President Trump told a group of lawmakers that they must do something to keep guns away from mentally ill individuals – even if that means raising the minimum age for rifle ownership to 21, Bloomberg reports.
His remarks appeared to contradict a CNN report from earlier in the week, which quoted anonymous White House aides saying Trump would soon walk back his support for raising the age limit.
But on Wednesday, in a surprise break with his Republican Congressional allies, Trump reportedly told lawmakers that easing gun owners’ ability to carry concealed weapons across state lines, a provision of the House-passed gun bill and the NRA’s top legislative priority, should be part of a separate bill. Per Bloomberg, this is a strategy favored by Democrats. The House bill combining background check provisions with the loosening of concealed carry rules has stalled in the Senate after passing the House. Instead, Trump said he supports the proposal from Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., which he says is best positioned to pass. Sen. Amy Klobuchar agreed that the Manchin-Toomey bill is a “good place to start.”
WATCH: President Trump: “I like taking the guns early … Take the guns first, go through due process second.” pic.twitter.com/aydEZdAGq0
— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 28, 2018
Trump predicted his plan would pass with broad support, suggesting that he plans to win over a sizable chunk of the Democratic caucus.
Trump told his audience that raising the ownership age is “something you have to think about,” Trump said. He added that “people don’t bring it up” because the NRA opposes the policy. Trump had initially claimed that he would convince the NRA to go along with it.
As the Hill pointed out, he also said he supports confiscating guns from mentally ill individuals, a position vociferously opposed by Republicans.
“I like taking the guns early like in this crazy man’s case that just took place in Florida … to go to court would have taken a long time,” Trump said at a meeting with lawmakers on school safety and gun violence.
“Take the guns first, go through due process second,” Trump said.
He also said mentally ill people shouldn’t have guns.
“A lot of people are saying ‘oh you shouldn’t be saying that’,” Trump said. “But I don’t want mentally ill people having guns.”
To be sure, states don’t need to enact the exact same restrictions, Trump said. But “what does have to be the same is the background checks and all of the data.”
Per Reuters, Trump urged lawmakers to pass a comprehensive gun control bill as the national conversation surrounding gun control – a conversation that was triggered by a shooting at Marjory Douglas Tillman High School in Parkland Fla. The shooting left 14 students and 3 faculty dead, and more than a dozen injured.
Rebutting accusations that he is beholden to the NRA, Trump added that gun lovers have less power over him than lawmakers.
Earlier today, Dick’s Sporting Goods said it is “going to take a stand” and announced it would permanently ban sales of the AR-15 – the rifle used by Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz and several other mass shooters – from its stores.
The meeting with lawmakers was his fourth “free-flowing gun policy discussion” since the Valentine’s Day massacre in Florida, according to Reuters.
“We’re going to come up with some ideas,” Trump said.
“Hopefully we can put those ideas in a very bipartisan bill. It would be so beautiful to have one bill that everybody can support, as opposed to – you know – 15 bills, everybody’s got their own bill.”
Seven senators and representatives were invited to Wednesday’s session. The group included Democrats and Republicans who, according to Reuters, have diverse views on gun control.
Republican Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who have proposed legislation to fix holes in the background check system for gun buyers, and their Democratic co-sponsors.
Trump also said he back Cornyn’s bill while urging senators to add more items to the bill to make it more comprehensive.