Politics inside, clearly.
During a televised roundtable with lawmakers to discuss what should be done to prevent future school shootings like the one in Florida, Vice President Pence began discussing the concept of gun violence restraining orders. He noted that states like California let local law enforcement officers go to court and obtain an order to collect someone’s firearms when red flags suggest they are a potential danger to themselves or others. “Allow due process, so that no one’s rights are trampled,” Pence said.
Trump interrupted. “Or, Mike, take the firearms first and then go to court,” he said. “Because a lot of times, by the time you go to court, it takes so long to go to court, to get the due process procedures. I like taking the guns early, like in this crazy man’s case that just took place in Florida. … To go to court would have taken a long time.”
Removing any doubt that he might have misspoke, the president circled back later to complain that there are too many “checks and balances” that limit what can be done to prevent mentally unfit people from buying or keeping guns. “So we have to do something very decisive,” he said.
Whatever your view of Second Amendment jurisprudence, Trump’s flippant comments showed a startling indifference for foundational rights that are enumerated in the Fourth, Fifth and 14th amendments. The legal concept of due process is as old as the Magna Carta.
It doesn’t seem like an exaggeration to say that some Republican members of Congress would have called for Barack Obama’s impeachment if he had ever called for taking people’s guns away without due process. It’s certainly a more extreme statement than Obama’s 2008 claim that people in rural areas weren’t voting for him because they “cling” to guns and religion. Even a decade later, Obama hasn’t lived that down. Republicans routinely cite it in their stump speeches.
But only one Republican member of Congress appears to have sent out a news release objecting to Trump’s comments. “We’re not ditching any Constitutional protections simply because the last person the president talked to today doesn’t like them,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said in a statement.