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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Should conservatives worry about Trump’s wobbly gun views?

The double-take. We’ve all done one at a moment when our brain is a millisecond behind our senses, somewhat unaware or flat-out disbelieving what we’re seeing or hearing.

The dictionary defines double-take as “delayed reaction of surprise – a reaction of surprise or astonishment Mike Pence gunsafter an initial hesitation.” Another way to put it…did he or she really say what I think they just said?

Conservatives collectively did a double-take last week during President Trump’s televised chat session with Vice President Pence and members of both parties over potential legislation to address the media’s crisis du jour, mass shootings. It was quite a scene as the who’s who of the Washington elite serenely sat around a table with Trump situated next to arch gun-grabber California Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein on his left and Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn to his right.

As is his custom Trump worked the room to make sure everyone had their say, appearing loquacious and receptive to the various ideas presented. Then, as Pence spoke, Trump did something shocking. The president stated plainly he would rather take guns away from the accused rather than go through the slower constitutionally-mandated “due process” of a court proceeding -- an utterance that left conservatives with jaws agape and eyes popping in horror.

Perhaps calling it a “double-take” is putting it too mildly.

Burgess Everett and Rachel Bade reported, “Trump threw decades of party orthodoxy on gun rights out the window on Wednesday, as he mused aloud about enacting a comprehensive gun control package and said due process should come after guns are taken away from dangerous people.

“The response on Thursday among congressional Republicans was a mix of disbelief, denial and outrage. The GOP has its rifts on hot-button issues like immigration and health care. But its devotion to expansive gun rights has been close to absolute. As Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) put it, ‘Everyone says it’s the NRA’ that explains the GOP's devotion to the cause. ‘No. It’s your constituents.’…

“Trump is still president. So they [Republicans] were more prone to rationalize or explain away his apparent openness to an assault weapons ban and more background checks — among other items on gun control advocates’ policy menu — than to go after him directly.”

Reactions from those viewing the spectacle ranged from barely suppressed fury to something akin to “that Trump -- he’s such a kidder.” Feinstein looked giddy as a schoolgirl as the enemy president rubbed elbows with her while staring down his own party members and telling them to give her everything she’d ever asked for regarding gun confiscations and bans.

‘What a relief!’ the San Francisco liberal Feinstein must’ve thought. ‘These chumps won’t dare defy Trump when he tells them to do something. All my dreams, all my aspirations – an assault weapon free country – are about to come true!

Not so fast. Recall the armored gun- seizing leftist Stormtroopers before they leave the battle station.

Yes, Donald Trump is the president and he’s usually on conservatives’ side but just because the man says something in a forum where he’s working overtime to seem “reasonable” and “bipartisan” doesn’t mean what he declares at that moment is established policy much less written law. There’s the legislative process to contend with in addition to the hundreds of Republicans in Congress (and tens of millions more across the country) who aren’t about to surrender the Second Amendment because Donald Trump had a spur of the moment weakness.

Anyone who’s followed Trump’s brief political career knows the longtime private sector businessman says a lot of things about a lot of topics -- sometimes appearing to be on everyone’s side at the same time but usually ending up in the practical center (if there is such a thing).

Trump’s Republican competitors discovered as much during the GOP presidential primary debates when it was nearly impossible to force the New Yorker to backtrack or admit he was wrong on anything. Why should he? Trump wasn’t bound by a legislative history on any issue so he could legitimately claim he was for everything and nothing at the same time. Who was to say otherwise?

I recall the February 2016 South Carolina GOP debate where Ted Cruz attempted to call out Trump on his wishy-washy contradictory past assertions concerning Planned Parenthood funding and it turned into an ugly back-and-forth that made the Texas senator look small.

Three-plus decades of wild statements and at times questionable business dealings brought about many uncertainties on Trump’s true positions, but up on stage he could say anything he wanted and swear he meant it.

Now that Trump’s president, however, it’s different because his words carry much more weight than his substance-free trial balloon campaign promises. In essence Trump wasn’t doing anything last Wednesday that he hadn’t done dozens of times before over the past three years – it was just interpreted by his conservative allies as a possible betrayal.

It may yet turn out to be, but it’s not time to take up pitchforks for a march on the White House. Trump was trying to look “presidential” and chummy with his Democrat-haters to provide the impression he was listening to the arguments of all sides. Trump likely didn’t intend to offer Feinstein everything she’d ever asked for on guns – he wanted to avoid making the droopy lady look stupid and out-of-touch until the vehemence dies down and the topic fades into the same background it occupies in between every manifestation of senseless violence.

The deeper problem is there isn’t much room for compromise on firearms; the leftist Democrats want all weapons gone, period. Conservatives believe firearms are the ultimate symbol of individuality, freedom and liberty. Guns are more than tools that fire lead at high speeds – they’re the cornerstone of the American experiment. King George III tried to grab the colonists’ muskets and powder in the lead-up to the American Revolution…we know how it turned out for the British blokes, don’t we?

Are there compromises that could be made? Possibly. Conservatives didn’t come to the table empty handed – there were sound proposals presented that would cause a rational person to think twice.

The Editors of the Washington Examiner wrote on Friday, “Pence touted a policy idea which exists in some states called a Gun Violence Restraining Order, or GVRO. If Trump wants the ability to disarm dangerous people before they kill, this is the way, but only after due process.

“A GVRO functions like a typical restraining order an abused wife may obtain against her ex-husband. Someone close to the perceived threat has to make a case to a judge that a particular person is too dangerous to be armed. In normal cases, the accused has the right to defend himself before the judge. If he loses, he temporarily loses his gun rights.

“Any GVRO must meet certain thresholds, and all would be temporary, unless a case is convincingly made to extend it.”

In the situation of Florida mass murderer Nikolas Cruz one would guess Cruz’s weapons would have been sequestered, perhaps saving the lives of seventeen people. In his case – Cruz acted, the authorities failed to take him out and innocents died. The blame the gun crowd has been crowing ever since and by all appearances we’re no closer to resolving the issue than we were on February thirteenth, the day before the massacre.

As with most issues these days the political stalemate is all so useless. Democrats could possibly get their additional gun related controls (such as the GVRO) if they would only give in on other measures like reciprocal concealed carry for law abiding citizens (that has never been abused). But as was amply demonstrated during the recent immigration debate the minority party doesn’t feel compelled to give an inch. So nothing gets done.

Meanwhile Congress’s attention reverts back to the budget this week as the March 23 deadline approaches.

The gun issue will therefore pass by and there won’t even be a double-take. Chances are no one will notice…the high school kids will return to their shallow social media fixations and Feinstein and her Democrat pals will lie dormant beneath the swampy ooze until the next incident when they’ll awaken like zombies from the dead to accuse Republicans of ducking the issue again. People will move on…such is the short attention span of the American public.

Besides, liberals and Democrats would much rather talk about who’s going to take on Trump in 2020.

Liberal Juan Williams thinks the Democrats should choose a black woman to challenge the president. Williams wrote at The Hill, “The three strongest Democratic challengers to President Trump’s reelection are now all black women.

“They are talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, former first lady Michelle Obama and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)...

“A black female candidate would attract a lot of attention with a challenge to Trump. Ninety-four percent of black women voted against Trump in 2016 as did 69 percent of Latina women and 43 percent of white women. Women of all races have led the biggest anti-Trump marches.”

Williams pointed out that 21 black women now serve in Congress and all but one (Rep. Mia Love) are Democrats. Of course this group includes hat-wearing loon Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida and the infamous impeachment-seeking California kook Rep. Maxine Waters. One can only surmise why Williams didn’t include those two in his list of supposedly electable black females – maybe it’s because the American public views them as freaks?

Michelle Obama would be the second former first lady to run against Trump and would end up the second “can’t lose” Democrat to be rejected by the voters in spectacularly embarrassing fashion. While it’s true lady Obama is wildly popular with the leftist fringe of the electorate she’s reviled by Trump supporters. I would also suspect independents wouldn’t be thrilled about voting for another legacy Democrat who hasn’t accomplished anything on her own.

Oprah is a popular cultural icon but how would she look when asked to supply her experience in dealing with matters like foreign policy and how she’d handle the job of commander in chief? Like Oprah, Trump was a celebrity in his former “life” but he also had his name emblazoned on tall skyscrapers all over the world. What would Oprah’s symbol be, a couch?

Lastly, Harris qualifies for serious consideration in the Democrat party because she is, as Williams pointed out, black, and a woman. Will Americans flock to the polls desperate to vote in someone just because she has a dark complexion and whose views are the same as Nancy Pelosi’s? I think not.

Truth is, there are lots of things in Washington today causing Americans to do a double-take. President Trump is clearly interested in furthering the conversation on guns and willing to accept the solutions Congress comes up with as long as they’re reasonable. For the rest? Wait and see.

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