Gun Advocates Surprisingly Restrained In Initial Response To Congressional Shooting

Could the president's low approval ratings be driving a more cautious response?

For the very first time since he was inaugurated, Trump’s negatives in the Gallup tracking poll have hit 60 percent and positives are on the way to one-third. No president since Truman has hit such lousy numbers in such a brief period of time, and if there’s one thing that all politicians know how to read, it’s the numbers in the polls.  

Not that Trump seems inclined to depart from his belligerent, showboating stance. His Twitter feed continues to be used as a combination ego-boosting vehicle and insult machine. This week’s cabinet meeting, which turned into a prayer service, was shameless pandering to what remains of his base, and his obsessive effort to promote alt-right media venues as “real news” just demonstrates how true media professionals can’t find anything substantive to report about him at all.

But his reaction and the reaction of other Republican stalwarts to the unfortunate shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise and staff members during the warmup for a Congressional baseball game at a ballfield in Alexandria, VA, are also revealing. Details are still somewhat sketchy, but it appears that some guy opened fire with a rifle and discharged multiple rounds, resulting in five people, including Scalise, the shooter and two law enforcement officers, being transported to hospitals.

Scalise is the Majority Whip of the House, represents the 1st Congressional District in Louisiana and is considered a staunch conservative when it comes to voting and promoting issues on Capitol Hill. Not surprisingly, he refers to himself as a “strong” supporter of 2nd-Amendment “rights,” and in that regard submitted a bill in 2012 – HR58 – that would allow residents from one state to journey to any other state in order to buy guns. This bill, if enacted, would undo the foundation of all federal gun-control regulations since 1938, which requires that guns be purchased in the state of residence in order to track the movement of firearms from place to place. It goes without saying that Scalise gets a top rating from the NRA.

Within minutes after the shooting, a former congressional colleague of Scalise went online and tweeted: “My heart is with my former colleagues, their families & staff, and the US Capitol Police- public servants and heroes today and every day.” This was Gabby Giffords, and when it comes to being the victim of gunfire, Gabby knows what she’s talking about, right? But at exactly the same moment, another tweet came down from someone who really doesn’t know what he’s talking about, particularly when it comes to talking about guns. Here’s the full tweet from the ‘real’ Donald Trump: “Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, a true friend and patriot, was badly injured but will fully recover. Our thoughts and prayers are with him.”

Hey – wait a minute!  How come the president didn’t use the opportunity to push the idea that civilians should be walking around with guns? How come we haven’t already heard anything from the usual, pro-gun noisemakers like John Lott about whether the ball field was or wasn’t a gun-free zone? Senator Rand Paul, who has been an adamant supporter of gun rights, was just about to take some batting practice when the shooting started, and he later said, “I do believe that without the Capitol Hill police, it would have been a massacre,” he said. “We had no defense at all.”

When a guy walked into the Pulse nightclub in Florida with an assault rifle and murdered 49 people last June, pro-gun advocates, including the not-yet-elected president couldn’t wait to blame the whole thing on the fact that nobody inside the club was carrying a gun. But all of a sudden, when it comes to how an armed citizen could have stopped the carnage this morning on a ball field in Alexandria, stillness reigns supreme. And something tells me that part of that stillness is due to those poll numbers which, if nothing else, demonstrate that all of Trump’s pro-gun bluster isn’t paying off at all.