Awkward: Supreme Court decisions on guns, abortion put Trump in a bind

Gun Rights


Decisions by a Supreme Court that includes three of Donald Trump’s nominees put him in an awkward position on hot button election issues.

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WASHINGTON − After the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s history, then-President Donald Trump didn’t just promise to get rid of the device that turns a semi-automatic rifle into something closer to a machine gun. 

He also bragged that he’d told the National Rifle Association bump stocks would be gone in a matter of weeks.

“We’re knocking out bump stocks,” Trump said in 2018, on the one-year anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting.

But after the Supreme Court on Friday struck down his administration’s rule that bump stocks meet the legal definition of machine gun so can be banned, Trump was a lot quieter.

The presumptive GOP nominee did not go out of his way to comment.

And the statement from a campaign spokeswoman did not mention the role Trump had played in trying to ban bump stocks. Instead, it emphasized Trump’s support for gun rights.

‘A fierce defender’ of the Second Amendment

“The Court has spoken and their decision should be respected,” said press secretary Karoline Leavitt. “President Trump has been and always will be a fierce defender of Americans’ second amendment rights and he is proud to be endorsed by the NRA.”

It was the second day in a row that a decision from a Supreme Court that includes three of his nominees put Trump in an awkward position on a hot-button issue that could play a major role in this year’s election.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court threw out a challenge to the widely used abortion drug mifepristone – a top target of anti-abortion activists who are supporting Trump.

Related Supreme Court preserves access to widely used abortion medication mifepristone

To be sure, if the court had sided with the anti-abortion groups trying to restrict access to mifepristone, that would have sent shock waves across the nation and been a drag on Trump’s campaign.

But the rejection of the case on procedural grounds – the court said the anti-abortion doctors hadn’t been harmed by mifepristone so couldn’t challenge its use – still put Trump in a bind.

When it comes to the abortion pill ruling, Trump is silent

While anti-abortion activists vowed to find other ways of attacking mifepristone, Trump was silent – both on whether he agreed with the Supreme Court’s decision and whether he supports other attempts.

“The Supreme Court has unanimously decided 9-0. The matter is settled,” said campaign spokeswoman Danielle Alvarez.

That didn’t stop Democrats from warning that re-electing President Joe Biden is the only way to protect abortion access.

“We know the Trump team has a plan to try to end access to medication abortion and carry out a Trump Abortion Ban in all 50 states, with or without Congress, if they get the chance,” Vice President Kamala Harris said. “We cannot and will not let that happen.”

On the bump stock decision, which split the high court 6-3 along ideological lines, the Biden campaign tried to put the blame on Trump’s Supreme Court nominees.

“Weapons of war have no place on the streets of America,” said spokesman Michael Tyler, “but Trump’s Supreme Court justices have decided the gun lobby is more important than the safety of our kids and our communities.”

Related Supreme Court strikes down Trump-era ban on bump stocks for guns

Like the Trump campaign’s statement, Tyler’s comment did not mention Trump’s past support for banning bump stocks.

‘Flipping on a signature gun initiative’

But gun control advocates pounced.

“The fact that you have the former president flipping on a signature gun initiative that his administration undertook is itself very disturbing,” said David Pucino, legal director for the GIFFORDS Law Center.

Eric Tirschwell, executive director of Everytown Law, said gun violence prevention groups “will be taking action from the streets to the ballot boxes to ensure that our elected representatives hear our demands and correct this deadly mistake.”

More: In Supreme Court NRA ruling, justices issue unanimous decision in favor of gun group

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