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Trump shocks Republicans, calls for comprehensive gun control legislation

His move came in the wake of a wave of national activism in support of firearms restrictions after a mass shooting at a Florida high school left 17 people dead.

world Updated: Mar 01, 2018 23:06 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Washington
US President Donald Trump,National Rifle Association,Republicans
US President Donald Trump with senators John Cornyn and Dianne Feinstein at the White House.(Reuters)

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday called for comprehensive gun control legislation with a “strong” emphasis on background checks and accused lawmakers — especially Republicans — of being “petrified” of the powerful gun lobby led by the National Rifle Association.

In a live telecast of a White House meeting with leaders of both parties, Trump urged the lawmakers to enact background checks at gun shows and on the internet to prevent mentally ill people from purchasing firearms, step up security at schools, and to increase the age at which people could legally buy guns.

His move came in the wake of a wave of national activism in support of firearms restrictions after a mass shooting at a Florida high school left 17 people dead.

“We want to pass something great, and to me the something great has to be where we prevent it from happening again,” Trump said. He even suggested taking guns away from those with mental health issues. “Take the guns first, go through due process second,” he said.

His embrace of gun control stunned Republicans, with Trump accusing the NRA of having “great power over you people”. He said: “I’m a big fan of the NRA, but that doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything.”

John Cornyn, the number two Senate Republican who was present at the discussion, told the Washington Post: “I thought it was fascinating television and it was surreal to actually be there.”

The White House was scheduled to present a list of Trump’s policy decisions on the issue on Thursday.

However, critics cautioned against raising hopes. They pointed to a similar White House discussion on immigration with lawmakers that was telecast live, in which Trump had seemed keen to close a deal regarding the fate of undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children, but later backtracked on his word.

First Published: Mar 01, 2018 23:06 IST