At the end of a bipartisan meeting about gun violence that lasted more than an hour on Wednesday, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) asked President Trump the key question: “What do we do about weapons of war easily accessible on our streets?”
Trump responded by falsely claiming that the guns Feinstein referred to are “black market,” seemingly unaware that the AR-15 used to take 17 lives the Parkland school shooting earlier this month was purchased legally.
“You have weapons on the street — that’s what we’re talking about with black market,” Trump told Feinstein. “These are black market weapons and you know, the problem Diane is that these aren’t where you walk into the store and buy them, these are where somebody hands you a gun and you hand them some money.”
Feinstein interjected to tell the president, “Oh no, you can go into a store and buy an AR-15… you can buy all these weapons.”
Trump quickly corrected himself before addressing Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey.
“You can… Joe and Pat, you’re going to have to discuss that, you’ll sit down with Diane and everybody else, and I really believe it needs to be very strong.”
Instead of trying to take weapons of war off the street, Trump’s preferred path seems to involve taking guns away from “mentally ill” people, curtailing gun free zones, and strengthening background checks. The priorities Trump outlined on Wednesday conflict with his approach last year, when he rolled back an Obama-era rule preventing people deemed incompetent by the Social Security administration from purchasing a gun.
It’s unclear how those proposals would hang together into a coherent piece of legislation. Nonetheless, on Wednesday, Trump — whose understanding of the legislative process appeared to be rudimentary at best — repeatedly urged lawmakers to do something, and said he’d prefer that they send him a single “comprehensive” bill, since that’s more “beautiful” than a piecemeal approach.
And while Trump may have urged lawmakers to be “strong,” he indicated throughout the meeting that he thinks more guns — not less — are the solution to gun violence.
At one point, Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL) told the president, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
“That’s true,” Trump replied.