NRA, Republicans Draw Familiar Lines On Gun Control Debate

Ten days after the shooting massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — and after survivors of that shooting leapt into action pressing lawmakers for new gun control legislation — Republican politicians and the NRA on Sunday signaled they would resist most new gun laws.

“I do want to caution people, because I know that people are trying to find daylight between President Trump and 5 million law-abiding gun owners all across the United States,” NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.”

“These are just things that he’s discussing right now,” she said of Trump’s comments in support of raising the age to buy rifles.

Loesch said the group opposed any legislation to raise the purchase age for firearms, as well as legislation to require universal background checks for gun purchases. She also said the group opposes a ban on bump stocks, noting that the NRA would leave it to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to “do its job and make sure that these classifications are consistent.”

Republican politicians signaled similar resistance to most new gun legislation.

“I’m not into banning specific weapons,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) told Fox News’ Chris Wallace. “I think what you need to do is ban specific people from having weapons. Focus on the problem.”

Scott recently released his plan to prevent future school shootings in Florida, including raising the age to purchase any gun in Florida to 21, from 18 for rifles. He also called for a ban on bump stocks.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), pictured above, was more absolutist in an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd.

“I wish that background checks stopped criminals, or stopped school shootings, but they don’t,” he said, asked about legislation to require universal background checks for any gun purchase. “Criminals are going to get ahold of guns. What we’ve got to look at is, what’s the solution?”

He said the vast majority of gun sales prevented by background checks had occurred “because the background check system is flawed,” and added separately that the proposal by some to ban AR-15s, like the one allegedly used in the Stoneman Douglas massacre, was “ridiculous.”

“If you take out New York and California, 8 percent of Americans have concealed carry permits,” he said separately, appearing to cite a number published in 2017 by the Crime Prevention Research Center, a pro-gun research group.

Massie promoted his bill to repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act and said he supported President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm teachers who volunteer for that responsibility.

And Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) told Todd that he would be “very skeptical” of legislation to raise the age of purchase to 21, “because the vast majority of 18, 19, 20, 21-year-olds are law abiding citizens who aren’t a threat to anyone.”

Asked about a ban on the AR-15, he countered: “Here’s the problem, Chuck. There’s a lot of hunting rifles that are as powerful as an AR-15. The difference between the AR-15 and an awful lot of commonly sold rifles is just cosmetic.”

Toomey promoted his legislation, written with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), to require background checks for gun shows and online purchases. But he acknowledged it would be an uphill battle.

“I haven’t gotten anyone who said, ‘Yes, sign me up,’ but there are definitely members who are reconsidering,” Toomey said.

Still, Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), in an interview with CBS “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan, continued to break with his party in calling for ending the sale of assault rifles and a host of other measures.

In a New York Times op-ed Friday, Mast said Congress should define, and then ban, anything it considers to be an “assault or tactical firearm,” as well as require universal background checks and other new laws.

“I think there’s a very real opportunity here for response, and for action, and that’s what really brought me to my change of heart in talking about this,” he told Brennan.

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