The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Who’s afraid of the NRA? Trump.

President Trump. (Chris Kleponis/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

“WE’RE GOING to get things done.” So said President Trump last month assuring students, teachers and parents affected by school shootings of his resolve to find solutions to gun violence.

“You’re afraid of the NRA.” That was Mr. Trump the following week, chastising members of his own party for not backing age restrictions on gun purchases as he challenged lawmakers to pass “comprehensive” gun control and stand up to the gun lobby.

Now here’s Mr. Trump when it comes to backing up his statements:


Yes, once again Mr. Trump’s brave words prove to be meaningless as the White House unveils exactly what Mr. Trump wants to do about guns.

“Tiny baby steps designed not to upset the NRA,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). That sums up the administration’s proposal unveiled Sunday in response to the Feb. 14 school shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Fla. The plan, if you can call it that, is centered on a promise (no money or details) to help provide firearms training to school employees, a controversial idea long favored by the National Rifle Association but opposed by most teachers and school officials. Mr. Trump also endorsed some modest improvements in background checks that are the subject of bipartisan legislation now before Congress. Otherwise, nothing: not the universal background checks that are needed, no ban on weapons of war, not even an increase in the legal age to buy certain weapons, something Mr. Trump had said made sense but seems to have abandoned in the face of NRA opposition.

“Not much political support (to put it mildly),” he tweeted Monday. Never mind that recent polls show public support for raising the age to 21. Or that big-name retailers (Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods) have been applauded for voluntarily making the change. Or that even the gun-friendly state of Florida just raised its age limit. Or that a true leader might do the right thing and try to generate political support.

Mr. Trump’s establishment instead of a federal commission to study school safety would be laughable if it were not so insulting to the student survivors and victims’ families of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who have so eloquently laid out the urgency of action. Not only has Mr. Trump made clear his disdain for such commissions as a way to avoid fixing problems, but also his appointment of struggling Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as its head doesn’t inspire confidence in the outcome.

More importantly, Mr. Trump seems not to understand that gun violence is not limited to schools, nor that mass shootings are but one part of a problem that also includes too many lives lost to domestic killings, suicides and unintentional shootings. Three women were gunned down Friday night at a California veterans home by a gunman who then turned the gun on himself. A 9-year-old girl in Milwaukee died Saturday after she was accidentally shot by her brother. And on Sunday there was a reminder of the horror of the country’s deadliest shooting — not in a school but at an outdoor musical festival — with The Post’s account of a woman’s struggle to recover from the terrible wounds she received from a gunman using a military gun with military bullets. Such weapons, of course, go unmentioned in Mr. Trump’s plan.

As we’ve said before, if Congress waits for leadership from this White House, it will wait forever.

Read more:

Jennifer Rubin: Look who’s afraid of the NRA now: Trump owes Toomey an apology

Joe Scarborough: Not afraid of the NRA, Mr. President? Prove it.

The Post’s View: A rarity for the NRA: Defeat

Eugene Robinson: Trump and the GOP won’t act on gun control. So let’s kick them out.

The Post’s View: The public has spoken on gun control. Don’t wait for the White House.