President Donald Trump told the nation’s governors, including Florida Gov. Rick Scott, that they don’t need to worry about the National Rifle Association when considering gun control policies the powerful group may oppose.
“Don't worry about the NRA, they're on our side,” Trump said.
Trump, who said he had lunch with the NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and chief lobbyist Chris Cox this weekend, said that several people in the room are “so scared” of the NRA but said that “sometimes” they’re going to have to fight the group.
“They think they're doing what's right, but sometimes we need to be tough,” he said.
Trump also said he would have rushed into Stoneman Douglas if he was there during the shooting and criticized the officer who stood outside. “I really believe I would have,” he said. “You never know until you’re tested.”
The nation’s governors met with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence during their annual meeting to Washington days after a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Scott, who credited Trump for creating momentum for change, told his colleagues that he had proposed several bills for the Florida legislature to consider, including $500 million to have significant law enforcement presence in every school in state.
"It's the most important thing we can do is harden these schools,” he said. “So we're going to do it."
Scott said he wants mental health counselors in every school to make sure all students can go through counseling as often as they want. "We're going to do it,” he said.
Trump and Scott have both proposed measures the NRA opposes, including raising the age to buy rifles to 21. Trump also told the governors his administration will take action on bump stocks and other devices that turn semi-automatic firearms into automatic weapons without Congress, called for a revitalization of mental institutions and said he wanted to make it easier for law enforcement to take away guns from mentally ill.
Trump signed a memorandum ordering Attorney General Jeff Sessions to craft regulations to ban “bump stocks” and other devices that turn semi-automatic firearms into automatic weapons.
Republicans and Democrats had called for bump stocks to be regulated after it was used by a shooter to kill 58 people at a music festival in Las Vegas in October. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives began reviewing the issue late last year.
No immediate action was taken. Some administration officials said they could not ban the sale of bump stocks without congressional action.
The White House said last week that Trump backs a bill to improve federal background checks for gun purchases.
The legislation was crafted after a gunman bought a weapon used in a mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, despite a domestic violence conviction The legislation does not expand background checks to more purchases but rather requires state and federal officials to do a better job of reporting pertinent details to the national instant background check system.
Trump met with students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas and local leaders last week as part of a series of events scheduled to tackle school safety, what Trump is now describing a “top priority.”
Franco Ordonez contributed.