Trump hosts bipartisan meeting on gun violence

Matt Saintsing
February 28, 2018 - 5:00 pm

(Photo by Oliver Contreras/SIPA USA)

President Donald Trump fired a warning shot to the National Rifle Association during a meeting with lawmakers Wednesday, saying he doesn’t “have to agree on everything” with the organization. The gathering was broadcast live and included a bipartisan mix of Senators.

“I’m a fan of the NRA,” Mr. Trump said. “There’s no bigger fan. I’m a big fan of the NRA. These are great people, these great patriots. They love our country. But, that doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything.”

At one point in the meeting, which was open to the media, Mr. Trump jabbed a key Republican senator over his resistance to raise the age of all gun purchases from 18 to 21. “I think you’re afraid of the NRA,” Trump said to Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), adding that the age limit was “something we have to think about.”

“A lot of people are afraid to bring it up,” Trump continued, referring to the NRA's opposition to raising the age limit.

Toomey said his reluctance was due to fear that the regulation would unfairly punish the “vast majority” of younger Americans in his home state of Pennsylvania who own rifles or shotguns and are “law abiding citizens.”

The meeting comes two weeks after a gunman walked into a south Florida high school and killed 17 students and teachers using an AR-15 rifle he legally purchased.

Trump made clear to a bipartisan group of lawmakers that all options of gun-control and school safety measured were on the table. To kick off the meeting, he said he was “going to write” an regulation banning bump stocks, a device used in last year’s Las Vegas massacre that rapidly accelerates the gunfire from a semiautomatic rifle.

Additionally, Trump again, brought up his solution to arm some teachers with concealed firearms to prevent and deter school shootings.

A popular GOP position, Trump vehemently backed policies that would prevent those suffering from mental illnesses from obtaining some firearms.

“Number one, you can take the guns away from people you can judge easily are mentally ill,” he said, mentioning that the alleged Florida shooter’s weapons were not confiscated, despite numerous tips to law enforcement that he would commit a school shooting.   

“You have to have very strong provisions for the (mentally) ill,” he continued. “I don’t want mentally ill people to be having guns.”

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa pushed back on the President’s importance on mental health, saying there are many who suffer from mental illnesses “who are not a danger to others.”

“It’s not fair to other people that have mental Illness,” said Grassley. “We have to have a culture in our schools where people are attuned to people who have problems.”