Donald Trump: ‘I don’t know why anyone needs an AR-15’
Report: Wanted 'assault weapon' ban gun control law while in the White House
UPDATE: I did not know about the Nashville school shooting until after I sent out this story. I did not intend to make a political statement of any kind about the victims from the Covenant School. I pray for the families and the school.
As president, Donald Trump privately pushed for banning AR-15-type rifles, according to a new report. Trump was — and is — a big defender of Second Amendment rights. So the new revelation is surprising that he tried to renew the “assault weapon” ban during his first two years in office.
Need for AR-15
The news about Trump is buried in a lengthy story in The Washinton Post on Monday about AR-15 style rifles. The report says he tried multiple times in 2018 and 2019 to get support for a federal “assault-weapon” ban.
In the summer of 2019, after back-to-back mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso involving an AR-15-style pistol and an AKM-style rifle, Trump told aides that he wanted to ban AR-15s, according to people present for the statements.
“I don’t know why anyone needs an AR-15,” Trump told aides as he flew on Marine One to the White House in August 2019, according to a person who heard his comments.
As one former official put it in describing the real estate developer turned politician, “His reflexes were a New York liberal on guns. He doesn’t have knee-jerk conservative reflexes.”
But Trump was also petrified of the NRA and others taking him on, former advisers said, and heard from a number of advisers that it would be unpopular. Trump ultimately stopped entertaining the idea of working with Democrats on gun control later that year, when he was caught in a scandal over his now-infamous phone call with Ukraine’s president.
“F--- it, I’m not going to work with them on anything. They’re f---ing impeaching me,” Trump said in one Oval Office meeting, according to a participant.
The AR-15 is a style of rifle. The FBI crime statistics for 2021 show there were 11,628 people killed by guns, and 447 of them were by rifles of any type. The bureau does not track the style of the rifle.
A spokesman for Trump, who is running for reelection in 2024, did not deny the remarks. From The Post:
Steven Cheung, a Trump spokesman, did not respond to detailed findings in this article but said that “there had been no bigger defender of the Second Amendment than President Trump.” He said that Trump had offered other proposals after mass shootings, such as adding security guards to schools and allowing teachers who are licensed to carry a weapon to do so.
Trump’s bipartisan gun control
While this reporting from The Post is from anonymous sources, it lines up with Trump’s public comment in 2018 in a bipartisan White House meeting on gun control measures after the horrific school mass shooting in Parkland, FL.
Trump told Sen. Dianne Feinstein in a live TV meeting that he would look at her “assault weapon” ban bill. It caused an uproar with the pro-gun groups that helped get him elected. I cued up this video to watch him tell her:
The Post reported this meeting and one other in more detail:
Shortly after Parkland, President Donald Trump repeatedly floated the idea of supporting a new assault weapons ban.
He mentioned it on live television to one of the Senate’s most vocal gun-control backers, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and in a private meeting with Parkland families. His comments rattled NRA officials and some of his own advisers.
NRA representatives later warned Trump against taking action. “They came up here and said to him, the base is going to blow you up,” according to a former official who sat in during a series of meetings with the NRA. They, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private interactions.
Trump supported the NRA in the same 2018 meeting with Feinstein and others (transcript here):
I’m a fan of the NRA. I mean, there’s no bigger fan. I’m a big fan of the NRA. They want to do it. These are great people. These are great patriots. They love our country. But that doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything.
The not agreeing on everything is a reference to the issue of raising the federal minimum age for owning a gun from 18 to 21 years old.
AR-15 media bias
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