U.S. President Donald Trump held a roundtable discussion on gun control Wednesday with a group of senators, during which he accused them of being “afraid” of the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun lobby.
At the bipartisan meeting, Trump said he would give “very serious thought” to a proposal to raise to 21 from 18 the age at which rifles such as the AR-15 — the gun used in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting — can be legally purchased.
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“I can say that the NRA is opposed to it, and I’m a fan of the NRA. There’s no bigger fan,” Trump said. But, he added, he and the NRA don’t have to agree on “everything.”
The provision is included in a bill that would mandate background checks to include online sales and gun shows. Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, one of the bill’s authors, told Trump that legislators didn’t address the age question in recent discussions in the Senate.
Trump replied, “You know why? Because you’re afraid of the NRA.”
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The bill, named for Toomey and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, failed to get the 60-vote minimum in the Senate in 2013 and again in 2015.
On Sunday, Toomey told NBC News that he was “skeptical” about the proposed change in the age limit “because the vast majority of 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds are law-abiding citizens who aren’t a threat to anyone.”
In 2013, the NRA said the Toomey-Manchin bill would “not prevent the next shooting” and would not “solve violent crime.”
During Wednesday’s meeting, Trump called for “one great piece of legislation” to address the gun problem and asked whether various suggestions from senators could be added to the basic background check bill.