Donald Trump appears to be backpedalling on gun control after the National Rifle Association insisted the President did “not want” to implement policies he had seemed to endorse.
The apparent U-turn comes after Mr Trump accused lawmakers of being “petrified” of the NRA, who had “great power” over them, but “less power over me”.
On Wednesday, the President shocked both allies and opponents after calling for a “beautiful” bill that would expand background checks on gun buyers, prevent mentally ill people from accessing firearms, and restrict teenagers from buying assault weapons.
Most surprisingly for gun rights proponents, Mr Trump said he supported giving law enforcement the ability to “take the guns first, go through due process second”.
But Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, suggested the President had reversed his position following a White House meeting, and wanted “safe schools, mental health reform and to keep guns away from dangerous people”.
“[Mr Trump and Mike Pence] support the Second Amendment, support strong due process and don’t want gun control,” he wrote on Twitter.
Later on Thursday evening, the President tweeted that it had been a “good (great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA”.
The comments will spark fear among Democrats and gun control supporters that the 71-year-old was doing what one Republican described as agreeing “with the last thing that was said to him”.
During a bipartisan meeting on school safety, Mr Trump repeatedly berated politicians for failing to act on gun control.
“Some of you people are petrified of the NRA. You can’t be petrified,” Mr Trump said. His comments suggested he was keen to break with the pro-gun lobby’s position on gun rights following the Parkland high school shooting in Florida that left 17 people dead.
Ben Sasse, a Republican senator for Nebraska, condemned Mr Trump’s initial comments supporting increased gun control.
“Strong leaders do not automatically agree with the last thing that was said to them,” he said. “We have the second amendment and due process of law for a reason.
“We’re not ditching any constitutional protections simply because the last person the President talked to today doesn’t like them.”
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