By Gregory Krieg
Donald Trump presents his candidacy as the only thing standing between American gun enthusiasts and Hillary Clinton’s alleged plans to confiscate their firearms.
“The Second Amendment is on the ballot in November,” he said at an NRA gathering last month. “The only way to save our Second Amendment is to vote for a person that you all know named Donald Trump.”
But on the roiling issues of gun control and gun violence, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has often been forced to clarify and revise positions — one in a series of problems dogging Trump’s campaign of late.
In 2012, Trump tweeted that President Barack Obama had “spoken for me and every American” in his remarks at a vigil for the Newtown school shooting victims. Now, Trump routinely accuses Clinton and Obama of plotting to undermine the Constitution.
Should people in clubs carry guns?
Yes — but, actually, only certain people.
Trump on Friday suggested that the Orlando nightclub massacre victims could have stopped the attack or lessened its toll if they had been armed.
“If some of those wonderful people had guns strapped right here, right to their waist or right to their ankle,” Trump said, patting his hip, “and this son of a b—- comes out and starts shooting and one of the people in that room happened to have (a gun) and goes ‘boom, boom.’ You know what, that would have been a beautiful, beautiful sight, folks.”
But by early Monday, after some very public criticism from the NRA, Trump had reversed course.
“When I said that if, within the Orlando club, you had some people with guns, I was obviously talking about additional guards or employees,” he tweeted.
The about-face came after a pair of top NRA officials on Sunday morning took the unusual step of condemning Trump’s initial comments.
“I don’t think you should have firearms where people are drinking,” NRA chief Wayne LaPierre said during an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” At around the same time, on ABC’s “This Week,” top NRA lobbyist Chris Cox also rejected Trump’s vision.
“No one thinks that people should go into a nightclub drinking and carrying firearms,” he said. “That defies common sense. It also defies the law. It’s not what we’re talking about here.”
Should there be a ban on assault weapons?
Yes, then no.
Back in 2000, Trump, in his book “The America We Deserve,” said he supported the 1994 federal assault weapons ban. (The law expired in 2004 and was not renewed by Congress.)
“I generally oppose gun control,” he wrote then, “but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun. With today’s internet technology we should be able to tell within 72 hours if a potential gun owner has a record.”
But in a policy paper released in September 2015, a little more than three months into his campaign, Trump offered a very different take.
“Gun and magazine bans are a total failure,” he said. “That’s been proven every time it’s been tried. Opponents of gun rights try to come up with scary sounding phrases like ‘assault weapons’, ‘military-style weapons’ and ‘high capacity magazines’ to confuse people. What they’re really talking about are popular semi-automatic rifles and standard magazines that are owned by tens of millions of Americans.”
PolitiFact rated Trump’s reversal a “full flop.”
Should guns be allowed in the classroom?
Well, it depends.
“I don’t want to have guns in classrooms,” Trump said in May, “although in some cases teachers should have guns in classrooms, frankly.”
Trump offered this puzzling explanation in response to an accusation from Clinton that he would “mandate that every school in America allow guns in classrooms.”
The next day, Trump sought to clarify his point, telling CNN’s Jeremy Diamond that he took exception to Clinton’s characterization, and that he had not suggested “every student should be sitting there carrying guns.”
Only “school resource officers” or other “trained people” should be allowed to carry firearms in schools, he said.
Should people on terror watch lists be able to purchase guns?
Last Wednesday, the billionaire businessman tweeted that he would “be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns.”
However, Trump on Sunday modified his position, saying on ABC that he “understands exactly” the NRA’s concerns and expressed his own.
“A lot of people are on the list that really maybe shouldn’t be on the list,” he said, “and their (Second Amendment) rights are being taken away.”