Trump predicts NRA will back raising age limit on gun purchases

Amid a national debate over U.S. gun laws in the wake of last week’s deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla., President Trump on Thursday pledged action and laid out his ideas for school safety — even as the National Rifle Association is resisting calls for change.

“No better time to discuss it than right now,” Trump said during a meeting with state and local officials at the White House. “I think we’re making a lot of progress.”

The president said he saw “a great feeling, including at the NRA,” and among legislators of both parties, in favor of action.

Specifically, he endorsed increasing the minimum age, which is currently 18, for buying certain firearms.

“It should all be at 21,” Trump said. “And the NRA will back it.”

The NRA has yet to signal for any changes to current gun laws. On Wednesday, the gun lobby said it opposed any new legislation increasing the age requirement on firearm purchases.

24 PHOTOS
The National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun rights supporters
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The National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun rights supporters
A gun rights demonstrator armed with a rifle walks past a sign memorializing the children and teachers killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, as protesters aligned with the Women's March hold a rally against the National Rifle Association at NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, U.S. July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre speaks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporters listen to U.S. President Donald Trump deliver remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Supporters wait for U.S. President Donald Trump to deliver remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporters wait for U.S. President Donald Trump to deliver remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Onlookers, including a man wearing a National Rifle Association (NRA) t-shirt, watch as a 95-by-50-foot American flag is unfurled on the side of an apartment complex, a replica of the "The Great Flag" that was spun, woven, dyed, constructed and displayed on the same building by Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in 1914, in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S., June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
NRA Executive Director Chris Cox (L) and Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre (R) welcome U.S. President Donald Trump (C) onstage to deliver remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
File Photo: NRA gun enthusiasts view Sig Sauer rifles at the National Rifle Association's annual meetings & exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. on May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Gun enthusiasts look over Smith & Wesson guns at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings and exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II/File Photo
James Bell from Nashville, TN, look over rifle scopes from Burris Riflescope at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings and exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II/File Photo
Gun enthusiasts poses for a picture with an FN MK 48 machine gun and a MK 19 grenade launcher at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings & exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Gun enthusiasts look over guns at FN America firearms at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings and exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Gun instructor Robert Allen (L) works with Eathan Hawkins (8) at the air gun range at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings and exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Indiana Governor Mike Pence addresses members of the National Rifle Association during their NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at their annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, May 20, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Attendees recite the pledge of allegiance before the National Rifle Association's NRA-ILA Leadership Forum during their annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, May 20, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Attendees visit the trade booths during the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Attendees visit the trade booths during the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Activists hold a protest and vigil against gun violence on the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook mass shooting, outside the National Rifle Association (NRA) headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia December 14, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Brendan Walsh looks at a rifle scope in the trade booths showroom during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 12, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
Fans wait in line to meet musician and supporter of the NRA, Ted Nugent, who was signing autographs during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 12, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
Musician and supporter of the NRA, Ted Nugent, signs autographs during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 12, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
Dave Verner looks at pistols and scopes in the trade booth area during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 11, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
Brett Throckmorten of Barnes Bullets shows Logan Wingo how to sight down an electronic rifle in the trade booth area during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, April 11, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
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The president said lawmakers must tackle the issue of mental health, calling the suspected gunman in the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a “sicko.”

Trump said he is pledging to take action on guns, “unlike” his predecessor, President Obama.

“For many years … people sitting in my position did not take action,” Trump said. “We’re going to take action.”

But Obama did take action, or tried to. Following the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., he created a task force to study possible actions and backed a bipartisan bill to expand background checks. But the legislation failed to pass the Republican-controlled Senate. Obama called it a “pretty shameful day for Washington.” In 2016, Obama announced a series of executive actions to reduce gun violence.

At the White House Thursday, Trump said he “called many senators” the night before to gauge their support for expanded background checks.

“They’re into doing background checks that they wouldn’t be thinking about maybe two weeks ago,” the president said.

