Since he’s taken office, President Trump has dealt with three of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history – and after the most recent high school massacre, he signaled that he’s willing to take action on certain gun control measures.
After the Parkland, Florida shooting on Feb. 14, 2018 – which claimed the lives of 17 students and faculty members– Trump both defended the Second Amendment and called for a strengthening of federal background checks and a ban on devices that allow guns to rapidly fire.
Here’s what the president has said about gun rights and control.
Defending the Second Amendment
In an all-caps tweet, Trump declared, “The Second Amendment will never be repealed!” He added that “as much as Democrats would like to see this happen,” the Second Amendment will remain in place.
Trump’s declaration came after former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens called for the repeal of the Second Amendment. Hundreds of thousands of students also walked out of school and participated in nationwide marches in protest of gun control in March.
Aside from his tweet, Trump has also done things in office that point to his support of gun ownership. He nominated Neil Gorsuch – a federal judge who was praised by the National Rifle Association (NRA) as someone who “respects the Second Amendment” – to the Supreme Court in January 2017. He also signed a resolution blocking an Obama-era background check rule designed to keep guns out of the hands of certain people who suffer from mental illnesses.
During the presidential campaign, Trump accused his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, of planning to eliminate the Second Amendment, using that fear as a rallying cry among conservative supporters.
In a 2012 interview with a Washington Times columnist, Trump said he has a concealed weapons permit for New York City and revealed he owns a HK45 and a .38 Smith & Wesson.
Don’t be afraid of the NRA
Trump hosted a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the White House to talk about gun control and safety in February – and encouraged Republicans, especially, to stand up to the NRA.
“I’m a fan of the NRA,” Trump said. “There’s no bigger fan. I'm a big fan of the NRA. These are great people, these great patriots. They love our country. But that doesn't mean we have to agree on everything.”
During the meeting, Trump accused Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., of being “afraid of the NRA.” The NRA was a strong backer of Trump during the 2016 presidential election.
Trump has also clashed with the powerful gun lobby on certain measures, including raising the minimum age to purchase semi-automatic weapons to 21. After Trump’s meeting with lawmakers, where he promoted that idea, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch told Fox News the meeting made for “good TV,” but some of the proposals were “really bad policy.”
Even still, Trump has remained a stalwart defender of the NRA, including on social media. He said NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre and chief lobbyist Chris Cox are “great people and great American patriots.”
Since Trump’s public comments, top NRA members met with Trump at the White House. Cox signaled after the meeting that Trump does not “want gun control.”
Before he became president, Trump criticized Republicans who he said “walk the NRA line” in his 2000 book, “The America We Deserve.” In that book, Trump also said he supports a “ban on assault weapons,” according to Newsweek.
Along with many Republicans, Trump floated the idea of arming some educators after the Parkland school shooting. He suggested having “highly trained, gun adept” teachers, coaches and faculty in schools who could confront a shooter before first responders arrive. These armed faculty members could also serve as a “deterrent to the cowards that do this," he said.
“If a potential ‘sicko shooter’ knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won’t go there...problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won’t work!” Trump said on social media.
Bump stocks and background checks
Trump has called for strengthening the federal background check system for gun purchases, saying it should be a bipartisan effort to do so.
The president has often promised to back “very strong improvement and strengthening of background checks,” including on social media.
He also signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill in March 2018 that included a provision to fix the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and provide additional funding to states and agencies that comply with the system. Those that do not, will be punished.
Additionally, Trump has said he supports a ban on bump stocks, an attachment that allows a semi-automatic rifle to resemble a fully automatic rifle. The devices were used in the 2017 Las Vegas concert massacre that left 58 people dead.
The Justice Department has started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that the law defines bump stocks as machine guns, which are largely already illegal in the U.S., it said.
Trump, on social media, has blamed the Obama administration for the legalization of bump stocks. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) approved bump stocks in 2010.
‘Take the guns first’
Trump stunned Republicans and gun rights advocates, including the NRA, when he suggested law enforcement officials should be able to confiscate people’s firearms without a court order if doing so would prevent tragedies.
“Take the guns first. Go through due process second,” Trump said during a meeting with lawmakers at the White House. “I like taking the guns early.”
“I like taking the guns early.”
Loesch later told Fox News that the NRA would “protect due process for innocent Americans.”
“We stressed this to the president,” she said. “It is a foundational principle of this country and due process must be protected and respected in terms of going around any solutions.”
Gun-free zones are 'targets'
One of Trump’s most consistent proposals when it comes to firearm reform is eliminating gun-free zones.
“Gun free zones are proven targets of killers,” he said on March 1.
“If schools are mandated to be gun free zones, violence and danger are given an open invitation to enter,” Trump said on March 12. “Almost all school shootings are in gun free zones. Cowards will only go where there is no deterrent!”
During a listening session with school shooting victims and their families, Trump said gun-free zones say “let’s go in and let’s attack because bullets aren’t coming back at us” to the “cowards” who commit these acts.
Trump lamented gun-free zones during a 2012 interview with the Washington Times, as well. Citing the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, which left 12 people dead, Trump argued, “If some of the people in the movie theater had a gun, they’d have been shooting at him. Nobody had a gun so they were totally defenseless.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.