Later in the meeting, Vice President Pence attempted to walk those comments back, explaining the process of how states could take steps to confiscate guns from dangerous individuals that would go through the courts and observe due process. He was interrupted by his boss.
“Or Mike, take the firearms first and then go to court,” Trump interjected. “That’s another system.”
“Take the guns first, go through due process second,” the president added.
Rejecting concealed carry
Trump also surprised members of his party by coming out against a top Republican and NRA priority, reciprocity across state lines for gun owners with concealed-carry permits, because it wouldn’t pass the Senate. (The House passed a standalone bill in December.)
After Trump agreed that it would be a good idea to include language from Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s bill keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, suggested with a wink that Trump hear from Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., on the importance of the concealed-carry reciprocity. After Scalise spoke in support of concealed-carry reciprocity, Trump firmly rejected the idea of including it in a comprehensive bill.
“You know I’m your biggest fan in the whole word, right?” said Trump. “I think that maybe that bill will someday pass, but it should pass as a separate.”
Manchin, Toomey and Obama
Trump told Senators Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., that he hadn’t “heard a lot about their bill” and wanted a summary of it. Manchin-Toomey is the most high-profile gun legislation of this decade. The measure, which proposed strengthening background checks, failed to pass in 2013 in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting. It was supported by President Obama, who called the day the bill fell in the Senate “shameful.”
“You didn’t have a lot of presidential backup,” Trump said Wednesday, referring to his predecessor.
“President Obama did support it,” said Toomey.
“But that was your problem,” said Trump, apparently ignoring Toomey’s reply.
Raising the age limit for purchasing assault rifles
In another odd moment, Trump brought up the potential for raising the age limit on buying assault rifles, refused to commit to signing a bill that did so, then asked for credit for suggesting the idea. Trump pointed out — despite saying his proposal wouldn’t be a popular thing among the NRA — that the age limit on handguns was 21 but you could buy an assault rifle at age 18.
“I think it’s something you have to think about,” Trump told Toomey and Manchin, suggesting they consider raising the age limit in their bill.
“Would you sign it?” asked Feinstein.
“I’ll tell you what,” said Trump, “I’d give it a lot of consideration. I’m the one bringing it up, and a lot of people don’t even want to bring it up because they’re afraid to bring it up.”