Contrary to popular belief, it’s fairly easy to predict what President Trump is likely to do on any given issue. He’s going to say what he thinks will help him the most at the moment.
This is not the same as “saying what he’s thinking” or “straight talk”. He has no devotion to the truth or to clarity. What he perceives as giving him the most personal gain is what will come from his mouth.
This is why he shifts positions often on key issues. Not being married to any ideology save self-promotion, as new events occur, his position will shift to incorporate those events.
This situation must be combined with a recognition that Trump has an exceedingly poor memory for past events, a memory which fades quickly over time. He is not a person for machinations and complex plans; rather, he attempts to have a grasp on all things happening at the moment and reacts accordingly.
Once those two factors, his self-focus and his poor memory, are considered many of his responses are predictable.
Following the Odessa shooting, a call has gone out for expanding background checks for guns. Considering the President’s recent support for them (as recently as August 21, Fox News reported that he was in favor of them.) There is trepidation for some gun owners that he will not stick with his course reversal and will buckle under increased pressure.
On Sunday, he seemed to offer them some support by indicating that enhanced background checks were unnecessary.
“Over the last five, six, or seven years, no matter how strong you need the background checks, it wouldn’t have stopped any of it,” he claimed.NBC News
He’s shifted positions so dramatically in the past, and so quickly, that gun rights supporters remain cautious. They should – it’s always wise to avoid placing faith in someone who regularly betrays supporters, friends, principles, family and country – but in this case they have a good reason to be calm, and its name is Wayne LaPierre.
After the story was reported on August 21 that Trump supported background check expansion, he took a phone call from LaPierre, the head of the NRA, and after that call he fundamentally reversed his position, shifting instead to supporting any actions that the Congress agreed to… and as Mitch McConnell has an interest in delaying any action on that front, Trump’s new position effectively squelches any significant legislation changes.
Trump had previously spoken with the NRA leader in early August. While the content of the August 21 call is not available to the general public, there is some very easy speculation to be made: it most likely provided definitive answers on whether NRA members would vote for Trump if he pushed for universal background checks.
This would have been a natural topic of conversation in prior discussions between the pair. Trump has no great affinity for gun rights, but he does have a love of attention and support. Any conversation with an interest group is going to be angled toward those factors.
That conversation, had it happened months ago, would be moot due to Trump’s short memory. As it is still a fresh event, it will hold primacy, and I fully expect Trump will not bend on background checks; the most he may do is throw McConnell under the metaphorical bus if he feels he is receiving too much flak for his indecisiveness and his potential support among independents is dropping.
Gun owners have little to fear about expanded gun restrictions at this time. Give it three months, and that answer may change.