In the immediate aftermath of the Ft. Lauderdale shooting, the mainstream media’s using the attack as a jumping-off point for recycling their usual pro-gun control arguments — regardless of their relevance. Or complete lack thereof. Needless to say, The New York Times is on the case.
Ahead of the inevitable editorial board condemnation of the NRA and firearms-friendly Floridians, columnist Gail Collins sets her sights on Donald Trump. I know, right? Here’s the set-up . . .
The immediate reaction of many folks from gun places to the Fort Lauderdale shooting was that — aha! — Florida is one of the few states where it’s illegal to carry a gun anywhere in an airline terminal.
Meanwhile, many people in non-gun places wondered why airline passengers were allowed to have firearms in their luggage.
It’s hard to have a rational gun conversation in a country with such a cultural chasm. It’s the job of our national officials to bridge the gap. And it ought to be possible, since there are some important issues on which almost everybody agrees. One is that gun purchases should be run through background checks to make sure the buyer doesn’t have a record of lawbreaking or serious mental problems.
If Hillary Clinton were President, would she be one of those non-gun-place-people wondering about the government “allowing” people to travel with their firearm stored in their luggage (locked and unloaded with the ammo stored separately)? Would President Clinton have turned to Uma and cried “will no one rid me of this troublesome freedom?”
Ms. Clinton sure loved her some background checks. You know; the ones “almost everyone” agrees on. Except maybe, I dunno, lemme see, Maine voters! Downeasters who defeated a proposal to expand background checks to anyone who dared lend a firearm to a friend, never mind sell it to a stranger (melodramatic shudder).
Before bashing the President-elect, Ms. Collins has to deal with the pesky fact that no one knows how the Ft. Lauderdale killer got his gun, and whether or not he went through a background check to do so.
We will be arguing for a while about whether background checks could have stopped the Florida airport shooting. But either way, sensible regulation of gun sales will still be sensible regulation of gun sales.
So that’s that then. Trump!
This is the moment where I tell you that our president-elect does not believe in sensible regulation of gun sales.
Donald Trump’s position on gun laws has gone through a rather familiar evolution. Back in the day he was a sort of indifferent moderate. Then came the campaign and a love affair with the National Rifle Association, which dumped about $30 million into the effort to get Trump elected president.
Soon, he was fantasizing about packing heat during the Paris terrorist shootings. (“I can tell you that if I had been in the Bataclan or in the cafes, I would have opened fire. I may have been killed, but I would have drawn.”) . . .
But about the background checks: The N.R.A. lobbyists hate them. And Trump has promised that as soon as he’s sworn in, he’ll “unsign” Barack Obama’s executive order closing a big loophole involving online sales and gun shows.
Trump could make a really good start this month by just — not doing anything divisive. Give the country a hint that the guy who terrified so many Americans during the campaign will be more measured in office. Leave the background checks alone. We’ve been through a lot.
Yeah, you’ve been through a lot, Gail. Not as much as the families of the defenseless passengers killed by a man who should have been removed from society. But a lot. I’m sure.