The Trump administration has rolled out its plan to respond to violence and guns in our schools. It wants to provide firearms training to some teachers. But it has backed off on making major changes to gun legislation: For example, there’s nothing about raising the minimum age to buy guns from 18 to 21.
Following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, where 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz has admitted killing 17 people, President Trump said he was in favor of raising the minimum age but backed off after meeting with the National Rifle Association.
Senator Gary Peters joined Stateside today to talk about gun laws, in addition to net neutrality, legislation aimed at helping small farmers, and proposed changes to the Dodd-Frank banking regulations.
On Trump’s response to school shootings
“I think his response to school shootings is the same response he gives to everything,” Peters said. “Which means he’ll make one statement, a day later it’ll be something different, the third day it’ll be something completely different from the other two. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of consistency, and whenever he says something you’ve got to figure whoever talks to him last will likely have an impact.”
In response to Trump’s creation of a federal commission on school safety chaired by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Peters said he isn’t particularly confident.
“I certainly would like to hope there would be some thoughtful ideas and comprehensive ideas and not based on politics or the agenda of the NRA, but it’s hard to know,” he said. “It’s really hard to know.”
Peters would like to see comprehensive background checks written into the law.
“Currently, because of the loopholes with gun shows and buying online, 40% of all guns are sold without any kind of background check,” he said. “Forty percent. That makes no sense whatsoever.”
Peters also emphasized that gun control legislation is not just a matter of responding to school shootings that make national headlines.
“We have to remember that every single day roughly 90 people die of gun violence.”
On the topic of net neutrality
In response to the Federal Communications Commission’s final repeal of net neutrality rules, Senator Peters said he’s concerned about potential divisions in access to information based on a consumer’s socio-economic status.
“Part of the beauty of the internet was its equalizing factor, is that when you got on the highway of the internet, you all had the same speed,” he said. “And speed is pretty important in the internet.”
Peters has joined with other Democrats and at least one Republican to support a bill to reverse the FCC ruling.
On a bipartisan bill aimed at helping small farmers
Peters said a bipartisan bill he recently unveiled would increase Farm Service Agency funding through the Department of Agriculture to provide small farmers with additional guaranteed loans that would go through local banks.
“I think it goes to the heart of what is important not only to Michigan but to the entire country, and that’s to have family farms. We’ve got more and more of these corporate farms, it’s very difficult to be a family farmer, and yet it’s a good living if you have the resources and the capital to start.”
Peters is working on this bill with David Perdue, a Republican senator from Georgia, and said he also has the support of most major farming organizations.
On debate over changes to Dodd-Frank
Peters, who is one of 16 Democratic senators to join with Republicans to advance a bill that would bring about the first big overhaul of banking regulations since the Dodd-Frank law was passed in 2010, said part of the legislation is to make sure smaller community banks, credit unions and regional banks have the flexibility they need to be profitable. He said the current market is dominated by larger banks.
“We should always remember that the financial crisis was not caused by your local credit union. It was not caused by a community bank or a regional bank,” Peters said. “It was the larger wall street banks.”
Listen to the full interview with Sen. Gary Peters above.