Ex-Trump Supporter Says 'We Need to Defund' NRA and 'Can't Allow' Conservative Pundits to 'Control' Gun Laws

An Army veteran who went from being a President Donald Trump supporter to a critic has also changed his views on gun control and is calling for the National Rifle Association (NRA) to be defunded in the wake of two mass shootings last weekend.

"When is the right time to talk about gun control? Is there a right time? What can we do to prevent mass shootings, and what can we do to shed light on racism, mental illness and propaganda?" former Trump supporter David Weissman says in a blog published Wednesday by The Times of Israel. "These are questions that I am asking myself since I left the Republican Party with a new outlook on real-life issues."

Weissman, 38, answers his question with the title of his post, "Now's the time to have that discussion," but explains his thought process as an Army chaplain assistant who served from 1999 to 2012 and was deployed to Afghanistan twice.

"I feel I have a unique perspective from my knowledge as a former Republican and the information I've learned in my journey," Weissman told Newsweek on Wednesday. "I feel I can help with the gun culture problem."

In his blog, Weissman wrote that he once believed "what I was being told by conservative pundits—that Democrats wanted to take all guns away."

"Even today's conservative pundits like to control the narrative, we can't allow them to do that," Weissman wrote. He opined that conservatives on social media were "almost ecstatic" to learn that the gunman suspected of killing nine people in Dayton, Ohio on Sunday supported left-wing politicians including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

"The reason for this support was to justify Trump's racism, dog whistles and hateful rhetoric towards people of color, immigrants and congresswomen of color," Weissman continued, adding that a manifesto allegedly published by the suspected El Paso shooter who killed 22 people contained anti-immigrant rhetoric similar to the president's. Meanwhile, the suspected Dayton shooter had "clear signs of mental illness," Weissman wrote.

Is it me, or conservative pundits seem more programmed lately?

— David Weissman (@davidmweissman) August 7, 2019

Weissman shared that he mistakenly believed that the Second Amendment meant every American should have the right to own firearms, but now thinks that "when a right has been so abused for so long it should no longer be a right."

"How many more lives will it take for something to be done?" Weissman wrote. "I believe we need to defund the National Rifle Association." The respective financial contributions pro-gun and gun control lobby groups make is illustrated in the below graph by Statista.

Pro-Gun Lobby Spending

Weissman accused the NRA, the nation's most powerful gun rights organization, of influencing Republicans with "blood money" and keeping them from "making the right laws to keep their people safe." He wrote, "there's no reason that a civilian should own Military-style weapons" and that assault weapons and ammunition should be banned permanently.

The veteran called for regulations that would make weapons less dangerous, universal background checks for purchasing firearms, stricter laws for individuals with mental illnesses and questioned whether those diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) should be allowed to own guns. Weissman also pushed for state and federal laws for all weapon owners to register their firearms after having background checks, limits for how many weapons a person can have, and requiring safety training after purchasing firearms.

Former Trump Supporter Gun Control
A President Donald Trump supporter wearing an NRA hat (who didn't want to give his name) speaks with people gathered as close as they can, to where President Donald Trump is residing at his Mar-a-Lago club, for a March For Our Lives event on March 24, 2018, in West Palm Beach, Florida. The event was one of many scheduled around the United States calling for gun control after a gunman killed 17 people on February 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Joe Raedle/Getty

Weissman said his views about gun control changed "around the same time" that he stopped wearing "Make America Great Again" shirts and backing Trump, which was in early 2018.

"Being a Democrat, and ending my support for Trump were two different journeys," Weissman said. "I've also learned the dangers of conservative propaganda which I was blinded by and feel it needs to be called out so our leaders can make the right calls to protect our people."

Since parting ways with MAGA and becoming a supporter of Warren, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Weissman has continued to explain the reasons for his change of ideology. Before the El Paso shooting on Saturday, Weissman wrote a letter apologizing to former President Barack Obama for the hate he directed at the 44th president while a conservative. In June, he tweeted he was an idiot to have gotten behind Trump.

On Wednesday afternoon before his blog post was published, Weissman retweeted an op-ed published that day by Newsweek titled, "Veterans: We Call on Gun Dealers and Responsible Owners to Prevent the Next Shooting." The authors were Travis Akers, a veteran Naval Intelligence Officer serving as a DemCast USA board director; Kristin Beck, a retired Navy SEAL who opposed Trump's military ban on transgender people; Naveed Jamali, a former intelligence officer; Naveed Shah, an Army veteran and Mission First political director; and Fred Wellman, a retired Army Aeroscout Pilot and ScoutComms CEO.

Weissman also tweeted, "I stand with the people of El Paso," and, "I do not stand with the President who ignites hate."

I stand with the people of El Paso, @RepEscobar and @BetoORourke, I do not stand with the President who ignites hate.

— David Weissman (@davidmweissman) August 7, 2019

In prepared remarks on Monday, Trump did not propose stricter gun laws, instead reinforcing that he supports "red flag" laws that would enable law enforcement to take possession of guns from people who could pose threats via a court order.

"We need to have this discussion now," Weissman wrote. "Debating time is over."