If this whole presidential bid doesn't work out, Donald Trump might be a good pick to be the spokesman for the National Rifle Association.
The front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination released his second policy paper of the campaign Friday, and it's a full-throated endorsement of the preeminent gun lobby's wish list. Trump's always been generally in favor of guns, but he used to believe in some restrictions — including the ban on so-called assault weapons that expired about a decade ago. Not anymore.
Here's what Trump wrote in 2000: "I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons."
And here's the position he took Friday:
Gun and magazine bans are a total failure. That’s been proven every time it’s been tried. 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.
By Trump's logic, he was one of the people trying to confuse voters back in 2000.
The rest of his gun platform, which joins immigration on a list of two policies he's outlined on his website, could have come straight from an NRA legislative briefing.
- Enforcing existing laws on gun crimes
- Fixing the background-check system rather than expanding it
- Fixing the nation's "broken mental health laws"
- Establishing a nationwide system in which concealed-carry permits from one state are recognized in all states. Trump notes that he has such a permit.
- Ensuring members of the military can be armed on bases and at recruiting centers
Here's what the NRA and its top officials say on these issues:
- "Every possible aspect of acquisition, possession, transport, transfer of a firearm by criminals demands harsh and swift punishment under existing law."
- "NRA opposes expanding background check systems at the federal or state level."
- "We thank Senator Cornyn for his leadership in standing up to the Obama administration and introducing legislation that will take meaningful steps toward fixing America’s broken mental health system."
- "Our fundamental right to self-defense does not stop at a state's borders. Law abiding citizens should be able to exercise this right while traveling across state lines."
- "It's outrageous that members of our armed services have lost their lives because the government has forced them to be disarmed in the workplace."
So, Trump's platform on gun control is virtually indistinguishable from the NRA's agenda at the federal level. That's a good place to be in a Republican primary. But if he loses, he can always go the Charlton Heston route and become the group's public face.