President Donald Trump said Wednesday that Congress should consider raising the age of purchase for rifles to 21.
“You can buy the kind of weapon used in the school shooting at 18,” he told a bipartisan group of legislators during a televised meeting, noting that the federal age of purchase for handguns is 21.
“I think it’s something you have to think about,” he said, adding: “A lot of people don’t even want to bring it up because they’re afraid to bring it up.”
He turned to Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA).
“I was just curious as to what you did in your bill,” the President said. “You didn’t address it?”
“We didn’t address it, Mr. President,” Toomey answered.
“You know why, because you’re afraid of the NRA,” Trump said, chuckling. He’d said earlier that there was “no bigger fan” than him of the National Rifle Association and called its members “great patriots.”
Trump floated the prospect of raising the age of gun ownership last week, but, after a lunch with top NRA leadership, hadn’t yet mentioned it this week until Wednesday’s meeting. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in press briefings Monday and Tuesday that Trump still supported the “concept” of raising the age of purchase. On Tuesday, she added the qualifier “for the purchase of certain firearms.”
Toomey responded in more depth: “My reservation about it, frankly, is that the vast majority of 18, 19 and 20-year-olds in Pennsylvania who have a rifle or shotgun, they’re not a threat to anyone,” he said. “They’re law-abiding citizens. They have that because they want to use it for hunting or target shooting, and to deny them their Second Amendment right is not going to make anyone safer.”
“I know where you’re coming from, and I understand that,” Trump said. “I think it’s a position.”
He continued, referring to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) as well as Toomey: “But I think if we’re going to use you as a base, the two of you, I think you’re going to have to iron out that problem. I’m asked that question more than almost any other question. Are you going to 21 or not?”
Watch below via NBC News:
WATCH: President Trump asks Sen. Toomey if his bill addresses age limits on firearm purchases.
Sen. Toomey: "We didn't address it, Mr. President."
President: Trump: "You know why? Because you're afraid of the NRA." pic.twitter.com/vlkrFEQszO
— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 28, 2018
This post has been updated.