'A PEACE PLAN FOR A SAFER AMERICA': The student activists who crashed the political arena after the mass shooting last year at their high school in Parkland, Fla., are throwing their weight behind a new and ambitious gun violence prevention program they hope will set the tone for the debate following the most recent mass shootings and headed into the 2020 elections.
The students are speaking out for the first times since 31 people were killed in one weekend in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas. They hope their plan — unveiled for the first time on Wednesday morning and obtained exclusively by The Post — will be considered by both President Trump and his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination and serve as a catalyst for a surge of youth voters next year. Read the full story here from myself and Matt Viser.
- “I think, similarly to a lot of the country, I’m in a lot of pain right now,” said David Hogg, the 19-year-old co-founder of March for Our Lives and survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “You see these shootings on TV everyday and very little happening around it. It’s painful to watch. And I think it’s been really hard for me and many of the other students and people that we work with to find hope in this time.
- “But I think that this plan is something that we can truly — as a country and as Americans united against violence and fighting for peace — can get behind,” Hogg said.
'AUDACIOUS GOALS': Called “A Peace Plan for a Safer America,” the ambitious platform goes much further than the current debate over whether to apply “red flag” laws to people who could be a danger to themselves and others, and whether to impose background checks on all gun sales.
And it comes as President Trump told the NRA head that universal background checks are now off the table.
Here's just some of what the proposal calls for:
- A national licensing and gun registry — long a non-starter with gun right’s advocates — a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, a mandatory gun buyback program and the appointment of a “national director of gun violence prevention” who would report directly to the president and coordinate the federal response to what supporters call a national public health emergency.
- Higher standards: It would dramatically increase restrictions around owning guns in ways sure to spark fierce blowback, including raising the buying age to 21 from 18. It calls for a “multistep” gun licensing system overseen by a federal agency, which would include in-person interviews and a 10-day wait before gun purchases are approved. The license would be renewed annually.
- Voter registration: A la the Green New Deal, the “Peace Plan” takes a holistic by also calling for automatic voter registration when eligible voters turn 18, along with the creation of a “Safety Corps,” which the authors compared to a Peace Corps for gun violence prevention.
- Intersectionality: The plan also addresses the need for community-based solutions through mental health services, suicide prevention programs, domestic violence programs, and urban violence reduction programs.
Read the plan
AUTHORED BY SURVIVORS: Notably, the plan is authored by survivors — a means of taking ownership of the conversation that has stalled legislatively in Washington — a plan “written by us, for us,” Tyah-Amoy Roberts, a Parkland survivor who is on the March for Our Lives board of directors, told us. The proposal marks the first time that survivors of gun violence have issued an exhaustive framework and the students hope that Republicans and Democrats alike embrace it — and maybe even endorse the plan in the 2020 campaign.
- “It’s bold. It’s nothing like anyone else is proposing. We are really setting audacious goals,” Roberts said. “And more than anything, what we are seeking to do is be intersectional. We know and acknowledge every day that gun violence prevention is not just about preventing mass shootings.”
- Key: “We are changing the conversation around gun violence itself because we don’t want the narrative to come from people who haven’t experienced it — to come from people who benefit from the sale of guns. We want the narrative to come from people who understand it from it’s very root,” she added.
GOTV: Gun violence has soared recently to become a much more dominant issue in the 2020 race. The raw emotions following mass shootings have hit many Democrats as they have met advocates from Moms Demand Action and other groups impacted by gun violence. During one poignant moment, Andrew Yang broke down in tears during a gun forum in Des Moines earlier this month.
- “My hope is that they focus like a laser on youth turnout,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said of March for Our Lives’s 2020 efforts after reviewing its proposal. “The election is over the minute young people decide to turnout. The only reason that Trump would get reelected is if young people stay home. The issue of gun violence is one of the only issues that truly motivate young people to shake off their indifference and aversion to voting.”
- During the 2018 midterms, when Democrats recaptured the House majority, nearly 70 percent of registered voters said gun policy was “very important” to them, ranking the issue ahead of taxes and immigration, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. And turnout of voters aged 18-29 spiked during midterms as well — “easily surpassing any midterm election since the 1980s.”
- Key quote: “Political parties believe they have all this power but in reality the power in the U.S. resides in the culture and what we choose to prioritize,” Hogg said. “Movements are bigger than political parties.”
The students also welcome a meeting with Trumpm despite their disillusionment with Washington's inaction on the issue.
“I don’t know if he’d be sincere about it but I would accept any meeting I could get regardless of political party because we must make these things happen,” said Hogg.
“Donald Trump wants gun reform,” said Charlie Mirsky, the political director of March for Our Lives and a survivor of the Parkland shooting. “If you look at what he does when he’s unfiltered, he will tweet about universal background checks. He was saying that Republicans are owned by the NRA. These are the things he says when he’s speaking off the cuff … Donald Trump’s instincts are not what the problems are here. It’s clearly and shamelessly the NRA money that is flowing in there.”
NRA response: “The gun control community is finally being marginally honest about their true wish list. The simple fact remains their proposals and ideas are out of the mainstream and most people will understand their real intent goes beyond what they publicly state,” said spokeswoman Amy Hunter.
NRA APPEARS TO WIN, AGAIN: "Earlier this afternoon, according to a person briefed on the call, the president told LaPierre in another phone call that universal background checks were off the table. 'He was cementing his stance that we already have background checks and that he’s not waffling on this anymore,' the source told me," the Atlantic's Elaina Plott scooped in her story about Trump calling NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre about his decision not to push for expanded background checks.
- Why this is so striking: "Even with its leadership in disarray, the group has once more ensured that modest gun-control efforts are a nonstarter, turning a president who once boasted that he wasn’t 'afraid' of the NRA into one of its most reliable advocates," Plott writes.
- But it might not be over yet: "A spokesman for another Democratic senator advocating background checks, Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) said he has not been told to stand down by the White House," our colleagues Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey report in a story confirming the call. "
- More on the call: "Tuesday’s call with LaPierre, which was initiated by Trump, lasted 45 minutes and by the end of it, the two men had no disagreements, the people familiar with the call said," Tom and Josh write.
A tweet from the U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, just hours before Trump's own announcement.
TRUMP POSTPONES DENMARK VISIT: Yes, this actually happened. “President Trump on Tuesday abruptly called off a trip to Denmark, announcing in a tweet that he was postponing the visit because the country’s leader was not interested in selling him Greenland,” our colleagues Felicia Sonmez, Anne Gearan and Damian Paletta report.
- Was this the reason for the trip all along?: “Trump’s announcement suggests that, despite his denials, the central purpose of his trip had been discussion of a U.S. purchase of the massive, glaciered island, which holds increasing value as melting sea ice opens new parts of the Arctic to shipping and resource extraction,” Felicia, Anne and Damian write.
- $$$: “Senior administration officials had discussed the possibility of offering Denmark a deal in which the United States would take over its annual $600 million subsidy to Greenland in perpetuity, said two people familiar with the talks who were not authorized to reveal the internal deliberations. They also discussed giving Denmark a large one-time payment as well to incentivize the transfer, the people said.”
- Flashback to … Sunday: “ … Trump confirmed that he has asked his administration to explore the possibility of buying Greenland, opining that ‘essentially, it’s a large real estate deal.’ But he added that the matter was ‘not number one on the burner’ and claimed that his visit to Denmark was not related to his interest in the island.”
- Meanwhile: Greenland is experiencing record heat this summer as climate change continues to fundamentally alter the Arctic Circle.
- Don’t forget: Denmark is a fellow NATO member who has sent troops into Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Danish Royal Palace responds: “Lene Balleby told the Associated Press Wednesday that the news was 'a surprise' to the royal household, which formally had invited Trump to visit Denmark Sep. 2 and 3 as part of a European trip. She had no further comments," per the Associated Press's Jan M. Olsen.
- The royal family offered no other comment but others weighed in: “Martin Lidegaard, a former foreign minister, told broadcaster TV2 that it was 'a diplomatic farce' and said Trump’s behavior was 'grotesque' and he was 'throwing a hissy fit.'”
This is no longer funny. Danish troops fought alongside the US in Afghanistan and Iraq. 50 Danes died. The president dishonors the alliance and their sacrifice. On the same day he sought to appease Putin by supporting his return to the G8. https://t.co/f5SHS3F1qL— Tom Wright (@thomaswright08) August 21, 2019
TRUMP ACCUSES JEWISH DEMS OF ‘DISLOYALTY’: “President Trump said on Tuesday that any Jewish person who votes for a Democrat is guilty of ignorance or “great disloyalty,” intensifying his efforts to drive in a partisan wedge over religion and support for Israel even as he appeared to draw on an anti-Semitic trope,” the New York Times’s Julie Hirschfeld Davis reports.
- What did he mean?: “Mr. Trump did not go into specifics about what he considered to be Jews’ disloyalty, but his language was reminiscent of the anti-Semitic smear that Jews have a ‘dual loyalty’ and are more devoted to Israel than they are to their own countries,” Davis writes.
- Trump lost Jewish voters by a large margin: “Per 2016 exit polls, voters who identified as Jewish broke 71-23 for Clinton,” NBC News’s Carrie Dan wrote on Twitter. “In the 2018 midterms, it was 79-17 for Dems.”
- Critics on both sides of the aisle slammed Trump: “This is a disgusting comment that indicates Trump has no idea why many of us have been so sickened by the anti-Semitism of Omar & Tlaib,” tweeted Philip Klein, the executive editor of the conservative-leaning Washington Examiner.” While the Republican Jewish Coalition defended him.
- Bernie Sanders responds: “I am a proud Jewish person,” Sanders said in Iowa, “and I intend to be voting for a Jewish man to become the next President of the United States.”