Donald Trump Backs Down From Sweeping Gun Law Changes After Two Meetings With NRA

Once again the President changes his stance.

Donald Trump has backed down from making the sweeping changes to US gun laws he mooted in the wake of the Florida school shooting last month and will instead support a modest set of fixes.

Opting for a plan the administration officials described as “pragmatic,” Trump backs legislation proposed in Congress aimed at providing more data for the background check system - a database of people who are not legally allowed to buy guns, reports Reuters.

More contentious proposals, such as raising the minimum age for buying guns to 21 from 18, or requiring background checks for guns bought at gun shows or on the internet, will be studied by a commission headed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the officials said.

Trump speaking at the NRA leadership forum in 2016.
Trump speaking at the NRA leadership forum in 2016.
John Sommers II / Reuters

The change of heart is in stark contrast to a combative televised meeting where he chided lawmakers for being afraid of the National Rifle Association (NRA), one of the most powerful lobbies in the US.

Trump had embraced suggestions to close loopholes for gun buyers seeking to avoid the background check system, raise the age limit for buying rifles, and find ways to temporarily seize guns from people reported to be dangerous.

The day after he met with the NRA, one of two private meetings held at the White House and has since softened his stance.

He had vowed to address mental health issues after the shooting, but his administration’s recommendations for reforms included no concrete details, other than reviewing health and education privacy laws.

Trump has historically been in favour of gun control but seems to have dramatically changed his tune since taking office.

In ‘The America We Deserve’ published in 2000, he said: “The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions.

And after the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, he tweeted in support of President Obama’s calls for stricter laws.

But on the election campaign in 2016 Trump spoke at the NRA leadership forum he transformed into a pro-gun evangelist, telling the crowd: “Hillary wants to disarm vulnerable Americans in high-crime neighbourhoods.

“Whether it’s a young single mom in Florida or a grandmother in Ohio, Hillary wants them to be defenceless, wants to take away any chance they have of survival. . . . And that’s why we’re going to call her ‘Heartless Hillary’.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called Trump’s plan “tiny baby steps designed not to upset the NRA” and said Democratic senators would push for broader measures.

Trump has now embraced a proposal from John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican, and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, which is supported by many but not all Republicans.

“We believe this legislation is important, is useful in improving the background check system - and can pass virtually immediately if there is not obstruction in Congress,” a senior administration official said on a conference call.

Trump will call on state governments to allow law enforcement officials to obtain court orders to temporarily seize guns from people reported to be dangerous, officials said.

The administration will provide technical help to state governments looking to pass those laws.

It will be up to the commission led by DeVos to study an assortment of other ideas, such as rating systems for violent entertainment, best practices for school buildings and security, and ideas for improving mental health services.

Trump has also backed a ban on “bump stocks,” accessories that enable semi-automatic rifles to fire hundreds of rounds a minute. Bump stocks were used in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, which took place in October in Las Vegas.

The President has also said he believes armed teachers would deter school shootings and better protect students when they happen.

On Saturday, the Department of Justice formally submitted a regulation to ban bump stocks that would not need congressional approval.


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