Pressed on gun policy shift, White House points at Obama

 msnbc.com  3/14/2018 2:42:50 PM   Steve Benen

Two weeks ago, Donald Trump endorsed an ambitious vision for “comprehensive” reforms to the nation’s gun laws, including everything from hiking age requirements on long-guns to “powerful” background checks to gun confiscation without prior due process. This week, the White House announced that the president’s vision has been dramatically curtailed and moved in an NRA-friendly direction.

At a briefing this week, a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, “Why he didn’t go forward with what he has proposed earlier?” She responded by pointing on the need for congressional support, before changing the subject – to Barack Obama.

“Let’s not forget that the Obama administration had the White House and all of Congress for two years, and never did anything. This president is actually supporting specific pieces of legislation and still laying out other priorities that he would like to see talked about and implemented, whether we have to do that on a state level…”

I realize Team Trump tends to see almost everything through an Obama-centric lens, but this is getting a little silly. The Republican White House is bothered by Democratic inattention to new gun laws in 2010? As if any such measure wouldn’t have died at the hands of a GOP filibuster?

But as it turns out, the Trump White House is also taking this argument a step further. The New York Times  reported this week:

After a gunman marauded through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month, conservative commentators – looking for a culprit – seized on an unlikely target: an Obama-era guidance document that sought to rein in the suspensions and expulsions of minority students.

Black students have never been the perpetrators of the mass shootings that have shocked the nation’s conscience nor have minority schools been the targets. But the argument went that any relaxation of disciplinary efforts could let a killer slip through the cracks.

And this week, President Trump made the connection, announcing that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will lead a school safety commission charged in part with examining the “repeal of the Obama administration’s ‘Rethink School Discipline’ policies.”

To civil rights groups, connecting an action to help minority students with mass killings in suburban schools smacked of burdening black children with a largely white scourge.

Those civil rights groups are, of course, correct. But in the Trump administration, if an Obama-era measure can be repealed, little else seems to matter.

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