During a Wednesday meeting on gun laws and gun reform with lawmakers, Trump joked with a pair of senators that “you’re afraid of the NRA.” But he also showed genuine interest in re-examining the gun laws and even making changes.
Trump was speaking with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) about their gun control bill, which was first introduced in 2013. The bill is aimed at enforcing criminal background checks on gun sales, including private sales. Trump said that he didn’t know much about the the bill and speculated that it “didn’t have a lot of presidential backing.” He then asked if the Manchin-Toomey bill included a measure to raise the age limit for individuals hoping to purchase an assault weapon. When he learned that it did not, he joked to Toomey “you’re afraid of the NRA.” Those remarks echoed his statements on Monday when he urged governors “not to be afraid of the NRA,” and said “we have to fight them every once in a while.”
He went on to say “a lot of people are afraid of that issue — raising the age for [the AR-15] to 21.” President Trump has said multiple times that he wants to raise the age requirement for purchasing assault weapons to 21. The NRA has come out against raising the age requirement and over the weekend, two top NRA officials met with the president to make their case.
Democrats are working to push through a number of bills, including the Fix NICS bill, which would encourage state and federal authorities to report criminal history records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Some Democrats aren’t getting behind the bill, saying that it does not do enough–Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) criticized the bill as too weak because it doesn’t include a universal background check. The Fix NICS bill has already passed the House. Some Republicans have come out against it, saying that it’s unnecessary. When asked about the bill on Tuesday, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said “I don’t think we need more gun control laws, I think we need more idiot control.”
Trump showed some interest in the Fix NICS bill but was more interested in the topic of bump stocks. When Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) mentioned bump stocks, Trump insisted “I’m going to write that out because we can do that with an executive order. I’m going to write the bump stock — essentially write it out. So you won’t have to worry about bump stock. Shortly that will be gone.” Bump stocks became a hot-button issue after the Las Vegas shooter used the devices.
The president also raised a few eyebrows when he pushed back on the need for courts to get involved in gun confiscation, saying “take the guns first, go through due process second… I like taking the guns early.”
Trump expressed interest in a number of other bills including the bill that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Chris Murphy (R-Conn.) proposed. Their bill would ban assault weapons and was introduced after the Sandy Hook massacre. Trump told Feinstein multiple times that he will look at her bill.