President Donald Trump met with the National Rifle Association on Thursday. If you were expecting the meeting to bring any clarity to what the president would like to do on guns, get ready for disappointment: More than two weeks after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida renewed America’s gun debate, we still have essentially no idea what Trump wants.
Shortly after the shooting, Trump avoided any talk about gun control measures — failing to mention gun laws at all in his speech and instead focusing on vague proclamations about “mental health.” But as survivors of the Florida shooting continued to speak up and draw media attention, Trump began to publicly shift.
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So at the start of this week, Trump supported very mild measures — banning bump stocks, slightly improving reporting to the background check system, and raising the legal age for buying assault weapons — although his focus was mostly on arming at least some teachers to protect students.
Then at a Wednesday meeting with lawmakers, Trump veered onto ground that even Democrats don’t typically wander into, calling for expanded background checks, suggesting that some people should have their guns seized without any due process, criticizing a Republican legislator for fearing the NRA, and even entertaining a full assault weapons ban.
“I like taking the guns early,” Trump said. “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”
The remarks prompted swift backlash from conservative lawmakers and the NRA, which has long opposed just about any gun control measures.
The NRA is pushing back
With a couple of tweets, everything is up in the air again. On Thursday night, the top lobbyist for the NRA
that he’d had a “great meeting” with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, adding that the president and vice president “support the Second Amendment, support strong due process and don’t want gun control.” Trump followed up that tweet with
: “Good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA!”