WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday he would take action to ban the sale of bump stocks without Congress.
He also told governors it was “ok” to push back against the National Rifle Association “every once as a while,” as the powerful gun lobbying group fights calls to enact stricter gun control laws after the South Florida school shooting.
Trump, addressing a bipartisan group of more than 30 governors at the White House, said securing the nation’s schools following the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. remains a top priority for his administration.
“We’ll turn our grief into action,” Trump told the gathering, which included Govs. Rick Scott (R-Florida), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) and Ricardo Rosello of Puerto Rico.
Trump last week directed the Justice Department to craft regulations aimed at blocking the sale of bumpstocks and other devices that convert semi-automatic guns into rapid-fire automatic rifles.
He said Monday he would push forward with an order to ban the devices, regardless of whether the Republican controlled Congress takes action on the issue.
A bipartisan group of senators proposed legislation to ban the devices last year in response to the deadly mass shooting at a Las Vegas outdoor concert, but the measure has failed to come up for a vote. The Las Vegas shooter outfitted his cache of rifles with bumpstocks, according to authorities.
“By the way, bump stocks, we’re writing that out. I’m writing that out myself. I don’t care if Congress does it or not, I’m writing it out myself . . . You put it into the machine gun category, which is what it is. It becomes essentially a machine gun and nobody is going to be able to, it’s going to be very hard to get them, so we’re writing out bump stocks,” Trump said.
The NRA has opposed blocking the sale of bump stocks. But Trump said Monday he met with NRA leaders over the weekend, and was assured “they’re on our side.”
He told the governors the NRA, which contributes heavily to political campaigns, was not to be feared. “Sometimes we’re going to have to be very tough and we’re going to have to fight them,” Trump said.
“Don’t worry about the NRA,” Trump said, adding “we have to fight them every once in a while, that’s ok.”
The NRA did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment about Trump’s remarks.
The president also renewed his call for revitalizing government-funded mental institutions, arguing that “in the old days,” authorities would have been able to easily commit accused Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz, 19, when alerted to his behavioral issues and threats to kill others.
“We have to discuss mental health, and we have to do something about it,” Trump said.
Trump repeated his call to allow schoolteachers to carry concealed guns on campus. While the NRA has embraced the idea, the nation’s largest teacher’s unions oppose it.
Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) also pushed back against the proposal. He told Trump Monday, “We need a little less tweeting, a little more listening,” to educators and parents opposed to arming teachers.
“I just think this is a circumstance where we need to listen — that educators should educate, and they should not be foisted upon this responsibility of packing heat in first-grade classes,” Inslee said.
“Now, I understand you have suggested this, and we suggest things and sometimes then we listen to people about it, and maybe they don’t look so good a little later,” Inslee said. “So I just suggest we need a little less tweeting, a little more listening.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, speaking at a press briefing, said Trump is slated to meet with a bipartisan congressional group Wednesday to “discuss different pieces of legislation and what they can do moving forward,” on the issue of gun control.