The National Rifle Association on Thursday reiterated its opposition to banning gun ownership for those under the age of 21 despite President Trump's support for the idea.
"Our position has not changed," Jennifer Baker, a spokesperson for the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, told the Washington Free Beacon this afternoon.
Under current law, any adult who is not prohibited from gun possession can purchase rifles and shotguns but only those 21 and over can purchase handguns. If the age limit for purchasing rifles and shotguns is raised to 21, as President Trump has now called for, adults under the age of 21 would no longer be legally allowed to purchase any firearms. The NRA said raising the age for gun ownership would be a violation of gun rights.
"Legislative proposals that prevent law-abiding adults aged 18-20 years old from acquiring rifles and shotguns effectively prohibits them for purchasing any firearm, thus depriving them of their constitutional right to self-protection," Baker said in a statement Wednesday night. "We need serious proposals to prevent violent criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from acquiring firearms. Passing a law that makes it illegal for a 20-year-old to purchase a shotgun for hunting or an adult single mother from purchasing the most effective self-defense rifle on the market punishes law-abiding citizens for the evil acts of criminals."
President Trump tweeted on Thursday that the NRA and its leadership are "Great People and Great American Patriots." He said he believed "they love our Country and will do the right thing."
What many people don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, is that Wayne, Chris and the folks who work so hard at the @NRA are Great People and Great American Patriots. They love our Country and will do the right thing. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 22, 2018
The NRA has been a staunch supporter of President Trump since he won the Republican nomination in 2016. They spent tens of millions of dollars during the election supporting him and opposing his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. In April 2017, Trump became the first sitting president to address the NRA's annual meeting since Ronald Reagan.
Jennifer Baker said the group is supportive of efforts to keep guns away from dangerous individuals but opposes efforts that infringe on the rights of the law-abiding.
"The NRA supports efforts to prevent those who are a danger to themselves or others from getting access to firearms," she said. "At the same time, we will continue to oppose gun control measures that only serve to punish law-abiding citizens. These are not mutually exclusive or unachievable goals."