During his first year and change in office, conservatives’ love affair with Donald Trump has gone through some rough patches. Most of these, however, haven’t been over policy. Whether it was the bumbled Charlottesville statement or the usual Twitter drama Trump engenders, it was mostly about what the president said and not what he did.
That changed in a major way for a number of conservatives this week, particularly Tucker Carlson. And it all had to do with the president’s gun control roundtable.
The Wednesday roundtable was, if anything, a huge red flag to conservatives who still harbored doubts about how consistently conservative Trump would be, particularly given his past. There were plenty of darts thrown in the direction of the National Rifle Association, particularly on the issue of gun control.
“I’m a fan of the NRA,” Trump said during the meeting. “There’s no bigger fan. I’m a big fan of the NRA. These are great people, these great patriots. They love our country. But that doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything.”
That was a bad enough augury. Then things took a turn for the worst when talking about taking guns away from those who have committed acts of violence, restraining orders or have mental illness issues. Taking guns away from those individuals would typically engender nothing but applause. Part of the president’s answer killed off any possibility of an ovation, however.
“California has a version of this,” Vice President Pence said, regarding legislation to take guns away from those deemed mentally unstable.
“And I think in your meeting with governors earlier this week, individually, and as a group, we spoke about the states taking steps. But the focus is to literally give families and give local law enforcement additional tools if an individual is reported to be a potential danger to themselves or others. Allow due process so no one’s rights are trampled but the ability to go to court, obtain an order and collect not only the firearms but any weapons in the possession.”
“Or, Mike, take the firearms first and then go to court,” Trump responded.
“Because that’s another system. A lot of times by the time you go to court, it takes so long to go to court, to get the due process procedures. I like taking the guns early. Like in this crazy man’s case that just took place in Florida. He had a lot of firearms. They saw everything. To go to court would have taken a long time. You could do exactly what you’re saying but take the guns first, go through due process second.“
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson was not impressed at the president’s lack of respect for due process rights, asking his viewers what they would have done if this had been proposed under President Obama.
“Now, I mean, how honest do you want to be?” Carlson said.
“Imagine if Barack Obama had said that? Just ignore due process and confiscating guns? Obama would have been denounced as a dictator … We would have denounced him first, trust me. Congress would be talking impeachment. Some would be muttering secession.” Here’s the full video:
The great irony is that this is the same president who tweeted about due process a few weeks ago, back when White House staffer Rob Porter was accused of domestic violence.
Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2018
Thankfully, it seems that Trump is backing off some of his claims about running roughshod over due process. In a tweet, NRA lobbyist Chris Cox revealed he met with the president; “We all want safe schools, mental health reform and to keep guns away from dangerous people. POTUS & VPOTUS support the Second Amendment, support strong due process and don’t want gun control,” Cox tweeted Thursday.
I had a great meeting tonight with @realDonaldTrump & @VP. We all want safe schools, mental health reform and to keep guns away from dangerous people. POTUS & VPOTUS support the Second Amendment, support strong due process and don’t want gun control. #NRA #MAGA
— Chris Cox (@ChrisCoxNRA) March 2, 2018
In case you still don’t get why this is a terrible idea, just remember that taking something first and going through due process second rarely ends well in America. Just look at the asset forfeiture nightmare many innocent Americans have been put through and ask if you want that kind of thing in place for guns, particularly in states where politicians would ban all firearms were it not for Heller v. D.C.
We can only hope that Trump’s throwaway line about due process taking a back seat to seizure was just that — a throwaway. If Trump doesn’t realize the importance of due process soon, it will prove to be a fundamental roadblock between conservatives and the White House for a long time to come.
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