Gun Rights

Donald Trump's Punctuated Evolution on Gun Control

The billionaire developer has abandoned his support for "assault weapon" bans and waiting periods.

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With two days to go before the South Carolina primary, the Republican presidential candidates are squabbling over who is the staunchest defender of the Second Amendment. Ted Cruz warns that Donald Trump cannot be trusted to nominate a replacement for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia who agrees that the Constitution guarantees an individual right to armed self-defense. "If Donald Trump becomes president," Cruz said on Sunday, "the Second Amendment will be written out of the Constitution, because it is abundantly clear that Donald Trump is not a conservative." Nonsense, says Trump. "I am the strongest person running in favor of the Second Amendment," he told reporters on Monday. "I am a member of the NRA."

Trump's position on gun rights does sound pretty strong. According to his campaign website, the billionaire developer opposes bans on "assault weapons" and "high-capacity magazines"; supports making carry permits valid throughout the country; views background checks as ineffective at preventing criminals from obtaining guns; and thinks buyers should not have to wait before taking possession of a newly purchased gun. In other words, he is just the sort of uncompromising Second Amendment ideologue that he used to view with disdain. Here is what Trump had to say about gun control in his 2000 book The America We Deserve:

It's often argued that the American murder rate is high because guns are more available here than in other countries. Democrats want to confiscate all guns, which is a dumb idea because only the law-abiding citizens would turn in their guns and the bad guys would be the only ones left armed. The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions….

I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun. With today's Internet technology we should be able to tell within 72 hours if a potential gun owner has a record.

Now that Trump is supposedly a Republican, I guess he feels a need to "refuse even limited restrictions." I happen to agree with the 2016 Trump, who says:

Opponents of gun rights try to come up with scary sounding phrases like "assault weapons," "military-style weapons" and "high capacity magazines" to confuse people. What they're really talking about are popular semi-automatic rifles and standard magazines that are owned by tens of millions of Americans. Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice. The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own.

I gather that the 2000 Trump was confused by scary-sounding phrases, while the 2016 Trump, having taken a calm, careful look at the issue, recognizes the speciousness of the case for banning "assault weapons"—just as Trump changed his mind about abortion after he realized what that was all about. "I've evolved on many issues over the years," he declared during the August 6 presidential debate in Cleveland. There's no shame in changing your mind. Still, it's striking that Trump's evolution on abortion and gun control was not apparent until 2011, when he was thinking about running for the Republican presidential nomination.

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101 responses to “Donald Trump's Punctuated Evolution on Gun Control

  1. “If Donald Trump becomes president,” Cruz said on Sunday, “the Second Amendment will be written out of the Constitution, because it is abundantly clear that Donald Trump is not a conservative.”

    What I like most about Ted Cruz is the levelheadedness and adultivity that he brings to the race.

    1. He is a true republican. BTW, that’s not a compliment.

    2. “Adultivity” is a made-up word from the Simpsons, right?

      1. It’s a perfectly cromulent word!

    3. He’s gonna put us all back in chains!

  2. I had to do a quick google search to be sure ‘puctuated’ wasn’t some sort of artful term off snobbery that is regularly bandied about at D.C. cocktail parties. Alas, it simply another case of poor editing.

    1. *of snobbery. Perhaps I should have been more understanding… Maybe reason contributors don’t have an edit button either.

    2. Editing? What editing? Thanks for pointing that out.

      1. Hah! I knew you were hiding an edit button somewhere.

        1. What the hell is a ‘Promote’ button?!?

          1. And now it’s gone.

            Damn you REASON! Damn you to hell!!!

    3. I thought it was a reference to “punctuated equilibrium” in the theory of evolution.

      1. indidnt realise that he had misspelt it previously; sorry.

        1. ^I didn’t

          What was that about an edit button?

    4. *rocks slowly in chair*

      Let old Florida Man give you some free advice. Don’t shine a light on others, cuz it might reflect back on you.

      *spits into spittoon*

      Also there’s an iron law or something.

        1. Face up or face down?

  3. “Still, it’s striking that Trump’s evolution on abortion and gun control was not apparent until 2011, when he was thinking about running for the Republican presidential nomination.”

    And it is reasonable to think Trump’s position on the issue will continue to evolve–as political expediency dictates.

    That’s not what I’m looking for in a Republican.

    One of the reasons I would consider voting for a Republican (rather than vote for a Libertarian or no one at all) is that our Second Amendment rights in the future may depend on having someone in the White House who genuinely cares about our Second amendment rights.

    Trump is not that Republican.

