WASHINGTON DC: The National Rifle Association (NRA) pushed back on Sunday against modest proposals by President Donald Trump and other Republicans to change US gun laws after a school shooting in Florida that killed 17 students and staff.
The powerful gun lobby group does not support Trump's
proposals to raise the age limit for buying certain types of
guns and to ban bump stocks that enable semi-automatic rifles to
shoot hundreds of rounds a minute, a spokeswoman said on ABC's
Delta, United Airlines become latest companies to cut NRA ties after Florida shooting
"The NRA doesn't back any ban," Dana Loesch said. Trump was endorsed by the NRA in his 2016 presidential election campaign and often trumpets his support for Americans' constitutional right to own guns. But the February 14 massacre at a Florida high school has
mobilised high school students to push for restrictions on gun
sales, spurred several companies to sever ties with the NRA and
energised gun-control activists.
As November congressional elections draw closer, Trump and
Republicans are under pressure to show they are responding to
concerns about school safety without angering supporters who
oppose gun control. Since the Florida shooting, Trump has declared support for raising the age limit to 21 from 18 for buying rifles.
The 19-year-old shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in
Parkland, Florida, had bought his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle
legally. "That's what the NRA came out and said, that's correct," Loesch said when pressed on whether the group opposes raising
the minimum age.
Trump also has asked the Justice Department to develop a
regulation that would effectively ban the sale of bump stocks,
an accessory used last year by a shooter who killed 58 people at
a Las Vegas outdoor concert, the deadliest attack by a single
gunman in US history.
Trump has also said he supports legislation to tighten background checks for gun buyers, although he has not provided specific details. Republican Senator Pat Toomey, a sponsor of a bill that
would require background checks for weapons sold at gun shows
and on the internet, said Trump's support could help advance
proposals that floundered in years passed.
"Our president can play a huge and in fact probably decisive
role in this. So I intend to give this another shot," Toomey
said on NBC's "Meet the Press." Legislation to close background checks loopholes failed to clear the 60-vote threshold in the US Senate after a shooter killed 26 children and teachers in 2012 at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
First on our list
Speaking at a White House dinner for the nation's governors on Sunday, Trump said his meetings with them during the coming week would focus on school safety after the 'horrible' Parkland shooting, describing the issue as "first on our list."
Tweaks to gun laws face an uphill battle among conservative
Republicans in Congress. On Sunday, Representative Thomas Massie
from Kentucky said he opposed changes to background check laws
and other restrictions on gun ownership. "I wish that background checks stopped criminals or stopped school shootings, but they don't," Massie told NBC.
Trump has strongly endorsed the idea - backed by the NRA in
the wake of the Newtown shooting - of arming trained teachers
with guns, a suggestion that has been dismissed as untenable by
many Democratic and Republican politicians. Loesch said the NRA believes individual schools should decide whether to arm teachers.
On Saturday, Trump said on Twitter the proposal would be left "up to states." Loesch sought to play down the emerging differences between
the NRA and the White House. "I know that people are trying to find daylight between President Trump and five million law-abiding gun owners," she said.
After shooting, students brace for emotional return to Florida school
"He's really looking for solutions ... so far nothing's been proposed yet." The president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, said in an interview
with NBC News during a visit to South Korea for the Winter
Olympics' closing ceremony that her father's suggestion for
arming teachers is "an idea that needs to be discussed."
But asked whether she, a mother of three children, would
consider providing teachers with firearms, she said: "To be
honest, I don't know. Obviously, there would have to be an
incredibly high standard for who would be able to bear arms in