Caught in the crossfire: Recent mass shootings lead to in-party fighting for Republicans


Illustration by Sierra Lutz/ISLAND WAVES

“Take the guns first, go through due process 2nd,” said President Donald Trump back in 2018 during a meeting with bipartisan lawmakers. This was in reference to proposed red flag laws and universal background checks.

Trump went on to say, “I’m a big fan of the NRA. These are great people, these great patriots. They love our country, but that doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything.”

Keep in mind that the NRA had endorsed Trump during the 2016 elections. Historically, the Democratic party has generally been opposed to organizations such as the NRA, as recently evidenced when the left-leaning city of San Francisco declared the NRA a domestic terrorist organization.

Republicans, on the other hand, have had a standing relationship with the NRA and other similar gun rights advocacy groups. However, there have been Republicans in the past, such as Ronald Reagan, who have been open to supporting tighter restrictions on the 2nd Amendment.

In 1986, Reagan signed into effect a new law that prohibited the sale of newly manufactured, fully automatic machine guns to civilians in response to the United States’ growing drug problem.

It seems we could have a similar situation in the wake of recent mass shootings that have taken place over the past several years. Not only has Trump been on record supporting red flag laws, his administration imposed a ban on bump stocks.

According to the Washington Post, “Trump moved to ban bump stocks in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting with loud bipartisan support from Congress and anti-gun-violence advocates.” This was in response to a shooting that left 58 dead and hundreds wounded in Las Vegas.

Trump has also talked about moving to ban suppressors, as well. According to ABC News, Trump said, “I’d like to think about it. I mean, nobody’s talking about silencers very much. I did talk about the bump stock, and we had it banned, and we’re looking at that. I’m going to seriously look at it.”

More recently, after the El Paso shootings, Houston Rep. Dan Crenshaw tweeted, “The solutions aren’t obvious, even if we pretend they are. But we must try. Let’s start with the TAPS Act. Maybe also implement state ‘red flag’ laws, or gun violence restraining orders. Stop them before they can hurt someone.”

Crenshaw is a former Navy Seal and is a supporter of the 2nd Amendment. He has even released a video titled “Dan Crenshaw Shoots Down Gun Myths” where he argues in defense of owning AR-15s and similar rifles.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is also in favor of implementing red flag laws, tweeting, “Time to enact common-sense legislation in Congress to empower states to deal with those who present a danger to themselves and others — while respecting robust due process. May not have mattered here (El Paso), but Red Flag laws have proven to be effective in states that have them.”

Not all Republicans share this belief, however. Rep. Rand Paul said in an interview with WKCT, “Here’s the problem with taking away the 2nd Amendment rights of everybody preemptively on the list. Number one: The list is secret. It was created by President Obama. It’s secret. The criteria for being on the list are secret. You’re never told you’re on the list, and so, you’d have to find out about it when you go to purchase a gun or when you go to try to buy a weapon. Then you find out about it, but then how do you get off the list?”

“We can do both. We can keep guns from terrorists and also protect our Constitutional rights at the same time.”

Despite the inconsistency we see within the Republican party on the issue of red flag laws, if the trend continues, the U.S. could see some major gun legislation passed in the near future.