As the Trump administration continues its silly little dance around the possibility of openly supporting the common-sense gun-sales restrictions that Americans overwhelmingly support, the low comedy is intensifying, as this Politico report indicates:
The White House this week began circulating a much-anticipated gun background check proposal to Republicans on Capitol Hill, though it’s unclear if President Donald Trump supports it.
The punchline came pretty early in this story. But in case you missed it, there’s more:
The plan is narrower than a universal background checks bill passed by the House and pushed by top Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The administration, however, is distancing itself from the proposal and the president is not aggressively pushing it.
“The President has not signed off on anything yet but has been clear he wants meaningful solutions that actually protect the American people and could potentially prevent these tragedies from ever happening again,” said Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman.
As far as the document circulating on the Hill, he added: “That is not a White House document, and any suggestion to the contrary is completely false.”
Is the document circulating itself? No, it doesn’t appear so:
The document was circulated Tuesday to Republicans by Attorney General William Barr and White House Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland.
It’s unclear, to put it mildly, why the attorney general of the United States and the White House’s chief congressional liaison would be shopping around a proposal that they might denounce at any moment. But then again, they work for Donald J. Trump, who is apparently trying to stay on the good side of an organization whose leaders are nearly as sinister and prone to shouting as he is:
“This missive is a non-starter with the NRA and our 5 million members because it burdens law-abiding gun owners while ignoring what actually matters: fixing the broken mental-health system and the prosecution of violent criminals,” said Jason Ouimet, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.
And as it happens, reports Politico, the gun lobby has its own point man, former NRA staffer Michael Williams, inside the White House fighting the background-check loophole proposal. You don’t have to be psychic to predict how this is going to turn out after somebody’s — not Trump’s! — gun proposal is fully circulated. It adds to the fun that the president could flip and flop in every which direction before the deal goes down, all the while angrily attacking anyone who guesses wrong about where he is at any given moment.