- The Washington Times - Friday, September 18, 2015

GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump said Friday the government should expand gun rights for law-abiding citizens and focus more on cracking down on violent criminals and making sure guns don’t fall into the hands of the mentally ill.

Mr. Trump made the arguments in a “position paper” on the Second Amendment in which he makes the case that people who don’t break the law should be able to obtain a concealed carry permit allowing them to carry in every state, and that members of the military should be able to carry their arms on military bases and at recruitment centers.

He also voices his opposition to banning ammunition magazines.

“The Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right that belongs to all law-abiding Americans,” Mr. Trump said in the paper. “The Constitution doesn’t create that right — it ensures that the government can’t take it away. Our Founding Fathers knew, and our Supreme Court has upheld, that the Second Amendment’s purpose is to guarantee our right to defend ourselves and our families. This is about self-defense, plain and simple.”

The New York billionaire is polling first nationally, as well as in Iowa and New Hampshire, which hosts the first two nomination contests. But he is facing intense scrutiny from Democrats and some of his Republican presidential rivals for not challenging a questioner at a town hall meeting Thursday night in New Hampshire who claimed that President Obama is a Muslim.

Citing a business conflict, Mr. Trump then canceled an appearances Friday at Heritage Action’s Take Back America presidential candidate forum in South Carolina, where 10 other GOP presidential candidates are scheduled to appear.

“Mr. Trump has a significant business transaction that was expected to close Thursday. Due to the delay he is unable to attend today’s Heritage Action Presidential Forum,” the campaign said in a press release.

About two hours later the Trump camp rolled out his position paper on gun rights, advocating for national concealed carry.

“A driver’s license works in every state, so it’s common sense that a concealed carry permit should work in every state. If we can do that for driving — which is a privilege, not a right — then surely we can do that for concealed carry, which is a right, not a privilege,” he said.

Mr. Trump said the nation’s mental health system has allowed people who should not have guns to obtain them.

“We need to expand treatment programs, because most people with mental health problems aren’t violent, they just need help.” he wrote. “But for those who are violent, a danger to themselves or others, we need to get them off the street before they can terrorize our communities. This is just common sense.”

“And why does this matter to law-abiding gun owners? Once again, because they get blamed by anti-gun politicians, gun control groups and the media for the acts of deranged madmen,” he said.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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