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Trump says firearms should sometimes be confiscated from US citizens without due process: 'Take the guns first'

President's remarks contrary to fundamental principles held by supporters of constitutional rights to bear arms

Clark Mindock
New York
Wednesday 28 February 2018 22:11 GMT
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Donald Trump at school safety meeting: 'take the guns first, go through due process second'

Donald Trump has indicated his support for confiscating firearms from certain dangerous people even if it violates their legal rights, in comments guaranteed to enrage a large section of his support.

In remarks almost unthinkable for a modern Republican president, he told senators at the White House to discuss general school safety: "Take the firearms first and then go to court.

"I like taking the guns early, like in the crazy man's case... take the guns first, go through due process second."

Mr Trump was responding to comments from Vice President Mike Pence that families and local law enforcement should have more tools to report potentially dangerous individuals with weapons.

“Allow due process so no one’s rights are trampled, but the ability to go to court, obtain an order and then collect not only the firearms but any weapons,” Mr Pence said.

“Or, Mike, take the firearms first, and then go to court,” Mr Trump responded before adding his comments about "taking the guns early".

The president's statement is the latest idea to be presented following the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida where 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School two weeks ago.

He has also voiced support for raising the minimum age to buy a rifle to 21 from 18, and for allowing teachers to carry weapons in school if they qualify for concealed carry permits.

It is not clear how serious the President might be about his comments, as he frequently offers up potential solutions to problems only for those comments to be rolled back by Republicans and White House staffers. Even so, the idea does appear to be at least somewhat in line with potential efforts to strengthen federal background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those with known mental illnesses.

Regardless of the sincerity, the comments are likely to be met with anger from members of the National Rifle Association (NRA), many of whom work diligently to protect Second Amendment rights and oppose most if not all proposals for individual firearm restrictions.

Gun control has been a heavily debated topic since the shooting two weeks ago, pushed forward by teenage survivors of that Valentine's Day massacre. Those students, almost immediately after the shooting, seized upon the media coverage of the shooting to champion pro-gun control messages, promising that theirs would be the last mass school shooting.

Since then, Mr Trump has conducted meetings with stakeholders in the debate, consistently saying that he would like to give qualified teachers the option to bring guns to school, and for a "hardening" of schools so that gun violence is much harder to carry out.

That has included at least one meeting with survivors last week, when he hosted a listening session with parents and survivors of the Stoneman Douglas shooting, alongside survivors and family from past mass shootings.

One of Mr Trump's first actions following the shootings regarding gun control was to announce that he had instructed his Justice Department to begin to implement a ban on so-called "bump stock" weapons accessories, which allow semi-automatic rifles to shoot at near-automatic speeds.

The suspected shooter in the Parkland massacre did not use a bump stock. But, the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history did employ such a device when 58 people were killed in Las Vegas late last year.

It is unclear if Mr Trump will be able to ban the accessory, however, as doing so was contemplated by former President Barack Obama's administration, but ultimately determined to be an unlawful idea.

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