The National Rifle Association (NRA) responded to the White House’s televised meeting with top congressmen and senators on Wednesday by saying it did not support the new gun control measures that were proposed.
“While today’s meeting made for great TV, the gun-control proposals discussed would make for bad policy that would not keep our children safe,” Jennifer Baker, a spokesperson for the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, told the Washington Free Beacon. “Instead of punishing law-abiding gun owners for the acts of a deranged lunatic, our leaders should pass meaningful reforms that would actually prevent future tragedies.”
The NRA said the focus should instead be on making schools safer and keeping guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill.
“They can start by fixing the broken mental health system, strengthening background checks to ensure the records of people who are prohibited from possessing firearms are in the NICS system, securing our schools and preventing the dangerously mentally ill from accessing firearms,” Baker said. “Whether you love or hate firearms, we all want to send our children to safe schools and to live in safe communities.
“The National Rifle Association has always supported efforts to secure our schools and keep firearms out of the hands of those who are a danger to themselves or others, whether they are criminals or mentally ill. This can be accomplished without shifting the focus, blame, or burden onto safe, law-abiding gun owners.”
During Wednesday’s meeting, President Donald Trump suggested combining a number of initiatives favored by Democrats into a package deal and passing it into law.
At various points throughout the discussion, he advocated for extending federal background checks to sales of used guns between private individuals, banning those under 21 from purchasing certain kinds of rifles and shotguns in addition to the current handgun ban, considering an outright ban on so-called assault weapons, and seizing some people’s guns without or before due process. These are all proposals which the NRA and most Republican lawmakers have opposed in the past.
Trump also shot down suggestions from Republicans like House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.) on adding national gun-carry reciprocity, a top Republican gun priority, to any deal under consideration because he viewed it as impossible to pass. The president advocated for the removal of gun-free zones—which Republicans favor—as well, but he didn’t suggest it be included in the gun package he was seeking.
He also supported the Fix NICS legislation, which has broad bipartisan support, as a core component of a potential deal. The NRA lobbied to pass the Fix NICS legislation through the House as part of a package including national gun-carry reciprocity.
The gun rights group said it would continue to advocate for policies that it believes protect both innocent people and the Second Amendment.
“Doing everything we can as a nation to address the problem of dangerous people committing heinous acts is not inconsistent with the Second Amendment—the systemic failures of government to keep us safe reinforces the need for the Second Amendment,” Baker said. “We will continue to support legislative efforts to make our schools and communities safe and oppose gun control schemes that cannot keep us safe and only punish law-abiding Americans.”