WASHINGTON, D.C. — It has been precisely one week since President Donald J. Trump became the 45th President of the United States of America. One of the scariest things with electing a new head of state is finding out where the campaign promises end and reality begins.
For President Trump, it’s a been a rapid fire succession of executive orders that appear to mirror closely those promises he made to Americans on his way to the Oval Office. The big question outstanding was precisely what he intended to do with the Second Amendment.
Recently, President Trump published a short memo illustrating his interpretation of the Second Amendment, the issues we face with them, and a possible path forward for initiatives like the National Reciprocity Act.
I highly encourage each gun owner read it and draw from it as he or she sees fit. This article is about some of the hot ticket items he brought up and where I think he’s going with those.
Here are the big topics President Trump covered:
- Enforce the laws on the books
While gun control advocates always want to include one more law, one more “safety” check, and one more step into each of our homes to ensure we’re living up to their standards, President Trump appears to be fine with the current federal regulations.
States have a lot of leeway in deciding how they want to deal with firearms. The federal government stays out of a surprising number of factors. That said, there is the background check system (NICS), the regulation of certain NFA firearms and destructive devices, and the suppressor tax stamp. There’s also a list of federal places designated as “gun free” zones.
The good news? President Trump doesn’t seem to want to expand any of those existing systems. The bad news? I don’t think he’s going to remove any of those systems unless the legislative branch proposes it as a bill.
- Fix our broken mental health system
We see on the news, all too regularly, people with a checkered mental health history doing very tragic things with firearms. It’s an extremely delicate thin line between ensuring a person has the ability to adequately defend him or herself with a gun, and making sure a person who is a danger to his community does not have access to firearms.
I have absolutely no idea what Trump will actually do to fix this problem. In his memo, he correctly says the mental health system in our country is broken and appears to advocate for states to regularly update a database so FFL dealers can know the status of the person trying to purchase or transfer a firearm.
There is currently a process in place for the courts to adjudicate a person mentally defective or dangerous. States like Indiana voluntarily report that information to the FBI. The FBI turns around and puts that information in a database which could then prohibit a person from purchasing or transferring a firearm from a FFL dealer.
Do all states give up that information? No.
And for each state, there is a legal process for when the courts can step in and say that a person may or may not possess firearms. Those parameters vary widely going from state-to-state.
I’ll be perfectly honest: there’s no good answer to the mental health problem that will satisfy everyone. I can’t pretend to know if President Trump will do any of these things but he appears to take the issue seriously and pragmatically. Ultimately, it will come down to states allocating the budget and having a dedicated system in place to ensure information at the local level gets up to the federal level.
- Gun and magazine bans
Banning certain styles of firearms and magazine capacity has never been a proven factor in deterring or stopping gun violence. President Trump appears to want to get the federal government out of the habit of arbitrarily naming a group of firearms. Whether states will acknowledge that sentiment is a completely separate thing.
- Background checks
A background check is only as good as the information it is supplied with. President Trump doesn’t appear to want to do away with them. He doesn’t want to add any more, either. If anything, he appears to want to make them more accurate.
That will mean states providing more timely reports to the federal databases used in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Will states actually do it, though? That also remains to be seen.
Ironically, for states that are traditionally extremely strict on gun rights, those states would probably be politically the least inclined to help this current administration with anything they don’t absolutely have to. However, if they do participate, they will be helping keep guns out of criminals hands.
- National Right To Carry
President Trump is a concealed carrier in the state of New York. He’s one of the few who is licensed to carry in the five burroughs of New York City. If anyone understands the need to move freely about the country while still being armed, I would imagine it would be him.
That said, there is a National Reciprocity Act that is set to go before Congress. If passed in both the House and Senate, it would formally acknowledge that Americans have the right to carry in all fifty states.
Because this is a very nuanced subject when we get to States Rights versus Federal Rights, I’ll dedicate another article where we get into the finer details of exactly what that would mean for concealed carriers.
- Military bases and recruiting centers
It never made sense to prohibit men and women in uniform from carrying firearms. After all, we trust these people to protect us overseas. They’ll use guns there to defend themselves. Why does that right suddenly end when they go back to base?
It looks like President Trump will be addressing that shortly.
Overall, I have to say that President Trump appears to have good intentions for the preservation of the Second Amendment. It appears that he is trying to wiggle a lot of the political nuance out of the state level decision-making.
So far, I see a lot of good intentions and thought going into his stance on the Second Amendment but I will hesitate from saying it’s encouraging as a gun owner and concealed carrier. I will withhold that judgement until I see where his actions lead. And based upon his work in just his first week in office, I don’t imagine it should take President Trump too long to show the merit behind his thought.