Trump Suggests Confiscating Guns and Delaying 'Due Process' in Bizarre On-Camera Meeting
President Donald Trump held a strange, unmoored policy meeting on live television Wednesday, in which he seemed disconnected from his own past positions, the nature of gun policy, the realities of Congress, and even what he was saying.
For many Democrats watching, he seemed to assent to almost everything they want on gun control—but the nature of the Trump presidency should make them suspicious that he'll hold to his comments.
One of the most perplexing moments came when Vice President Mike Pence discussed the possibility of finding a way for families or local police to take firearms away from people who might be dangerous, while at the same time respecting due process through the courts.
"Or, Mike, take the firearms first, and then go to court," Trump said. "A lot of times, by the time you go to court, to get the due process procedures... I like taking the guns early." Discussing the case of the Parkland shooter, Trump said the police should have taken away his guns "whether they had the right to or not."
While there are substantive reasons for policy that allows law enforcement to take firearms away from people who are dangerous, not even the most ardent Democratic defenders of gun control would have used Trump's language to argue for it.
Meanwhile, the idea that police should do whatever they want, regardless of whether the law permits them to, is a wildly irresponsible thing for anyone to say—especially the president.
Trump also said that Congress should be more willing to stand up to the NRA. He argued for more extensive background checks, seemed to back a higher age limit on certain types of guns, and even appeared comfortable with an assault weapons ban. These proposals, he suggested, should be put together in a comprehensive bill—while he shot down a conservative policy to expand concealed carry permits.
All of this would seem very promising for Democrats and proponents of gun control if it weren't Donald Trump speaking. This was a television performance, and he's shown in the past that he can have entirely different policy positions when the cameras are on than behind closed doors. Even if Trump continues to back the objectives stated Wednesday, they would still have to make it through Congress.
Bucking his party on gun control and getting gun control passed would be a truly impressive thing to do. But if Trump were to pull it off, he would need finesse, strategic thinking and razor-sharp political instincts. None of these are hallmarks of the Trump administration.