Members of the National Rifle Association reportedly feel betrayed by US President Donald Trump’s about-face on gun control, saying it was “punishing innocent Americans and stripping from them constitutional rights.”
Following the February 14 school shooting in Florida, which killed 17 students and staff, Trump called for stricter background checks and a ban on bump stock devices that enable guns to fire like automatic weapons. He also backed more controversial ideas, including increasing the minimum age for the purchase of assault weapons from 18 to 21, as well as arming teachers.
After a televised bipartisan meeting on school safety that he led at the White House Wednesday, the president tweeted his support for tighter controls.
Many ideas, some good & some not so good, emerged from our bipartisan meeting on school safety yesterday at the White House. Background Checks a big part of conversation. Gun free zones are proven targets of killers. After many years, a Bill should emerge. Respect 2nd Amendment!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 1, 2018
Trump also suggested letting law enforcement confiscate a person’s guns without a court order.
Members of the NRA, which spent more than $30 million on Trump’s election campaign, felt betrayed and shocked, Britain’s The Guardian reported.
“I thought it made for really good TV but I thought some of what was discussed is going to make for really bad policy,” NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch told Fox News.
“We’re talking about punishing innocent Americans and stripping from them constitutional rights without due process,” she said.
Dave Koppel, an NRA member from Denver, Colorado, said, “the vast majority will be appalled,” adding that “every word of it was a betrayal.”
Texan NRA member Joe Biggs, who runs the right-wing website Rogue Right, slammed Trump’s suggestions.
“That’s the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Hopefully he was just having a momentary brain fart, a lapse of judgment,” he said, according to the Guardian. “Hopefully someone pulled him into the back and said, ‘You’ve just lost half your base by saying something that stupid.'”
Trump held a meeting Thursday with top NRA officials, which he said went very well.
Good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 2, 2018
The group’s executive director, Chris Cox, also tweeted about the meeting.
I had a great meeting tonight with @realDonaldTrump & @VP. We all want safe schools, mental health reform and to keep guns away from dangerous people. POTUS & VPOTUS support the Second Amendment, support strong due process and don’t want gun control. #NRA #MAGA
— Chris Cox (@ChrisCoxNRA) March 2, 2018
On Thursday, Trump phoned Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania to express support for his proposal on background checks for gun purchases. Toomey and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia wrote bipartisan legislation on the subject and Trump appears to consider it the main bill Congress should build on.
The bill would broaden background checks to include pre-purchase reviews for online and gun show sales. It failed in the Senate after the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut.