NRA rejects Trump’s call for partial gun ban and age restrictions
Pro-gun group set to pressurise US president if any move made to limit access to arms
A customer inspects a shotgun at a Cabela’s outlet in Scarborough, Maine. The National Rifle Association backed Donald Trump financially in his election. Photograph: Gretchen Ertl
US president Donald Trump looked set for a showdown with the National Rifle Association after the pro-gun group said it opposed the president’s call for a ban on certain gun devices and a proposal to raise the minimum age for buying some firearms to 21.
“The NRA doesn’t back any ban,” NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch said during an interview on ABC on Sunday, adding that the organisation also opposes raising the minimum age for firearm purchases.
Her comments appeared to be at odds with the stance of the president. In a phone interview on Fox News on Saturday night, he expressed confidence that the NRA would back new proposals that would be announced “very soon”.
“It’s time to get it done and get it done right,” Mr Trump said in an interview with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro. “Somebody who’s mentally ill should not have a weapon, should not have a gun.”
With Congress returning to session this week, Mr Trump plans to convene a meeting of lawmakers from both political parties this week to move forward with new gun legislation. The US president has said he backs a ban on “bump stocks” – devices attached to guns to mimic automatic fire and which were used by the Las Vegas shooter last October.
Florida school shooting
He has also suggested raising the minimum age for purchase of some weapons from 18 to 21. The 19-year-old suspect in the Florida school shooting on February 14th legally bought the AR15 rifle used in the attack.
In addition, the White House has pledged to strengthen background checks, though no specific details have yet been released. But the president is likely to come under intense pressure from the NRA, a strong supporter of his presidency. Several businesses cut ties with the group in the wake of the Florida school shooting which left 17 people dead, with hotels, banks and airlines cancelling special offers and discounts they offered to NRA members.
As Mr Trump and the First Lady prepared to host state governors for the annual governors ball at the White House on Sunday night, there were signs a growing number of governors were prepared to consider changes to gun legislation in the wake of the Parkland school shooting. Governors from across the country met in Washington this weekend for their national conference, a gathering that was overshadowed by the continuing controversy over the nation’s gun laws.
Rick Scott, the Republican governor of Florida, has already announced plans to reform the state’s gun legislation, including raising the minimum age for buying some firearms to 21. Attention also continued to focus on the actions of law enforcement officials during the gun rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas school amid reports several deputies remained outside the school building during the attack.
Broward county sheriff Scot Israel confirmed last week that Scot Peterson, the armed school resource officer assigned to the school, did not enter the building as the 19-year-old suspect opened fire in classrooms and corridors, killing 17 people.
He resigned from his position last week. But several media outlets reported over the weekend that at least three other deputies remained outside the school as the attack took place, a claim denied by Mr Israel during an interview on CNN on Sunday. “Our investigation to this point shows that during this horrific attack, while this killer was inside the school, there was only one law enforcement person, period, and that was former deputy Scot Peterson,” he said, though he did not rule out the possibility that other deputies could also be implicated.
His department is also facing criticism over its alleged failure to act on warnings about the suspect Nikolas Cruz, amid confirmation that it had received 18 calls about the suspect before the shooting.