WASHINGTON — President Trump said at a White House meeting with state and local officials that “there’s a great feeling, including at the NRA, including with Republican senators, and hopefully Democrat senators and congressmen” that “we want to get something done” on school safety.
The meeting, which included Parkland, Fla., Mayor Christine Hunschofsky and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, came a day after Trump met with school shooting survivors and relatives for a “listening session” that included discussion on raising the age to buy rifles to 21.
“The Parkland shooting is just horrible; so bad for so many people and so bad for our country — families who have lost their children in school shootings and local community members of Washington, D.C., who want to make sure that every child is safe at school. Having a lot of problems in Washington, D.C.,” Trump said today. “I listened to their heartbreaking stories, asked them for their ideas and pledged to them that we will take action. Unlike, for many years, where people sitting in my position did not take action, they didn’t take proper action, they took no action at all, we’re going to take action.”
Trump said the discussion was focused on security measures at campuses and addressing mental health issues.
He segued into gang crime, reflecting on Salvadoran gang MS-13: “Not necessarily with guns, because that’s not painful enough. This is what they think. They want to do it more painfully and they want to do it slowly. So they cut them up with knives. They don’t use guns, they use knives because they want it to be a long, painful death to people that had no idea this was coming.”
“Our people are much tougher,” he added of law enforcement. “They go in there, they grab them by the neck. There’s no games being played.”
“…So we’re working on getting violent offenders off the streets and guns out of the hands of the dangerous criminals. There’s nothing more important than protecting our children.”
Trump said that after Wednesday’s discussion he called “many senators… many congressmen” and “they’re into doing background checks that they wouldn’t be thinking about maybe two weeks ago.”
“We’re going to do strong background checks. We’re going to work on getting the age up to 21 instead of 18. We’re getting rid of the bump stocks. And we’re going to be focusing very strongly on mental health, because here’s a case of mental health,” he added. “…We’re going to be talking seriously about opening mental health institutions again. In some cases, re-opening.”
During the meeting, as Florida Department of Education Commissioner Pam Stewart talked about active shooter drills that help prepare staff and students for worst-case scenarios, “I think that’s a very negative thing to be talking about, to be honest with you. I don’t like it. I’d much rather have a hardened school. I don’t like it. I wouldn’t want to tell my son that you’re going to participate in an active shooter drill. And I know some of them actually call it that. I think it’s crazy, I think it’s very bad.”
Trump said he spoke with the NRA and the gun-lobbying group “is ready to do things — people like to blame them.”
“It should all be at 21… and the NRA will back it,” he said of age restrictions on long guns.
The NRA issued a statement Wednesday opposing raising the buying age from 18 to 21. Pressed on whether he was ready to take on the NRA, Trump responded, “I don’t think I’ll be going up against them. I really think the NRA wants to do what’s right. I mean, they’re very close to me, I’m very close to them, they’re very, very great people. They love this country. They’re patriots. The NRA wants to do the right thing. I’ve spoken to them often in the last two days, and they want to do the right thing. They’re going to do the right thing, I have no doubt in my mind.”
“It’s not a battle; I think the NRA wants to do the right thing,” he added.