Turns Out Trump Is the One Who's 'Afraid of the NRA'

Illustration for article titled Turns Out Trump Is the One Who's 'Afraid of the NRA'
Photo: AP

The White House is backpedaling on Trump’s vision of raising the minimum age requirement to purchase a firearm. I wonder why?


As of early March, Trump appeared to support raising the federal age limit to buy most firearms from 18 to 21. He was troubled, he claimed, by the fact that the 19-year-old Parkland shooter was allowed to legally purchase the AR-15-style rifle he used to kill 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“You can’t buy a handgun at 18, 19, or 20, you have to wait ‘til you’re 21. But you can buy the gun, the weapon used in this horrible shooting, at 18,” Trump said earlier this month during a truly bizarre meeting with lawmakers on guns and gun policy.

Trump then accused Republican senators of being afraid of the NRA after Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, said that a bill he was working on to strengthen background checks didn’t include raising minimum age requirements to purchase firearms. “You know why?” Trump asked Toomey. “Because you’re afraid of the NRA.”

Cut to nearly two weeks later, and it appears that Trump is also afraid of the NRA. I wonder why?

The White House’s official proposal would fund firearms training programs for school staff and strengthen criminal background and mental health checks. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos—noted genius—has also been tapped to lead a new committee tackling school violence prevention. Conspicuously missing in all of this is Trump’s pet plan to raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm.

In a bit of conspicuous timing, the NRA is suing the state of Florida over a law raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21. The NRA called the law an “affront” to the Second Amendment. It seems Trump got the message.

Staff writer, mint chocolate hater.



The White House’s official proposal would fund firearms training programs for school staff and strengthen criminal background and mental health checks.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I have to stress just how fucking stupid this idea is. According to a RAND study of NYPD officers, trained professionals are only able to effectively return fire on a suspect about 18% of the time. That is incredibly low, and that is for people who have a good deal of training and experience. I doubt you can get the average teacher to be as proficient, but even assuming that you could, that still means that 82% of the bullets they are firing in a building full of children aren’t hitting the target. That doesn’t even take into account negligence, misuse, or having the weapon taken from them. Considering that studies show that even gun owners who consider themselves “responsible” (*spoiler alert*: 100% of gun owners think they are super responsible) suffer and inflict fewer injuries when they don’t have loaded guns.

People who have been armed during mass shooting events (I believe at least one at Virginia Tech) have straight-up said the reason they didn’t draw their gun and shoot the bad guy was because they didn’t have eyes on a confirmed target and/or didn’t want to be mistaken for the shooter by the police. Plenty of the events that have been the site of mass shootings have had armed guards; people still died. The example that (bizarrely) gets used as a “good guy with a gun” “success” story was the shooter from the church in Texas, who was shot and injured by a witness, after he had caused a bloodbath. He still managed to get into his car and drive away (he later shot himself).

The truth is that once someone opens fire it is really hard to stop them, even in the most ideal of circumstances. That’s not taking into account people like the Las Vegas or University of Texas shooters who get into what is basically a sniper position and can’t really be dislodged. Even in the military we try to avoid having to go room-by-room clearing a building if we don’t have to, because it is dangerous and requires a lot of people to maintain an effective cordon (so the enemy doesn’t pop up behind you from a room you’ve already been through).

Ronald Reagan was shot surrounded by the Secret Service, as was JFK. Gerald Ford was nearly shot by someone named Squeaky, for fuck’s sake. And they were protected by some of the most highly trained people in the whole world. I promise you that no matter how many times you take Mr. White the history teacher and Ms. Ferguson the science teacher to the range on the weekend, they aren’t going to be better at preventing a shooting than the Secret Service is.