Trump backs NRA as 'great American patriots' amid Florida shooting backlash over gun control

'They love our Country and will do the right thing,' the president says

Emily Shugerman
New York
Thursday 22 February 2018 15:37
comments
The longtime head of the National Rifle Association is allegedly under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service for possible tax fraud, according to reports.
The longtime head of the National Rifle Association is allegedly under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service for possible tax fraud, according to reports.

Donald Trump has called leaders of the National Rifle Association "great people" amid backlash against the organisation following a school shooting in Florida.

"What many people don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, is that Wayne, Chris and the folks who work so hard at the @NRA are Great People and Great American Patriots," Mr Trump tweeted, referring to NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and NRA Institute for Legislative Action principal strategist Chris Cox.

The missive came as part of a Thursday-morning tweet storm in which Mr Trump suggested several new gun control policies in the wake of the Florida shooting, which left 17 students and staff members dead. Many of the student survivors have begun to advocate for more gun control in recent days, focusing much of their attention on the pro-gun lobbying efforts of the NRA.

In his tweets on Thursday, Mr Trump proposed expanding background checks for gun purchases, raising the minimum age for such purchases to 21, and ending the sale of "bump stocks" – devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to acts as automatics.

The president suggested that the NRA would follow his lead, tweeting: "They love our Country and will do the right thing."

It is unclear whether this will be the case. The NRA's lobbying wing has strongly opposed expanding background checks in the past. The day before Mr Trump's tweets, the group issued a statement condemning efforts to raise the minimum age for gun purchases.

In his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, Mr LaPierre himself criticised efforts to enhance gun control, warning the audience of conservative leaders that Democrats want to "get rid of the second amendment".

"Their solution is to make you – all of you – less free," he said.

Florida shooting survivor asks Marco Rubio if he'll stop taking donations from the NRA

Mr LaPierre argued against interviewing buyers before they purchase a gun, and against restrictions on gun purchases in general. Instead, the executive suggested putting armed security in schools across the country. He did not go as far as to endorse Mr Trump's idea – suggested at a meeting with school shooting survivors the day before – to give weapons to teachers.

"The NRA does care," Mr LaPierre insisted. "We at the NRA are Americans who continue to mourn, and care, and work every day at contributing real solutions to this very real problem."

The NRA spend more than $5m lobbying for guns rights in 2017, according to OpenSecrets.org. Among other things, the group lobbied for bills to repeal bans on gun silencers, reduce the amount of information available for background checks, and make concealed-carry permits valid across the country.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments