October 1, 2017 marked the day of the mass shooting at the outdoor concert in Las Vegas. It resulted in a total of 58 casualties and left 548 injured, ranking the highest fatality throughout American major shooting accidents. A few days later, President Donald Trump made a speech about this atrocity, claiming the act as “pure evil” and consoling Americans on the loss of lives. However, the speech did not include further measures or legislations of the law about firearms regulation. Moreover, he even confirmed not to further discuss the restriction. Sweeping away the core of the argument under the rug has received severe criticism and the issue has become a political hot potato.
Before the presidential election, President Trump had already gained public support from the National Rifle Association (NRA), the largest and the most wellorganized association assisting a citizen’s right to bear arms. This foreshadowed that he would show an amicable attitude toward the pro-firearm side, as well as indicating a low chance of taking further actions upon gun-control. Understandably, after his dramatic election, President Trump averted all the threats from pro-gun control movements and remained silent.
Trump’s inactive stance adversely triggered the urgent need of firearm control. According to a report from Quinnipiac University, 66 percent of the participants from opinion polls supported regulation and asked for a countermeasure to these persisting accidents. “Polls that support for stronger gun-control rated almost 70 percent and this rate is stronger than that of 1993,” stated the Cable News Network (CNN) survey conducted by Standardized Query Language Server Reporting Services (SSRS). Furthermore, Democrat Nancy Pelosi constantly addressed the Congress to legislate realistic gun-control laws or establish a special committee preventing further firearm crimes.
Importance of the issue was finally recognized after the prote st calling for firearms regulation from teenagers. The landmark protest was instigated by another mass shooting, this one from Florida, which occurred on February 14 of this year. In response, President Trump declared to regulate the usage of “bumpstock,” which enables semi-automatic rifle users to use their firearm in an automatic way, thereby causing faster shooting and aggravating a massacre. He later insisted another measure from his Twitter feed by emphasizing the necessity of having “armed educators.” He added that having faculties trained annually to be prepared to use guns would give a threat to culprits, claiming that such adamancy would show that it is not easy to perpetrate such criminal acts in schools.
Both of President Trump’s policies related to firearm regulations have significances in that the president is finally acknowledging the severity of mass shootings. His stated policies are somewhat passive and partial, neglecting the fundamental causes—the legalization of the usage on firearms. Nevertheless, emphasis needs to be put on President Trump’s acceptance on gun-control policies. However, no further actions were implemented and those declarations from Twitter only ended as mere suggestions. Even though the president has the right to unilaterally enact the law, called an executive order, President Trump seems to have no urge to use it.
▲ Photo of President Trump Pretending to Shoot
Provided by Film Magic
What Justifies Trump’s Inactiveness?
President Trump seems persistent that the cause of mass shootings is from the gun-control movement and he asserts that aggrandizing the number of guns being used would be the prevention. According to a political website named Politico, 232 out of 435 congresspersons received funds from pro-firearm associations, which includes the NRA. This revealed that more than half of congressmen are willing to take the profirearms side and they could not slip through the clutches of the NRA.
Nevertheless, President Trump’s stance about pro-firearms is not fully explained merely by the financial support from the interest groups. Bigger structural defects still lie unattended in the shadows of America. Most of the pro-firearm policies are justified by the Second Amendment of the Constitution—claiming the rights of citizens to bear arms. The Constitution makes it hard to enact further guncontrol laws. According to Professor Shang E. Ha (Department of Political Science, Sogang University), the most recent precedent from the Supreme Court of the United States (U.S.), District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), stated that the individuals’ rights to bear a firearm is fully protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
▲ Professor Shang E. Ha
Provided by Professor Shang E. Ha
Professor Ha also added that the federal system of America could act as an obstacle. Both the federal and the state governments are distributed departments of work. Traditionally, the jurisdiction of gun-control belongs to the states, which means that each of the 50 states could legislate the related law respectively. Even though the president could use his power or convince the Congress to legislate guncontrol law, many states will strongly oppose it due to their different voices on the federal government infringing upon the jurisdiction of the states.
Future Attitude Required from President Trump
The ideal measure about gun-control is to enact a direct law of regulation. However, the reality of America shows that it is infeasible due to the situation that most conservatives get hold of the discretion of the enactment and the overwhelming power of the interest groups. It is not possible to exclude fundamental problems of America, yet President Trump should take some action like the Former President Barack Obama did.
Obama first enforced the execution order on January 5, 2017, reinforcing background checks on purchasing guns by increasing manpower in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). He constantly emphasized that his execution is not against the Second Amendment of the Constitution. Obama also took a picture of himself shooting a rifle to give a good impression to the opposing side, which resulted in pleasing both the polls and congresspersons.
Regardless of the structural flaws, President Trump is criticized because he is not taking any action about progun control. Obama at least tried to satisfy both sides by showing real action. Considering the reality, President Trump imposing sanctions to the interest groups would be a big help to relieve the suppression of the guncontrol side. Even a small action from the president could lead to a path of decreased casualties in mass shootings. One hopes to see President Trump make visible progress on this important issue.