The National Rifle Association on Wednesday blasted President Donald Trump for his proposal to take guns away from dangerous individual even if it violates constitutional rights to due process.
Trump made the remarks during a bipartisan meeting with lawmakers at the White House to discuss safety measures in the wake of last week's mass shooting at a high school in Florida.
‘While today’s meeting made for great TV, the gun control proposals discussed would make for bad policy that would not keep our children safe,’ NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said in a statement to The Hill.
‘Instead of punishing law-abiding gun owners for the acts of a deranged lunatic our leaders should pass meaningful reforms that would actually prevent future tragedies.’
The National Rifle Association on Wednesday blasted President Donald Trump for his proposal to take guns away from dangerous individual even if it violates constitutional rights to due process
Baker said that preventing mass shootings would best be done by addressing the country’s mental health system and boosting background checks so that psychologically ill people are prevented from obtaining a gun.
The NRA spokeswoman said that her organization has always supported policies that promote school safety.
'Whether you love or hate firearms, we all want to send our children to safe schools and to live in safe communities,' she said.
But Baker added that this can be done without ‘shifting the focus, blame or burden onto safe, law-abiding gun owners.’
‘Doing everything we can as a nation to address the problem of dangerous people committing heinous acts is not inconsistent with the Second Amendment - the systemic failures of government to keep us safe reinforces the need for the Second Amendment,’ she said.
‘We will continue to support legislative efforts to make our schools and communities safe and oppose gun control schemes that cannot keep us safe and only punish law-abiding Americans.’
Trump angered the NRA earlier on Wednesday, saying he will be giving 'very serious thought' to signing legislation that lifts the minimum age for purchasing certain firearms like the AR-15 to 21.
The position is a serious split from the organization, which has been a major backer of Trump's and most Republicans.
In a listening session with lawmakers on Wednesday, the president acknowledged that his posture wouldn't be popular with the gun group, but he'll be 'giving it a lot of consideration' anyway.
Trump demanded to know why background check legislation that he wants to use as a vehicle for gun violence prevention measures doesn't already contain the provision.
'You know why? Because you're afraid of the NRA!' the president told Sen. Pat Toomey, the Republican author of the bipartisan bill, with a laugh.
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President Donald Trump (seen left with Senator Dianne Feinstein) said he will be giving 'very serious thought' to signing legislation that lifts the minimum age for purchasing firearms like the AR-15 to 21 and demanded to know why it wasn't in a bill from five years ago
'You know why? Because you're afraid of the NRA!' the president told Sen. Pat Toomey, the Republican author of the bipartisan bill, with a laugh
The Pennsylvania lawmaker explained that five years ago, when the legislation first came for a vote in the Senate, an age restriction never came up.
Toomey also argued that the 'vast majority' of teens in his state are non-violent.
'I know where you're coming from, and I understand that,' Trump replied.
But the president made clear that he wants Toomey and cosponsor Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, to include the measure in the universal background check bill they plan to revive in the Senate.
The measure failed in a Democratically-controlled 2013, even though it had the backing of 54 senators, because it did not reach the upper chamber's 60-vote threshhold.
That was roughly four months after the horrific slaughter of 20 elementary school children in Newtown, Connecticut.
One lawmaker told Trump on Wednesday not to underestimate the power of the gun lobby as the president said over and over again that he couldn't understand why action was not taken under the previous administration.
'They have great power over you people,' Trump replied. 'Some of you people are petrified of the NRA.'
The president said he told the Second Amendment group, 'We have to do what's right.'
Trump said that he truly believes that the NRA also wants to do 'what's right' for Americans.
'I'm a big fan of the NRA. These are great people. These are great patriots. They love our country. But that doesn't mean we have to agree on everything,' the president told legislators.
Earlier on in the session, Chris Murphy, a Democratic senator from the state that endured the horrible tragedy five years ago that inspired Toomey's failed background check bill, informed Trump that he would have to take on the NRA if he wanted substantive legislation to pass.
'There is no other issue out there with the American public like background checks. Ninety-seven percent of Americans want universal background checks. And yet we can't get it done, there's nothing else like that. Where it works, people want it and we can't do it,' Murphy told the president.
One lawmaker told Trump on Wednesday not to underestimate the power of the gun lobby as the president said over and over again that he couldn't understand why action was not taken under the previous administration
Asked if he'd sign legislation making 21 the floor for buying certain firearms, Trump said,'I'll tell you what, I'm going to give it a lot of consideration, and I'm the one bringing it up, and a lot of people don't even want to bring it up because they're afraid to bring it up
Trump rebutted, 'But you have a different president now.'
To which Murphy said, 'The reason that nothing has gotten done here is because the gun lobby has had veto power over any legislation that comes before Congress .
'I wish that wasn't the case, but it is. If all we end up doing is stuff the gun industry supports than this just isn't worth it, we're not going to make a difference,' he told the Republican president, 'so I'm glad that you sat down with the NRA, but we will get 60 votes on a bill that looks like the Manchin-Toomey compromise on background checks if you, Mr. President, support it.'
The Connecticut Democrat told Trump: 'If you come to Congress, if you come to Republicans and say we're going to do a Manchin-Toomey-like bill to get comprehensive background checks, it will pass.
'But if this meeting ends up with just sort of vague notions of future compromise than nothing will happen.'
Murphy explained that comprehensive background check legislation would have to bar criminals, people who are very mentally ill and individuals on the terrorist watchlist from purchasing guns.
'But Mr. President it's going to have to be you that brings the Republicans to the table on this because, right now, the gun lobby would stop it in its tracks,' he said.
Trump told him, 'I like that responsibility Chris, I really do. I think it's time, it's time that a president stepped up. I'm talking Democrat and Republican presidents, they haven't stepped up.'
The president urged lawmakers in the room to come up with compromise legislation that encapsulates universal background checks and strengthens the existing system.
He told them he'd like to see age limits included in the merger, as well.
Asked if he'd sign legislation making 21 the floor for buying certain firearms, Trump said,'I'll tell you what, I'm going to give it a lot of consideration, and I'm the one bringing it up, and a lot of people don't even want to bring it up because they're afraid to bring it up.
'But I will give very serious thought to it,' he said.
The president said he wants lawmakers to put together 'something great.'
The president urged lawmakers in the room to come up with compromise legislation that encapsulates universal background checks and strengthens the existing system
Wednesday was the first time that Trump heard from federal lawmakers leading the charge for new gun violence prevention measures in person since the Parkland massacre
At one point, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Democrat from California, was elated when it appeared that Trump expressed support for gun control measures for which she has long advocated.
During the meeting, Feinstein's Democratic colleague, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, proposed expanded background checks aimed at reducing domestic violence.
Trump replied that Klobuchar's suggestion should be added to the bipartisan Toomey-Manchin bill.
Then the president turned to Feinstein and said she 'could add what you have also...into the bill.'
Feinstein then appeared giddy - nearly jumping out of her seat, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
'Joe, are you ready?' Feinstein then asked Manchin.
Then Trump chimed in to back up