    1. ^This^

    2. So you would have little problem voting for a christie, or a graham, or even a mcconnel?

      1. Christie? Have you been to NJ?

    3. It’s good to know that they can say just the right thing to get true libertarians to vote for the lesser of the evil, and continue to stoke that little spark, even though they may not mean it.

    4. Yeah.

      I don’t trust Trump to stand for any goddamn thing other than “fame for Donald Trump”.

      He’s only “good on the Second Amendment” until he thinks that’s politically inexpedient.

      (By contrast, Sanders – who I think would be a disaster – is at least, to the best of my knowledge, completely consistent and sincere in all of his policy ideas.

      Often wrong, but consistent and sincere.

      So at least you know what you’re gettin’.

      … of course, this sort of shenanigan competition is why I’m voting for Johnson again, even if I have to write him in.)

  4. This is just the hat telling him what to say. The hair agrees.

  5. Trump also says that in gun massacres there are always ‘early warning signs and red flags’ and therefore we need to round up these people and put them in mental hospitals before they can do any damage. So basically it’s another witch hunt (after muslims and illegal immigrants). Which is of course why people love him. Oh and of course he’s bringing back witch dunking (waterboarding).

    As for 1A he says, “‘Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech,’ these are foolish people.” So yeah. Of course Cruz isn’t much better (he supports the FBI in their fight with apple).

    1. The FBI’s current media blitz against strong encryption is some military-grade stupid.

      1. My best guess is that they’ve decided this is the best case / worst terrorism incident likely to come along for a while, and they are desperate to tarnish encryption in the public eye. They would proably rather it had been a Microsoft phone, but beggars can’t be choosers. All this is independent of whether they have cracked this phone on their own. They are scared to death that this whole-encryption thing will take root, or that they will want it in some other case where the public can’t be bamboozled by obvious terrorists.

    2. Cruz’s sidestep shimmy on criminal justice reform and 4th Amendment issues in order to abase himself at the feet of the authoritarian right has been very upsetting.

      1. has been very upsetting predictable.

    3. They never stopped waterboarding. The anti–war folks just shut up about it after the Messiah was elected. You’ll notice no one gives him grief about not closing Camp X-ray, or for stepping up drone strikes or deploying more ground forces?

    1. They evolved!

      1. They evolved from unorganized grabasstic pieces of amphibian shit to organized grabasstic pieces of amphibian shit!

        1. Yay evolution!

    2. “Democrats want to confiscate all guns, which is a dumb idea”

      I don’t know, using the phrase “dumb idea” sounds an awful lot like Trump.

      1. Trademarked, now you owe Trump a royalty payment.

  6. Democrats want to confiscate all guns, which is a dumb idea because only the law-abiding citizens would turn in their guns and the bad guys would be the only ones left armed. The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions….

    2000 version Trump forgot by the second sentence what he said in the first.

    1. I have been assured by all right-thinking people that no one wants to confiscate guns; I have been tricked by a conspiracy theory.

      Being generous to Trump, perhaps he hadn’t completely thought out or investigated the NRA’s position before he spoke/wrote in 2000. It is certainly a common theme amongst the elite that the NRA wants no restrictions at all, and maybe those were his friends/colleagues.

      1. “The NRA wants to keep the sale of machineguns to children over the Internet legal!”

  7. “The billionaire developer has abandoned his support for “assault weapon” bans and waiting periods.”

    Bull shit.

    1. Yeah, something tells me they left off the critical ending of the sentence: “…until he gets elected.”

  8. Politicians say what they think will get them votes, changing and ‘explaining’ prior statements as the electorate changes. Trump is just a bit clumsier than some others at this. Dr. No did not do this, and this excited those of us who hope for something better. Unfortunately, his son Baby Maybe Sometimes tried to add some Politician speak in and managed to excite no one.

    1. It was amusing to see Trump basically say the same thing as Ron Paul in South Carolina regarding the Iraq war. The media then crapped themselves about how it was going to sink Trump, but no.

  9. “I was for gun control before I was against it.”

    1. “I was only saying what I thought people wanted to hear, until they changed their minds and starting saying that.”

      1. That’s a great impression of cruz, or was it rubio, maybe clinton, sanders, bush? help me out here.

        1. Ain’t nobody suggesting that he’s unique in being a pandering, unscrupulous hack.

          (Though, see above comment; Sanders, for all he’s basically a Communist*, appears to have essentially fixed policy ideas, not change-with-the-weather ones.

          Problem being, well, they’re the wrong ideas.

          * “But he’s a Democratic Socialist!” … I think you probably want to say “Social Democrat”, Comrade, and even then the difference is irrelevant.)

