without having to conduct much of a fight — calls to mind how Trump once chided members of Congress for being afraid of the NRA, proclaiming, "They have great power over you people. They have less power over me." Ha!

But this is not a laughing matter. Not when a 7-year-old Chicago girl dressed as a bumblebee was shot and critically wounded when she was trick-or-treating with her father. Or when five people were killed and several others injured in a mass shooting at a Halloween party outside San Francisco. Or when a 14-year-old boy described as "nothing but joy" was killed by a stray bullet as he shot hoops last month outside his Queens apartment building. Not when 19 people were shot this past summer over the span of five days in the nation's capital, including an 11-year-old boy riding in a car on his way to football practice.

Now that it is clear the president of the United States won't show the leadership to prevent more people from dying in vain, the question is whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will step up by bringing to the floor gun-control measures passed by the House. It's time for him to show he has the courage that Trump lacks.

— The Washington Post

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