- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 3, 2018

President Donald Trump just announced plans to seek reelection in 2020, and appointed digital guru Brad Parscale as his campaign chief.

Well and good. And Rasmussen says similarly — the polling road to his reelection’s got the all clear, at least on the Republican and unaffiliated voters’ front. But if Trump doesn’t reel in his gun control rhetoric, conservatives aren’t going to back him for long.

That’s not Rasmussen speaking, that’s common sense.

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Rasmussen Reports, in the aftermath of Trump’s announced reelection, wrote this, of its survey findings: “If the presidential election were held today, President Trump would carry Republicans and unaffiliated voters, but Democrats would reject him in droves. … [Trump] announced his intention to seek reelection, and 44% of all Likely U.S. voters say they would be more likely to vote for him if they had to vote now.”

Slightly more, 47 percent, said they’d vote for the Democratic candidate instead of Trump — meaning, his potential lead over the most popular pick for the left, Joe Biden, is tenuous at best.

Meaning, he can’t afford to say things like this, in the wake of Florida’s horrendous shooting death of 17 school students and staffers: “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 Hill noted.

It tends to make Republicans a bit wary.

So does this, again from Trump: “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

Hear that?

It’s the sound of Trump’s base gasping in shock — and the collective clicking of heels as they run from his side.

It’s not that Trump voters weren’t aware that Trump didn’t have a wishy-washy record on Second Amendment support. The anti-Trump and Never Trump factions during campaign season made clear that this president has had a watery embrace of certain types of firearms, and a soft heart for waiting periods for purchases. Political enemies would call Trump’s policy shifts on guns a decided flip-flopping; supporters and apologists would say he simply evolved.

But those aren’t extremist views. Curbs on high-powered rifles, bolstered waiting periods and background checks, limits to the capacity of magazines? Infringements — yes. But they’re still not out of lockstep with even some on the right.

Tossing due process to the wind, on the other hand, that’s pretty dictatorial.

It’s saying the government knows best, the people must comply and those who resist are simply the stuff to steamroll. It’s saying that America’s cherished God-given rights are things of the past and that the individual is granted only what the government deems necessary, proper or, in this case, safe.

It’s saying, “I’m the president, I can do what I want.”

What’s even more head-shaking is the Second Amendment was put in place by founders to resist this very type of tyrannical attitude.

So Trump, listen up: You’re a bold president with many positive qualities that make you the perfect leader to overcome the grievances inflicted during the previous Barack Obama era. But rhetoric that dismisses the God-given nature of America’s governing system is an affront to conservatives — and masking it as a provision that will help save citizens from themselves is a blatant betrayal of core freedom-loving principles. Any reelection campaign that tries to walk a fine line on this point is doomed to fail.

Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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