  10. I gather that the 2000 Trump was confused by scary-sounding phrases, while the 2016 Trump, having taken a calm, careful look at the issue, recognizes the speciousness of the case for banning “assault weapons”

    We all know that the 2016 Trump always takes a calm and careful look at issues. Not like the 2015 Trump who unashamedly called more than half of Mexican immigrants “rapists and drug dealers” (since the determinant ‘some’ in “some, I assume, are good people” cannot mean anything more than 50% less one)

    ?just as Trump changed his mind about abortion after he realized what that was all about.

    Maybe he found out later that partial-birth abortion means severing the spine of a baby who is mid-way out of the birth canal, which is indicative of the gruesomeness of this criminal act. Or maybe he flip-flopped as expediency dictated, but I prefer not to be cynical about this.

    1. Or perhaps he says whatever he thinks will clinch the deal, and has been very lucky to tap into a crowd more concerned with tone than substance.

  11. There’s no shame in changing your mind.

    But it sounds like you don’t believe him.

    Meh… I have never found the “flip flop” accusation to be particularly meaningful. People DO change their minds, and often. Relying on some quotes from 16 years ago isn’t very a convincing argument that Trump’s current views aren’t “genuine”.

    1. The trouble is that he’s a politician. I don’t know why would believe either position is anything other than political expediency.

      1. Fair enough. But really you can only judge him by what he says now.

        1. Actually, you can only judge him by what he does. Words are wind. They are less than meaningless.

          1. But power is a mummer’s trick. A shadow on the wall.

            1. I knew you were a eunuch!

  12. The First Amendment is far more important than 2A. Why? Because the pen is mightier than the sword. The keyboard is mightier than the AK 47. Trump has no respect for 1A; his only interest in 2A is so he can shoot people walking down 5th Ave. Basically the people who love guns have nothing to worry about – they will all join Trump’s army. It’s the vulnerable groups he’s already targeted who need to start taking an interest in the clingin’ culture before it’s too late.

      1. Hmmm. Could be a stroke…

        1. Oh and did I mention, Trump’s strategy is to round up dissenters by declaring them ‘mentally incompetent’.

        2. Do you smell almonds? Is part of your face drooping?

      2. My bet is no sarc.

        The derp is too strong with this one.

      3. Well I would agree with the first sentence. The 1st Amendment is more important than the Second. Informed people can oppose tyranny in many ways even if unarmed. Uninformed people generally cannot oppose tyranny even if they are armed.

        1. There’s only one right. And that’s the right to make choices for ourselves.

          We get to make choices about what we say. We get to choose whether to own a gun.

          It’s just about the right to make choices for ourselves.

          There’s a word for when you violate other people’s right to make choices for themselves. It’s called “crime”. When the government violates our rights, it’s called “injustice”.

          Some people may care more about being free to make some choices rather than others, like some people prefer one flavor of ice cream over another, but violating any right to make choices for ourselves diminishes them all.

          It makes people think our rights are a popularity contest or that violating them is somehow justifiable in utilitarian terms. My rights are not a popularity contest, and my rights exist regardless of whether respecting them is inconvenient for other people or the government.

          My rights are the right to make choices for myself. You don’t have the right to violate any of them–regardless of whether violating any one of them is more or less desirable given your personal preferences.

          1. I am not talking about preferences here and I am an avid gun owner, and in no way saying, implying, hinting at, indicating, signaling etc. any doubt as to the existence of a right to bear arms, which is recognized by, not granted by, the second amendment.

            That said, I think the right to hold opinions and speak one’s mind about them, is both more fundamental than the right to own specific property, and more important as a safeguard of all other rights. In fact this seems so clear to me as to be obvious. Speech has preserved the second amendment and protected the right to bear arms, without use of arms. I cannot conceive of a way that arms could similarly preserve the first amendment without accompanying speech.

            1. You cannot judge the effectiveness of the Second Amendment solely by the offensive use of arms. The deterrent effect of an armed populace should not be dismissed just because it is unseen.

            2. “I am not talking about preferences”

              You are talking about preferences.

              You’re saying that you prefer the results of violating people’s Second Amendment rights to the results of violating people’s First Amendment rights.

              Those are your personal preferences.

              I’m highly partial to my right to ride a motorcycle.

              Also, my free access to female companionship (those who choose to spend time with me anyway), take that away, and I’d probably be much more upset than if you told me I couldn’t criticize politicians anymore.

