With Republicans in control of the White House and Congress, the National Rifle Association’s push to loosen U.S. gun laws was on track for a banner year.
Then Las Vegas happened.
The deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history — which left 59 dead and more than 500 wounded — has stalled the NRA’s agenda. House Republican leaders are reconsidering plans to vote soon on legislation that would make it easier to get gun silencers, amid outrage from gun control advocates and Democrats.
“Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer,” 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tweeted.
Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, whose state was the site of the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, said he’ll reintroduce a background check bill.
“To my colleagues: Your cowardice to act cannot be whitewashed by thoughts and prayers,” he tweeted at Republicans.
Ultimately few minds are likely to change. Even Steve Scalise — the House Republican whip who was gravely injured in a June shooting — showed no signs of backing down from his pro-gun stance. His statement didn’t even mention gun control.
President Donald Trump didn’t either when he offered condolences. He plans to travel to Las Vegas Wednesday – after meeting today with storm victims in Puerto Rico. Unless he has a change of heart, don’t expect the NRA to be sidelined for long.
Test for Trump |Trump’s visit to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico today will force him to confront a natural disaster that raised questions about his ability to handle a major crisis. After he referred to his critics on the island as “ingrates,” Trump can expect a chilly reception. San Juan construction worker Carlos Martel-Fernandez said he’d rather the White House send diesel than the commander-in-chief.
The Catalan question | The wind may be “back in Europe’s sails,” as European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker puts it, but it’s unclear where the bloc is heading. As Viktoria Dendrinou and Nikos Chrysoloras write, events in Barcelona over the weekend raise fresh questions about whether the instability that has plagued the European Union for the better part of the past decade is really over.
Direct channels but no talks | After Trump admonished Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for saying the U.S. was talking to North Korea through direct channels, the White House made clear that negotiations on the regime’s nuclear weapons program are off the table. “Now is not the time to talk,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said, citing one exception: discussions on freeing three citizens held by the isolated nation.
Pre-emptive pardons | U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has been trying to pre-empt any move by Trump to pardon members of his inner circle — perhaps even before anyone is charged with a crime. Greg Farrell takes a closer look at the efforts of Michael Dreeben, a bookish career government lawyer who’s been researching past pardons to determine what, if any, limits exist.
Mr. Middle East | Thanks to a military intervention that turned the tide in favor of his ally in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin is now the go-to man in the region. Leaders from all over are beating a path to the Kremlin to secure their interests and appeal for help. There’s just one hitch: everyone else who’s assumed the mantle of Middle East power broker has ultimately failed.
And finally… Two days before Sunday’s Catalan independence vote, a Spanish court ordered Google to remove the “1-O Referendum” app, designed to help people find their polling station, from its online store. Within hours of the ruling, coders had a similar app with the same name up and running. While the question across the Iberian peninsula after the landslide pro-independence vote is what happens now, one thing is certain: elections will increasingly be fought in cyberspace.
— With assistance by Chris Fournier