UPDATE: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) claimed that President Donald Trump “misspoke” when he said he’d rather “take the guns first” from mentally ill owners or those who pose a threat to society and deal with due process later.
Flake was in attendance at the bipartisan meeting on school safety, but he basically dismissed Trump’s “take the guns” remark and urged everyone else to do the same.
“Anything we have introduced in the Congress respects due process,” Flake said. “It was a bit astonishing to hear the language there, and people around the table were shaking their heads, but you can chalk that up to that he misspoke. Let's move ahead. It was a lot of excitement afterward that he might actually lead on this, and we need that.”
Despite his apparent disregard for the sentiments Trump expressed during the meeting, Flake maintained that Congress won’t come to any conclusions on what to do about guns and school safety without Trump leading the charge.
“His leadership here is really critical if it's going to get through the House or Senate,” Flake said. “I do think there's a better chance the president will lead and really get out front on this."
Perhaps Flake is in denial about where his president stands on the issue because it doesn't align with his own agenda. Nevertheless, Trump — the self-proclaimed stable genius — likely knew exactly what he was saying and meant it.
Stunning Republican and Democrat lawmakers alike, President Donald Trump appeared to advocate certain gun control measures during a bipartisan meeting.
He even told Republicans they were afraid of the National Rifle Association (NRA) — to their faces.
All of it was, of course, shocking coming from Trump for two major reasons. First, his party and the NRA, for years, have opposed even the slightest suggestion for adopting gun control in the United States. Second, Trump was the biggest beneficiary of NRA donations during the 2016 election cycle with his campaign raking in over $31 million from the powerful gun lobby.
Therefore, the unscripted statements coming from Trump are too good to be true.
Are they, then?
Well, yes and no.
Here's the thing: Trump indeed said he wants to "take the guns first" but from mentally ill people without having to wait to go to the court first.
“The police saw that he was a problem, they didn’t take any guns away,” Trump said, referencing the Parkland shooting suspect, Nikolas Cruz, about whom several tipsters had warned law-enforcement prior to the rampage.
“Now that could have been policing, but they should have taken them away anyway, whether they had the right or not... Take the guns first, go through due process second," he added.
So, while Trump was, in a way, calling for a certain gun control measure, he was still reiterating his same-old stance of holding mental health responsible for shootings.
In addition, Trump immediately shot down Republican Rep. Steve Scalise's proposal to expand concealed carry reciprocity, which would allow an individual to carry concealed weapons from across states — also a top NRA priority.
However, the president made it clear to Scalise that it would never pass.
“I think that maybe that bill will someday pass," Trump said. "But it should pass as a separate.”
The president also chastised Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) for being “afraid” of the NRA.
Sure, Trump opposed concealed carry reciprocity but Trump also again called for more guns in schools because, according to him, shooters are "cowards" and would fear killing people if those inside schools are armed.
One other exchange worth mentioning from the session was the one between Trump and California Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
The president appeared to be unaware of the fact that AR-15 assault rifles can easily be purchased from retail stores in the U.S.
When Feinstein asked Trump what his plans were regarding the “weapons of war,” he said it was a black-market issue.
“The problem, Dianne,” he stated, “is that these aren’t where you walk into a store and buy them.”
“Oh no,” Feinstein corrected him. “You can go into a store and you can buy an AR-15.”
“You can,” Trump repeated, rather awkwardly.
“You can buy a TEC-9, you can buy all these weapons,” said Feinstein.
Overall, Trump gave mixed signals on his approach toward gun control during the riveting meeting. While he appeared to be advocating less guns in some places, he also endorsed adding more guns to other cases.
The entire country is still as clueless as to what sort of gun legislation he would eventually support and sign into law.