              But those are just my personal preferences. Nothing wrong with having personal preferences–justifying imposing them on other people through the coercive power of government is problematic. That’s about violating people’s rights.

              I might vote for a Republican to defend the Second Amendment from assault or annihilation by a Democratic President. But I’m not about to rationalize voting for Trump becasue his flavor of injustice matches my personal preferences more precisely. Over the long term, the healthiness of our rights depends on getting people to refrain from using the government to violate other people’s rights–and rationalizing it with the observation that Rights Violator A’s personal preferences more closely approximate my own than Rights Violator B.

              1. No I am not saying this. I am saying that in terms of the fundamental nature of rights a right to thought and action necessarily precedes, and is the basis for, a right to property. You are born with an autonomy; you can therefore create property so property rights are based in, and necessarily flow from autonomy, but autonomy must necessarily precede property as it causes it. Thoughts, and communication of thoughts, precedes and enables actions.

                I am also saying that I terms of effectively defending freedom, words are a sine qua non.

                Precisely where in anything I have written do you get any justification for “imposing them on other people through the coercive power of government is problematic. That’s about violating people’s rights.”

                The statement that freedom of thought is the highest liberty, followed by autonomy of action and only then by rights to property is a recognition of the causal links making all three into the aspects of liberty. It is not a limitation on the latter stages of the chain to recognize the primacy of the earlier.

                1. “Precisely where in anything I have written do you get any justification for “imposing them on other people through the coercive power of government is problematic. That’s about violating people’s rights.”

                  You limited your approval to the first sentence, which didn’t contain any support for Trump on the basis that the First Amendment trumps the Second Amendment.

                  The approval of Trump on that basis was in McDerp’s second sentence.

                  My bad.

                  My point stands, however, that we are talking about qualitative preferences, here. All of our property, all of our rights, every single one of them, seen legitimately, boils down to the right to make choices for yourself.

                  One right is not predicated on another so much as they are all predicated on the concept of choice. My property is my property becasue I’m the one that gets to choose how it’s used, who uses it, etc., etc. I have the right to choose what to do with it insofar as I don’t use it to violate someone’s right to make his or her own choices.

                  1. This is true of the First Amendment. My right to choose what I say does not mean I can use what I say to violate someone’s rights through fraud, violent threats, etc. My Second Amendment right to choose to own a gun doesn’t give me the right to indiscriminately shoot people. If I use my right to choose to own a gun to violate someone’s rights with it, I can and should be held accountable for my choice to violate someone’s rights with a gun.

                    Ultimately, favoring one right to choose at the expense of another right to choose is about qualitative preferences. And when we get enough people to stop trying to use the government to impose their personal preferences on other people, through the ballot box or otherwise, then we will start living in a much more libertarian world.

                    The right of gay people to marry, the right of the Amish not to send their children past the eighth grade, and about a zillion others, might not seem to have much of an impact on me–since I’m not gay or Amish. But people imagining voting for rights violating bastards is a good thing so long as the politician’s personal preferences approximate their own is the root of all kinds of evil.

                    And picking and choosing between 1A and 2A is like that. I do not see one of them as being objectively more fundamental than the other. I see both of them as being predicated on and circumscribed by the right of individuals to make choices for themselves.

                    1. “Ultimately, favoring one right to choose at the expense of another right to choose is about qualitative preferences. And when we get enough people to stop trying to use the government to impose their personal preferences on other people, through the ballot box or otherwise, then we will start living in a much more libertarian world.”

                      I am not favoring the 1st amendment at the expense of the 2nd. I regard both as absolute. I am just trying to make the somewhat nuanced point that I have expounded at length above. In fact, I would argue that the two rights work together and are mutually reinforcing. But I am sticking with my claim that there is a logically defensible hierarchy with free thought at the top and every other right growing from that.

                      Thought
                      Action
                      Property

            1. Like I said, you’re good at that!

        2. Informed people can oppose tyranny in many ways even if unarmed. Uninformed people generally cannot oppose tyranny even if they are armed.

          What evidence do you have to support this contention? I present two counter-points:

          1. Nonviolent resistance efforts have only succeeded with the magnanimity of the oppressor, which is a rare occurrence. For every Ghandi and every Velvet Revolution, there’s a De Gaulle and an American Revolution.

          2. While having freedom of speech is very much a desirable condition, the lack of it hardly prevents people from being informed. Resistance movements against the USSR existed and succeeded despite widespread suppression of speech.

          1. Again I am not suggesting a distaste for the 2nd amendment here. I am suggesting a distaste for a tendency I have seen among some gun rights folks to discount the importance of free speech. and in answer to your points

            1. You are granting that sometimes unarmed speakers have succeeded in opposing tyranny, which is all I claimed, I absolutely think having speech plus guns is much better than speech only and no guns.

