President Donald Trump on Wednesday said police should “immediately” take guns from the mentally ill regardless of due process during a bipartisan meeting with members of Congress on gun control.
The televised meeting saw the president and lawmaker hash out ideas for gun control legislation in response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida earlier this month.
Trump criticized police for not immediately taking away firearms from Nikolas Cruz, the suspected shooter whom police had received multiple calls and warnings about.
“The police saw that he was a problem, they didn’t take any guns away,” the president said. “Now that could have been policing, but they should have taken them away anyway, whether they had the right or not.”
Vice President Mike Pence called for due process and an easier way for police to get court orders to seize firearms from the mentally ill.
“Mike, take the firearms first and then go to court, because that’s another system,” Trump said. “A lot of times, by the time you go to court, it takes so long to go to court, to get the due process procedures. I like taking the guns early.”
Trump repeatedly called for a “comprehensive” bill on gun control during the meeting, asking if various elements could be added to existing proposals.
He criticized Sens. Pat and Toomey, R-Pa., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., for a bill they proposed, which he thought didn’t go far enough. He asked Toomey if it included a measure to raise the age limit for people to purchase rifles from 18 to 21. The senator said the bill didn’t.
“You know why?” Trump asked. “Because you’re afraid of the” National Rifle Association.”
“Some of you people are petrified of the NRA. You can’t be petrified. You can’t be petrified,” he added.
The so-called Toomey-Manchin was first introduced in 2013 and again in 2015, but failed to get the support needed to pass in the Senate.
Another Republican-backed bill, the so-called Fix NICs bill, has support from Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. It incentivizes the use of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. Use of the system is already required by law.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Tuesday the legislation McConnell supports is good but doesn’t go far enough. He’s calling for universal background checks for all gun sales. NICS checks are only performed for gun sales through federally licensed gun dealers.
On Wednesday, Trump shot down House Republican White Steve Scalise‘s suggestion of adding an expansion of concealed carry rights to the Fix NICS bill.
“I think that maybe that bill will someday pass but it should pass as separate,” the president said. “If you’re gonna put conceal carry between states in this bill, we’re talking about a whole new ball game and I’m with you, but let it be a separate bill. If you add conceal carry to this, you’ll never get it passed.”