In a bizarre, free-flowing meeting with lawmakers Wednesday, President Trump put himself on pretty much all sides of the gun debate.
He called for hardening schools against attacks and declared himself “a big fan” of the National Rifle Association. And then he put a temporary kibosh on the NRA’s top legislative priority — an expansion of concealed carry rights — and complimented one of the most outspoken gun-control proponents, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, for having some "very good ideas."
He wants a legislative response to the latest mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., that's "comprehensive" — and, of course, "beautiful." And he promised lawmakers they'd be "popular" if they were "very powerful" on an expansion of background checks.
Here are some of the most amazing things Trump said:
1. The Trouble with Due Process
Trump liked an idea Vice President Pence promoted to give families and law enforcement greater ability to get a court order and collect all of a person's weapons if the individual is a potential danger to his or herself or others.
But he had one problem: Court takes "so long...to get the due process procedures."
"I like taking the guns early," he said. "Take the guns first, go through due process second."
A lack of due process was one of the arguments gun-rights advocates made against an Obama-era rule that would have barred gun ownership by some who were deemed mentally impaired by the Social Security Administration. Trump signed legislation overturning the rule last year.
2. Who’s afraid of the NRA?
Answer: According Trump, Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Penn., for one.
Trump wanted to know why background check legislation authored by Toomey and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., doesn’t raise the age for buying an AR-15 — like the one used in the Parkland shooting — from 18 to 21, the minimum age for buying a handgun. The NRA opposes increasing the age limit, but Trump said they should consider the move.
Toomey said the bill didn’t address it.
“You know why? Because you're afraid of the NRA, right?” Trump said. “A lot of people are afraid of that issue.”
3. Concealed Carry
Trump rejected repeated requests from House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., to consider including an expansion of concealed carry rights as part of a comprehensive bill. Scalise, the survivor of a shooting at congressional baseball game practice last year, said the NRA-backed legislation would make people safer.
"If you add concealed carry to this, you’ll never get it passed," Trump said. "We want to get something done."
The House already passed the bill alongside another measure designed to measure to boost authorities' reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, NICS. But concealed carry likely would have a tougher time passing the Senate, where it would need Democratic votes to pass.
4. 'I’m not into popularity'
Trump, while promoting an expansion of background checks, promised members that would make them "more popular."
“People are afraid to do background checks because you’re afraid of somebody,” he said. “I don’t care who’s endorsing you or not endorsing you. You’re going to be more popular if that’s what you’re into. I’m not into popularity, I’m into getting something done that’s good.”
5. It's Obama’s Fault
The Toomey-Manchin bill failed to advance in 2013. The authors had 54 votes when they needed 60.
When the president asked whether they had "presidential backup," Manchin said "that was our problem."
Toomey: "President Obama did support it, but..."
Trump: "But that was your problem."
Toomey: "There was a worry he wanted to go further, frankly, and that was a concern for some of our guys."