It’s no secret that we have defended Donald Trump countless times in the past, even when it was in vogue to mock and dismiss him.
The reason for this is simple: Although he is not the world’s strongest conservative, the 45th president seems to understand the core principles that made America great, and in his blunt but effective way, has stood for common sense and against liberal sophistry at many levels — including within the mainstream media.
When President Trump swerves away from those core American views, however, it’s time to call him out… and that is what we must do today.
On Wednesday, Trump held a meeting with key policy makers on the topic of gun violence, and said some words that can only be described as massive red flags for anyone who believes in the Second Amendment and the rule of law.
“President Trump… voiced support for confiscating guns from certain individuals deemed to be dangerous, even if it violates due process rights,” reported The Hill.
“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,” the president declared while discussing gun policy with Vice President Pence and other leaders.
Here is the line that is particularly alarming. “Take the guns first, go through due process second,” Trump stated.
WATCH: President Trump: “I like taking the guns early … Take the guns first, go through due process second.” pic.twitter.com/aydEZdAGq0Should due process be the top priority when guns must be taken?Yes: 83% (1995 Votes)No: 17% (409 Votes)
— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 28, 2018
The problem with these statements is clear: That’s not how due process works. Bypassing the court system because it’s inconvenient is literally the opposite of due process, and opens the door to a slippery slope of abuses that would have no end in sight.
Before we dig further into what the president said, we will raise one caveat. It is possible — although admittedly unlikely — that Trump was talking about policies that already exist, instead of enacting new ones.
For example, police in even conservative-leaning states are already able to temporarily confiscate weapons for officer safety reasons or as part of a domestic violence arrest, according to the Battered Women’s Justice Project and state statutes.
If Trump had these types of incidents in mind when he spoke, there may be room for common ground between him and pro-gun conservatives… but there’s no getting around the fact that his choice of words should alarm even moderate supporters of civil liberties and the rule of law.
Almost everyone agrees that there are some people whose violent actions disqualify them from Second Amendment protections. Even pro-gun conservatives, for instance, usually acknowledge that criminals or the insane don’t have a right to be armed. The question is how to ensure that law-abiding citizens are not treated like those criminals on a whim.
The president’s claim — that going through the court before taking away an American citizen’s guns is too time consuming — is both silly and distressing. Judges throughout the country often issue search warrants in a matter of hours after being presented with evidence of probable cause.
“I’d say roughly a couple hours to get the warrant written up, reviewed, reviewed again, and taken to a judge who will review it some more and sign it if it’s good probable cause,” Paul Harding, a long-serving deputy sheriff, recently explained on Quora.
Other law enforcement experts agreed that around three hours was a typical time for a judge to review and sign a warrant.
“Major felony (Robbery/Homicide) would obtain search warrants primarily for crime scenes to preserve the chain of evidence,” wrote Tim O’Pry, a retired police officer.
“As such the scene was typically already secure, the facts straight forward and the process simple … and would typically take us 2–4hrs once the decision was made, depending on day of week and time of day,” he stated on Quora.
The point here is simple: It just doesn’t actually take very long for a judge to sign off on a home-entry search warrant with due process still being carefully followed the entire time.
It seems almost guaranteed that if America was serious about stopping mass shooters and about respecting due process, a system where evidence of an impending crime could be rapidly shown to a judge or judicial panel and weapons were temporarily seized could all happen in hours.
The fact that Trump believes waiting for a judge is too inconvenient shows either staggering ignorance of the justice system or some kind of agenda. Neither possibility is pleasant.
Imagine if instead of talking about guns, the president was describing police kicking down someone’s door. “Break into people’s homes first; worry about getting a warrant second” would have even liberal ACLU members protesting, but he’s saying essentially the same thing about firearm seizures right now.
Perhaps the biggest elephant in the room is that the same government that Trump wants deciding whose guns get confiscated without messing with pesky due process are also the ones who dropped the ball in the Florida tragedy.
From the federal FBI down to the local sheriff’s deputies, the government failed at every level in Parkland. Yet suddenly we want these same incompetent fools to be the ones determining — single-handedly and with no court involvement, it seems — when the Second Amendment applies and when to ignore it?
Who determines which criteria to use? Nearly everyone agrees that mental illness is part of the mass shooting problem, but who gets to decide where the line is drawn?
An eating disorder can be considered mental illness, as can gender dysphoria or a hundred other conditions. Have we come to a point where somebody questioning their gender can serve in the military but can’t buy a gun for self defense? Even liberals must see the problem here.
There are not simple answers to these questions, which is why checks and balances are important. There’s a reason that we value thoughtful, unbiased judges and a court system that carefully weighs evidence. Preventing people’s rights from being trampled is important, and throwing out the structures that make this possible is both reckless and un-American.
Donald Trump needs to change or clarify his position on this, or risk losing the supporters who have defended him thus far. Liberty-loving voters are watching carefully, and do not take kindly to being betrayed.
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