Trump talks new gun measures

US President Donald Trump talks about gun safety in schools during a meeting with local and state officials about improving school safety at the White House in Washington on Feb. 22, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 24 February 2018
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Trump talks new gun measures

DENVER: As US President Donald Trump talked this week about banning “bump stocks” and curbing young people’s access to guns, the gun owners and advocates who helped propel his political rise talked about desertion and betrayal.
Trump’s flirtation with a set of modest gun control measures drew swift condemnation from gun groups, hunters and sportsmen who banked on the president to be a stalwart opponent to any new gun restrictions. In his pledge to make schools safer and curb gun violence after the massacre at a Florida high school, gun advocates see a weakening resolve from the man they voted for in droves and spent millions to elect.
“Out in the firearms community there is a great feeling of betrayal and abandonment, because of the support he was given in his campaign for president,” Tony Fabian, president of the Colorado Sports Shooting Association, said on Friday.
The comments highlight how little room the president and his party have to maneuver without angering and activating the politically powerful gun rights community. Trump has not yet formally proposed any legislative plan and he spent much of the week endorsing the notion of arming teachers and school officials — a plan the gun lobby supports. Still, just floating proposals that defy the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other groups drew threats of political retribution and legal action.
The confrontation is set to test whether Trump, a figure deeply popular with his party’s base, is willing to risk his political capital to take on a constituency few Republicans have challenged.
“The president has a unique ability right now to maybe really do something about these school shootings,” said Rep. Tom Rooney, a Republican from Florida. “Nobody is more popular in my district — and I know in a lot of other people’s districts — than Donald Trump. He’s more popular than the NRA ... So it’s up to him whether or not anything happens with guns.”
After 17 people were killed by a teenager, Trump declared that assault rifles should be kept out of the hands of anyone under 21. He endorsed more stringent background checks for gun buyers, and ordered his Justice Department to work toward banning rapid-fire “bump stock” devices.
Gun Owners of America issued an alert earlier this week urging its 1.5 million members to call the White House and “Tell Trump to OPPOSE All Gun Control!” The organization said anti-gun activists aided by congressional Democrats are trying to convince the president he should “support their disastrous gun control efforts,” the message said. “And sadly, it may be working.”
Paul Paradis, who owns a gun store in Colorado Springs, was enthusiastic about letting teachers carry firearms on campus. But he was incredulous about the notion of outlawing bump stocks and increasing the age requirement for buying a long gun.
“Trump can propose anything he wants but it’s got to get through two houses of Congress and the Supreme Court,” Paradis said.
Colorado has been a test case for the politics of gun control and the ability of gun groups to retaliate against those who vote for it. In 2013, after the Aurora theater shooting was followed by the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, Colorado’s Democrat-controlled state legislature passed a package of gun restrictions, including universal background checks and a ban on magazines that hold more than 15 bullets.
Gun control advocates hoped to roll the program out to other states after showing a libertarian, Western state could pass the bills. But then the NRA backed successful recalls of two Democratic state lawmakers who backed the legislation. The momentum ended.
Democrats won back those seats in the 2016 election. Still, the message has lingered: Democrats have not proposed any major gun legislation since the recalls.
There are an estimated 55 million gun owners in the US, according to a 2016 national survey conducted by Northeastern and Harvard universities.
The influential NRA, which spent about $30 million in support of Trump’s presidential campaign, is firmly opposed to raising the legal age for the purchase of long guns from 18 to 21. After floating the idea earlier in the week, Trump declined to reiterate his proposal to increase age restrictions during wide-ranging remarks on Friday before the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Trump’s call to restrict bump stocks like the ones used in last year’s Las Vegas massacre triggered outrage among gun owners. The devices allow a shooter’s semi-automatic rifle to mimic a machine gun. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is conducting a review to determine if it can regulate bump stocks without action from Congress.
But several gun rights advocates said the answer is an unequivocal no. Only Congress has the power to make such a move.


Taliban’s Ghazni assault sparks new Pak-Afghan tensions

Updated 18 August 2018
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Taliban’s Ghazni assault sparks new Pak-Afghan tensions

  • Pakistan’s Foreign Office says Afghanistan has not shared any evidence to support its recent allegations against Pakistan
  • Imran Khan’s idea of a soft border between Pakistan and Afghanistan may have suffered a big setback in the wake of the Ghazni attack

PESHAWAR: In the backdrop of the Taliban’s brazen assault on the southern city of Ghazni in Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani alleged that the bodies of the perpetrators had arrived in Pakistan, though Islamabad maintained that Kabul had not officially shared any information or evidence in this regard.
Soon after that, the Afghan president said in a fiery speech to a jirga in Ghazni: “I have a message for Pakistan. Dead bodies (of the Taliban) have arrived in (Pakistan). Peace cannot be forcefully imposed on Afghanistan. Where did they (Taliban) come from and why are they being treated in (Pakistani) hospitals?”
But Pakistan strongly rejected reports claiming that some Taliban fighters involved in the Ghazni attack had been offered medical treatment in its hospitals.
In the absence of any official communication through regular channels established bilaterally, such reports cannot be given any credence, said Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday.
Haq Nawaz, a senior Peshawar-based security analyst, told Arab News that the newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan faced a string of daunting challenges, such as economic revival, political stability, tackling corruption, and improving relations with his country’s immediate neighbors.
However, he added that recent developments in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have stepped up violent activities, will probably constitute a much bigger predicament for the new political administration.
He recalled that Khan had mentioned in his victory speech that he wanted a European Union-style soft border with Afghanistan, claiming that the idea had seemingly received a setback after the Ghazni attack.
“The latest bout of allegations will have a negative impact on the process of reviving good relations between the two neighboring countries,” Nawaz noted.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa also expressed “deep concern” over the recent surge in violence in Afghanistan and lamented in a statement released by the military’s media wing the loss of precious lives.
Bajwa reiterated that Pakistan was not supporting terrorist activities inside Afghanistan. He added that the allegation about the movement of injured or dead terrorists from Ghazni to Pakistan was incorrect.
However, the army chief noted that there were scores of Pakistanis working in Afghanistan, and that some of them periodically fell victim to acts of terrorism along with their Afghan brothers inside Afghanistan. “Terming such victims as terrorists is unfortunate,” he maintained.
Yet, the Afghan president sought an explanation from Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership on the Ghazni attack.
“Imran Khan, you are the son of Pashtun parents. Investigate this and give me an answer. General Bajwa, you have repeatedly given me assurances over phone calls that special attention would be given to the issue of peace in Afghanistan once elections took place in Pakistan. Now give me an answer,” Ghani said while addressing a group of tribal elders attending the jirga.
Bajwa said that different factions of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan hiding in their sanctuaries in Afghanistan after assuming Afghan identities, were transported to Pakistan for medical help after receiving injuries.
Nawaz said the Afghan government should share relevant evidence with Pakistan in this case, arguing that using the media or social media to deal with such serious and sensitive developments can worsen the situation.
He said it was not just a statement or allegation from an ordinary official since the claim was made by a head of state, adding that both countries should settle such teething issues through dialogue and diplomatic channels.
However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted in its statement: “Such reports can only be viewed as malicious propaganda to vitiate the existing cooperation between the two countries.”