Just before the 2016 Presidential election, Donald Trump announced the formation of a panel of experts, dubbed The Second Amendment Coalition, that would advise him on Second Amendment issues if and when he should win the presidency.
Two months into Trump’s first term, there hasn’t been a mention of the Coalition.
According to this story from USA Today, the coalition hasn’t formally convened, and “it’s unclear when, or whether, that will happen.”
Coalition co-chairman Michael Kassnar, an executive with IWI US—a subsidiary of an Israeli gun maker that produced the Tavor bullpup rifles, the Uzi submachine gun, and the Desert Eagle and Jericho pistols—says the president doesn’t think it’s an urgent matter.
“I suspect there’s more things on the president’s plate of higher urgency,” Kassnar said in the story. “We’re as interested as you are in what role we’re going to be able to play.”
“The White House now says the group is a ‘campaign coalition.’ But a handful of co-chairs said they expect—or at least hope—to play some role in advising the White House.”
“As it was explained to me, this whole thing is about providing policy and legislative recommendations for the new administration through Donald Trump, Jr.,” said co-chairman John Boch, the executive director of the non-profit Guns Save Life Inc., in the story.
Trump Jr. is heading up the coalition along with NRA lobbyist Chris Cox.
USA Today interviewed several members of the coalition and says that personal goals vary among members, but that several said the Trump administration should pursue the National Concealed Carry Reciprocity bill or similar legislation. Another priority, the story says, is the Hearing Protection Act, which will make it easier for law abiding gun owners to buy firearms suppressors.
Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minnesota) says he plans to use the coalition to push his legislation to set deadlines for action on appeals when gun buyers’ purchases are denied.
“I’m going to try to get every single person on the coalition, and I’m going to ask the chairs—as the coalition—to support what it is we’re advocating for, because that’s only going to help me,” he said in the story. “The best of all worlds would be that I get either Donald Trump Jr. or Chris Cox to say the coalition…actually supports the bill that I’m promoting.”
Still, the story says the White House has not launched the coalition in an official government capacity, so it seems for now, it’s just a collection of names.
“We have no additional announcements to make at this time,” wrote Kelly Love, a White House spokesperson in the story.
Additionally, the fact that the coalition was created while Trump was a candidate, not the president, and the fact that Trump Jr. would be in charge of it, could prove problematic.
“A campaign coalition would be expected to advise Trump as a candidate. But other rules may apply if the coalition advises Trump as president. The Federal Advisory Committee Act, for example, could require the group to have a charter, open its meetings to the public, maintain records, have procedures for public input and be subject to a number of regulations.
‘The purpose of (FACA) is to ensure that those groups that are advising the president are open and transparent and accessible by the public,’ said Larry Noble, general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center. ‘But it applies to groups that are really formally established by the president or an executive branch agency.’
“Trump’s son’s leadership of an official advisory committee, and any advice he might give to the president, could be problematic, since he has been put in charge of the family’s business.”
“‘It would be a somewhat questionable move, given the separation the president claims from his sons because of business dealings,’ Noble said. ‘It would raise issues with ethics laws.’”
Boch said in the story that members communicate via email and are working in an advisory capacity, but wouldn’t tell USA Today who is on the list or how often they communicate.
The story says there is optimism that the group and its efforts will come more to the forefront after major issues like tax reform and the federal budget are dealt with.