Trump Time Capsule #2: Eliminating “gun-free zones” in schools

Newtown victims
Newtown victims

Editor’s Note: In the spring of 2016, James Fallows, the senior editor of The Atlantic Monthly magazine, began what he called a series of “time capsules” that could, in the future, provide a key as to what Americans were thinking during the election campaign–as Trump began his march to the presidency. He finished with 152 of the “time capsules” just before the vote. This site will publish one of the capsules every week or so and that should bring us to the doorstep of the 2020 election.

What follows is the second “time capsule.” All the material shown, except my introduction, is copyrighted by The Atlantic Monthly and there is no intention here to claim editorial credit for any of it. If you wish to read the entire series in one sitting, go to


Daily Trump #2: May 20, 2016, No gun-free zones. Here is Trump’s appearance this year at the NRA convention.  He says that Hillary Clinton “wants to abolish the Second Amendment — we’re not talking about changing it, she wants to abolish it.” That is bullshit. She’s in favor of tighter background checks for purchasers, liability provisions for gun manufacturers and sellers, and other restrictions. You can disagree with her or argue, as the NRA does, that these are the first steps in a dangerous direction, but you can’t sanely say that this means abolishing the Second Amendment.

Through the speech Trump repeats a cleaned-up version of the claim he made earlier this year in Vermont: “I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools… My first day, it gets signed, O.K.? My first day. There’s no more gun-free zones.”

Stated that way, the claim is crazy. No president signs legislation on his first day. A president could sign an executive order on his first day, but gun-free zones, including those set up by cities or states, are not subject to simple executive order. Now he’s just saying “we’ll get rid of them” without specifying day one, which is not as provably false but is something that no one who understood government would say.

James Fallows of The Atlantic Monthly
James Fallows of The Atlantic Monthly


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