Sen. Dianne Feinstein was like a giddy schoolgirl as President Trump raised a few eyebrows in a meeting with bipartisan lawmakers discussing ways to end violence in schools.
In an hour-long televised meeting at the White House, the president surprised Democrats and even some Republicans with his support of some gun-control measures, getting Feinstein to visibly jump with excitement when he suggested her assault weapons ban proposal should be added to a bill under consideration.
With the meeting’s goal of finding common ground on the issues of gun control, Trump discussed a bill proposed in 2013 by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, in the aftermath of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Conn.
“Fellas, if you can all get together and we can get one great piece of legislation — people want to see something happen. It would be so beautiful to have one bill that everyone could support,” Trump said, eliciting a surprised look and smile from Feinstein.
Minnesota Democrat Sen. Amy Klobuchar was asking Trump about expanding background checks to cut domestic violence when the president questioned if Toomey could add the proposal as well as Feinstein’s to his bill.
“Dianne if you could add what you have – also and I think you can – into the bill,” Trump said as the California Democrat, sitting to the president’s left, seemed unable to contain her glee.
“Joe, are you ready?” a positively giddy Feinstein asked Toomey.
“Joe can you do that?” Trump asked the lawmaker, seeming to stun many in the room who, along with the president, have been recipients of large donations from the National Rifle Association.
Trump assured Feinstein, “I’ll help” as she continued to almost dance in her seat.
“I’m a big fan of the NRA. These are great people. These are great patriots. They love our country. But that doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything,” the president clarified.
“I think it’s time that a president stepped up. I’m talking Democrat and Republican presidents, they’ve not stepped up,” he added.
“We’re all going to lead. We are going to get this done in a bipartisan manner. I’m not worried about 60 votes. I really believe that 60 votes, 60% meaning, should be so easy. Should be 100%,” Trump continued, as Sen.Chris Murphy interrupted.
“I think you underestimate the power of the gun lobby,” the Connecticut Democrat said.
“They do have great power, I agree with that,” Trump replied. “They have great power over you people, they have less power over me. I don’t need it… We have to do what’s right. When it comes to mental health and other issues, I said, ‘We have to do what’s right.’ I’m telling you, I think they’re there. I think they’re there. Some of you people are petrified of the NRA. You can’t be petrified. They want to do what’s right.”
Trump then directly asked Toomey if the proposed bill included a provision for raising the age from 18 to 21 for purchasing rifles.
“It doesn’t make sense that I have to wait till I’m 21 to get a handgun, but I can get this weapon at 18,” Trump said. So I was just curious as to what you did in your bill?”
“We didn’t address it, Mr. President,” Toomey responded.
“You know why? ‘Cause you’re afraid of the NRA,” Trump shot back.
The NRA, on the other hand, did not seem to appreciate the president’s words or the meeting in general.
“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,” NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said in a statement, according to CNN. “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.”
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