POLITICS
03/01/2018 11:47 pm ET Updated Mar 02, 2018

NRA's Top Lobbyist Implies Trump Is Back On Its Side

“POTUS & VPOTUS support the Second Amendment," the NRA's Chris Cox tweets.

The top lobbyist for the National Rifle Association hinted late Thursday that President Donald Trump had cooled on his own plans to support gun control measures.

Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s lobbying arm, said on Twitter he had a “great meeting” with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday and reaffirmed neither “want gun control.”

“We all want safe schools, mental health reform and to keep guns away from dangerous people,” Cox said after the meeting. “POTUS & VPOTUS support the Second Amendment, support strong due process and don’t want gun control.”

The president himself followed up the note with a tweet saying he had a “Good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office” with the group.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Friday that Trump promised the NRA he would “continue to support the Second Amendment” but that “the background check system is something that he’s still very much interested in improving.”

Sanders didn’t clarify what specific gun policies the president would support but said that “conceptually, he still supports raising the age to 21 [for being able to purchase firearms]. But he also knows there’s not a lot of broad support for that.”

The move may signal that Trump has already taken an abrupt about-face from his own proposals to widely expand gun control legislation, including the adoption of more stringent background checks on some weapon purchases and the restriction of firearm purchase for some young people. The president first announced those plans in a surprising meeting with a group of lawmakers on Wednesday, which included his suggestion that law enforcement be able to seize guns from the mentally ill without first going to court.

“I like taking the guns early,” the president said. “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

He also accused Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) of being “afraid” of the NRA.

Trump’s proposals were a vast departure from the stance taken by the NRA, which has long opposed any legislation meant to rein in access to firearms. Democrats, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, appeared delighted at the president’s suggestions.

“You saw the president clearly saying not once, not twice, not three times, but like 10 times, that he wanted to see a strong universal background check bill,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said after the meeting, according to The New York Times. “He didn’t mince words about it. So I do not understand how then he could back away from that.”

It’s unclear how Trump now feels about such proposals after his meeting with the NRA. HuffPost has reached out to the White House for comment.

This story has been updated to include comments from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

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