In the wake of still more mass murders, one of which came with a white nationalist manifesto attached, Donald Trump’s staff is desperately attempting to portray their narcissist in chief as a man who has suddenly stumbled on a deep reserve of empathy and giving a damn. Once again, Trump is broadcasting after a mass shooting that he may possibly maybe do something to curb gun violence; once again, there’s no evidence anyone intends to follow through on anything but the most token of measures. Trump’s staff-written speech blaming video games and mental health, rather than guns, for America’s mass shooting epidemic is evidence enough of that.
This is all being orchestrated as a dodge to avoid talking about what Trump and his hard-right Republican team have actually done during his tenure. Trump has systematically been making it easier, not harder, to access guns. And then bragged about doing it.
• Reversing an Obama-enacted regulation requiring Americans designated in Social Security rolls as mentally unable to manage their own affairs be registered in the national background check database.
• Narrowing the federal definition of “fugitive” in such a fashion as to keep Americans who fled from active warrants elsewhere in their states off the background check lists and able to purchase firearms.
• Reversing firearms bans on federal lands, expanding hunting areas but frustrating already-taxed park officials. (Also in the works: lifting weapons bans on Army Corps of Engineers land.)
• Enabling efforts to boost gun exports by cutting State Department officials out of the loop—part of Trump’s wider interest in expanding U.S. weapons sales abroad.
• Joining a Supreme Court fight to overturn New York City restrictions on transporting handguns.
In every case, the Trump action was something that the National Rifle Association crowd had been steamed about. While Trump has taken at least one action in the wake of a mass shooting, issuing a regulation banning bump stocks after the Las Vegas mass shooting, he came into office eager to undo gun safety regulations and has been steadily doing so since. Or perhaps his staff is doing it without his knowledge; it remains forever unclear just how many of the White House’s policies Executive Time Trump is actually aware of.