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Trump shifts on gun policy

  • In this March 10, 2018, photo, President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Atlantic Aviation in Moon Township, Pa. Weeks after prodding lawmakers to stand up to the National Rifle Association,Trump is backing off his call for increasing the minimum age to buy an assault weapon — an idea strongly opposed by the NRA. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) Carolyn Kaster

  • FILE - In this Feb. 28, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump speaks in the Cabinet Room of the White House, in Washington, during a meeting with members of congress to discuss school and community safety. With the president from left, Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas,, the president, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Not two weeks ago, Trump scolded a Republican senator for being “afraid of the NRA” and... Carolyn Kaster

  • In this Feb. 28, 2018, file photo, from left, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., participate in a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, in Washington, with President Donald Trump and members of congress to discuss school and community safety. Not two weeks ago, Trump scolded Toomey for being “afraid of the NRA” and declared that he would stand up to the powerful gun lobby and finally get results on... Carolyn Kaster



Associated Press
Monday, March 12, 2018

Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump wagged his finger at a Republican senator and scolded him for being “afraid of the NRA,” declaring that he would stand up to the powerful gun lobby and finally get results on quelling gun violence following last month’s Florida school shooting.

On Monday, Trump struck a very different tone as he backpedaled from his earlier demands for sweeping reforms and bowed to Washington reality. The president, who recently advocated increasing the minimum age to purchase an assault weapon to 21, tweeted that he’s “watching court cases and rulings” on the issue, adding that there is “not much political support (to put it mildly).”

Over the weekend, the White House released a limited plan to combat school shootings that leaves the question of arming teachers to states and local communities and sends the age issue to a commission for review. Just two days earlier, Trump had mocked commissions as something of a dead end while talking about the opioid epidemic. “We can’t just keep setting up blue-ribbon committees,” he said, adding that all they do is “talk, talk, talk.”

In a televised meeting with lawmakers on Feb. 28, Trump praised members of the gun lobby as “great patriots” but declared “that doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. It doesn’t make sense that I have to wait until I’m 21 to get a handgun, but I can get this weapon at 18.”

He then turned toward Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, and questioned why previous gun control legislation did not include that provision.

“You know why?” said Trump, answering his own question. “Because you’re afraid of the NRA, right? Ha ha.”

His words rattled some Republicans in Congress and sparked hope among some gun control advocates that, unlike after so many previous mass shootings, meaningful regulations would be enacted. But Trump appeared to foreshadow his change of heart with a tweet the very next night.

“Good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA!” the president wrote.

White House aides said Monday the president was focusing on achievable options, after facing significant opposition from lawmakers on a more comprehensive approach. Trump will back more modest pieces of legislation.