NRA head lobbyist Chris Cox, left, President Trump and NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre posing during the group’s 2017 meeting in Atlanta. (Photo: NRA-ILA)
National Rifle Association leaders reacted with calm this week after President Trump expressed support for gun control measures — like “take the guns first, go through due process second” — that put gun rights advocates and lawmakers on edge.
NRA’s head lobbyist Chris Cox turned to Twitter on Friday to reaffirm Trump’s commitment to a pro-gun agenda. Cox said he “had a great meeting” with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who both “support the Second Amendment, support due process and don’t want gun control.”
Trump echoed that sentiment on Friday when he also tweeted: “Good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA!”
Trump’s comments came as he spoke to a bipartisan group of lawmakers this week in which they discussed solutions for preventing future mass shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead and 15 injured.
Besides excusing due process in the name of public safety, Trump also advocated for strengthening background checks, raising the age for buying long guns to 21, and even suggested he’d be willing to buck the NRA to pass such legislation.
His comments left supporters wondering if he was serious or simply thinking out loud. But NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch characterized the situation as a simple disagreement and said the gun lobby hasn’t attacked Trump because he hasn’t tried to make those ideas policy.
“I don’t think NRA members can react to something that hasn’t happened yet,” Loesch said during an interview Wednesday with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. She added, “I think he’s just entertaining both sides. I think he’s listening to see what both sides have to say.”
On the flip side, the NRA has already issued statements condemning certain policy proposals the president has supported, like raising the age to buy a long gun.
“We’ll wait and see what else comes out,” she said. “Remember, there are more of these listening sessions, so this is just the first one. Let’s see what else is said.”
During his first year in office, the NRA touted that it was Trump’s greatest ally. The organization, which spent more than $30 million in support of his campaign, was one of the few mainstream groups to endorse Trump.