Trump not moving on gun control hurts both the nation and himself

Trump not moving on gun control hurts both the nation and himself
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In a concerning reversal last week, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE backtracked on his advocacy for universal background checks following a disturbing month of mass shootings. Trump insisted to reporters that the United States already has “very strong background checks” and that “a lot of the people that put me where I am are strong believers in the Second Amendment.”

His latest remarks are a complete reversal from his comments just a few weeks prior, when he advocated for stronger background checks and insisted that Congress was close to gun reform legislation. His waning support for pursuing gun safety legislation comes on the heels of a call with the NRA chief executive officer, Wayne LaPierre, who is engulfed in legal turmoil as law enforcement investigates the finances of the NRA.

The waffling from this administration on such a deeply pressing issue is unacceptable. The failure of our elected officials to create change through policymaking has allowed gun violence to terrorize our communities, from schools to places of worship to where we work. We were grimly reminded this past month of just how little progress our leaders have made on the issue of gun control, and it is time for our elected officials to do more.

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Foremost, we need to move forward swiftly with closing loopholes in background checks. There is no good reason for why an individual should be able to purchase a firearm online or at a gun show without passing a background check. It is also imperative we move toward the passage of red flag laws. According to a study released by the nonpartisan Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California at Davis, state laws that allow the removal of guns from people who present a threat to themselves or others could play a role in preventing mass shootings.

Furthermore, from a political perspective, this is an opportunity for Trump to display leadership on a critical issue, perhaps the most critical issue of our time. As of now, his reversal and failure to recognize the gravity of the situation is not only disheartening, but is unwise politically. Americans across the political spectrum favor the passage of reasonable gun control measures. Indeed, a recent NBC News Wall Street Journal poll found that 89 percent of Americans favor expanding background checks for gun purchasers, and 76 percent support red flag laws to help distinguish dangerous persons and deny them the ability to purchase firearms.

The latest reversal by Trump plays directly to his base, which may have worked in his favor in the past, though will almost certainly guarantee he never breaks a 45 percent approval rating. Undeniably, his inaction on gun control will certainly hurt him in the suburbs with women voters, as nearly 90 percent support a host of gun safety proposals beyond background checks, according to a recent conducted by Public Opinions Strategy.

Moreover, as the strong economy, which is the main accomplishment touted by Trump and his administration, shows signs of weakening, his reversal on gun control is politically unwise and will play to his detriment in the 2020 election. On the other hand, for Democrats in Congress and on the campaign trail, gun control can and should be a unifying issue.

At a time when Democrats are plagued by stark divisions over health care, college tuition, and even climate change, gun control is a fundamental issue where moderates and progressives can come together to create change. For Democrats to take back the White House, it is essential that the party will unify around a compelling set of policy alternatives to the Republicans. Democrats cannot and should not make the mistake they did in 2016 of relying completely on a negative message attacking Trump.

Ultimately, combating gun violence is not only politically expedient, but it is also necessary and critically important. Mass shootings in the United States are tragic, devastating, and disturbing, but they also often times preventable. In the aftermath of such horrific tragedies that have torn apart communities, our elected officials must step up and put a stop to this deadly epidemic that has plagued our country for far too long.

Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Clinton. He is a political consultant, Fox News contributor, and the author of “Collapse: A World in Crisis and the Urgency of American Leadership.”