Gun Debate Continues

Friday, February 23, 2018Screen Shot 2018-02-23 at 12.33.50 PM

Good Friday morning,
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • President Trump intensified his calls for arming highly trained teachers as part of an effort to fortify schools against shooting massacres, even as he denounced active shooter drills that try to prepare students to survive a rampage.

  • The head of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierreleveled a searing indictment against liberal Democrats, the news media and political opportunists he said were joined together in a socialist plot to eradicate all individual freedoms.

  • Battles in the gun control debate typically break out after mass shootings in the United States. But after the shooting in Parkland, Fla., things are different: The gun control side has developed a well-financed infrastructure, the president is an unpredictable member of the National Rifle Association and the We-Call-B.S. teenagers of Florida have injected a passionate new energy.
  • The nature of Mr. Trump’s written prompts during a listening session this week with people who lost loved ones in the Parkland school schooting was atypical. They seemed to suggest that the president needed to be reminded to show compassion and understanding to traumatized survivors.

  • Even as he was managing Mr. Trump’s campaign for president, Paul Manafort lied to banks to secure millions of dollars in cash loans as part of a decade-long money laundering scheme, according to new charges unsealed by the special counsel.

  • The Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday about whether government employees represented by a union must pay the organization a fee for representing them in collective bargaining. For some union leaders, the case is the culminationof a decades-long assault against the labor movement.
— The First Draft Team

On Washington

Two Polarizing Issues, Gun Control and Immigration, Have Thwarted Compromise

Students pressing for gun control legislation on Wednesday in Washington. In 2013, the Senate defeated several measures to expand gun control.

Students pressing for gun control legislation on Wednesday in Washington. In 2013, the Senate defeated several measures to expand gun control. Erin Schaff for The New York Times

As the nation faced another crisis, polls clearly reflected what a significant majority of the public thought should be done. A bipartisan move to draft a legislative response finally gained steam after years of stasis. A stunning breakthrough looked to be at hand.
The issue was put to the test in a series of votes on the Senate floor. Backers of the bipartisan compromise showed they could get tantalizingly close to the magic threshold of 60 votes, but still came up short at 54 and the entire effort collapsed in failure.
That situation aptly describes what occurred last week when the Senate took on immigration. But it also depicts — down to the 54 votes for a leading bipartisan proposal — what happened the last time the Senate voted on major gun control legislation, in 2013, after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
It is also a predictable result if significant gun control legislation emerges in Congress in the aftermath of the school massacre in Parkland, Fla. That prospect underscores the parallels between the two politically divisive issues and the difficulties of enacting meaningful legislation even when a majority in Congress and the public agree. The inability to push legislation over the finish line has lawmakers fed up while feeding public discontent with Washington.
Read more »
Senator Tom Udall, the vice chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, said that the move seemed “appropriate.”

Trump’s Pick to Lead Indian Health Service Withdraws Nomination


The withdrawal of the nominee, Robert Weaver, follows reports that said he had inaccurately represented his qualifications to a Senate committee after his nomination in October.

Fred Guttenberg, the father of a teenager killed at a Florida high school, addressing Senator Marco Rubio during a CNN town hall-style meeting on Wednesday.

Rubio and N.R.A. Are Jeered on Gun Stance


Under tough questioning from students and shooting victims’ relatives, Senator Marco Rubio and an N.R.A. spokeswoman were repeatedly heckled after declining to back new gun control measures.

Dana Loesch, a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, addressed the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday. “Many in legacy media love mass shootings,” she said. “Crying white mothers are ratings gold.”

With Shooting Survivors, N.R.A. Spokeswoman Holds Back. With Conservatives, It’s a Different Story.


The spokeswoman, Dana Loesch, spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference a day after addressing those affected by the school attack in Parkland, Fla.

Michelle Wolf performing in New York. She has signed a deal with Netflix to develop a weekly late-night talk show.

Comedian Is Going to Correspondents’ Dinner. What About Trump?


Michelle Wolf, a stand-up comic and contributor to “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” takes on one of the most prominent — and perilous — gigs in comedy.

The gun vault at the National Laboratory Center for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Beltsville, Md. The White House is pushing the agency to the forefront of its fight against violent crime, but it is weakened politically by the gun lobby.

How the N.R.A. Keeps Federal Gun Regulators in Check


The A.T.F. is badly weakened politically, partly because the N.R.A. has long used its sway to hobble the agency but also because of a dearth of leadership and resources.

American Special Forces soldiers scanned the area at a front line outpost outside the northern Syrian city of Manbij this month.

U.S. Says Troops Can Stay in Syria Without New Authorization


Even after ISIS is substantially defeated, the Trump administration will allow troops to remain in Syria indefinitely without new congressional authorization.

Taiwanese sailors saluting their flag after military drills in January. President Trump signed legislation in September with a provision that encourages mutual port calls by ships from Taiwan and the United States.

As China Puts Pressure on Taiwan, Signs of a U.S. Pushback


Concern about the self-governing island’s fate seems to be building in Washington, even as President Trump seeks China’s help on other issues.

The Justice Department will ask federal prosecutors to step up prosecutions of prospective gun buyers who lie on federal background check forms, according to law enforcement officials.

Justice Dept. to Prioritize Prosecutions for Lying in Gun Background Checks


The guidance, expected to be announced in the coming days, allows the Trump administration to take action on guns without issuing rules that might inflame gun rights supporters.

George David Banks, the former White House adviser on energy and climate, at United Nations climate talks in Bonn, Germany, in November.

Former Trump Aide Calls Climate Accord ‘a Good Republican Agreement’


In an interview, George David Banks, who stepped down recently, said he also believed the president might still be willing to remain in the global climate pact.

Mourners at a memorial to the Rev. Billy Graham at the Billy Graham Training Center in Asheville, N.C. The evangelist and presidential pastor, who died this week, will become the fourth private citizen to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda, lawmakers announced Thursday.

Graham to Lie in Honor at the U.S. Capitol


The Rev. Billy Graham, the evangelist and presidential pastor who died this week, will become the fourth private citizen to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
David French in National Review:
“When facing the big questions about guns — such as whether America should ‘ban’ an entire category of weapons (such as ‘assault weapons’) — it’s better, I think, to go back to the first principles embodied in the Second Amendment.”
If you’re looking for an argument that explains why keeping assault weapons legal is so important to some supporters of the Second Amendment, look no further than Mr. French’s column. Rooting his reasoning in Justice Antonin Scalia’s writing on the subject, Mr. French explains how any gun-control efforts must be evaluated based on these “twin purposes” of that amendment: “the amendment protects a person’s individual inherent right of self-defense and empowers the collective obligation to defend liberty against state tyranny.” Read more »
From the Left
Rebecca Klein in HuffPost:
“There’s an abundance of evidence suggesting that more school security means more vulnerable students getting funneled at an early age into the criminal justice system.”
A possible consequence to the proposal to make schools safer by adding more police officers is a potential negative effect on minority students. As Ms. Klein points out, black children are already more likely to be arrested on school grounds for relatively minor infractions like vandalism. When you add more police officers at schools, she writes, the “school-to-prison pipeline” only grows. Read more »
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