President Donald Trump touted raising the minimum age to buy rifles and other long guns to 21 during a meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the White House on Wednesday, quipping at one point that senators are "afraid of the NRA" and the age issue.
Trump asked Sens. Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) and Pat Toomey (R., Penn.) about their expanded background check legislation that failed in 2013 and which they are hoping to resurrect now. Trump has expressed support for such a measure in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14.
"Joe and Pat, in your bill, what are you doing about the 18 to 21?" Trump asked.
They replied that the bill does not address that issue.
"Are you going to leave that?" Trump asked.
"Whatever you want us—" Manchin started before Trump cut in.
Manchin is currently running for reelection in a state that Trump won by 42 points in 2016.
"You have a case right now where somebody can buy a handgun at 21," Trump said. "Now this is not a popular thing to say in terms of the NRA … You can buy the kind of weapon used in the school shooting at 18. I think it's something you have to think about."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) asked Trump if he would sign such a bill, and Trump said he would give it "a lot of consideration."
"The people in this room pretty much are going to decide, but I would give very serious thought to it," Trump said. "I can say that the NRA is opposed to it, and I'm a fan of the NRA. No bigger fan. I'm a big fan of the NRA. These are great people. These are great patriots. They love our country, but that doesn't mean we have to agree on everything."
Toomey said the age limit question is not addressed in the bill.
"You know why? Because you're afraid of the NRA, right?" Trump said, laughing.
"A lot of people are afraid of that issue, raising the age for that weapon to 21," Trump said.
Toomey said his reservations about the idea are that the vast majority of Pennsylvania citizens who are 18, 19, and 20 and own rifles and shotguns are law-abiding citizens.
"To deny them their Second Amendment right is not going to make anyone safer, so that's my reservation about changing the age," Toomey said.