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Abby Spangler and her daughter Eleanor Spangler Neuchterlein, 16, hold hands as they participate in a "lie-in" during a protest in favor of gun control reform in front of the White House on Feb. 19, 2018.

Now-departed Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke may have talked about mandatory gun buybacks, but President Donald Trump has become the master of the annual gun walkback.

On Friday, the White House conceded that Trump was burying a promise to address the scourge of mass gun deaths, bowing once again to the power of even a weakened National Rifle Association.

Following mass shootings in August in El Paso and Dayton that left 29 dead, Trump called for “strong background checks,” saying there “is a great appetite for change.” Not so hungry now.

It felt familiar. In 2018, in the wake of the Parkland shootings, Trump — who in his saner days supported a ban on assault rifles — played the part of bipartisan reformer, accusing Republican congressional leaders of being “afraid of the NRA.” Back then, he even talked about taking guns from dangerous people first and worrying about courts afterwards.

Soon enough, NRA executives visited the White House and, even sooner still, Trump was singing from their song sheet.

It’s not as though the gun lobby swaggers like it used to. The NRA has been rocked by scandal in recent months; several of its top lobbyists have departed. But sensible measures with overwhelming popular support wither on the vine. Even red-flag laws, thought to be the lowest-hanging fruit, look impossible.

Trump won’t dare cross gun zealots to serve the vast majority of Americans.

We’ll see how convincingly he can pretend to be a man of action in the wake of the next inevitable horrific mass shooting.

-- New York Daily News

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