“The president needs to step up here and set some guidelines for what he would do,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The subject was gun control, and the choice of words was a bit ironic — if not pathetic. Everyone knows by now that President Trump will never step up on this issue — or that, if he steps up one day, he will step down the next. Hiding behind his failure is a way for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Mr. Blunt and other Republican senators to abdicate their legislative authority and their responsibility to the country.
More than 300 million people live in the United States. They’ve elected just 100 among them to be U.S. senators. So, senators, stop waiting for Mr. Trump. Stop making excuses. Tell us what you think policy should be. Do your job.
The House has passed bipartisan gun legislation that includes expanding federal background checks. A new Post-ABC News Poll shows overwhelming support for the reform, across party and demographic lines. House Democratic leaders say they hope to pass additional reforms, including a ban on assault weapons. Taking weapons of war off the streets makes sense to us. If senators think otherwise, okay, make the case.
Instead, Mr. McConnell simply refuses to act until Mr. Trump comes to a decision on what type of bill he would support. This, as he and Mr. Blunt well know, is a fool’s game. After last year’s mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., Mr. Trump promised teachers and students, “We’re going to be very strong on background checks.” He taunted a roomful of lawmakers for being scared of the National Rifle Association. Then he caved to the NRA and threatened a veto when the House passed legislation that would require universal background checks. After this summer’s back-to-back mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, Mr. Trump again boasted about the “great appetite” for tightening background checks. One phone call from NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre, and his appetite had wilted again.
“Someone in the Republican Party has to take the lead on this,” Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) said Friday as he announced his support for a gun control measure in defiance of the national gun lobby. Mr. Patrick, a conservative who has received an A-plus rating from the NRA, said he is “willing to take an arrow” from the NRA to change Texas law to include private gun sales in background checks. Mr. Patrick’s change of heart came less than a week after seven people were killed and at least 21 more injured in Odessa by a gunman who obtained an assault rifle from a private seller after he failed a background check because of a mental-health issue.
“Look, I’m a solid NRA guy,” Mr. Patrick told the Dallas Morning News, “but not expanding the background check to eliminate the stranger to stranger sale makes no sense to me and . . . most folks.”
Is he right or wrong, senators? Tell us what you think. If you disagree, tell us why. If you agree, pass a bill. Then Mr. Trump can step up and sign it or veto it. That’s how the Constitution says things are supposed to work.