- Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
- President Donald Trump said Thursday he had a “Great” meeting with the NRA.
- A top NRA official tweeted that Trump supports the Second Amendment and doesn’t “want gun control.”
- The remarks came after Trump appeared to criticize the NRA and back gun-control measures the day before.
President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday that he’d had a “good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA!” one day after he blasted Republicans on live TV for being “afraid” of the group and suggested seizing people’s guns ahead of due process.
Trump stunned lawmakers during the public discussion Wednesday by appearing to back several Democratic gun-control proposals, including raising the age for rifle purchases to 21 from 18, taking guns away from people with mental illnesses, and even implementing an assault weapons ban.
Yet on Thursday, Chris Cox, the executive director for the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, tweeted that he’d met with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to discuss “safe schools” and “mental health reform.”
Both Trump and Pence “support the Second Amendment, support strong due process and don’t want gun control,” Cox said.
Trump’s apparent about-face came two weeks after a gunman killed 17 people in a Florida high school using a legally purchased AR-15 rifle, prompting a roiling debate on whether the federal government should limit the sale of military-style firearms to civilians.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Trump chastised Republicans for allowing the NRA to “have great power” over them, adding that the group has “less power over me” and that sometimes lawmakers must stand up to the gun lobby.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders attempted to clarify Trump’s views to reporters on Friday, saying Trump still “conceptually” supports raising the age of purchase to 21, “but he also knows there’s not a lot of broad support for that.”
Sanders indicated that Trump may leave the issue to the states rather than pursuing congressional action. She added Trump is still “very much interested in improving” the federal background-check system, but stopped short of supporting universal background checks.
The proposal Trump supports would incentivize local and federal authorities to comply with existing law in reporting criminal records to the system. Universal background checks, however, would ensure anyone who buys a gun – including through gun shows, internet purchases, and private sales – undergoes a background check.
Trump’s back-and-forth views on gun control came as a shock to both Republicans and Democrats, though his remarks have been met with skepticism. Trump has previously appeared to side with Democrats on issues such as immigration, only to fully reverse his position later.