The last four weeks have been a nerve-wracking time for gun owners. Our NRA-backed President has waffled on due process and gun confiscation, the NRA itself has waffled on Extreme Risk Protection Orders, and gun-friendly Florida passed a sweeping measure that includes age restrictions on gun ownership and a bump-fire stock ban.
The Second Amendment community has been desperate for clarity, and President Trump just gave us some, for better or for worse.
The White House released on Monday an official statement outlining Trump’s priorities relating to gun control and school security. As with all things Trump, it’s a mixed bag.
It outlines three categories of policies that Trump plans to pursue: “hardening our schools,” “strengthening background checks and prevention,” and “mental health reform.”
The statement looks good on its face, and most of the policies focus on preventing mass murders rather than restricting gun rights. Trump offers the assistance of the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to assist schools in strengthening their defenses, improving awareness, and training “specially qualified school personnel on a voluntary basis.”
Trump has been pushing for more armed school personnel since the Parkland massacre, but it’s unclear how much he can do from Washington. State legislatures will still have to propose their own programs, and the largest teacher’s associations and unions adamantly oppose allowing school personnel to be armed.
The National Education Association, for example, claims in a statement that parents and educators “overwhelmingly reject the idea of arming school staff.”
“Bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence. Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms,” said Lily Eskelsen García, NEA president.
While the pro-gun community largely favors allowing armed teachers in schools, Trump also expressed support for a policy that enjoys much less goodwill: “President Trump’s Administration is calling on every State to adopt Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs),” the statement declares.
ERPOs allow close friends or members of a person’s family to request a judge to order a temporary removal of that person’s firearms. Trump’s statement assures gun owners that “ERPOs should be carefully tailored to ensure the due process rights of law-abiding citizens are protected,” but as recently as February the NRA warned about an ERPO proposed by the Maine legislature.
“Extreme Risk Protection bills allow for the issuance of protective orders to infringe on Second Amendment rights based on third party allegations and little, if any, real evidence and limited ‘due process’ for the respondent,” the NRA-ILA said at the time, though they have since reversed their stance.
The final highlight of Trump’s statement indicates that the President has backed off his support for raising the age limit to purchase firearms from 18 to 21. The White House will immediately establish a Federal Commission on School Safety chaired by Secretary Betsy DeVos to investigate the efficacy of a wide variety of policies, one of which is raising the age limit. It’s unclear what the commission will decide on this issue, but for now the President doesn’t appear to be advocating for it.