White House walks back Trump gun control comments after his NRA meeting
The White House walked back several of President Trump’s comments on gun control Friday — hours after the commander-in-chief met with officials from the National Rifle Association.
Trump made no promises to NRA leaders during a Thursday night Oval Office meeting, but vowed to “continue to support the Second Amendment,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
Sanders sought to tame expectations after Trump’s wide array of promises and proposals, made in the wake of the country’s latest school shooting, on gun-related legislation.
Trump is “interested in improving” the background check system, but does not necessarily support universal checks favored by Democrats as he indicated during a sitdown with lawmakers earlier in the week.
“Not necessarily universal background checks, but certainly improving the background check system,” Sanders said.
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Trump vowed to present concrete proposals regarding gun measures by Friday, but the White House had not issued any statements that clarified the President’s shifting rhetoric by the early afternoon.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have told Trump that if he takes the lead that a comprehensive package of gun safety could likely pass Congress.
Trump stunned his fellow Republicans by calling for across-the-board changes to the nation’s gun laws following the Feb. 14 massacre in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead.
In a bizarre and freewheeling bipartisan meeting on Wednesday, he called for “comprehensive” gun control.
He pushed to raise the age for purchasing a rifle from 18 to 21 and said he was OK with taking “the guns first” from violent people and going “through due process second.”
He also called for expanding background checks and told House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) that a concealed-carry bill would never pass attached to legislation to encourage states to enter data into the national background checks database.
But Sanders was more cautious on Friday, saying the President wants to see what legislation is cooked up on Capitol Hill.
“Universal means something different to a lot of people,” Sanders said. “He certainly wants to focus and improve on the background check system.”
Late Thursday, Trump tweeted that he’d had a “Good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA!”
The executive director of the NRA, Chris Cox, also weighed in on the meeting, which wasn’t on Trump’s official schedule.
Cox shot down the idea that Trump is sincere about reform, saying that the President and Vice President Pence “support the Second Amendment, support strong due process and don’t want gun control.”
The NRA has called the bulk of the proposals discussed at the White House this week “bad policy” that would not keep people safe.