Photo Shoot: White House Reportedly Refused To Release Photo Of Trump Signing Bill Relaxing Restrictions On Gun Purchases

34383318535_69ea4441de_zThere is an interesting fight brewing this week after CBS News reported that the White House is refusing to release a photo of President Donald Trump signing a bill overturning an Obama-era regulation restricting certain people from buying guns.  I was previously critical of both the Bush and Obama Administrations in withholding photos for purposes political purposes.  These photos are the property of the American people and should not be withheld from the media because the White House does not like the imagery.  There is a valid journalistic interest in the photo, which should have been released to CBS.

CBS reported that it asked the White House to release a photo of Trump signing H. J. Res. 40, legislation shortly after Trump took office.  However, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reportedly responded that “We don’t plan to release the picture at this time.” Why? This is a legitimate journalistic request for the release of a publicly owned photo.

My criticism is not based on any judgment of the nexus drawn between the tragic shooting this week and the legislation. I am perfectly willing to accept a valid argument that there is no real connection. However, that is not the point.  The White House is fully capable of objecting to the nexus without withholding the photo.

The bill rolled back on an Obama regulation that barred an estimated 75,000 Americans who receive disability benefits from buying a gun. It also required the Social Security Administration to report people receiving disability benefits. Finally, it required a mental health condition to the FBI’s background check system.

Trump acknowledged yesterday that mental illness was a factor in the shooting. That still does not mean that this law would have prevented this teen from acquiring an AR-15. However, it is ridiculous to deny the legitimate inquiry into the connection as well as legitimate news story in exploring Trump’s pro-gun rights stance in his presidency.

While there is obviously discretion in what photos to release, this was not a shot in the private quarters of the White House or some casual moment. It was the signing of a federal law.

Finally, this is another example of a misstep by a White House staff that seems to continually lurch from controversy to controversy.  The denial only served to generate more coverage and leave the appearance that the White House was trying to hide its record.  Once again, I am baffled by these continuing self-inflicted wounds.

The White House should release the photo.

103 thoughts on “Photo Shoot: White House Reportedly Refused To Release Photo Of Trump Signing Bill Relaxing Restrictions On Gun Purchases

  1. There are already laws in which people who have been committed to a mental facility or judged mentally unstable may not buy guns.

    If Nikolas Cruz could legally buy a gun, then why are we even bothering with background checks and databases?

    He was expelled from two schools, I believe. The school he targeted had warned staff not to allow him on campus with a backpack because they were afraid he would shoot up the school. He made threats on Facebook that went unreported. He twice made comments on Youtube along the lines of he wanted to be a school shooter for a career. A Youtuber did report him to the FBI months ago. The latest I read is that the FBI couldn’t find out who or where he was. Did you see the national man hunt photos? Neither did I. He was under psychiatric counseling. Police were called to his house something like 39 times.

    People saw something and said something. He said something. And yet, he walked free on the street and legally purchased a firearm because no one triggered a Baker Act.

    I am not in law enforcement or the psychiatric profession. If someone was deemed such a danger to others that he was banned from campus with a backpack, why would that not trigger a 72 hour hold? Why wouldn’t comments like he wanted to be a school shooter trigger a hold? A hold would have barred him from buying a weapon.

    Up until Ash Wednesday, Cruz was a teenager shouting for help. After that, he’s the most reviled, cowardly, man who threw away his life and destroyed the lives of 17 families, plus those who were injured.

    If our current system didn’t flag Cruz and stop him, then we have been wasting our time.

    He is the type of guy who shoots people, or stabs them, or plows a car through them, or blows up a bomb. You cannot stop the existence of evil in the world, but you should be able to stop a guy who was not only giving warning signs; he was painting 30 foot billboards and carving Mount Rushmore sized red flags.

    Most of us who support the 2nd Amendment also support background checks and reasonable rules against the criminally insane.

    This is exactly the argument that goes nowhere every time this happens. We have gun laws that are not enforced. Databases that are not updated. Mental health checks that are not used. And the FBI dropped the ball on this big time.

    As for Trump rolling back Implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007, if I recall correctly, the Act required the SSA to report anyone receiving mental disability payments to the NICS. However, the conflict was supposed to be that this would not provide any data other than disability payments, and people would be included who were not a danger to themselves or others. For example, people in the military in treatment for PTSD whose only symptoms were insomnia or panic attacks, or post pardum depression.

    It is still illegal for anyone adjudicated mentally unstable, or anyone who has been committed, to purchase a firearm. The only difference is that they were going to require the Social Security Administration to report all disability payments to the database, and now they are not going to do that.

    • And it was not an Obama bill, but rather from the end of Bush’s term. Obama added a rule regarding SSA reporting that was too broad a sweep.

      Databases should report specifically prohibited individuals, such as this cowardly, spineless maniac who just killed 17 people

      • Thanks, Tom Nash. I hadn’t heard about the second tip.

        Fusion centers, JTTFs, citizen-spies galore, nearly 40 visits to the home by cops, and many more red flags — and the kid was still able to shoot up a school. We’re a nation of idiots. (I wish I could say that I’m surprised.)

      • As a mother, that just kills me. I own firearms, and support the 2nd Amendment. We use guns typically every summer to shoot rattlers (much better than getting your toes in reach and repeatedly whacking a thick snake with a blunt shovel.) My relatives hunt, and some of my cousins average 25 rattlers a year on their place. To me, a gun is a dangerous tool that needs to be treated with respect.

        I support background checks, and an accurate database. I oppose lumping in all those with any mental issues, such as postpartum depression or body dysphoria, to the NICS.

        I absolutely am broken hearted that you could not find a more textbook case of someone at the highest risk at the highest confidence level to become a school shooter, and he slipped through everyone’s fingers. 39 times police were called.

        You know what else broke my heart? I watched two teenage girls interviewed on TV. They said that they heard a kid pounding on their locked classroom door, begging and pleading on and on to be let in. They said that it’s against the rules to open the door. He was eventually murdered and dragged down the stairs. Rules are rules and there is zero tolerance for saving someone on the other side of the door, regardless of where the shooter is. How different from the stories of heroism where teachers would jerk open a door and drag a scared kid inside by the scruff of the neck before locking it again. That kids’ parents’ lives are over, but they followed the rules.

  2. Just bundle it all up and sends to the Daily Tatler. So we can progress on to pressing questions such as whether pigs have wings.

  3. Amy Goodman, with Trevor Aaronson (“Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and The Intercept”) and George Ciccariello-Maher (“visiting scholar at the Hemispheric Institute at New York University”)

    • (1) “Group chat messages show school shooter obsessed with race, violence and guns”… if Russian trolls were working at the sites the shooter visited, they fed his mental illness with their attempts to fuel divisions among the U.S. population. What should their punishment be?
      (2) Maria Butina’s photos on the internet (she is a Russian linked to Paul Erickson of the NRA), glorifies guns showcasing them as if they were a model’s props. It’s an example of the hijacking of American culture, which is fostered by ALEC’s businesses. And, Putin welcomes it.

      • squeeKKK may not be home grown. He avoids the neo-Nazi messaging that attacks based on religion. The evangelical movement pivoted similarly. The oligarchy’s power is strengthened if the richest 0.1% aren’t divided.

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