White House Refuses to Release Photo of Trump Signing Bill That Overturned Mental Health Gun Restrictions: Report

President Donald Trump after signing tax-reform legislation in the Oval Office on Dec. 22, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

One of the first acts of Donald Trump’s presidency—which has officially become the undoing of President Barack Obama’s legacy—was to sign a resolution that made it easier for some people with mental health issues to obtain guns.

CBS News has attempted some 12 times to get a photograph of the president in action from the White House, to no avail.


White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, aka “Suckabee,” finally responded to repeated emails and phone calls with a one-line note on April 19, 2017, writing to CBS News: “We don’t plan to release the picture at this time.”

CBS News notes that photographs of the president signing bills and resolutions are normally released by the White House, but the White House probably wants America to forget that after being in office little more than 10 days, Trump signed H.J. Resolution 40, a bill that overturned a rule designed to prevent certain people with mental health problems from buying a gun. The optics are especially bad given that 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz used his legally purchased AR-15 assault rifle to gun down 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

“A White House photographer confirmed to CBS News that there are photos of the bill signing. Those photos won’t be seen unless the Trump administration releases them, though, because the White House is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act,” CBS News reports.

Obama introduced the rule after the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Conn., and it went into effect in December 2016. CBS News notes that had the measure stayed in effect, about 75,000 names of Americans with mental health issues and receiving Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Income would have been sent to a database, thus stopping them from buying a gun.


Shortly after Trump signed his measure, the National Rifle Association put out a press release quoting NRA Executive Director Chris Cox: “Today marks a new era for law-abiding gun owners, as we have now have a president who respects and supports our right to keep and bear arms,” CBS News reports.

Good to see that Trump is respecting his right-to-bear-arms-loving base and that the White House is up to its usual tricks of trying to scrub the memory of a bill removing mental health restrictions on gun ownership, given that Trump gave a six-minute speech after the Florida shooting, not about guns or gun laws, but about—you guessed it—mental health.


Editor’s note: This post has been revised to clarify that the Obama rule would not have prevented the tragedy in Florida, since, as far as we know, Nikolas Cruz was not on SSI or SSDI.

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter