President Trump expressed optimism on Thursday that the National Rifle Association would back new restrictions on guns, despite the gun lobby declaring opposition to the president’s proposal to raise age limits on certain purchases.

Speaking from the Oval Office at a meeting with local officials on school safety, Trump said he had spoken recently with officials at the NRA and said they’re “ready to do things.”

“I don’t think I’ll be going up against them,” Trump said.


“I think we’re making a lot of progress and I can tell you there’s a tremendous feeling that we want to get something done,” he added. “And we’re leading that feeling, I hope, but it is a great feeling, including at the NRA, including with Republican senators and hopefully Democrat senators and congressmen.”

Still, new fissures have emerged between the president and the NRA, which spent more than $30 million to help him get elected in 2016.

The NRA strongly opposes raising age limits for purchasing guns. Federal law prevents people under 21 from buying hand guns, but those aged 18–20 are legally able to buy rifles like the AR-15 used in the Florida high school shooting last week.

“Legislative proposals that prevent law-abiding adults aged 18–20 years old from acquiring rifles and shotguns effectively prohibits them for purchasing any firearm, thus depriving them of their constitutional right to self-protection,” NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said. 

“We need serious proposals to prevent violent criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from acquiring firearms. Passing a law that makes it illegal for a 20-year-old to purchase a shotgun for hunting or an adult single mother from purchasing the most effective self-defense rifle on the market punishes law-abiding citizens for the evil acts of criminals.”

Trump on Thursday reiterated his belief that 21 should be the age of purchase for guns.

“The NRA will back it,” Trump said.

The president has also voiced his support for a ban on bump stocks, which can be affixed to a semi-automatic rifle to make it fire more rapidly.

The NRA has said it supports a federal review of bump stocks to see if new regulations are appropriate, but the group opposes an outright ban.

Trump has instructed attorney general Jeff Sessions to see if bump stocks can be banned through regulatory channels, although gun control advocates say that legislation is necessary.

And Trump has said he supports “comprehensive” background checks that appear to go beyond a NRA-endorsed bill that would incentive agencies to comply with the existing background check laws.

Speaking Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the premier annual event for grass-roots conservatives, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre dismissed calls for new legislation, saying they come from people who “fantasize about more laws stopping what other laws fail to stop.”

Still, Trump and the NRA are on the same page on at least one new proposal.

The president is advocating for school officials who have been trained in firearms safety to be armed to protect against potential shooters.

Gun control advocates oppose measures that would put more guns on school grounds. But conservatives say schools are “soft targets” that are attractive to shooters because they know they are gun-free zones.

“Every day young children are being dropped off at schools that are wide-open, soft targets for people bent on mass murder,” LaPierre said. “It should not be easier for a madman to shoot up a school than a bank or a jewelry store or some Hollywood gala.” 

Tags Donald Trump Gun control Jeff Sessions NRA
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