            2. The restrictions on guns in the USSR were at least as strict as restrictions on speech, so I am not sure this really addresses my point.

            1. You said the 1A is more important than the 2A. You also conflated the 1A with being informed.

              (1) was a response to the first point
              (2) was a response to the second

              My other comment in a different thread is in response to a different set of points.

              1. I’m not convinced we need to choose between 1A and 2A either.

              2. I think the first amendment is as essential to being informed as the second is to being armed. Without communication each of us is only informed by what we individually observe. Obviously one can communicate illegally, but one can also own a gun illegally.

              3. also what other comment in what other thread? No snark, just asking as I don’t think I have read it.

            2. “a tendency I have seen among some gun rights folks to discount the importance of free speech”

              Citation please?

              1. This argument seems to me to be enough cite for this.

                I have made it abundantly clear that I believe in absolutely untrammeled 2a rights, but let me say it again. Any limitation by any government of the people’s right to keep and bear arms for personal defense, and defense of individual liberty is invalid. Private individuals have an inherent right to defend themselves in their persons and liberty, and this necessarily involves a right to acquire and possess the means to do so.

                That said I still rank the right to freedom of thought highest followed by the right to freedom of action and then followed by property rights. Gun rights are property rights.

                To analogize this. I am saying that murder is worse than slavery which in turn is worse than rape. That does not in any way involve me in defending rape!

                1. “Gun rights are property rights.”

                  I don’t see it that way. Guns may be property but the right to bear arms is a subset of the right to self-defense, which is itself inherent in the rights to life and liberty.

                  1. “Gun rights are property rights.”

                    I don’t see it that way. Guns may be property but the right to bear arms is a subset of the right to self-defense, which is itself inherent in the rights to life and liberty.”

                    This is true, but the second amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, not the right to self defense.

                    1. “This is true, but the second amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, not the right to self defense.”

                      My point is that they are inseparable. The right to bear arms derives from the right to self-defense, and the former cannot be infringed upon without violating the latter.

    1. If someone tells me I have to choose between my 1st and 2nd amendments, I would choose the 2nd. Then, without speaking, I’d shoot them.

      That doesn’t work the other way around.

      1. ” If someone tells me I have to choose between my 1st and 2nd amendments, I would choose the 2nd. Then, without speaking, I’d shoot them.

        That doesn’t work the other way around.”

        I think 2nd amendment advocates have, generally, been very successful using speech to protect gun rights. And in your scenario, if the “someone” is an agent of the State, silently shooting him is not going to do all that much to organize resistance when the army of goons descends upon you in retaliation, So I would suggest that you instead send out a call to rally support.

        1. I think 2nd amendment advocates have, generally, been very successful using speech to protect gun rights.

          True.

          silently shooting him is not going to do all that much to organize resistance when the army of goons descends upon you in retaliation, So I would suggest that you instead send out a call to rally support.

          That rally call will be laughed at if they aren’t armed. I’d rather be able to defend myself than to be able to speak (around oppressors). The oppressors would quickly quit oppressing (dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’, boy).

          You took the question to be a philosophical one and I took it to be a riddle. Either way, without the 2nd we are simply Europe (aka, without hope).

      2. Well, given your handle, that’s not too surprising!

        And, of course, to any Assistant US Attorneys in the audience, my colleague is only engaging in juvenile bluster (not Juvenile Bluster; he’s different) and in no way means to imply an actual threat to anyone in meatspace. And “meatspace” means the real world, Preet.

        1. Finally, someone figured out what my handle refers to!

    2. George Washington didn’t use his right to free speech to fight the British. He shot them. With guns. In the middle of the night. On Christmas.

  13. What’s with the promote button?

    What does it do?

    Does it move your comment up in the queue? That doesn’t make sense in threaded comments.

    Does it send the most approved comments to the front page of the website? If it does that, then all the comments on the front page will just be about Warty’s mom.

    1. I just pushed it. Do you feel any different?

      1. I pushed the button twice. I now have $2 million dollars, but both your parents are dead.

    2. Maybe. I don’t know.

      I kind of had a late night, and my head still hurts.

      1. Shit. “Promoted comment” I believe means “paid for” comment. I don’t know if that means anon-bot’s gonna start earning some coin for Reason or if it means I can pay to make you people have to listen to my rantings.

        1. Well, when I pushed it the first time, it disappeared after that.

          I was hoping to get in on some of that parent killing action.

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