President Trump stunned Republicans on live television Wednesday by embracing gun control and urging lawmakers to resurrect gun safety legislation that has been opposed by the National Rifle Association and the vast majority of his party, reports the New York Times. The president veered wildly from the NRA playbook in front of giddy Democrats and stone-faced Republicans. He called for legislation that would expand background checks to weapons purchased at gun shows and on the internet, keep guns from mentally ill people, secure schools, and restrict gun sales for some young adults. He suggested a conversation on an assault weapons ban, and that police should have the power to seize guns from people who could present a danger without first going to court. “I like taking the guns early,” he said, adding, “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”
The declarations prompted frantic calls from NRA lobbyists to their allies on Capitol Hill and a statement calling Trump’s ideas “bad policy.” Republicans suggested that they remained opposed to gun control measures. “We’re not ditching any constitutional protections simply because the last person the president talked to today doesn’t like them,” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE). Democrats were skeptical that Trump would follow through. Trump’s suggested reviving a 2013 bill by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WVA) and Patrick Toomey (R-PA) after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Polls show solid support for stricter laws, especially after mass shootings. There is also deep disagreement, staunch opposition and growing disenchantment with gun control. Trump’s comments were at odds with his history as a candidate and president who has repeatedly declared his love for the Second Amendment and the NRA, which gave his campaign $30 million.