Trump's Gun Stance a Struggle for Congress, NRA - NBC Bay Area
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Trump's Gun Stance a Struggle for Congress, NRA

Without a clear path forward for any legislation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shelved the gun debate, for now, saying the Senate would turn next week to other measures



    Trump Holds Bipartisan Meeting on Gun Legislation

    President Trump held an hour-long bipartisan discussion to address gun control and other measures that lawmakers can take to prevent mass shootings.

    (Published Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018)

    Action on gun legislation has skidded to a halt in Congress — not for a lack of bipartisan proposals, but because President Donald Trump's stunning shift on gun policy left some in his party confused, irritated and scrambling to figure out what to do next.

    Republicans squirmed over Trump's call for stricter gun laws after the assault on a Florida high school, while Democrats seized on the opening to reach beyond a modest measure gaining traction in Congress. They unveiled a more ambitious priority list, with expanded background checks and even a politically risky ban on assault weapons.

    The tug of war over the appropriate response on the school shooting remains far from settled.

    Late Thursday, Trump tweeted that he'd had a "Good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA!"

    The executive director of the National Rifle Association, Chris Cox, also tweeted about the meeting, saying Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and the NRA "want safe schools, mental health reform and to keep guns away from dangerous people." Cox added that Trump and Pence "support the Second Amendment, support strong due process and don't want gun control."

    The NRA has called the bulk of the proposals discussed at the White House this week "bad policy" that would not keep people safe.

    White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday that she believed Trump had arranged the NRA meeting and that his position on guns had not changed since Wednesday. Asked if Trump had made any specific promises, Sanders said "only that he'll continue to support the Second Amendment."

    Sanders said Trump had spoken to Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan Thursday and that he, for the moment, supports an incremental proposal from Sens. John Cornyn and Chris Murphy, though he could possibly go beyond that.

    She said Trump wanted to strengthen background checks, but did not commit to universal background checks. She added that while Trump "conceptually" supports age limits to purchase certain weapons, "he also knows there's not a lot of broad support for that."

    She elaborated on "Fox and Friends," saying she doesn't "think the NRA has had concerns with this president. He's been very committed to supporting the Second Amendment but also looking for ways that we can promote school safety and reduce gun violence. ... The president's made clear that he wants to talk to all of the big stakeholders in this process."

    Start-Up Create Bulletproof Shelters for Classrooms

    [NATL] Start-Up Create Bulletproof Shelters for Classrooms

    With gun violence an ever-looming concern with school officials and parents, start-ups like Shelter in Place are starting to create and design bulletproof shelters as a way to keep children safe. Terry Shaw, superintendent of the Healdton school district, explains why these shelters are necessary. (Video courtesy Shelter in Place)

    (Published Thursday, March 1, 2018)

    Without a clear path forward for any legislation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shelved the gun debate, for now, saying the Senate would turn next week to other measures. McConnell had been preparing to push ahead with an incremental proposal from Sens. John Cornyn and Chris Murphy, but even that measure faced some GOP opposition.

    "I'm hoping there's a way forward," he told reporters.

    Congress is under pressure to act after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting last month that left 17 dead. Lawmakers had been making incremental progress on a bill to boost participation in the existing federal background check bill.

    But after Trump's pronouncements this week, that legislation hardly mattered. Trump panned the bipartisan bill as little more than a building block for the "beautiful" and "comprehensive" legislation he envisioned would protect Americans from mass shootings.

    "Many ideas, some good & some not so good," Trump tweeted Thursday, singling out background checks. "After many years, a bill should emerge."

    Trump suggested — but did not declare — his support for a more sweeping background check bill that would require review of firearm purchases online and at gun shows. The measure, from Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has found new momentum since it was first introduced after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that left 20 children dead.

    The president reached out to Toomey on Thursday, after the senator endured the brunt of Trump's public criticism of lawmakers as "afraid" of the NRA, and encouraged him to pursue the bill.

    The senator told Trump his backing would be needed to build support. "He wants to be helpful," Toomey told The Associated Press.

    Amid the shifting debate, the president convened yet another meeting on school safety, this time with school shooting survivors and family members of victims, and the White House considered releasing the president's list of legislative priorities.

    Beyond background checks, the president wants to use an executive order to bar the use of bump stock devices that enable guns to fire like automatic weapons. And he backs more controversial ideas, including increasing the minimum age for the purchase of assault weapons from 18 to 21, which is opposed by the NRA, and arming certain teachers, which the gun lobby supports.

    Lawmakers were frustrated by Trump's comments. Cornyn insisted his bill with Murphy, a Connecticut Democrats, was "our best and only option" for passage.

    The Texas Republican dismissed Wednesday's "brainstorming" session at the White House — calling it "Legislating 101" — and said he was not waiting for the president to produce a plan.

    Classes Resume at Florida School, Site of Deadly Shooting

    [NATL-MI] Classes Resume at Parkland School Shooting Site

    NBC 6's Julia Bagg has more as students will return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School two weeks to the day after 17 people were killed.

    (Published Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018)

    "Obviously, he's important," Cornyn said about Trump. "But it's our job to write the legislation and he either vetoes it or he signs it."

    Democrats wasted no time quickly outlining their top three priorities: background checks, the ability to take guns away from those who pose a "clear danger," and at least a debate on banning assault weapons like the AR-15 used at the Florida high school.

    "Not every Democrat will agree with every piece, but my caucus is prepared to provide a very large number of votes to get these passed," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "But we can't do it alone."

    Without clear leadership, Republicans were outwardly divided over what to do next, as their offices are being flooded with calls on both sides of the issue.

    Several senators doubted Trump would be able to move an intensely partisan Congress to act on new gun laws.

    "I love my president, but I just respectfully disagree with him on this issue," said Sen. John Kennedy, R-La. "So far, there's been a lot of chopping, but I don't see any chips flying, and I'm not sure that's going to change."

    Fla. High School Student Thanks First Responders for Saving Her Life

    [NATL] Fla. High School Student Thanks First Responders for Saving Her Life

    Student Maddy Wilford got emotional when thanking everyone who helped her after she was severely injured in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

    (Published Monday, Feb. 26, 2018)

    Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman suggested that even if the Senate can find agreement, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Ohio, will face a tougher legislative lift in the House.

    "There are some pretty strong views," Portman said. "Trust me, I'm hearing from my Second Amendment supporters and my ban-the-gun supporters. They're very concerned on both sides."

    And some Republicans worked in the opposite direction, introducing legislation to expand gun owners' rights and forcefully criticizing Trump's suggestion that the federal government could take away guns without due process.

    "Is anyone ok with this, because I'm sure as hell not," Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., tweeted Thursday. He produced a bill to lower the handgun purchase age requirement to 18.

    White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said conversations are "ongoing."

    "It's going to be an ongoing process and something that we don't expect to happen overnight," she said.

    First Responders Tell Their Stories After Fla. Shooting

    [NATL-MI] First Responders Tell Their Stories After Parkland Shooting

    NBC 6's Michael Spears reports on the stories shared by the first responders who reached the Parkland school where a gunman took 17 lives.

    (Published Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018)

    Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and Alan Fram contributed to this report.