National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch criticized on Thursday President Trump’s suggestion that law enforcement should seize guns from potentially dangerous people “first [and] go through due process second.”
“Due process must be respected,” Loesch said in an interview with “Fox and Friends.” “You have to harden schools and protect kids, but due process must be respected.”
During a bipartisan meeting with members of Congress on Wednesday, Trump suggested that law enforcement should have taken away the weapons used by the suspected gunman in last month’s deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., long before the massacre. The teenager, who has been charged with the 17 killings, had reportedly shown signs of mental illness and was reported to police dozens of times in the weeks and months before the killings.
“I like taking the guns early,” Trump said. “Like, in this crazy man’s case that just took place in Florida — he had a lot of [flags], they saw everything — you could do what you’re saying, but take the guns first, go through due process second.”
The gun lobby, which had enthusiastically supported Trump’s election and which Trump had praised in return, dismissed the president’s remarks in a statement on Wednesday night.
“Instead of punishing law-abiding gun owners for the acts of a deranged lunatic, our leaders should pass meaningful reforms that would actually prevent future tragedies,” Jennifer Baker, spokeswoman for the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, told the Washington Free Beacon. “They can start by fixing the broken mental health system, strengthening background checks to ensure the records of people who are prohibited from possessing firearms are in the [National Instant Criminal Background Check] system, securing our schools and preventing the dangerously mentally ill from accessing firearms.”
Loesch echoed that sentiment on “Fox and Friends.”
“It’s not a failure of the law, it’s a failure of enforcement,” she said.
Loesch said that those who are identified as mentally unstable gun owners should have their due process.
“They go before a judge, they’re adjudicated either mentally unfit, a danger to themselves or others or, because of their own free will, they’ve voluntarily given up their rights because they’ve behaved so criminally heinously that the punishment of that is giving up their Second Amendment rights,” she said. “But they receive due process. That’s really important to remember here.”
Loesch said the gun lobby opposes increasing the age requirement to purchase certain firearms from 18 to 21 — a policy that has been repeatedly proposed by the president since the massacre in Parkland.
“When we talk about the age restrictions, you’re not punishing the gangbanger in Chicago,” she said. “You’re not punishing those individuals that are adjudicated unfit or are dangerous to themselves. … You’re punishing people like I was when I was 20 years old, living on my own. You’re punishing the 19-year-old deer hunter who is just looking forward to deer season — those are the people that you are punishing here.”
During Wednesday’s meeting at the White House, Trump asked Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. — who in 2013 co-authored with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., an unsuccessful bipartisan gun control bill that would have expanded background checks — whether their bill included raising the age for gun purchases. Toomey told the president it did not.
“You know why? Because you’re afraid of the NRA,” Trump said.
On “Fox and Friends,” Toomey called the idea that he’s afraid of the gun lobby “ridiculous.”
“I’m the guy that wrote the bill that the NRA opposed,” Toomey said. “The Manchin-Toomey legislation was strongly opposed by the NRA. They didn’t endorse me in my reelection. They haven’t given me a dime since 2010. I’m the guy that stood up to the NRA.”
The Pennsylvania Republican said he would consider increasing the age restriction for buying guns, but is “skeptical” of its usefulness.
“I don’t think that ages have been handed down by Moses — I think we can have that discussion,” Toomey said. “But I know for a fact that in Pennsylvania, most 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds buy long guns because they are hunters or they go target shooting and they are not a threat to anyone.”
Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Thursday, Toomey said that Trump’s “due process” remark took his “breath away.”
“It doesn’t work that way in America,” he said.
On Fox Business, host Maria Bartiromo asked Trump special counselor Kellyanne Conway whether Trump was “ignoring the Constitution” with his comments.
“No, not at all,” Conway said. “The president respects the Constitution, including the Second Amendment and the 5 million or so members of the NRA who are law-abiding, peaceful gun owners.”
Conway continued: “In light of Parkland, everybody is so frustrated at the breakdown in the system. The fact that this individual was known to local law enforcement, federal law enforcement. This individual was all over social media, showing off his firearms, threatening to do exactly what he ended up doing. So with that as our backdrop — which, let’s be honest, is what spurred this conversation in the first place for the last 15 days — what the president is saying is that sometimes the processes take too long.”
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