Trump has a unique chance to get something major done on gun control — if he feels like it

  • President Donald Trump has solid support from hardline Republicans and the NRA, perhaps enough to get some legislation through on gun control.
  • Trump has talked about mass shootings as security and mental health issues in the past, and less so as issues of access to guns, which are already widespread.
  • It looks like Trump may opt to address the US's mass shooting epidemic as a health or security challenge, rather than a chance to restrict gun sales.

President Donald Trump addressed a grieving nation on Thursday in a speech on the school shooting that claimed 17 lives in Florida, and said what presidents before him have said — that something must be done.

But more than Barack Obama before him, Trump may be perfectly situated to get something done on gun control.

"It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make that difference," Trump said from the White House, in a speech where he avoided gun laws entirely. 

Privately, Trump told those close to him that "we have to do something" and that he wants "to know what our options are," an administration source told Axios' Jonathan Swan.

RELATED: Victims of the Florida high school shooting

Victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting
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Victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting

Scott Beige - Geography Teacher

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth James Watt​​​​​​​

Chris Hixon - athletic director

Photo Credit: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

15-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff

Photo Credit: Florida Youth Soccer Association

14-year-old Alex Schachter

Photo Credit : Getty 

14-year-old Cara Loughran

Photo Credit: Facebook

17-year-old Helena Ramsey

Photo Credit: Facebook

14-year-old Alaina Petty

Photo Credit: Facebook

14-year-old Gina Montalto

Photo Credit: Facebook

15-year-old Peter Wang
18-year-old Meadow Pollack (left)

Student Jaime Guttenberg

Photo Credit: Facebook 

Student Martin Duque

Photo Credit: Martin Duque/GoFundMe

17-year-old student Nick Dworet

Photo Credit: Instagram 

Football coach Aaron Feis.

Photo Credit:

16-year-old student Carmen Schentrup

Student Joaquin Oliver

Photo Credit: Facebook

Student Luke Hoyer

Photo Credit: Facebook 


In the speech, Trump also announced a trip to Parkland, Florida, where the shooting took place. On official visits, Trump likes to make announcements and have deliverables.

While Trump has typically responded to mass shootings by framing them as security or mental health issues, he can draw on his credibility with rank-and-file Republicans, the group that consistently blocked Obama's gun control efforts.

Late in his presidency, Obama said his "biggest frustration" was not passing gun control legislation. With control of all three branches of government, if Trump wanted to, he could succeed where Obama failed on an initiative that polling indicates would be widely popular

Trump to brainstorm on a solution that may not have anything to do with guns

Trump will talk to families of the victims of shootings at Sandy Hook and Columbine, as well as government officials over the next few weeks and "has a strong interest in background checks" and other options to make schools safer, according to Axios. 

But it's entirely possible that Trump will stick to his position that gun violence is best treated by mental health and security initiatives rather than by restricting access to guns, which have already saturated much of the US. 

Trump "said nothing about guns, nothing about gun control," in his speech, a source told Axios. "I don't think that's a real possibility ... But something to do with school safety or mental health, that's possible."

Additionally, the NRA campaigned hard for Trump, and continues to push for down-ticket Republicans as the 2018 midterm elections draw near. Trump values loyalty, and the NRA's loyalty may shape his decision.

RELATED: 25 fatal school shootings since Columbine

25 fatal school shootings since Columbine
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25 fatal school shootings since Columbine

April 20, 1999 - Columbine High School 

Photo Credit: Reuters

Nov. 20, 1999 - Deming Middle School, New Mexico 

(photo by Joe Raedle)

 February 29, 2000 - Buell Elementary School, Michigan 

Photo Credit: Reuters 

May 26, 2000 - Lake Worth Middle School, Florida 

Photo Credit: Reuters 

March 5, 2001 - Santana High School, California 

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Mike Blake MB/RCS

April 25, 2003 - Red Lion Area Junior High School, Pennsylvania

Photo Credit: Reuters 

September 24, 2003 - Rocori High School, Minnesota 

Photo Credit: Getty 

March 21, 2005. Red Lake High School, Minnesota

REUTERS/John Gress 

November 8, 2005 - Campbell County Comprehensive High School, Tennessee 

Photo Credit: Getty 

 Aug. 24, 2006 - Essex Elementary School, Vermont

 Photo Credit: Getty 

September 29, 2006 - Weston High School, Wisconsin 

(Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)

October 2, 2006 - West Nickel Mines School, Pennsylvania 

(Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

January 5, 2011 - Millard South High School, Nebraska 

Photo Credit: Getty

February 27, 2012 - Chardon High School, Ohio

REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk 

December 14, 2012 - Sandy Hook Elementary, Connecticut 

 (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

October 21, 2013 - Sparks Middle School, Nevada. 

(Photo by David Calvert/Getty Images)

December 13, 2013 -  Arapahoe High School, Colorado

REUTERS/Rick Wilking 

June 10, 2014  - Reynolds High School, Oregon

(Photo by Natalie Behring/Getty Images)

October 24, 2014 -  Marysville-Pilchuck High School, Washington


February 12, 2016 - Independence High School, Arizona 

Photo Credit: Getty 

September 28, 2016 - Townville Elementary, South Carolina

(Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

April 10, 2017 - North Park Elementary School, California 

 (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

September 13, 2017 - Freeman High School, Washington

Photo Credit: Getty 

January 23, 2018 - Marshall County High School, Kentucky

REUTERS/Harrison McClary

February 14, 2018 - Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


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