President Trump’s administration has taken down the popular web-based platform, which has seen a number of petitions on both sides of gun politics, promising to retool it.
The petitioning site has been swapped out for a placeholder saying the platform is down for maintenance and will return in late January. As for the outstanding petitions, they are supposed to be back as well.
“All existing petitions and associated signatures have been preserved and will be available when the site is relaunched,” says the site. “Following the site’s relaunch, petitions that have reached the required number of signatures will begin receiving responses.”
The petition process was established in 2011 as a public relations tool by the administration of President Obama, and tweaked several times since then with a baseline number of signers earning a response from the White House once a threshold was passed. By April 2016 the site had collected 32 million signatures on nearly a half-million varied petitions.
Several calling for gun control to include reinstating the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, expanding Brady background checks to all gun sales, banning the sale of ammunition to those not in the military, and a host of other demands for more regulation circulated, often gaining momentum in the wake of high-profile mass shootings. One “We The People” petition last summer– to ban civilian ownership of the AR-15– grabbed 180,000 signatures resulting in the White House holding a special call with senior Obama staffer Valerie Jarret and a message from Vice President Joe Biden saying, “Assault weapons and high-capacity magazines should be banned from civilian ownership.”
Since new management in the White House took over this year, gun rights and pro-Second Amendment petitions have been increasingly popular to include moving forward on national concealed carry reciprocity, repealing the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Hughes Amendment, as well as a bestowing the Presidential Medal of Freedom on the Sutherlands Springs church shooting heroes. One, to label Antifa as a terrorist group, picked up 100,000 backers in a four-day period mirroring another during the Obama administration to do the same for Black Lives Matter that garnered 125,000. However, none have received an official response from the Trump White House, a facet billed as changing in the future.
The White House says the new site will save taxpayers an estimated $1 million per year.