Rarely has Donald Trump’s firm grip on his base been in as much danger of loosening as when he suddenly went further than even his Democrat predecessor in supporting the confiscation of firearms. Trump, who has been a strong supporter of the Second Amendment from the moment he launched his campaign, stunned conservatives on Wednesday when he dropped some disturbing remarks during a gun control meeting at the White House.
The controversial moment came after Vice President Mike Pence talked about giving families and law enforcement officials more tools to report potentially dangerous individuals who have possession of firearms.
“Allow due process so no one’s rights are trampled, but the ability to go to the court, obtain an order, and then collect not only the firearms but any weapons,” Pence said.
This inspired President Trump to jump in and say: “Or, Mike, take the firearms first and then go to court.”
“I like taking the guns early,” he continued. “Like in this crazy man’s case that just took place in Florida, to go to court would have taken a long time. Take the guns first, go through due process second.”
While some Trump die-hards waved their hands and shrugged – Well, you know The Donald, he says a lot of stuff – other conservatives warned that this was a comment the president needed to walk back immediately. Certainly, even for those who didn’t take his remarks seriously, it was unsettling to see a Republican president with the full endorsement of the NRA suddenly speaking quite enthusiastically about the confiscation of firearms, sans a court order. Particularly one like Trump, who has been more outspoken about the right to bear arms than any Republican president in history.
Was it simply one of those occasions when Trump’s mouth gets away from him in the heat of the moment? Was it some weird form of “4D chess”? Or was Trump, horrified by the carnage in Parkland, finally showing his true colors on the subject of the Second Amendment?
The NRA, to be sure, didn’t waste any time finding out the answer to those questions. The organization’s top lobbyist, Chris Cox, met with the president and Mike Pence on Thursday and quickly reassured members and pro-gun conservatives that there was nothing to worry about.
“I had a great meeting tonight with @realDonaldTrump & @VP,” Cox tweeted. “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.”
While this may allow Trump’s supporters a sigh of relief, this episode is perhaps a warning that we can never get complacent when it comes to defending the Constitution.