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Florida lawmakers refuse to debate a gun control measure
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Florida lawmakers refuse to debate a gun control measure
Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and those supporting them react after the Florida House of Representatives vote down a procedural move to take a bill banning assault weapons out of committee and bring it to the floor for a vote on February 20, 2018 in Tallahassee, Florida, U.S. following last week's mass shooting on their campus. REUTERS/Colin Hackley
Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and those supporting them react as they watch the Florida House of Representatives vote down a procedural move to take a bill banning assault weapons out of committee and bring it to the floor for a vote on February 20, 2018 in Tallahassee, Florida, U.S. following last week's mass shooting on their campus. REUTERS/Colin Hackley TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Sheryl Acquaroli, (L), and Ashley Santoro, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School react as they watch the Florida House of Representatives vote down a procedural move to take a bill banning assault weapons out of committee and bring it to the floor for a vote on February 20, 2018 in Tallahassee, Florida, U.S. following last week's mass shooting on their campus. REUTERS/Colin Hackley
Rep. Kionne McGhee, D-Miami, raises his hand as part of a move to make members of the House of Representatives have their vote recorded during his request to have a bill banning assault rifles pulled from committee and brought immediately to the House for a vote at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida, U.S., February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Colin Hackley
Sen. Bobby Powell, D-Riviera Beach, looks on his computer at gun control bills moving through the Senate as he talks with students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and those that support their cause, following last week's mass shooting on their campus, in Tallahassee, Florida, U.S., February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Colin Hackley
Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School walk by a sign in the Senate office building on the way to speak with Florida state legislators, following last week's mass shooting on their campus, in Tallahassee, Florida, U.S., February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Colin Hackley
Students and parents from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School advocating for a change in gun control laws listen during a meeting with Sen. Bobby Powell, D-Riviera Beach, following last week's mass shooting on their campus, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida, U.S., February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Colin Hackley
Florence Yared, 17, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, waits in a hallway to speak with Florida state legislators about legislation that could prevent future tragedies, following last week's mass shooting on their campus, in Tallahassee, Florida, U.S., February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Colin Hackley
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Earlier Thursday, Trump doubled down on the suggestion he made at a meeting Wednesday with school shooting survivors and family members that teachers and administrators ought to be armed.

In a series of tweets, Trump suggested giving guns to “adept teachers with military or special training experience” — or about 20 percent of U.S. teachers, he said — so that they could “immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions.”

“Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this,” Trump added. “Far more assets at much less cost than guards. A ‘gun free’ school is a magnet for bad people. ATTACKS WOULD END!”

At the school safety meeting, Trump floated another idea: paying teachers “a little bit of a bonus” to carry guns.

“I want my schools protected just like I want my banks protected,” the president said. “We have to harden our sites.”

Trump said that for would-be killers, gun-free zones — such as those at U.S. schools — “is like going in for ice cream.”

“We need offensive as well as defensive,” he said. “If we don’t have offensive measures within these schools, you’re just kidding yourselves, folks. … Unless you’re going to have offensive capability, you’re wasting your time.”

25 PHOTOS
States with the toughest gun laws
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States with the toughest gun laws

24. Indiana

Grade: D-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

T-23. North Carolina

Grade: D-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)

T-23. New Hampshire

Grade: D

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

T-21. Virginia

Grade: D

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

T-21. Ohio

Grade: D

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

20. Nebraska

Grade: D

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via Getty Images)

19. Wisconsin

Grade: C-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo by John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images)

18. Nevada

Grade: C-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via Getty Images)

T-16. Michigan

Grade: C

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via Getty Images)

T-16. Iowa

Grade: C

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo by Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

15. Oregon

Grade: C

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

14. Colorado

Grade: C

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo)

13. Pennsylvania

Grade: C

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

12. Minnesota

Grade: C+

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via AOL)

11. Delaware

Grade: B

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via Getty Images)

10. Washington

Grade: B

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via Getty Images)

9. Rhode Island

Grade: B+

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo by Kenneth C. Zirkel via Getty Images)

8. Illinois

Grade: B+

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via REUTERS/Jim Young)

7. Hawaii

Grade: A-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via Getty Images)

T-5. New York

Grade: A-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

T-5. Maryland

Grade: A-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo credit BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

4. Massachusetts

Grade: A-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via Getty Images)

3. New Jersey

Grade: A-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo by Mark Makela for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

2. Connecticut

Grade: A-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via Getty Images)

1. California

Grade: A

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo credit MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

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Trump also said he sees active shooter drills, which have been commonplace in schools since the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, as a “very negative thing.”

“I don’t like it. I’d much rather have a hardened school,” Trump said. “I think it’s crazy. I think it’s very hard on children.”

Trump also turned his attention to other issues beyond school safety, including the Justice Department’s prosecution of MS-13 gang members.

“They’re killing people — not necessarily with guns, ’cause that’s not painful enough,” Trump said. “This is what they think. They want to do it painfully and they want to do it slowly. So they cut them up with knives. They don’t use guns, they use knives, because they want it to be a long, painful death.”

Trump deplored inaction by so-called sanctuary cities in California on assisting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in deporting MS-13 members. The president threatened to pull ICE from the state altogether.

“We’re getting no help from the state of California,” Trump said. “Frankly, if I wanted to pull our people from California, you would have a crime nest like you would never see.”

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