Washington: US President Donald Trump on Wednesday met a bipartisan group of lawmakers to discuss a legislative package on improving school safety and gun control measures.
“It was an honour to welcome Bipartisan members of Congress for a discussion on SAFE schools and SAFE communities. As we continue to mourn the loss of so many precious young lives in Parkland, we are determined to turn our grief into action,” the President tweeted, confirming the meeting.
Trump in the meeting accused members of Congress of being afraid of the National Rifle Association (NRA), as he called for an increase in the minimum age for buying a rifle.
The discussion follows the February 14 shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 persons dead and several others injured.
The incident once again reopened a national debate over gun laws.
“[The NRA] has great power,” Trump said. “They have great power over you people. They have less power over me. I don’t need it. What do I need? But I’ll tell you, they are well-meaning … We have to do what is right.”
The members of Congress have been anxious to find a solution to prevent mass shootings after an alleged 19-year-old gunman opened fire at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school.
On the first day, students resumed their lessons following the shooting, several legislators gathered at the White House to discuss school safety and legislation aimed at combating gun violence.
A proposal drafted by Republican Senator Pat Toomey and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin primarily focused on expanding background checks for gun purchases.
Trump asked Toomey about a proposal to raise the age limit for purchasing assault weapons from 18 to 21, a measure the NRA does not support.
“Now, this is not a popular thing in terms of the NRA, but I’m saying it anyway,” Trump said. “Right now, you have to wait to buy a handgun until you’re 21, but you can buy the type of weapon used in a school shooting at 18. I can say the NRA is opposed to it… These are great patriots, they love our country, but that doesn’t mean we have to agree on it.”
Toomey said the age issue was not addressed in his bill with Manchin.
“You know why because you’re afraid of the NRA,” the President responded.
The Manchin-Toomey bill, which has been circulating since 2013, is different from the more limited “Fix NICS” bill from Republican Senator John Cornyn and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy.
The Cornyn-Murphy bill offers financial incentives for state and local governments to report information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Democrats, opposing the bill, say it is not meaningful enough to address gun safety in an era when shootings have become normal.
Meanwhile, a succession of Republicans said they were unwilling to move ahead on anything but the most modest proposals.
Trump urged members of Congress on Wednesday to come up with a comprehensive gun bill – but legislators doing so is likely to hamper any ability to get enough support to actually pass the measure.(ANI)