Background Checks and Hong Kong Protests

Grind for August 9th
“When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck to crush him.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt

A Tempting Offer

The Headline

Trump asks Congress to work on background checks, immigration reform

The Grind

President Trump on Monday called on lawmakers to combine gun control measures with immigration reform.

“Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform,” said Trump.

The proposal follows back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio that left 29 people dead and 53 injured. Some Democrats claim the shooters were motivated by Trump’s white nationalist rhetoric.

Trump condemned racism and white supremacy during a speech delivered later on Monday, but failed to unveil any major policy proposals.

He called for an end to the “glorification of violence” in video games and said that individuals who commit mass shootings should face the death penalty. He also suggested that an overhaul of mental health laws could help us “better identify mentally disturbed individuals.”

If Trump was really serious about gun control, complained Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), he would ask Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) to hold a vote on House-approved legislation to expand background checks.

Trump called for stronger background checks in 2018 after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, but backed down after a meeting with the NRA. This year, he threatened to veto two bills on gun control passed by the House – one that calls for universal background checks and one that extends the review period of background checks from 3 to 10 days.

In 2017, he repealed a regulation that blocks firearm sales to individuals who receive disability benefits for mental-health issues.

The Takeaway

Gun control is an issue that has long been near and dear to Democrats’ hearts, and Trump’s suggestion to combine it with immigration reform is his latest attempt to coerce lawmakers into correcting the situation at the southern border.

Trump also knows that any combination of the two issues will be voted down by Democrats and he can point to that failure during his re-election campaign.

Unfortunately immigration reform and gun control are both explosive topics with virtually no bipartisan consensus in Congress and it seems Trump’s advisers talked him out of repeating the suggestion to combine the two issues during his Monday speech.


The Headline

Protests in Hong Kong enter ninth week

The Grind

Officials in Hong Kong on Monday were forced to re-route traffic, suspend subway services, and cancel flights as protestors purposefully disrupted public transportation services.

The civil unrest began in early June when Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced her intentions to sign an extradition agreement with mainland China. The announcement sparked unprecedented mass protests that have continued even after the bill was withdrawn.

To date, more than 1 million people have taken to the streets to demand greater Democracy, Lam’s resignation, and an investigation into police brutality.

Beijing has tacitly supported police’s handling of the situation, which in recent weeks has included the use of rubber bullets, pepper spray, and tear gas.

More than 40 people were injured last week when members of organized crime gangs (or “triads”) attacked protestors in Yuen Long. At least one public nurse has suggested the use of medical sabotage against police officers.

The Details

In a speech delivered Monday afternoon, Lam condemned the violence and described the city as ‘dangerous and unsafe.’ She blamed the violence on a small group of radicals and did not address protestors’ demands.

As noted by Sociologist professor Ching Kwan Lee, Lam’s ongoing refusal to address her people’s frustration could be making the situation worse.

“More repression and police brutality, injuries, and arrests will only create more solidarity for people who find a common enemy.”

Carrie Lam is “full of lies,” argues Judy Tseng, 35, who works for a local insurance company. “We are not what she said – opposing ‘one country, two systems.’ What we are really against is her incompetent government.”

Representatives from China’s State Council plan to hold a press conference on Tuesday to address the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong. Last week, the Council publicly announced its support for Hong Kong’s government.

Did you know… The population of the Earth has more than doubled since 1950.