- Alex Wong/Getty Images
- President Donald Trump, in a meeting with lawmakers Wednesday, said police should take guns from Americans before due process.
- Senators of both parties rejected the idea for its direct contrast with the US Constitution.
WASHINGTON – Senators rejected President Donald Trump’s suggestion that law enforcement should confiscate firearms from individuals before any due process is applied, after a lengthy meeting at the White House to discuss gun legislation on Wednesday.
“I like taking guns away early,” Trump said. “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”
Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers in the meeting quickly pivoted from the president’s off-the-cuff remark. But back on Capitol Hill, those who either attended or watched the meeting pushed back on the idea that Second Amendment rights could be revoked before any due process of law.
“I don’t ever believe there’s a time in this country where due process can be dismissed,” said North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican. “Period.”
Tillis also suggested Trump is a legal novice and therefore was not explicitly saying due process should be stripped from US citizens.
“But I don’t think that the president was – he’s not a legal scholar – I don’t think that he was saying that there’s a place where you suspend the constitution and suspend due process. I just don’t believe that,” Tillis said. “I know you heard the words, I just don’t believe in my heart of hearts that’s exactly what he meant.”
“Strong leaders don’t automatically agree with the last thing that was said to them,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican, in a statement. “We have the Second Amendment and due process of law for a reason. We’re not ditching any Constitutional protections simply because the last person the President talked to today doesn’t like them.”
Montana Republican Steve Daines, who was one of the senators in the meeting, told Business Insider he disagreed with Trump’s idea. As to why he did not make that clear when Trump said it, Daines said, “I think it was a listening session for the president to gather thoughts for various members.
“We’ll have a debate on these issues here next, but I don’t agree with that,” he said.
Also in the meeting was Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican whom Trump jabbed for being afraid of the National Rifle Association. Toomey did not answer questions from reporters about whether he agreed with Trump that guns should be taken away before due process, adding that “there’s lots of things that need to be worked out.”
“OK look, it’s not my job when there’s 25 people in the room to debate every single point myself,” Toomey said. “That’s not the way that goes.”
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who pushed Trump to embrace her proposal to bring back the ban on assault-style weapons like the one in effect from 1994-2004, said she was unsure of what Trump was referencing when he said due process.
“Not necessarily a process, but if a weapon is illegal, police are entitled to take that weapon,” Feinstein told reporters. But Feinstein added that if it means taking legal firearms from US citizens before any due process, then like her Republican colleagues, she would reject that idea.
“I don’t know what he meant by due process,” she added. “I’m reluctant to criticize it because I don’t know what he meant. But do I agree with the concept of taking a gun away before – if the law doesn’t permit it – no.”